What: When Indian techniques and spices combine with local ingredients in a refined environment, expect to be wowed.

Where: It has to be Vij’s (1480 W. 11th Ave., map), a popular upscale restaurant by chef Vikram Vij that combines the flavors of his native India with seasonal British Columbia ingredients.

When: Daily, 5:30pm-11pm (approx.)

Order: Vij’s signature dish, wine-marinated lamb popsicles with fenugreek cream curry (CAD$29.75; pictured above right), is outstanding—richly flavorful with the most tender of meat. At the time of our visit, an excellent plate of BC spot prawns and halibut with black chickpeas in coconut-lemon curry (above left) was also on offer. The jackfruit appetizer, seasoned with black cardamom and cumin masala, is a delicious sleeper. Wash it all down with a local craft beer from Storm Brewing.

Good to know: Vij’s does not take reservations, so expect a wait. It’s really not so bad considering the staff offers waiting customers fresh snacks from the kitchen, such as fried dal, hot chai, and mung bean salad crackers with mango chutney.

Alternatively: A bit cheaper is Vij’s sister cafe and market next door, Rangoli (1488 W. 11th Ave., map), which serves a small, casual eat-in menu as well as Indian spices and ready-to-eat Indian food—great for takeout if you have a kitchen. And, new for summer 2012, Mr. Vij has a food truck, Vij’s Railway Express (check Twitter for location), serving regional Indian “railroad foods” weekdays for lunch.