Foodie : Fusion Food

2006-01-27-GreenLettuce.jpg

So, after “much” discussion about where to get Indian-style Chinese food in the city (see the comments at Matt’s post), I made the executive decision that I (ethnically Chinese person) and my guest (Pakistani girl) would go to Green Lettuce on Kingsway. I even said so in the comments section because that is pretty much how you assure that I end up doing something….

Touted as a “hole in the wall” (HITW) at other reviews, I very nearly drove right by the place on the north side of Kingsway, near Victoria. The room itself isn’t so HITW, but more like a traditional Chinese restaurant in feel, but look closer to see the folding legs of the cloth-clad tables and the fact that half the seats were folding chairs while the remaining half were those really uncomfortable, scratchy, thin-cushioned, metal-legged stock armchairs. Overlook the decor, hence have a HITW, in order to concentrate on food, you’d hope….

When I was reading a handful of reviews, I started salivating over the items people enumated as drool-worthy. We ordered Chicken Hot & Sour Soup (small size, $3.75), Vegetables Pakora with Chutney ($7.25), steamed rice (small, $1.10), roti nan ($1.50), Gobi Manchurian ($9.95), and Honey Garlic Chicken ($12.50), and salivated in anticipation.

Pakoras arrived first and that was my chance to learn what my friend’s raved dish was all about – chopped carrot and peppers in spiced mashed potatoes rolled in a batter and deep fried. The “chutney” served on the side was none other than plum sauce but it was nicely complementary and I just automatically dipped into what was available.

Next came the Hot & Sour Soup and I had an immediate sinking feeling that the “Indian” taste that was so raved as the added kick to a Chinese-y hot & sour soup came from chopped sprigs of cilantro and we hate cilantro. Trying to imagine what the soup – of which there was pleasantly ample for the price – would taste like without the herbal sprig that was so difficult to extract fully, it was much like any other well-balanced Chinese hot and sour soup with a list of ingredients including chicken, egg, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and lots of dark soy. Unfortunately the cilantro flavour was pervasive and I just couldn’t enjoy it.

Then our carbs (rice and nan) and main dishes arrived. Mona and I looked at one dish of brown blobs and called it Honey Garlic but then the elongated yellow blobs couldn’t be cauliflower so the dishes were reassigned. That would mark the second the third breaded/battered dishes of the evening and after initial sampling of each main, I was feeling rather full!

In the Manchurian Gobi, cauliflower was rolled in a spiced batter (much like the pakora) and fried. Then the blobs were sauteed with snow peas and julienned vegetables in a sweet brown sauce containing garlic. It was an interesting way to get gobi/cauliflower. The honey garlic chicken looked strikingly like stir-fried lemon chicken and had elements of it including being tossed in roasted sesame seeds. The chicken was lightly battered and tender cuts were used. I was quite pleased with the taste even though it is so a Westerner’s pick.

By sheer luck, both of our main dishes were in sweet sauces and not that spicy (the gobi was supposed to be somewhat spicy) – the pakoras were the spiciest of the meal. There is a great deal of choice on their menu and I would love to go back and try out Chinese-ified Indian food or some of those raved garlicky dumplings.

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Green Lettuce Cafe Restaurant
1949 Kingsway (@ Victoria)
Vancouver, B.C.

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