Richmond is a crazy city for restauranteurs – the culture is hugely geared towards eating out, so there are hundreds of restaurants competing for everyone’s business. It’s amazing to wander around and see just how many eateries can be packed into one small mall complex, or along Alexandra Road. You’ve got to be at the top of your game and/or have a loyal clientele to keep afloat, and there are many restaurants that don’t quite make it, and are replaced quickly and surely by others wishing to try their luck.
I learned this first-hand when I headed to Ginger Indian Cuisine, which is located at Beckman Place, just off Bridgeport Road. When I saw the restaurant’s listing on Urbanspoon I was perplexed; I thought I’d eaten all the Indian food I could in Richmond, and I’d cycled past Beckman Place a dozen times and never noticed it. I half-believed it didn’t actually exist, but my Uncle and I headed there anyways. He was in Richmond for a conference, and is always a willing dining partner.
Upon arrival, the mystery was solved – Ginger Indian Cuisine is brand new (I’d never noticed it because it opened less than a month ago), and it’s located in a restaurant space I’ve already been to and reviewed, the (now former) Villa Vietnamese Cuisine. Yes, I’ve now dined at two different restaurants in the exact same spot, a perfect example of just how tough the restaurant biz can be in Richmond.
While it was unfortunate to think of Villa Vietnamese’s demise (and they made pretty good food!), I was kind of thrilled to know my naan days weren’t over.
Ginger Indian Cuisine is owned by Bob Singh, a friendly, younger man who seems determined to make it in the restaurant world. He’s only a month in, but things seem to be going well. The space is clean and modern for dining in, and seemed incredibly popular for takeout – many people stopped in to pick up bags of food while we were there. The menu has tons of options for vegetarians as well as kids, and daily $9.99 lunch specials.
We ordered the Chaat Papadi ($5) as a starter, and it was phenomenal. I’ve never had anything quite like it – the menu described the chaat (‘snack’) as “crisp fried dough wafer mixed with chick peas, potato, onion, and tomato, topped with sweet yogurt tamarind chutney, and sev.”
The combination of these ingredients was unreal – the flavours were both sweet, spicy, and cooling, and the crunchy and soft textures worked together perfectly. I could have easily just eaten this chaat papadi and been completely satisfied with my meal. Plus, it’s vegetarian friendly!
Indian ‘sev‘ are the vermicelli-like crunchy noodles on top; they’re made from chickpea flour and are often used to top chaat dishes.
For mains, we ordered the Butter Makhani ($12.50, aka Butter Chicken) and Vegetable Korma ($11.50), each of which come with rice and naan. We upgraded our rice to the Pilau Rice with saffron, and also ordered an extra bread – the Sweet Naan ($2), because I could not resist the thought of mango and coconut inside flatbread.
You can ask for mild, medium, or hot when it comes to spice, and we went with mild for the butter chicken and medium for the korma. Next time, I’d go with medium for both. The butter chicken was excellent – creamy and rich-tasting, with unbelievably tender chicken.
The korma (mixed vegetables in a coconut curry sauce with ground nuts) was good, though the quality of the vegetables wasn’t quite as high as I would have liked. I think next time I’d give the housemade saag paneer a try.
Onto one of my favourite parts of any Indian meal – the flatbreads.
The regular naan was excellent, but the table fave was the sweet naan with its filling of mango and coconut (the menu also said raisins, but I didn’t see any in there). The sweetness of the filling complimented the savoury sauces wonderfully, and from now on I’ll want my naan breads to be sweet. LOVED IT.
We ate all this food with a lovely pilau rice, golden with saffron,
and a sweet, creamy yogurt lassi, golden with mango.
Both were excellent. Even though my beloved gulab jaman was on the dessert menu, I was simply too stuffed with bread, rice, and curry to think about consuming syrup soaked milk balls. But I bet they’re AWESOME.
Our meal was fantastic, and I would certainly go back to Ginger Indian Cuisine for another meal. Bob said he’s currently working on a website for the restaurant, and will continue to attract local clientele by serving tasty Indian food at very reasonable prices. It would certainly be nice to see this restaurant succeed, so go forth dear readers, and try it!
Cash and cards accepted