On Tandoori Kona and Future Cross-Stitching Projects.

Friday I awoke to the pitter patter of more rain.  Trying to remain the optimist I claimed to be yesterday, I thought “Here’s an excellent opportunity to have more comfort food, which I love.”  Ok, optimistic-self, will do.

On cold days I crave saucy, braised meat; the words “sauce” and “slow-braise” might as well be cross-stitched on my pillow I love them so, so much.  I remembered a few readers suggesting an Indian restaurant at Cambie and Number 5 Road, and it was settled.  Day 3 would be Tandoori Kona.

Richmond isn’t exactly known for Indian food, but this place was so good maybe it should be.  I invited my friend Joey along because a) she had the day off, b) we had a lot of catching up to do, and c) the girl LOVES Indian food.  She’s also approximately 1/3 my size and still manages to eat more than me, which amongst her many fine qualities I’ll find forever endearing.

Tandoori Kona, like Pho Han, is in a strip mall.  Since we were there in the afternoon, only a few other tables were occupied; two of the three groups were Indian patrons, however, which is always a good sign.

Perusing their menu was excruciating.  Cross-eyed with hunger, I wanted to declare (with a wide sweep of my arm) “we’ll take one of everything!” but managed to narrow it down.  We started with the Mixed Appetizer Platter ($7.95), which I’d hoped would let us try pakoras, onion bahjis, and samosas, but it was actually just vegtable, chicken, and fish pakoras.  I found the fish a bit overdone, but liked the others.  The platter came with two sauces, one spicy and the other sweet, which was made from tamarind.  I may have to cross-stitch the phrase “I HEART TAMARIND SAUCE” onto my pillow, too.

For mains, we ordered the Goat Saag ($13.95) and Tandoori Chicken ($11.95 a la carte), with condiments picked and paid for separately.  My nickname as a child was “The Condiment Queen,” so it’s no surprise that we ordered all three – raita, mango chutney, and mango pickles.  The saag came with rice and naan, which was enough for the two of us.

The goat was just what I’d been craving, slowly braised and served in a thick, spiced, spinach-y sauce.  Sizzling and red, the chicken arrived fresh from the tandoor, and the naan was soft and charred.

I love the salty and strong flavour of mango pickles, but if you’re trying them for the first time, I’d suggest cutting off only the tiniest sliver and starting with that.  They may look and sound cute (heck, MIA sang about them with kids), but mango pickles do not mess around.  Start slow.

For drinks we tried the mango lassi and chai.  The lassi – made with plain natural yogurt and fresh mango – was just as sour as it was sweet, and I’d gladly drink one each day with breakfast.  The chai, which was unsweetened with a bowl of sugar on the side, was milky and tasted of cardamom.  Some folks might like theirs  stronger, but I enjoyed its mild spice, and we didn’t need to add a grain of sugar to it.

My only complaint about the food was that the rice appeared to be mixed with frozen peas and chopped frozen carrots, which I found odd considering the quality of everything else.  But I was way too deep in a slow-braised nirvana to really care.  I also felt like our server might have struggled if he’d had more than two tables to deal with, but he was so darn polite that that didn’t matter either.

For $60.22 (including a 20% tip), we were absolutely stuffed and had plenty of leftovers.  I’d suggest going in a group, ordering a ton of dishes, and enjoying it all while swaying to their mix of Bollywood and quasi-mainstream hits.  I would definitely go back to Tandoori Kona, and hope you’ll give it a try.

I’m also pleased to inform you that I’ve finally dealt with my grumpy rhubarb, though for anyone slightly confused about why I’ll be sharing more than just restaurant reviews, I’d like to explain now.  I believe strongly that food blogs can carve their own path rather than following those which have come before, and I’d like to make this blog about more than just restaurants.  It’s about my personal journey through Richmond – a city which has a lot more to offer than food alone – and the highs and lows of taking on 365 posts in one year.

I want to celebrate and enjoy food in dynamic ways, so in addition to food reviews, I’ll be sharing recipes, favourite dishes, and good food stories.  This is also to include people who may live nowhere near Richmond, but would still like to be involved.  Then when they do fly into Richmond someday, hopefully they’ll be ready and excited to taste some of its absolutely incredible cuisine.  Like I said yesterday, I greatly appreciate the feedback and support I’ve received, and hope I’m on my way to balancing it all well!

