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Friday 6 January 2012

Zaika Indian Bistro Bar Edmonton, AB - yummy fish pakora and buffet!

Rating Food 7.75/10 Service 7.5/10
For a get together with OP who was in town, Kiwi rounded up the crew and we all braved the snowy weather and were greeted at the door by warmth and scents of spices from much much warmer climes.  Its a dimly lit large dining area with a round buffet table dividing it from the lounge with belly dancing towards the end of the night.  Dark walls are enlivened with contemporary art pieces including a striking photo of a woman with killer eye makeup.  As the place was packed, we're glad Kiwi made reservations ahead of time. 

Round entree buffet table with lounge in background
A decent variety of cocktails and fruit lassi's, as well as a small selection of wine and beer are available. Some of us went with the mango lassi (sorry, no pic), just in case the food turned out to be on the spicier side... its a wonderful yogurty way to cool down your mouth!  As we were a big group and our long table wasn't really conducive to sharing food easily, we all opted for the buffet, with its hot entrees in the centre round buffet display, and a regular long buffet table for salads and desserts.

the FOOD
Since its a buffet, and we didn't want the staff getting upset if we plated everything individually (looks nicer, but we valued our necks lol!), pics show foods piled onto plates (labelled), and there's a "seconds" plate for really yummy or new stuff that showed up during the second time we explored the buffet tables.
Plain naan
Butter, onion and garlic naan is available on the menu, but unlimited plain naan is available at the buffet. Though the hot fresh naan is constantly topped up at the buffet table and covered, this plain naan was a bit disappointing as it was on the tough and chewy side.  I prefer Khazana's naan better as its soft and tender, but to each their own!

Butter chicken
Large chunks of boneless chicken breast swims lazily in a butter chicken sauce redolent in spices, cream and lots of pureed tomatoes. Served with some fragrant basmati rice or with the plain naan, this was a comforting dish.  Though it was nice change the chicken was boneless, the dish was missing the savouriness imparted by bone-in chicken being cooked.
Lamb roganjosh
Generous cubes of goat meat are gently stewed in this dish. Oddly, the lamb isn't cooked until the meat is fall off the bone tender, but until it is well done and a bit chewy as a result. The spices used in this dish masks some of the gaminess of the meat.

Paneer makhani
Whoops, that should be lamb roganjosh, not goat curry!
The favourite way (and only way I eat cottage cheese)! Triangular pieces of warm cottage cheese is saturated with a rich velvety herbed tomato cream sauce. The cottage cheese takes on the flavors like a sponge and is a must try. A few of our friends were dubious, and then had seconds.. nom! Bonus points for making the cheese in house.
Mango chicken
We had mixed views on the mango chicken, which Zaika is known for. Some of us enjoyed it, while others found the subtle mango flavor almost non-existent. Large pieces of slightly overcooked chicken are smothered in a bright orange sauce which had the fragrance of mangoes, but only a subtle flavor - fruit flavors tend to disappear when heated. A hit of citrus either in the sauce or as zest would have brought out the mango flavors more.

Mushrooms in butter
Large mushrooms are bathed in a brown butter sauce with notes of chilies to enliven up the dish. Hey, we needed our veges!  Some of us hit up the salad bar (I think I had a Greek salad like salad in the centre of my plate) as it had a small selection of cold pasta salads, lettuce and cold veges, everyone else had the mushrooms!
Chana masala
A earthy dish with simply chickpeas cooked until soft in spices and chilies. A bit spicier than other Indian restaurants, its mild bite increases in intensity as you eat more.
Vegetarian samosa
The exterior was a bit hard and thick, despite it being freshly fried and hot. The samosa was packed full of seasoned diced potato, onion and green peas. Ended up eating the interior and left most of the dough untouched

Spring rolls
I know, Indian spring rolls? There's a first for everything. Maybe the kitchen were experimenting, as these are not on the regular menu.  They were lightly crispy on the outside, with a light savoury mixture of seasoned vegetables on the inside.
Fish pakora
These little nuggets of seasoned and lightly battered fish was amazing.  Most of us went back for seconds because the fish was marinated in secret red spices before being lightly battered and cooked to a super moist and melt in your mouth texture inside and light and crisp on the outside. Served with a tangy green mint/tamarind and Indian spiced sauce (found at the salad bar) which another Indian guest encouraged us to eat it with (as he liberally doused his entire plate of fish pakora with it)... Nom!!!

Being way too full after have a few servings more of the fish pakora, we had very little room left for dessert. Some of us shared the Indian rice pudding with pistachios (no pic), while the rest of us sampled fruits, and desserts available at the dessert bar. The white disk like homemade dumpling tasted like a handful of freshly grated coconut shaped into a disk and saturated with a condensed milk sauce flavoured very lightly with cardamon - a hit with coconut lovers at our table. The mango custard goo which was light and non-artificial tasting went well with various cut up fruit.

Overall, a good place for Indian fare, especially if you're heading with large groups as they have the room to accommodate. The naan and a few other items need a bit of fine tuning, but don't pass up the wonderful fish pakora... especially when served with that tamarind sauce.  Nom! The fish pakora is well worth the drive!

Zaika Indian Bistro Bar
2303 Ellwood Drive, Ellerslie Crossroads Southwest, Edmonton, AB
Phone (780) 462-8722
Hours Sun–Thurs 11am to 9pm, Fri–Sat 11am to 10pm
Zaika Indian Bistro Bar on Urbanspoon


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KimHo said...

In the title, shouldn't it be fish "pakora"? Just saying... ;)

Food actually looks quite good, specially (or probably because) most of the Indian places in Vancouver I have visited leans more towards the heavier cream based curries.

On that note, have you been to Narayanni's? It is located near Whyte Ave and, when I went there with a friend, her biggest disappointment was that they didn't have butter chicken. Reason? They are South African (?) Indian cuisine which does NOT use cream - an interesting departure from what I have had.

Also notice I mentioned "most of the Indian places". There are a handful south Indian restaurants which serves their own specialty: dosas. I think two places in Edmonton serves them: Savoy's (near Southgate) and Remedy. Oh, well, more exploration for you? ;) said...

Hey Kimho,

Thanks for the spelling catch.. Got it right in the pics and text, but goofed on the title :p git tamarind sauce in the brain I guess :). Havent tried Narayanni's yet, and not a huge fan of Remedy's curries.. Smell great, but find the flavors lacking. Guru's worth a try (avoid bland skewers and stick with the curries) tho they're a bit more on the pricier side... Some liked it for the various different styles of red/yellow/green curries +/- cream, some didnt. to each their own!

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