Avenue restaurant offers Indian, Chinese, and Nepalese cuisine
Even during a pandemic, some entrepreneurs will continue to take chances. Although numerous businesses have closed along Alberta Avenue, a few restaurants have opened. Such is the case with Taste of Shangri La.
Opening at the beginning of July, Taste of Shangri La is located where Sloppy Hoggs had once been on the corner of 95 Street and 118 Avenue.
Boasting 20 years of experience as chefs, they serve Indian, Chinese, and Nepalese cuisine.
We ordered take-out, but they also offer dine-in options. They are set up for socially distancing dine-in, with middle tables taped off and wait staff wearing masks.
The dining room still has the same décor from the Sloppy Hogg days. Not that there’s anything wrong with the décor, it was just a little odd seeing animal skulls and a general rustic cowboy theme on the walls of a restaurant that is not a barbecue joint or a country and western bar.
We ordered mutter paneer ($11.99), saffron rice ($4.99), garlic naan ($2.99), a mango lassi ($5), and chicken manchurian dry ($11.99). They gave us the chicken manchurian wet ($12.99) instead of the dry by mistake. But there was a bit of background noise when I ordered, so it’s not anyone’s fault.
Mutter paneer is a Northern Indian vegetarian dish consisting of green peas, onions, tomatoes, paneer, and a tomato curry sauce. The menu stated that it had mushrooms, but neither I nor my dinner partner could find any. The paneer (an unaged, non-melting, soft cheese common in India) had the right amount of firmness and texture for the dish. Plenty of peas and a good amount of onions and tomatoes were mixed throughout. The dish was slightly oily, with some oil pooling up along the edges, but it didn’t affect the texture or taste.
The garlic naan was coated with a fantastic amount of garlic, leaving a good garlic taste that didn’t overpower the dishes as we dunked it into the mutter paneer and the sauce of the manchurian chicken. However, the naan was a bit on the thin side and couldn’t support much weight. It wasn’t pillowy, and at times tasted a little undercooked.
The manchurian chicken contained minced chicken balls with onions, garlic, ginger, green chili, and chopped vegetables in a chili gravy. It was spicy. It reminded me of sambal oelek sauce (in taste and bright red appearance) with a hint of sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and garlic. The minced chicken balls were a bit soft and mushy, with an odd taste that I couldn’t quite identify. There was also a surprising chunk of cartilage found inside one of the chicken balls.
The saffron rice was a bit on the flavourless side, and ever so slightly undercooked.
But the mango lassi was a delight. It was thick without being too thick, sweet, refreshing, and had a nice tangy zip from the yogurt. Normally I am not the biggest fan of mango, but this drink may have changed my mind.
Overall I was a bit underwhelmed, but this could be due to the high expectations set forth by the restaurants along the Avenue. Though I’m only going to give them 2.5 forks out of 5, I wish them the best and hope they succeed.
TASTE OF SHANGRI LA
9563 118 Ave
Featured Image: From left to right: chicken manchurian wet, mutter paneer, garlic naan, and saffron rice. | Stephen Strand