Vikram Vij’s renowned Indian food coming to Surrey

Vikram Vij is shown in a handout photo by his food truck Vij’s Railway Express. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-curve communications

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

After 20 years in Vancouver, restaurateur Vikram Vij is finally bringing his renowned Indian food to South Surrey.

No, not delivery — but his first-ever Surrey restaurant at 24th Avenue and Croydon Drive.

“I’ve got a huge South Surrey clientele who loves good Indian food,” Vij told Vancouver Desi. “It’s time for us to kind of bridge that gap a little bit and say, ‘We’re going to come to you’ … rather than always saying, ‘You should come downtown or always come to the centre of the city.’”

Vij’s signature brand already extends past Vancouver city limits, with the drawing power of his trademark Vij’s Restaurant on West 11th Avenue, his eat-in and take-out, market-style restaurant Rangoli next door, his Vij’s Railway Express food truck, a sister restaurant in Seattle called Shanik, as well as a couple of cookbooks and a product line sold in grocery stores.

The latest South Surrey addition, called My Shanti, is expected to open mid-April and will offer a varied menu designed by Vij that will touch upon his famed take on Indian flavours.

“The beautiful part of Indian cooking is it’s so versatile,” he said. “You can do so many concepts within the cuisine itself.”

The My Shanti menu will draw inspiration from Vij’s annual travels to India and will rotate every season to showcase meals from the different Indian cities and towns he visits.

Vij compared India to Canada in the sense that only larger cities like Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto are considered culinary hubs.

“Canada is based on so many other places — Prince Rupert, St. John’s — small little towns,” Vij explained. “(My Shanti) will encompass that, but showcase that aspect of India.”

Considering the success of such large fine-casual dining chains as Earls and Cactus Club in Surrey, Vij believes there’s space for smaller establishments to flourish.

“I think there is a niche for an Indian restaurant like ours,” he said.

My Shanti is just one of Vij’s latest endeavours.

The current Vij’s Restaurant is scheduled to move to Cambie Street by October, with a “new concept” moving into the West 11th location. Vij divulged very few details on his “new concept,” except to say that he expects to unveil it about seven months after the Cambie Street location is up and running.

Vij has also secured a part on CBC reality show Dragon’s Den, alongside investment mogul Michael Wekerle, to replace outgoing judges Kevin O’Leary — one of the original dragons — and Internet whiz Bruce Croxon. The chef will be joining marketing expert Arlene Dickinson, The Wealthy Barber author David Chilton and franchise king Jim Treliving, in scrutinizing weekly pitches from wannabe entrepreneurs.

Vij, already a familiar face to TV audiences as a past judge on Food Network’s Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada, as well as CBC’s Recipe to Riches, is gearing up to leave for Toronto next Friday, where he’ll begin taping for the series, which will air Wednesdays on CBC in the fall.

— with a file from CP

lcahute@vancouverdesi.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

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