To tell the truth, I had been barely able to hold things together the past two weeks. I had been juggling way too many balls at the same time that it is only a matter of time it is all going to come crashing down on me. Already I had been dropping a few balls here and there.
So last Friday, Suanne was asking me if I had decided where to go for our Friday night out. I told her I’ll figure out something during the day. I didn’t.
I completely forgot about it. I did not realize it was already past 4PM when Suanne called me on my cell telling me she’s waiting for me to meet up for dinner. That was when I decided enough is enough. I just shoot off the last email. Work can wait till next Monday.
My mind was scrambling on where to go. Suanne leaves the choice of the places to me — all the time. She had always done that ever since we met. It is like my responsibility to bring her to new places to eat. She likes that and I like my role too.
Do you feel this way I feel? When I am not looking for a place to eat, I could spot a million places while driving. I would tell Suanne “let’s go there next time. let’s go here next time”. But when I actually needed to find a place to eat, I can’t seems to see any at all.
So without a place in mind, I decided to drive along Kingsway in the direction to downtown. I did not have to drive far. It was just right after Boundary that I spotted one of the “let’s go there next time” places. Frankly, I had not even remembered the name of the restaurant … but I did remember that they have a “Fine Indian Fusion” words on the signboard.
I had been thinking a lot of what Michelle was saying during the 12B dinner that there is no really great Indian restaurants in Vancouver. Based on what she said, I was intent on finding out more about Indian food. No, I really did not think that such an unknown restaurant like Mezbaan would fit the bill of a great Indian restaurant at all. But we did find something new … something unique in this restaurant that makes me want to come back again.
There was no customer in Mezbaan when we walked in shortly after 5PM. As a matter of fact, there was only one other customer the whole night we were there.
The decor was painted in warm orange color. Suanne said she noticed a lot of Indian restaurants are painted in this color. Well, I thought it is because it is the colour of the national flag on India. I made that answer up but I do sound convincing, don’t I? :-)
The Chef served us. I know he is the chef because I had just read on the newspaper reviews by the entrance about the restaurant. The Chef’s name is TJ and the newspaper clipping said that Mezbaan is North Indian and that Chef TJ grinds his own masala spice. They don’t use branded, pre-made spices in their cooking. I thought it was a good thing to call out.
Chef TJ was an obliging man but I think he was kind of suspicious and uncomfortable with us. We were asking way too many questions and I had a big camera in my hands and Suanne has a pen in hers, catching every word he was saying onto her notebook. Chef TJ did not ask what we were doing but am sure that was the question in his mind.
Apparently, Mezbaan has been in operation for 11 months already. The word Mezbaan means “unique host” in the Urdu language.
We were served Papadams. It was small and rolled into a cone. I wished it is of the larger pieces that we find else where. I could eat tons of this. Too little here.
Are these expensive? If not, they should serve this in stacks for the customer like restaurants do with bread.
The papadams were served with the usual tamarind sauce as a dip. Sour and spicy is how the sauce tasted. I prefer eating this plain sans sauce.
We started with Prawn Pakoras ($9) as appetizers. This was nice. The prawns were a bit on the small side.
It was cooked in a crispy seasoned batter. The batter is very thin, not as crispy as we expected. Pakoras usually are heavy in batter but not this one. Even though we did not expect it to look like this, we like it.
Despite the size of the prawns, the deshelled prawn was springy. It tasted good.
We did not know what to get for the mains and asked Chef TJ what he thinks is the best in the kitchen today. Without hesitation, he said we should try his … Lamb Methi. I did not ask but I think the word Methi is the name of a spice, a herb or something.
The Lamb Methi is $13. Chef TJ said it is big enough to share if we add on rice or naan to go with it. It sure was! We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the serving. Some other places would serve curries in small copper bowls but here it’s bigger than that.
It is boneless lamb cooked with creamy onion sauce with a touch of fenugreek which I think is equivalent to Methi. For once, we ask for medium spicy this time.
Mezbaan had a few types of bread on their menu. They also have a Bread Basket ($3.75) which consists of 3 types of bread. We got that — wanted variety to taste. The three types of bread are plain naan, garlic & basil naan and Lechhedar Paratha.
The Lechhedar Paratha is a multi layered flaky whole wheat bread with butter – lightly crispy outside. It is very much like Roti Canai but without the grease. Suanne likes the Paratha but I was not too excited over it.
Instead I thought that their naan is super. It is so pillowy soft to the touch too. Between the plain and the garlic+basil, I like the flavoured one better. There were lots of flavour with that garlic and basil.
We enjoyed this very much. There were lots of gravy which was very rich in spices and creamy. Between Suanne and I, we did not care … we double-dipped into the curry. Errr … got a question for you … do you find it gross doing it with your significant other? LOL!
That was all we had. Actually it was very filling because of all the bread too.
The bill came to just over $25 before tips. I thought it was quite cheap considering that we often spend more than that for our Friday night out.
Oh … I was telling you earlier about that unique thingy that they have on the menu. There are two items that require you to pre-order 24 hours in advance. Chef TJ told me that these two very traditional menu items are ONLY served in Mezbaan and that we should try it.
The thing is it serves 6-8 people and the price is based on Market price. It is normally about $60-$80 which works out to be about $10 per person. The two items are:
- Tandoori Raan - whole lamb leg marinated in yogurt, garlic, ginger and special Indian herbs. Cooked in Tandoori and served on a platter.
- MurghMusallum - Whole chicken stuffed with minced and rice, grilled in Tandoori and cooked in cashew sauce.
Suanne and I wanted so much to try this but we need people to join us. Anyone want to do this with us? I was thinking of a Saturday dinner within the next 2-3 Saturdays. Let me know by way of email or comment. We only need a minimum of six people but if we can get 12, we can order BOTH of their specials. I promise you that I will not double dip into the curry if you join us. Cross my heart and hope to die.
Below is their takeout menu. We wanted to also try their signature fusion dishes too … like Mexican Chicken and Mango Chicken.