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Dilli Heights Bistro

Today I was invited down to Dilli Heights, a new cafe in the cusp of Gastown, serving up fusion Indian fare. Given the lack there of, of Indian cuisine in the immediate area, this is a welcomed addition.

Having visited the location before as its old incarnation, I am familiar with the decor and can confirm that they have kept a lot of the old framework. It is still a cozy nook with natural rock, wood, and brick. But now with better lighting and bolder colours by way of a painted mural, faux greenery wall feature, and neon lights. The entirety of the vibe was further curated by the sexy bluesy slow jams that played overhead. Thus making this a great spot to linger and lounge in.

The menu hosts a bevy of Indian favourites, there is much to consider and many more to be tempted by. Thankfully the front of house manager was there to help recommend all his favourites and what he deemed must tries; they are as follows.

The cafe boasts 3 types of Chai. We got the Karak Chai which is basically a chai milk tea made with black tea, sweetened condensed milk, freshly ground cardamom, and sugar. Not as gingerly or as fiery in spice as I know Chai to be, but more a milk tea with very distinct flavour.

This was served with a side of fruit bread. Think a buttery dinner roll, but with the addition of fruit jelly dotted throughout. I liked this bun as is and found it did well to compliment the slightly sweetened tea.

The Fresh lemonade was interesting. The murky off yellow liquid was speckled with what looked like spices that pooled at the bottom. This is not what you know lemonade to be freshly squeezed or otherwise. It has a saltines to it that can be off-putting as it and drinks savoury. Although as part of the whole meal, it was fairly complimentary to the food to follow.

Do not get the Mango Milkshake confused with a mango lassi. It is exactly as it is named, a milkshake made with milk and cream and flavoured in a sweet mango. It is more milk than fruit with a slushy-like texture. Unlike lassi this does not necessary help to clean the palate, nor does it necessarily compliment any of the spicy flavours below.

The Bun samosa came exactly as it read. A samosa served within a bun. The same buttery soft dinner roll above, but with the addition of a potato and pea filled samosa that is then covered in gravy and a cilantro chutney. The samosa had a nice crunch to offset all the softer textures. But as a whole, I didn’t see the need to put one into the other.

I liked their take on fries. These Loaded Fries were coated in creamy sauces and seasoned with masala spices that gave it an eggy, yolky texture that had the mouth-feel of eating an egg salad. The fries were fried for a crispy yet starchy feel, smothered generously in a spicy mayo with a slight back of the throat burn. The heat was well balanced out by the addition of the tomato, cucumber and red onion, finely chopped salsa-like mix.

They also have Chicken momos. These are dumplings with a chewy yet crunchy wrapper and a hearty and spicy meaty centre. The make a great snack, but be warned as the hot sauce accompaniment is literally fire. Here, the mango milkshake came in handy.

For something a lot more fulsome and more in the category of a meal versus a snack, look to their bowls.

The Rajma rice red bean bowl is a great vegetarian option. A good amount of rice served with pickled spicy onion, saucy kidney beans; and a diced cucumber, tomato, and red onion salsa. The crispy lentil roll on the side added crunch. The best bites are ones where you had all the above-mentioned elements in one spoonful. Saucy, spicy, and fresh; this was a well-balanced and comforting serving.

And there was no way I could go without trying their Butter Chicken rice bowl. It had the same build as above, but with the Indian staple and benchmark dish as its feature. A good take, but I could have used more chicken and sauce to fully coat all the rice.

In conclusion this is a welcomed addition to the area as there is nothing else like it nearby. Shame that their location isn’t all that visible from the street, and you need to know to know to go. But as far as comforting Indian dishes that are easy as a grab and go, Dilli Heights is a win. Approachable street food where Indian meats Canadian. Although be warned, as you will walk out smelling like the food being prepared to order from their open kitchen, within this small, confined space.

Dilli Heights Bistro
436 Richards St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2Z3, Canada
+1 604-484-1385

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