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Spice Club

Today we were at Spice Club, to explore some Indian food in Surrey. To be honest, such restaurants appear to be a dime a dozen. And with buildings around every corner, how do you know the one to choose?

I appreciated that Spice Club had an extensive food and drink menu with easy to read and understand descriptions. Classic Indian dishes like pakora and chaat, intermingled with the likes of butter chicken poutine, paneer tacos, and wraps made with roti. Reading it, it certainly helped to put a more familiar face to things.

Having said that the menu felt daunting, there were so many options and no photos to reference, so we went with one item per section to help compartmentalize.

But first drinks. I immediately was drawn in by the Hajmola Margarita. A mix of tequila, ginger syrup, jeera spice mix, triple sec, and lime. This is what I want in an Indian influenced cocktail to be. It has similar spices found in our food below, to truly complimentary it. I got the pickling from their cilantro chutney and the heat from some chilli. A well conceived and tasty cocktail that is a must try. You’ll not have anything like it.

For something more familiar, look to their classic cocktail list like the Old Fashioned. Their twist here is that they infused their bourbon with cardamom, then mix it with orange syrup and orange peel. It is the presented in a smoked cloche, table side. I didn’t get much smokey flavour from this, but the plumes did have the other tables turning to take a look.

As for food we started with the Tandoori Lamb Chops. This was tender lamb meat marinated with Indian spices, given layers of flavour from the even oven char. I especially appreciated the bits of wrapped tin foil at their ends, to protect the diner’s fingers. The marinade offered a latent heat that tickled the tongue, and the garnished herbs lent a freshness outside of the bright and tangy cilantro chutney, made available on the side.

The Eggplant Bhartha was our vegetable option. Grilled eggplant mixed with tomato, onion, herbs, and spices. This had a very memorable first bite with all its smokey essence intermingled with the mash.

The Lamb Coconut was my favourite of all that we tried. Boneless lamb, coconut milk, coconut oil, tomato, and spices. It reminded me of South East Asian curry with the use of coconut milk, softening the firm and fibrous hunks of lamb meat.

I couldn’t walk away without trying their Butter Chicken, as a gauge for the restaurant. Like sweet and sour pork is to Chinese cuisine and Chinese restaurants, butter chicken is to Indian cuisine and Indian restaurants. A successful rendition determines the viability for a return visit and to have them as a possible option for any future Indian cuisine cravings. And spoiler, this did not disappoint.

This was Boneless Chicken Tikka cooked in a rich tomato cream sauce with plenty of butter. It was the all too familiar tangy and creamy gravy-like sauce that did well to mask the dry white meat. Just as well, as I order it for the sauce to dip with bread anyways.

Even the bread basket had 12 different varieties listed on the menu. We would try one of each type and order some rice to help sop up all that delicious sauce above.

I typically stick with Plain Naan. If the food is seasoned as fragrantly as the above, you don’t really need any garlic or butter to further it along. And the naan is only just a base anyways.

The Tandoori Roti is leavened wheat bread baked in the tandoor. It is a lot dryer, denser, and harder than the fluffy naan above. Nice to have for a different texture, but given that all the entrees above are already so heavy, I would recommend the naan as a better contrast.

The Stuffed Naan on the other hand is a meal on its own. Not one you order to use as bread for dipping, but a dish that could be served as an appetizer, to enjoy as is. Especially if you order like we did and had a mix of alloo, gobhi, and paneer all sandwiched between two sheets of dough. With this filling it actually reminded me of a samosa, but minus the crispy fried dough. Here you needed some sauce, and the gravies above were more like a dip that you dunk a small corner into, as apposed to the scoop for a mouthful of sauces, as with the plain naan.

With all this bread, I still and also like to have rice as another base. The Cumin Basmati Rice is a flavoured and steamed plain rice, but so bold as to mask any of the spices above. Dry grains that you can make out each kernel on your tongue. Ideal for absorbing sauces.

In closing, I found Spice Club inviting for those familiar with the authentic cuisine, and for those who are not. The menu is approachable with causal favourites made more Indian the likes of burgers, quesadilla, and tacos, nachos, and Chinese style noodles. And the setting is modern for those who are not comfortable in an Indian restaurant that only plays Punjabi music, and employ staff that’s only really speaks the language. Here, it was pop songs and the staff were able to communicate with no issue, although they did struggle to make recommendations. Also worth mentioning, is if you are in celebrating an occasion, the staff will celebrate with you. During our visit, the restaurant played a “congratulations” song to acknowledge the birthday at the table behind us.

Spice Club Indian Cuisine
9570 120 St, Surrey, BC V3V 4C1
(604) 676-4066

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