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Dhaliwal Lounge, new menu items

Today I was back at Dhaliwal Lounge for lunch, here to check out a handful of their new menu items that included a lot of fusion takes, for a more diverse menu.

Located in a signage burden strip mall, this posh lounge is an unexpected find. Past its all black facade is a restaurant not unlike popular Vancouver casual chain restaurants Cactus Club and Earls. The same black is chic approach with exterior and dress code.

Pass the corridor of over handling vines and florals the space opens up into an artful scene with textured concrete flecked with golden specks. A collection of mismatched, but complimentary mental lamp shades over each plush booth seating. And bespoke furnishings that included a chair with fabric woven around its golden metal frame. Stylish while being warm and inviting, giving you reason to linger.

We started with a couple of drinks, trying to focus on the ones I have yet to try. Although, sadly they were out of ingredients for the grape one I wanted, and my second choice was only seasonal with the use of a popsicle in place of ice.

So I revisited a cocktail I reminded fondly last visit and another to contrast it.

The Passion Fruit Smash is Alize Passion, Peach Schnapps, Triple Sec, white cranberry juice, orange juice, and lime juice. For those who like a sweet beverage where you can’t make out the liquor, this is for you. Like a Bellini with the sweetness of artificial peach. This helped to cool and offer a palate refresher, much like mango lassi would.

Looking at it come to the table with its very unique presentation, I was intrigued by the Pickleroska. It smelled like Indian food, heavy handed with spices. Grey Goose, Dry Vermouth, lemon pickle, and fresh lime juice. What looked like sewage water and smelled like boiled eggs to my guest was an adventure to me. I love a pickle back and pickle brine in a Caesar, so was curious to experience an Indian take on this mixing option. As a savoury cocktail, this was created to compliment the food. And at minimum it was really good for buffering out heat from the spicier dishes below, offering a hard break with its briney tang and distinct pickling. Be warned the topper is not a rice cracker, but a chunk of ice.

As for the food, majority of the new items drew from different cuisines like Chinese and Italian, offering their own take, which often included Indian spices and use of tandoori ovens.

We decided to keep our ordering to the new, to be able to give those familiar with Dhaliwal Lounge an idea of what to expect with the 8 new additions to their already very fulsome traditional Indian menu. Like pasta, roasted eggplant, and a cream sauce chicken. They are also now offering platters as a quick and easy way to have some appetizer to share and start with. Available in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, featuring their best selling appies. I did stray away from this possibility, as I was more interested in covering the new and unique fusion items, seeing how they fared to someone who is of Chinese decent and who loves Italian cuisine, and prepares it herself quite often.

So here are five dishes to order from Dhaliwal Lounge that is not butter chicken.

The Szechuan Prawns are Chinese style sweet and sour prawns, deep fried thoroughly, so you can eat them shell and all, including the tail. Tiger prawns, szechuan sauce, white wine, ginger, and garlic. Each is heavily coated in a thick and sticky sauce, a bolder take with roasted sweet pepper, a hint of tamarind, and the medical notes of cilantro. It also has a lot more deep, longer term, burning spice than I recall from the traditional Chinese version. Although listed as an appetizer, these were so flavourful that I was left wanting a base to mellow out the flavour, and instead would recommend ordering them as a side with your entrees, that would typically come with rice or bread.

This was a similar assessment with the Honey and Orange Chicken. Fresh orange, soya sauce, ginger, garlic, and green onions. Each nugget of chicken was fatty dark meat, made very tender from a slow roasting. It had a similar energy to the prawns, but a lot more sweet than spicy, with the tangy and brightening orange. Once again I was left wanting rice as it was too sweet as is, smothered in the sweet chilli sauce it sat in.

As a part of their vegetable section, we tried the Mushroom Masala. Button mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spices, and herbs. This was like Indian bolognese, but with meaty mushrooms and a hint of tamarind and chilli in the mix. As an entree it felt thin, and definitely needed a base. Ideally a starchy noodle as I found the rice too sparse. The next best thing was a large chunk of naan to carry the flavour.

Here, the side plate of raw vegetables we originally thought was out of place, was appreciated. It offered nice breaks in between all the flavourful bites.

The Cream Chicken was boneless chicken slowly cooked in a creamy gravy. It read like the restaurant’s take on a chicken Alfredo, but without the cheese, and instead, the butteriness of butter chicken. I could have done without the mushrooms as they added a distracting earthiness that distracted from the otherwise cohesive concept.

The Lamb Saag was classic Indian cuisine. Lamb slow cooked with toasted cinnamon, mustard seeds, and cloves. The meat was fatty and a lot more tender and melty than I expected. The mustard seed was the stand out, offering a fairly peppery crunch.

And for our much needed sides we had Jeera Rice which is steamed basmati rice seasoned with cumin and ghee. I liked the firmness of the rice and being able to make out each individual kernel in mouth, it offered a nice contrast to all the saucy stews above.

And for naan I like to keep its simple, in order to have the sauces they carry as the star. The Butter Naan is traditional North Indian bread baked in tandoor. And the Garlic Naan is the same, but with garlic as a topping.

We also tried the Batura, intrigued by what deep fried naan bread would be like. Sadly we did not like it. It was crispy as expected, but it also had a grainy finish and was on the oily side. I would recommend sticking to either of the two above.

In short, this was a well received taste of Indian fusion, a nice way to offer something different to regular customers and have something more approachable for those unfamiliar with the cuisine. Thus was definitely something new to the table.

Dhaliwal’s Lounge
#112 – 7938 128 St, Surrey, BC V3W 4E8
(604) 543-2222

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