Ottawa, where the cafes close at 4:30 because the civil servants have all gone home. Ottawa, a town of Shawarma - almost every block in the downtown, that variously dry, burnt or overcooked meat wrap, you get very tired of it, but who wants pre-cooked re-warmed falafel as an alternative. You are left with brewery fried food, pho rooms or so-so pizza. But wandering one night I saw this place on Bank street, and it changed my mind about business trip dining in the Capital. Friendly and spacious restaurant, a little disorganized with orders, with grill and sauces out front and shy lady in the kitchen in back making onion pancakes ( bolani ) similar to a Madras dohsa and guys shuttling baskets of naan and trays of meat. But it's the meat, marinated well, grilled to perfection and served on rice with salad and sides. Lamb, chicken, beef kebab and minced beef ( kefta) grilled on flat "swords" which cook evenly and leave the meat moist, juicy and tender (even as left overs the next day it was better than the vast majority of lacklustre kebab places). The chef, perhaps owner (I didn't ask) is everywhere in this long countered kitchen but he is a virtuoso at the grill, and nothing is pre-cooked, re-heated or even appears frozen. Just skewers that go from trays to grill to your plate - as they should. The rice is not exciting, but most dishes come with a bowl of meat curry (qorma) and a light chili raw tomato sauce. Then there is mantu (mantoo) beef dumplings in tomato curry with yoghurt. I am a bit fan of Turkish firulla manti, so I had to try this, and it was good, but the wrappers were more like gyoza, though the flavours were soft and lovely - heavy on the garlic, but so satisfying. The bread (naan) is not my favorite, maybe my pieces were not as fresh as they could be, but the consistency was more grainy than soft like your average Indian tandoori house naan. But for me - it comes down to well grilled meat.
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