My partner and I went to Vij's this past weekend after hearing many (mixed, mostly good) reviews. We knew to expect a wait (although we deliberately went a little later to avoid the beginning-of-dinner rush). First impressions: the room in general could do with a little touching up. For a supposedly 'higher-end' Indian place, the decor seemed a tad amateurish. This is Vancouver, after all. First impressions do matter. This impression was carried through to the rather desolate back bar. Emphasized by near emptiness, the space was poorly done-up indeed.
We had a drink each while waiting and before we were done with them, we were informed that our table was ready. Wait time was definitely reasonable, and the much-heralded 'complimentary' appetizers tasted great. I was definitely prepared to forgive the mediocre decor if dinner tasted as great as their little amuse-bouches. We ordered the punjabi heart attacks and samosas to start, and their famous lamb popsicles plus the halibut and BC Spot Prawns for mains.
Punjabi heart attacks were... interesting. While tasty, they were really nothing to write home about. The quinoa 'palate cleanser' was the star of that dish. Similar for the samosas. Technically well prepared, but nowhere close to amazing; the tomato chutney stole that show.
Our theme was emerging here. For the mains, the sauces easily outperformed the proteins. So much flavour and nuance. However, my partner's halibut was tough. To overcook a piece of fish, and to completely dry out the BC Spot Prawns, is frankly, a rookie mistake at this level of restaurant. The lamb, too, could have used a few less minutes of grilling. In talking with other foodie friends, one came up with an interesting theory - could the cooks who prepared the food be vegetarian? All the vege components were, to be fair, incredible. But there appeared to be no testing for the done-ness of the meat/fish before it was brought out to the table.
The constant attention by the waitresses (refilling of drinks, checking on how we were) was great; service was impeccable. There's no mistaking that this food has all the makings of a truly elevated dining experience. We will probably be back, in the hopes that our meat was prepared on an off night. I'm hoping to be able to write a more favourable review then.