So now it’s time to introduce stewed rhubarb!  This was one of the simplest things I’ve ever made, and so good that I’ve already eaten half of it.  Here’s a link to the basic recipe I used, which I adjusted to fit my small amount of rhubarb and love of spice.  All in all, to the rhubarb I added sugar, orange peel, a pinch of vanilla salt, cracked whole allspice, two cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and chopped candied ginger.  I stirred in about a half cup of water, let it sit for a bit, then boiled it over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.  I was left with a kind of fragrant rhubarb sauce, ruby-red and ever so photogenic.  I’ve eaten it with plain yogurt, but would also love to try it on ice cream, or on something savoury like roast pork.  Hurray for rhubarb season, and perhaps I can pickup more next weekend at the Steveston Farmers Market!

 

48 Comments

  1. L

    Delicious; Indian is my favourite. Also, where would one pick up vanilla sugar? Or did you do the vanilla bean in a jar of sugar trick?

    Reply
    • Lindsay365

      Hi L,

      I actually used just a pinch of vanilla salt, which was given to me as a gift. The brand is “Halen Mon,” and it’s ‘pure sea salt with Taha’a vanilla.’ Not entirely sure where the gift-giver found it, but what would be even more spectacular in the stewed rhubarb is a split vanilla bean! Or, homemade vanilla sugar, as you suggested.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Lisa

    I can’t believe how unnecessarily harsh some of the comments on the first post were – it was your FIRST DAY! But I don’t think anyone would be able to argue that this was thorough, informative and beautiful to look at.

    Also you’re clearly willing to be adventurous with your choices, and have the readers in mind when selecting certain dishes. I wonder if maybe you fancied just a glass of water or a cold beer with your meal? But instead you chose to sample two classically Indian drinks – for the benefit of the blog.

    Great work Lindsay – really enjoying the posts so far!

    Reply
  3. Jeremy

    Great post! I like how you are balancing this blog quite well, and I don’t feel like I am reading a google search from urbanspoon. There’s character here.

    Reply
  4. Jeff

    Enjoying your blog now. The photos are really good specially the macro shots. I now look forward to it. BTW, the RSS feed doesn’t seem to work for me. Not sure it’s just me. I’m using Google readee.

    And if you visit Tandoori Kona again, try their butter chicken. It’s one of the best in the Lower Mainland. I appreciate you ordering the goat though. Butter chicken is too common.

    Reply
  5. Alikhan

    Just a heads up for your readers the restaurant is located at Cambe Road and No. 5 Road (number 5 road) in the Cambie Plaza; unlikely to find anything “Indian” at Cambie Road and No. 3rd. Keep on eating!

    Reply
    • GS

      Hi Alikhan,
      Funny comment.
      Richmond may be culturally diverse, but there are some clearly defined racial boundaries.
      I can’ t use the word enclaves, as this would be politically incorrect.

      Reply
  6. Hanz

    Really enjoying your blog so far Linds.

    Your unpretentious and optimistic style is always refreshing.

    I enjoy the variety of your expression; rather than a typical food blog which focuses solely on the foody details, you take the reader on a journey. Eating is so much more than just the food, it’s about being connected–to others, to the world, to ourselves… you get that. I love it.

    Reply
  7. Steph

    Spot on! Informative, personal storytelling. Delicious and delightful!

    Reply
  8. Joanne

    I grew up living by this restaurant. My parents still live near by and I’ve never ever eaten there before. I might just have to now. :)

    Reply
  9. Carlyle Machinski

    Lindsay, I love your food journal.

    Strangely enough I was at Tandoori Kona last night for dinner! The place rocks! The appetizers are amazing and the butter chicken, hands down, is the best in the lower mainland! Cheers for selecting this place!

    I look forward to reading more about your food adventures in Richmond.

