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Shafi Tandoori Grill

December 20, 2010

Veggie Samosas

Possibly the best veggie samosas ever

My evening started a little irately. Rob and I were at the horrendous South Edmonton Common big box stores on a Saturday afternoon the week before Christmas—I know, what were we thinking?—looking at possible furniture additions to our too-big-to-completely-furnish suburban home, when we were struck with the munchies. Since it seemed to be the only joint in town that offered Amber’s Brewery beer on tap and due to Sharon’s recommendation, we thought hey, let’s try out this new Local Public Eatery.

Unfortunately, that’s really all I can say about that, as we left before eating anything. Perhaps it was simple absentmindedness, confusion, or misplaced tickets, but I think the kitchen forgot our order. A table that arrived when we did, as well as a table that arrived after us, all received their food well before we did. As we stared longingly at the open kitchen, we noticed two burgers sitting at the pass for what seemed like an eternity. Were those ours? Grumbling, I started referring to Ramsay’s various shows and how important it is to get food out ASAP after quality check, especially since there were no heat lamps to help preserve some of the food while it sat. Our hearts sank when we saw a waitress—not our original one—grab the burgers lying there to place it on our table.

We suspected the food was already cold so when the waitress arrived with our order, so we asked her why the food was late, concurrently poking at our food to confirm our suspicions. In case she didn’t believe us, Rob asked the waitress to touch a limp fry to confirm that we weren’t just being drama queens, the food was cold. Now, both this particular waitress—our original one somehow disappeared—and the manager were very kind and swift in trying to handle the situation. Our food and beverages were comped, and he asked if we’d like a complimentary appetizer to stick around. He also handed us a gift card and his business card to use in the future. So, I can’t fault the restaurant’s damage control, I just wish it hadn’t led to that.

Rob and I decided to simply leave the restaurant, and I’m unsure when or if we will return, gift card or not.

But, our story has a happy ending!

Rob and I are rarely on the south side, but it gave us options to try out some places recommended to us. At a friend’s Christmas shindig, we met a lovely Indian couple that outlined their favourite haunts in Edmonton. We lamented over how hard it is to find food that stood up to our childhood, as a lot of ethnic eateries try to smother things in sauce and pass it off as authentic. They spoke of a “hole in the wall” in a street filled with Indian restaurants and car dealerships (I know, odd combination). This hole in the wall is called Shafi Tandoori Grill.

Grilled Lamb ChopsTandoori Chicken Half

Grilled lamb chops, left. Tandoori chicken half, right.

The restaurant is a simple one, perhaps ten tables in total, on the side of a strip mall that could be easily missed, especially since the city’s largest Indian chain, New Asian Village, dominates the block. However, we were determined to find this little place to try it out, and we did almost by accident. While they did have a buffet available—apparently only there to compete with the popular chains and expectations—our friends specifically recommended the ala carte menu.

When we entered, we were greeted by who I assume is Shafi’s friendly owner. A slight man with a wide smile, he was very accommodating and loved to crack the occasional joke. Even though it was dinner time, we were the only table sitting in for the majority of the time, which I didn’t mind at all. Our friends explained that since the food was homemade, to note that it may take some time for our food to arrive. Armed with that knowledge, we ordered samosas right away to simply fill our bellies.

It happened to be one of the best samosas I’ve ever tasted. Smothered in what looked like a mix of chutney and yogurt, the crispy samosas and chickpeas, weren’t what I expected. Other samosa experiences had sauce and samosa separated, and never with chickpeas. As the samosas were revealed, I let out a “Oooh, aaaah” at which point the owner said, “Don’t say that! You haven’t even tasted it yet. If you like it, I’ll charge you double price.”

It was a good thing we did order the samosas because our other orders did take some time to arrive. Which was okay, since we were quite satisfied with our appetizers and the large LCD TV blasted CNN to help bide away the time. However, when our orders finally arrived, we couldn’t have been more pleased. Rob and I are not Indian food connoisseurs by any stretch, but we were familiar with the buffet options out there. However, the tandoori chicken and grilled lamb with chutney were unlike what we normally tasted. And it tasted good!

Earlier on, he had asked if we wanted a “genuine” spicy or if we wanted something milder. Of course, we asked for genuine, and I’m glad. The flavours were a great mix of sweet and just the right amount of heat. I feel like the lamb chops could have been more substantial (thicker), but since I had two slices of them, it sort of made up for it. Rob had zero complaints about his tandoori chicken half and spicy sauce. It wasn’t a gourmet meal by any means, but it did feel like I was just invited over for dinner in someone’s house.

So, if you feel like eating what seems to be authentic Indian food, Shafi is highly recommended.

Shafi Tandoori Grill
3444 93 St / Edmonton, AB / 780-462-3556
Sun, Mon: 11 am - 9 pm / Wed-Sat: 11am - 9:30pm / Tue: Closed

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