Print Edition: September 10, 2014
The Shandhar Hut, an authentic Indian restaurant, is located on Young Road in Chilliwack. The restaurant is well-known locally not only for its fantastic Indian food but for its traditional Indian décor and atmosphere.
Upon entering the restaurant, I was immediately hit with a wave of different spices. Although the smell was very strong, it was welcoming. The lights were dim but still bright enough to see the artwork that hung on the walls. Every wall was decorated with paintings, each a different scene familiar to Indian culture and history. They were extremely colourful and showed women wearing traditional Indian clothing and jewellery. Vases filled with peacock feathers stood in the corners, and every table had a tapestry underneath a glass covering with similar cultural scenes depicted. Indian folk and Bollywood music played softly in the background, adding to the unique atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the customer service was less than great. The server brought a payment machine to the table shortly after we were finished our meal, and without our asking. It gave the feeling that we were expected to leave although the restaurant wasn’t closing for another half-hour or so. There was no friendly welcome upon entering the restaurant, and it was clear that all the employees were very busy and probably even understaffed.
The lack of customer service is made up for by the quality of food. I have yet to try a dish at Shandhar Hut that isn’t amazing. Even their butter chicken, the popular Indian-Canadian staple (and my favourite), is to die for. The strong and distinct Indian flavours tasted more enticing than overpowering. Paired with fresh garlic naan bread and a crispy vegetable samosa, it made for the perfect meal. Each dish was served in a bowl that was placed over a burning candle to keep it from becoming cold. The rice was served on the side in a small copper bucket, matching the copper cups in which the drinks were served.
The prices at the Shandhar Hut are almost as appealing as their food. Main dishes range from $12 to $16, which is quite the deal considering the portions are large and made from scratch daily. Even with a side of bread and a drink, you can expect to pay less than $20. The appetizers, which are just as good as the main dishes, are all under $10: perfect for the hungry and broke student.
I will definitely be visiting the Shandhar Hut again in the near future. I have tried Indian food on many occasions and it has never been one of my favourites, but I’ve found the exception — nothing compares with the Shandhar Hut. Whether you are an Indian food addict or not, the Shandhar Hut will not disappoint.