    Reply
  10. cwid

    Great post, Lindsay. You are on your way to hitting your stride. Richmond is a place where urban meets rural seamlessly. Drive from its busy down town core towards the north or to the east and you will find vast farmlands. Perhaps you can write about these farms and their produce now that summertime is almost here. One example is Richmond Country Farms which produce the sweetest corn harvested directly from their farms close by. Knowing how produce gets to the dinner table would be a good way of promoting the farm-to-table experience.

    Reply
    • Lindsay365

      cwid, you can be sure I’ll be seeking as many farm-to-table experiences as possible. I’m so excited that summer’s just around the corner and we’ll have more fresh produce than we even know what to do with! If you have any more suggestions re: farms and markets, I’d be so happy to hear them.

      Reply
  11. Lisa

    I used to live near this restaurant and ate there a few times and thought it was great.
    I am also trying to subscribe to this blog through google reader and it wasn’t working.

    Reply
  12. Amanda

    Way to go with this post. Nice to read on a rainy Saturday in maple ridge!

    Reply
  13. Jessica

    Loving the blog so far! I really enjoy your storytelling and sense of humour. Glad to see pretentious Mr. GP has given us a break from his thoughts on it all!

    Reply
    • GS

      Hi all,
      Give Gp a break, after all this is a free country and he has a right to his view.
      I think Lindsay is doing a good job, but we also must keep in mind that it is the Richmond taxpayer who pays her salary and benefits, and therefore, GP, as a Richmond taxpayer, has a right to voice his opinion.

      Reply
      • GP

        Thanks GS for speaking out for me. To Lindsay and to all readers, I apologize that my previous comments have been harsh. I am a Richmond resident and I just want to see the best results to come out of this blog initiative. Now that I have seen the quality of the last 2 posts in both narrative and photos, I am becoming a fan. However, I still believe it is preferable to have someone with a good knowledge of the cuisines being blogged. But no more rants to come from me for sure.

        BTW, GS, Tourism Richmond is not funded by taxpayers. Its operating budget comes from the 2% hotel tax and from corporate sponsors.

        Reply
        • GS

          Just curious,
          Who’s collecting the 2 percent Hotel Tax?

          Reply
          • GP

            GS, I’m not exactly sure who collects and distributes it to the cities and municipalities. Here is a little blurb I found online describing this tax.

            The Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) is a tax of up to 2% that registered operators of hotels, motels and other lodgings in certain areas of the province may be required to charge on the purchase price of taxable accommodation. The MRDT is intended to assist municipalities, regional districts and other eligible entities in promoting their tourism industry and financing new tourist facilities or programs.

            Source: http://www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/business/consumer_taxes/Hotel_Room_Tax/hotel_room_tax.htm

  14. Lindsay Kwasnicia

    Hey Linds! I am just loving your blogs! I think it is a great idea to share your journey through Richmond and recipe ideas along with your restaurant reviews. I will definitely be making that stewed rhubarb soon! LK

    Reply
  15. Karen Kristensen

    Bananas with Ruby Sauce
    For two

    Slice a banana in half and then lengthwise.
    Put a scoop of vanilla icecream on a plate, add 2 pices of banana and then add your luscious Ruby Sauce, topping it off with a sprinkling of toasted slivered almonds.

    My favourite desert. Only I will make it with your rhubarb sauce from now on.

    Really enjoying your blog.

    Reply
  16. Mary

    Good job on today’s post, Linds. Loved the photos and the dishes you chose, as well as your wonderful writing. I agree with Hanz – spot on!

    Reply
  17. KimHo

    Just noticed something interesting in this post and went back to your previous post to confirm it wasn’t a one instance: you post the price and tips. There has been odd discussions as to how much one should tip in restaurants and, in your posts, you have used the 20% figure. Is that mandated to you or something you have used all the time? The reason I ask is, in the event somebody not from Metro Vancouver reads it, it will set expectations and, for locals, it might be weird. (As a side note, I usually give between 15% to 20% in Canada, while, in the US, the starting point has been 20%).

    Reply
    • GS

      Good point, KimHo,
      A 20% tip seems a little over the top for a strip mall restaurant with skeleton staff and much lower overhead than larger restaurants.
      As GP would say: This is on the Richmond Taxpayer’s tap.

