A taste of India

Find exotic silks and spices at Vancouver, B.C.'s Punjabi Market
Kate Washington

The southern reaches of Vancouver, British Columbia's Main Street might seem unassuming at first glance. But look a little closer at the three-block stretch between 48th and 51st Avenues.

The center for Vancouver's large Indian community, called the Punjabi Market (even though it's a neighborhood), packs in all sorts of fabric and jewelry stores, sweets and snack shops, and more surprises. You won't find a more rewarding way to explore the flavors and colors of the East anywhere in the West.

SHOP:

Frontier Cloth House. WHAT: The most alluring―and probably the priciest―of the area's many sari and fabric shops, with stacks and racks of colors so vivid they practically glow. Look for shy young brides-to-be draping richly beaded creations over their jeans. WHEN: 10:30-8 Wed-Mon. WHERE: 6695 Main St.; 604/325-4424.

 

 

Good Morning Panwalla & BBQ Place. WHAT: A traditional Indian pick-me-up and breath freshener, pan is a triangular packet of betel leaves and aromatics. For neophytes, owner Badru Murji recommends sweet pan with rose-petal paste, betel nut, fennel seeds, and coconut. WHEN: 12-11 daily (also serves lunch and dinner daily; $ U.S.). WHERE: 6452 Main St.; 604/321-4955.

 

Hi-Class Jewellers. WHAT: The sales staff are happy to instruct customers on how to wear the gleaming gold earrings and necklaces. WHEN: 11-7 Wed-Mon. WHERE: 6570 Main St.; 604/ 327-3132.

GO:

Sultan Cut. WHAT: Savvy Vancouverites come to the neighborhood for eyebrow threading (just $4 U.S.): lightning-fast plucking and shaping with quickly twisted thread. WHEN: 9:30-7:30 Wed-Mon, 2-7:30 Tue. WHERE: 208 E. 49th Ave.; 604/301-0434.

 

 

EAT:

Himalaya Restaurant. WHAT: Get a buffet lunch (the samosas might be the best in town), or pick up snacks and colorful sweets to go at the counter. WHEN: Lunch and dinner daily. HOW MUCH: $ U.S. WHERE: 6587 Main St.; 604/324-6514.

Punjab Food Centre. WHAT: Stock up for a distinctive cocktail party, or just save a bundle on spices at this general grocery overflowing with everything from bulk spices and snack mixes to brass and hammered-copper vessels. WHEN: 9-8 daily. WHERE: 6635 Main St.; 604/322-5502.