If you walked into Ashoka Bistro Bar blindfolded, the aroma from exotic spices and the tandoor oven would be an easy giveaway that you were in an Indian restaurant and about to have a meal you wouldn’t forget.
But if you walked in only relying on your sense of sight, you’d think you’d be in for a completely different experience. Beautiful dark wood adorns each wall and among the woodwork, hangs hundreds of wine bottles from all over the world. You would realize you were in a luxury wine bar.
That is exactly what owner Gulab Gill was trying to achieve – a fusion of traditional, fresh and delicious Indian food in a modern, upscale setting.
“What we’ve done is create a modern atmosphere and brought in countless wines that all pair with our various dishes,” he said.
Although the restaurant is still only just a few weeks old, Gill says serving great food is a family tradition. This is his second restaurant, his first serves vegetarian dishes in Surrey, BC. His family in India runs a large farm but also a huge banquet hall, where they share their freshly grown ingredients with the local crowd.
A great way to start a meal at Ashoka is with an order of samosas, which they have several to choose from. On the outside, they were light and flaky, while the inside was rich with flavour and spices. The paneer pakora, which is homemade cheese stuffed with mint and spices, then dipped in batter and deep-fried, were also a treat.
It would be a shame not to try something from the tandoor and the tandoori shrimp didn’t disappoint. They marinated with just the right amount of spice and were loaded with flavour. They were cooked to just the right tenderness in the traditional Indian oven.
It would also be hard to pass up a curry dish and the chicken korma was a hit. The sauce was rich and creamy, and especially delicious when wiped up with a side of garlic naan bread.
Ashoka only offers a la carte service in the evenings and has a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Gill says it is perfect for those who work in the area, even if they have a short lunch break. They also offer take-out and catering.
Stay tuned as they will soon be offering special wine nights, which will involve tastings and a sommelier who will recommend pairings.
This restaurant review, written by Sherwood Park freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published in Sherwood Park News.