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Downtown Destination: Ustaad G76 opened in Chilliwack as the fifth location in B.C.

“It’s my passion, my joy to run this restaurant,” Chef Bakhshi says, with 4 decades of experience
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Chef Jassie Bakhshi of Ustaad G76 Restaurant. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

The new Ustaad G76 restaurant opened its doors in downtown Chilliwack in January offering everything from Delhi street food, to high-end Indian cuisine.

Jassie Bakhshi, a partner and master chef at the Chilliwack location, said the word “Ustaad” means “master” or someone known for their expertise, in Punjabi, Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi.

The name echoes the heights of hospitality they’ll strive to attain, and the chef was trained by a master chef in New Delhi many years ago.

“It’s my passion, my joy to run this restaurant,” Bakhshi said, adding he’ll be working to earn every smile.

He is not boasting. He brings a sophisticated culinary repertoire to the table after 40 years in the restaurant industry, having been at different times in his life an executive chef, restaurateur, and international chef trainer. He’s trained thousands of chefs around the world who follow his culinary benchmarks.

“I have earned it,” he says with a laugh.

The menu he designed has classics like butter chicken, chicken tikka, lamb vindaloo and chana masala, as well as a full range of street food, and tandoori options. The team made a point of including a huge variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Chef Bakhshi brings a lot to the table. He obtained two culinary degrees, one from India, and one from New York City’s Culinary Institute of America in the U.S.

He became a chef trainer setting up new high-end restaurants in 11 Hyatt Regency Hotels in nine countries that included the U.S., India, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.

Bakhshi owned two restaurants in Calgary, with more than 200 seats each, both named The Glory of India. That’s where he had the life-changing experience of a food critic reporting that he’d just been served “the best meal” of his entire life.

The Chilliwack restaurant, at Nowell Street and Princess Avenue, is the fifth Ustaad G76 to open in B.C. with three operating in Surrey, and one in Kelowna.

The Ustaad team invested $100,000 in the Chilliwack reno to streamline the look of the room for the opening with new carpet and updated lighting. It’s a bright, funky building with lots of windows that used to be a downtown heritage house, situated very close to the District 1881 site.

Their signature dish is the Amritsari Kulcha, a New Delhi street food item popularized by Ustaad G76 owner/founder Sanjay Bajaj. It’s also the menu item that led to them adding “Kulcha King” to the resto’s playful marketing strategy that uses Bajaj’s face as the Ustaad logo.

So what is a kulcha? A kulcha is a buttery, stuffed, naan-type bread, made from a fine white flour known as maida. They can be filled with paneer (curd cheese) aloo (potato) or keema (meat). It is cooked in a blazing hot tandoor oven making a crispy exterior. The surface is covered in white poppy seeds, kalonji and spray of cilantro, topped with a melting pat of butter. It’s served with a sweet-and-sour dipping sauce, savoury goat gravy and marinated onion slices.

Want to try something different? Go for the Goat Paya soup, made with goat hooves, slow cooked over 10 hours, traditional and very popular with construction workers.

“Nobody does it anymore since it takes so much effort.”

If you crave a hearty bowl of dal order the Yellow Dal Tadka, or for something extra-special, try the Dal Makhni, cooked leisurely with the utmost care over 24 to 36 hours with urad black beans, kidney beans, butter and cream for something rich, complex yet balanced, and ultra satisfying.

Ustaad G76 Indian Cuisine, 9254 Nowell St., Chilliwack, 778-952-0937

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
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