      Reply
      • Lindsay365

        Hi everyone,

        As GP pointed out, Tourism Richmond is not funded by taxpayers’ money, so you don’t have to worry me spending your hard-earned dollars! As far as tipping is concerned, I come from years in the service industry, and former servers are traditionally very good tippers. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in a small operation in a strip-mall or a fine-dining mecca; if I receive good service, I tip accordingly. It’s not an easy job! Also, I include the tip within my spending budget, not beyond it. I hope that addresses your questions – thanks for reading!

        Reply
        • Tourism Richmond

          We are thrilled to see so many people following and engaged with Lindsay’s unique culinary adventure in Richmond.

          Over the weekend, we noticed that there were a few questions with regard to how the Richmond Foodie Blogger position is funded so I wanted to take a moment to provide some answers.

          The 365 Days of Dining campaign is a one-of-a-kind Tourism Richmond creative initiative. The campaign is not related to the City of Richmond, city funding or municipal taxes. Tourism Richmond is a non-profit, membership driven destination marketing organization (DMO) that is funded by a 2% tax collected by the Richmond-based hotels and through our membership fees. Our mandate is to increase awareness about Richmond as an exciting travel destination through sales and marketing initiatives.

          Our aim for the 365 Days of Dining campaign is to capitalize on the international rise in culinary tourism and showcase Richmond as a hidden gastronomic gem to visitors and tourists. The blog is meant to tell Richmond’s story through food, but Lindsay will also be writing about the people, places, events and activities that make our city special.

          Once again, thank you to everyone for enthusiastically supporting Lindsay in her first five days on the job. We can’t wait to read her next 360 posts!

          Tracy Lakeman
          CEO, Tourism Richmond

          Reply
  18. Kerry McG.

    Great work so far, Lindsay! A post full of Indian food, rhubarb and cross-stitching– you know the way to my heart. :)

    Reply
  19. NancyLee

    Another great post, Lindsay! I love the close up pictures and your own bonus recipe is well appreciated. I love, love East Indian cuisine and aromas of different spices. I make sure I have each stored in my kitchen. I remember finding this specialty store when I used to live in uptown New Westminster. To my surprise, they had all kinds of spices that you can hardly find in the grocery store. What best way to use them but on East Indian cuisine. And tamarind sauce? Oh my! I miss home! On the tip side, If I find that service is great, food is well served with a smile, and I can taste the love put on cooking, I would go 20% and even higher- no exemptions! So far, our best to go place on the island is Amrikkos. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s venture and wish you a sunny one.

    Reply
  20. Robert

    An East Indian guy recently told me Tandoori Kona had the best Indian food in Richmond, but I haven’t tried it yet. Thanks for the recommendations.

    Reply
  21. Star

    We just went here for lunch today on your recommendation. Although, there are no free appetizers, fantastic wines or lamb popsicles on offer, this food gave Vikram Vij a run for best Indian according to our, humble, taste buds! The “hot” was real Indian hot, so spicy and filled with flavour. Loved it.
    Thank you,
    S.

    Reply
  22. JJ

    Tandoori Kona is one of my favourite places to eat – ask for the garlic naan next time, it’s garlicky delicious! Other great dishes – chicken biryani, butter chicken, and lamb tikka (you need more people to come with you so you can order more from the menu – I volunteer!). By the way, it is crazy busy at lunch time, and dinner time can also be very busy. It’s also a very popular take out spot, since seating is limited. I’m not sure if you’re going to the restaurants during a busy time, but it might be worthwhile to observe what a dinner or lunch rush looks like otherwise there may be a false impression of consistent availability… Also one other point to note for anyone interested – Tandoori Kona has a coupon in the Entertainment Book. And as previously mentioned – it is on Cambie by 5 Rd, not 3 Rd.

    Reply
  23. JJ

    Tandoori Kona is the best Indian restaurant in Richmond,mind you there are only three Indian restaurants in Richmond

    Reply
  24. Richmond Lover

    Hi Lindsay! First of all, Congrats! ;)

    I’m a Richmond resident (Japanese) and love love love Richmond because of the delicious food, great people, better weather (than DT! seriously!;)). So it’s quite natural that I love to follow your journey here!

