This Sh*t's Delicious

Exploring the world through cocktails, shit hole restaurants, and UrbanAg

Review of Wicked Chili

In our relentless quest to expand our gastronomic palates, we look to all kinds of sources for ideas on new restaurants to try – in this case, Groupon (or one of those similar sites) was the hook that pulled us in with a $40 food for $20 voucher.  Having decided to finally check it out, Kiran called to make reservations, only to find out that they were “very busy” and essentially full.  Just to be sure, Kent went to check it out in person and discovered that the place was half empty.  Perhaps the place is much busier at lunch, but it still seemed odd that the person on the phone was willing to turn us away when there were tons of available seats.

The venue is a curious little joint on 17th Ave. and 4th St., right next to La Casita Mexicana, with which it shares ownership (and apparently wait staff).  The interior is styled with some Indian-looking architectural features, along the lines of a typical budget Indian buffet-style restaurant.

Kiran thought this place was supposed to specialize in Hakka cuisine (the Indian-Chinese fusion style, not traditional Chinese Hakka), however to his severe disappointment (as you’ll see below), it turned out to be a mere footnote on the menu.  The Hakka menu was made up of a measly 5 or 6 dishes with no descriptions, only a strange statement that you check with the waiter for “prices and availability” of these specific dishes.

Richard’s Ruminations

We started just by ordering drinks (chai for me and Kiran), though had we known how long it would take between ordering drinks and food,  we would probably have ordered everything at once.  Slow service was the name of the game that evening – not too surprising given that there seemed to be only 2 waiters serving both Wicked Chili and La Casita Mexicana, with a few more busboys running drinks and plates.  No wonder they tried to turn us away!  The chai was alright, though unsweetened – I felt it could have used a bit more spice and less tannins (it would have helped if the staff actually brought out sugar with the tea instead of making me walk up to them and demand sugar –Kiran).

Aloo Kulcha – it’ll blow your mind

Much to Kent’s dismay, just as we were all getting ready to order the Baingan Bharta (eggplant mash), we were informed that they were out of vegetable samosas and eggplants! We ended up ordering a number of dishes to share, including till mill zhinga (masala shrimp with naan), okra masala, paneer pakoras, Hakka noodles, aloo kulcha (potato-filled naan) and lamb vindaloo, with a side of saffron rice.

The till mill zhinga was essentially a sweet and sour shrimp, though not as sweet or sour as what you might typically find in Chinese restaurants.  Sadly, the shrimp was overcooked and hard, but the naan that came along with it was deliciously light and well buttered.  The okra dish was ok but rather salty; similarly, the Hakka noodles were on the salty side as well (which I thought was fine as I felt it was a rather plain dish to begin with – just stir fried egg noodles with cabbage, peppers, onions and chili flakes).  The vindaloo had a nice kick to it, and had a good mix of meat and potatoes.  Likely the best dish of the night was the aloo kulcha – like a perogie but better, with a silky potato and cilantro interior and a buttery naan exterior.

Kiran’s Judgement

This place is getting a lot of buzz and I don’t know why.  Maybe cause it’s on the prime 17th Ave SW strip. Either way, they have been pissing me off for weeks. Every time I would call to make a reservation, they would be “fully booked.” I am guessing this was just a ploy employed by the owner to hype up the place and make it sound super popular.

Another thing that irritated me about the restaurant was it’s supposed Hakka cuisine offerings. The wickedchili.ca website clearly states that it offers Hakka cuisine, and has an entire menu dedicated to it under the Oh Calcutta! brand, which is oddly at the same address as Wicked Chili. Clearly, what happened is the owners tried to make a go at it with Hakka cuisine, didn’t work out, switched to Indian cuisine, and left a few Hakka dishes in there so as to qualify for the “Hakka” moniker.

The third thing that pissed me off was the restauranteur’s reluctance to make any of the Hakka cuisine dishes claiming that it would take too long – I actually had to cajole him into making the dish for me. What the hell kind of restaurant refuses to make a dish cause it takes too long? Don’t fucking include it on the menu then if you don’t want to make it. Okra and Hakka noodles – who orders this shit?  Oh yeah, Kent and Kiran.

