Once known as one of the Lower Mainland's best breakfast joints, the James Street Café at 3819 Canada Way is showing diners that it can do many things well.
Owner Anish Lakhani has expanded the menu to include some of the finest East African cuisine, but that doesn't mean you can't get a great bacon double cheeseburger or fish and chips served with masala potatoes.
Yes, the James Street Café has one of the most extensive and varied menus in the city and Lakhani wouldn't have it any other way.
"We bought this location in 2008 and we had a good breakfast crowd," said Lakhani. "We realized there was an Ismaili mosque across the street and they had people coming over here, but all they would order is a tea or coffee. We decided to expand our menu and I had our chef put together an East African menu."
Lakhani said East African food is noted for its emphasis on lemon, chili and spices for flavour - in marked difference to East Indian cuisine's reliance on garlic, ginger and curry sauces for flavour.
And to prove his point, Lakhani has chef Sonam Sherpa prepare the nyama choma variety plate for us.
Nyama choma, or grilled meat, is traditional African barbecue and we can't get enough of the steak mishkaki, beef ribs, chicken and lamb shoulder that comes with both a mild Tamarind sauce and a medium-hot chili sauce.
The deluxe platter, which is $23.95, is meant to feed two people, but the portion is so large it can easily feed four people.
We also get the mogo cassava fries, which put French fries to shame and are worth the extra $2.50.
The steak mishkaki is tender, while the chicken packs a satisfying and spicy kick.
Lakhani said he has spent years sourcing out the best food suppliers and he only orders in the best cuts.
"You have to serve the best food to keep your customers coming back," he said.
And that's further evidenced in our chicken biryani, which features some of the most delectable saffron rice I've ever tasted.
We're told by our server that biryani is a royal dish, usually served last, and is meticulously prepared.
Sherpa has taken that mandate seriously and the chicken biryani is a wonderful mix of sweet and spicy. And the portions, much like every other dish at James Street, are so large that it becomes my lunch the next day at work.
Lakhani isn't afraid to try new things and being located mere blocks from the offices of HSBC, Pacific Blue Cross and Electronic Arts means that he's feeding many of the employees during their lunch breaks.
He's also put together an extensive catering menu, which includes favourites such as butter chicken, veggie samosas and chicken biryani, for as little as $10.95 per person.
There are also daily specials, ranging from fish masala to Bombay chicken and he's even got a weekend brunch special for $11.95, which includes Kheema (ground beef) curry, veggie omelettes, masala potatoes and naan bread.
The James Street Café and Grill, located at 3819 Canada Way, is open seven days a week from 7: 30 a.m. on weekdays and 9: 30 a.m. on weekends.
For more information or to make a reservation, call 604-676-1876 or go to www.jamesstreetcafegrill. com.