    Been reading your blog, I thought of one thing…
    You need someone who actually knows “what to order” at each restaurants, otherwise you misse the “must-try” dish (like this time butter chicken! I can’t believe you didn’t try it….Totally missing out!) without knowing…and I hate to see it! Because I want you to love Richmond like I do! ;)

    I love KONA, so I wish you were informed their lunch special too… for lunch time, they are SUPER CHEAP! Under $10, you get 3 curries and piraf, salad, raita. *FYI Their naan is usually better at lunch hour somehow! It’s “crispy & chewy” at lunch hour. Dinner time, it’s usually soft side.

    I’m curious… how do you decide your next destination?
    I want to escourt you to my favorite places sometime!! ;)

    Reply
  25. ML

    I think you should update your blog stating where the restaurant is located- if someone doesn’t read the comments, they will be trapped on No.3rd!
    Also, I’d like to hear more about surroundings/environment. Although Kona has decent food, we found the surroundings dirty, shabby and service pretty poor (which you may have noticed if you ate there at dinnertime).
    We wouldn’t return and I am always surprised when people rave about it…guess my standards are too high! I would drive into Vancouver for Indian food rather than eat here again! I enjoy reading real reviews that get into the details and tell you the pros/cons…but maybe you can’t be too harsh because of who is paying you???? Just curious…

    Reply
  26. Jen

    Love love love stewed rhubarb!!! I just stew it with water and sugar though, so yummy! If you want a great little organic farm to visit this summer, go to Urban Edibles. They are on Steveston Hwy, on the south side between Gilbert and No 3 Road :)

    Reply
    • Lindsay365

      Urban Edibles, here I come! Thanks for the great suggestion, Jen.

      Reply
  27. Judy

    Other than my house for Indian food (and I am white) Tandoori Kona is my “go to” place for Indian food. Good review, totally agree with it. If you want an out of the way place for Asian try the River Club (virtually unknown place), it’s behind the Keg on Five Road. You gotta try the spicy fried tofu and the pan fried udon with whatever meat you want, or if you are really hungry the Showtime soup, everything but the Kitchen Sink for $10.00

    Reply
  28. Robert

    I am just back from an absolutely heavenly lunch at Tandoori Kona. It was my first time there. I ordered the lunch special and for $9.52 including tax (plus tip) it was one of the most wonderful meals I can remember. I may go back tomorrow because they told me they only have curried goat as part of the special on Fridays. By the way, I did not think the surroundings were at all dirty or shabby, and my service was excellent. It’s obviously not a white linen and crystal kind of place, just good, wholesome Indian food.

    Reply
    • Lindsay365

      Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it. The curried goat is so, so good.

      Reply
  29. Michael

    Great post! We ended up trying out this place after we read it here. It really gets packed during dining hours.

    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  30. mej42

    Seriously disappointed. Maybe the lack of Indian restaurants in Richmond contributes to the popularity of this place, but the food was, at best, good. There are plenty of places all over the lower mainland that are better and HAVE BETTER SERVICE! Honestly, to me it doesn’t matter if the food is to die for when the service is really, really bad. I ordered a beer when we first came in for lunch at 1:30 and it took 25 minutes for it to be delivered. Was it some cultural thing that they didn’t want to give alcohol to a woman? I had to ask FOUR times for it, and also twice for water. Food was delivered and we had to wait for utensils to eat it with. All this took place when there were only a few people in the restaurant. The crowning moment was in the bathroom WHICH WAS DISGUSTING!! It was obvious it hadn’t been cleaned for a long time. Feel like I need a shower now.

    Reply
  31. 3rdRock

    I must try this place soon. :)
    I searched the internet, yes I wouldn’t hesitate to visit this place. Love korma and naan.

    Reply
  32. Joe Ellison

    Tandoori Kona is one of my favorite restaurants ever! Their menu is straightforward and you get to choose from different meats or vegetarian curry dishes!

    Reply
  33. Sarah F

    Just catching up on your blog. OMG I love Tandori Kona!!!!!

    Reply
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