Inside ‘Sula’ — Opening Soon on Main Street

The team behind Commercial Drive’s popular Sula Indian Restaurant are about a week away from launching their second location on the Riley Park strip of Main Street.

I toured the 2,200 sqft space at 4172 Main Street (formerly ‘The Reef’) with co-owners Sharath Vittal and Nitesh Shetty last week. It was – as you can see from the pictures above and below – a dark hive of activity that revealed very little of what the finished product would be, and I expect it would look much different today. A crew from Pacific Solutions Contracting was busily doing their thing and occasionally deafening the scene with a table saw or drill. Through the din and dust an artist calmly worked on a striking sculptural wall at the back of the room, her paint-covered fingers detailing the frieze of what appeared to be a ruined Hindu temple. The bright, tropical colours of The Reef had not yet been painted over in many places, making it hard (for me) to discern what was old and what was new. Sharath and Nitesh seemed confident that the 70 seater will be ready for its first customers by November 16th. I’m still crossing my fingers for them…

If you’re unfamiliar with the original Sula on Commercial Drive, it has only gotten better and better over the course of its 10-year run. The look and smell of the dining room promise escapist gastronomic adventure throughout the subcontinent, the entire experience leaving the realm of the typical and transactional when the first bright, aromatic and warming dishes arrive from the tandoor. The menu has evolved over time with representation from many of India’s states, unions and traditions. Sharath and Nitesh explained to me that the new Sula will be a little different, zeroing in on the cuisine of Mangalore and the street foods of Mumbai. Here’s a little taste from the press materials I’ve seen:

Having both grown up in Mangalore, Sharath and Nitesh reminisce about the fiery and tangy diet of fish curries and seafood specialties their mothers would cook. The new menu is a glimpse into their childhood memories filled with fragrant seafood and distinctive Mumbai street foods. Like its original location, Sula on Main Street will continue to tantalize taste buds with authentic, flavour-packed ingredients featuring house-ground garam masala and traditional Indian ingredients while showcasing Mangalorean seafood dishes found exclusively on the coast including specialties such as prawn sukka, ghee roast, and chargrilled lobster with coconut and mustard curry.

This sounds especially exciting, as does the promise of a cocktail card designed by award-winning Vancouver barman Jeff Savage. I hope to check back in on progress in a few days when the kitchen is fired up. In the meantime, take a look inside…

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