All the above would have been tolerable/ignorable had the food been actually good. I ordered the Hakka noodles and it was a disappointment. It was good, but only because it was greasy as fuck and was doused in salt. What wouldn’t taste good with lots of grease and salt ? To boot, the veggies didn’t serve any purpose except as fillers. It was like putting a scoop of noodles in your mouth, followed my a fistful of shredded cabbage to chase the noodles down. W.T.F.

The only redeeming quality about this restaurant were the paneer pakoras and aloo kulcha, which were straight out of heaven. I food-gasmed in my brain and mouth after one bite.  It didn’t hurt that the naan was slathered in butter, and hence, was super soft and moist. The decision to sprinkle the paneer pakoras with chaat masala was inspired and added a touch of tanginess that was very addictive.

Ultimately, the aloo kulcha is pretty much the only reason to visit this “restaurant.” These guys badly need a restaurant intervention from Gordon Ramsay..

Kent’s 2 Cents

This vindaloo was so spicy that it made this picture blurry – actually it is just the phone cameraSo about the food? It actually wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed the amount of spice that was in the okra and lamb; not enough to give you the “ring-of-fire” the next morning, but had the right amount to stimulate your senses. The Hakka noodles tasted fine, but it was guilty of false advertisement. It was more Chinese, not enough Indian. The spices you associate Indian food with were absent from the dish. Both the okra and the Hakka noodles were a bit too salty for my taste. If they dialed the salt down a little, it would taste much better. The highlight of my visit was the potato naan. It consisted of carb on carb, doused in grease. In other words, potato inside naan bread, brushed with ghee (butter). Extremely filling, and would work really well with any curry or sauce. Hell, I could eat it on its own everyday. Butter really does make anything taste good.

Wicked Chili is a decent Indian restaurant with some disappointing service that undermined the overall experience. Prices were nothing out of the ordinary (as far as Indian restaurants go), and the food was a mix of a few hits and a few misses. Maybe next time I will visit when it is not a Friday when everyone is finishing work.

Summary

Ultimately, I found the food to be pretty good overall (with a few misses), but the service could definitely have been better – it certainly seemed busy enough to warrant additional staff, especially if they were going to be sharing with La Casita Mexicana (which I think was even busier). If you’re looking for Hakka cuisine, though, you could probably do better elsewhere.

-Richard

Ranking

  Richard Kiran Kent
Ambiance 3/6 3/6 5/6
Service 2/6 2/6 2/6
Plating 3/6 3/6 5/6
Taste 4/6 4/6 4/6
Authenticity 4/6 5/6 4/6
Value 4/6 3/6 5/6
Overall 20/36 = 56% 19/36 = 53% 25/36 = 69%

Wicked Chili (17 Ave SW) on Urbanspoon

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4 responses to “Review of Wicked Chili

  1. Tatiana June 16, 2011 at 10:47

    Huh. I too was tempted by the hype, on Chowhound and elsewhere. Good to know – order aloo kulcha, aaah who’s kidding who, with all the options to eat out, it’s unlikely this would make the list any time soon. Great review – love the nerdy tally at the bottom. 🙂

    • kiransomanchi June 17, 2011 at 17:25

      Yeah, I wouldn’t bother with this place unless you were in the area. The nerdy tally gets a lot of attention! ;D

  2. Andrea April 28, 2012 at 18:08

    Hey! If you’re looking for Hakka food, you guys should blog about Take Tomi Village Hakka Indian Cusine in the NE. Never been but I’m on the hunt for a legit Hakka restaurant.
    I thought the Wicked Chili Hakka noodles sucked….But I agree, the naan bread was the type of delicious that makes my arteries smile and slightly twitch as they clog. So good.

    • kiransomanchi April 29, 2012 at 18:46

      Hey, Andrea. Thanks for that tip. I will definitely have to check that out. The only other hakka place I know of was called “Singh & I” in the NE as well. Not sure if those guys are around anymore, but it was by far, one of my favourite restaurants in the city. Check it out if it’s still around!

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