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The New Asian Villiage -- Guest Review by Owen

This will be a review in two parts. I went to the New Asian Villiage several months ago, and I was impressed by the food and the ambiance. Some people had mentioned to me that the service was particularly bad on a regular basis, but I really didn't think that was the case. The review of that trip will be the first portion of the review. But when I saw an ad on the A channel, proclaiming their selection of over 200 beers, 25 martinis, and status as "One of the top five ethnic resturants in Canada" how could I resist another look? That second look will comprise the second part of the review.

The first time I went, I recall we had saffron rice, Naan bread, Mutter Paneer, What I recall as Beef Dhansak, but could have been Lamb for all I remember, and Tandoori Chicken. Those are the dishes that I remember, again it was a long time ago, but I remember them being very very good. (with the exception of Tandoori Chicken. I know that this might make me sound like a bit of a heathen, but I have never really liked tandoori chicken, and this was no exception. This is no reflection on the resturaunt, you understand, I just don't particularly like the dish in general.) There were probably another couple of dishes, some kind of vegetable curry, and Saag Aloo come to mind, but this could just be because I have always had that sort of thing when I go for Indian Food. it could well have been something else, but anyhow, those are the dishes I remember. I had gone with some friends, one of whom is East Indian, and whose Idea it was to go there, and two friends from Calgary, whose taste for spicy food is not all that well developed. As a result we had all the food served at its "mild" setting. (Any dish can be ordered at, I seem to recall, five levels of spiciness, from mild to, I dunno, maybe vesuvian?) The dish that really grabbed me by the tastebuds and shook was the Mutter Paneer, which was in a very creamy, nicely flavourful sauce, which I couldn't get enough of. Definitely a try-again dish. Also very nice were the papadaams served with two kinds of chutney, including a nicely spicy tamarind chutney which went down lovely. The Naan bread was very good, (always one of my favourite things about indian food, actually.) and the evening was rounded out with some kind of guava cordial and Chai, which I (for some ungodly reason) did not have. It is definitely going on my list for the next trip.

What really got me about the first trip, and what I understand hasn't changed, was the belly dancing starting at about 9:00, featuring a dancer who was heavily tatooed with frizzy bleached blond hair. Not bad in and of itself, but maybe more appropriate at a middle eastern resturant, eh? Perhaps (and this may be just my own opinion) traditional Indian dancing would be appropriate if you are going to have dancing at all.

Anyway, That was how I saw the place the first time around. What will the next trip bring? We shall see soon.

Apparently, what this trip brings is an accidental journey to buffetville. How could we resist the siren song of all you can eat for fifteen bucks? And were we satisfied? You bet we were, and how. For the buffet, the rice is regular basmati or turmeric, which is all I expect for a buffet, and the Naan was fabulous. There was a selection of dishes, including a dal with dumplings, beef curry (how authentic), chickpeas, "beans aloo", tandoori chicken (I took a pass), and various other fine dishes. The spice level was what one might expect from a buffet, but the tamarind chutney was back, and there was a passable raita for a little freshness. Also available for your freshness needs were fresh fruit and vegetables. As buffets go, it was really good.

The drinks selection is actually quite staggering. There is a big big cooler full of different beers, about half of which I had never tried (most of those BC microbrews and yankee beers, and also there were a lot of empty slots that night) Along with a selection of fruit juices, plenty of martinis, and a nice wine list. As we sat down, Jesse asked, "what's the most expensive drink?" Grabbing the drinks menu. "Here or in general?" "In general." "Louie Trays," I replied. "You mean Louis XIII?" "Yeah" "Ninety five bucks a shot, before tax and tip."

Now that is a drinks selection worth driving an extra ten feet for. Of course for $95, I'd rather get a really good bottle of Bordeaux, but whatever, I've never been a Cognac fan anyway. At any rate I had a Stella Artois and Chai, both of which were good, although the tea was almost cold when we got it, which is not cool. Here are the drink rules: Beer cold, tea hot, whisky straight, vodka freezing, maragritas shaken, coffee black, wine often, champagne hungarian, Coke iced, Slurpee gigantic, rum dark, and water as a last resort. Any deviation from the rules will be punished severely, possibly using such dreaded tools as off-lable scotch.

The service was what one might expect from a buffet, which is to say absentee, but as a bonus there was no belly-dancing. Da boys were rather dissapointed that the cute waiter was serving the other section, but for the amount that we saw any service, it really didn't matter much. But for what service we had, it was friendly and fairly fast, keeping the water glasses filled and empty plates whisked away promptly. What more can a person ask at a buffet, really?

So what's the verdict then? I'll give the place four and a half pints of really cold imported pilsner, but if you get the food at the highest level of spiciness, you can expect to drink those up pretty fast, and might consider cutting the heat with the raita instead.

Score: Four and a half pints

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