Bhima’s Warung

I’ll admit to not quite understanding Bhima’s Warung for some time – the storefront was quirky, but never drew me in. And so it was, until a coworker-of-sorts told me about how his first reaction to one of their desserts was anger.

Anger, he said, with the kind of smile usually reserved for talking about things like Sherlock on BBC or the band Teenage Fanclub. The gulab jabon, he told me, were beyond decadent. Spice-scented, donut-like morsels drizzled with rose syrup and gold dust, served with a house-made cinnamon-cardamom ice-cream… Anger, because upon his first bite, he knew they wouldn’t last long and they were three steps past delicious.

Now I was curious.

So M and I circled our anniversary on the calendar, M scrawling “Bhima’s Warung” across the square. We had a date.

We arrived on the late side, closer to 8, smiling back at the friendly hostess and trying not to stare too openly at the open-concept kitchen. I’d love to return and sit at the bar and absorb the goings-on, perhaps with another Castro in hand – not the politician but an enticing cocktail featuring a 7-year-old rum and fresh passion fruit – just to have a different view and perhaps pick up an idea or two.

After yo-yo-ing around the appetizer menu, we dove in blind with the bhima’s bocas: an appetizer platter featuring the chef’s selections. At just over $40, it’s an investment – but oh, was it a wise one.

Good food takes time; the time that the chefs took to prepare the various elements of the platter gave M and I some time to catch up (March has been hectic, and doesn’t look to be changing its pace!) That said, the wait was not unreasonable, and when it arrived, the platter required its own table.

A small table, true, but still.

My photo doesn’t do it justice – my camera has nearly given up the ghost, and the lighting at Bhima’s certainly leans towards “romantic” (that said, ten points for the real orchid sprigs on the tables!)

But back to the food. Everything was tasty, and brought different flavours to the mix. From the earthy tofu, sweet pineapple, and peanutty flavours of the gado gado (which, I decided upon second bite, was scrumptious and should be eaten more often) to the crispy vegetable pakoras and their dynamite spicy tamarind sauce – they’re the more spiky entities in the middle of the platter in the picture, and along with their dipping sauce, were one of the standouts – we enjoyed every bite. Even, to my surprise, the freshly shucked oysters. They’ve never been my seafood of choice, but was willing to give them another try. This likely had something to do with their topping, a cool, compelling blend of ginger, lemongrass, chili, and garlic. I’m glad I did.

A special kudos to the chefs who prepared the dipping sauces; I wish I’d been less hungry when I started so I’d have paid more attention to the distinct elements of the sweet and sour sauce intended for the peanut-encrusted prawns beyond noting that I’d have happily eaten it with a spoon.

(KW chefs take their sauces seriously, it seems, and Bhima’s is no exception. The mango butter, served with a chicken/scallop dumpling is also to live for! From Little Mushroom’s 40 Creek BBQ sauce to the blueberry mustard down at 41, I can remember leaving catering events and restaurants alike waxing poetic about sauces. I don’t remember having done that before moving here.)

Somehow, we ate our way through the platter, but we’re both hearty eaters, it was late, and it was dinner for me; M’s hollow leg is the stuff of legend. Portions are large – we’d been eyeing two desserts but could only find room in our collective hollow legs for one.

When she brought our dessert out, I told M the story about my coworker; after our first bites, we agreed: he was absolutely right.

Oddly enough, I found that the ice cream was the standout element for me – cinnamon and cardamom are a heady, sweet-spicy-earthy combination that I’d happily try again. But with at least four other homemade ice cream varieties offered at Bhima’s, it might be a while…

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