Anticipation is mounting as Stevestonites eagerly await their first visit to Ember Indian Kitchen, which is due to open this summer. It is a dream come true for owners Amin and Farida Sunderji who are regularly asked, “When are you opening?” as people try to sneak a peek when they walk by.
The charming husband and wife team have come out of early retirement to embark on this adventure; they feel Indian cuisine has been missing from Steveston and west Richmond. Their intention is to offer a first class dining experience to the neighbourhood where they reside.
“It is an opportunity to fill a gap in the selection of restaurants in Steveston.” Amin Sunderji
Clearly they have an accurate take on locals’ wish lists. The buzz is building as people are talking and taking to social media to engage and find out more about their new business.
The couple met and married in Uganda, their country of origin. Both are from large families and gatherings involving meals, conversations and laughter are integral memories for both of them.
They fled Idi Amin’s dictatorship in 1972 and moved to Canada. Amin laughs when he mentions they were promised to be located close to their relatives in Toronto – instead they ended up in “nearby” Kamloops.
The Sunderjis were furniture storeowners for over 35 years and have now transferred their business savvy to the world of restaurant management. They love food and are excited to have hired an Indian chef and a team of staff who are set to offer an exceptional dining experience.
They designed the space with their daughter Saleema Remtula who owns Lane Home Furnishings with her husband. She mentions she had fun working with her parents to help select the décor.
Interior design was very important; they didn’t want the restaurant to look like a traditional Indian restaurant.
Saleema says, “After starting quite young with the family business, interior design comes naturally to me, so selecting the wall paper, lighting and pushing for the copper bling at the bar was easy!”
The bright airy space features high ceilings adorned with black and white chandeliers and pendant lights, creating an exotic ambience. Amin points to the beams the lighting is suspended from and mentions the reclaimed wood comes from an old British Columbia barn.
Two oversized framed black and white prints are focal points. One captures a nautical scene. Look closely and you will notice the image is not Steveston but rather is the Nile River with felucca boats (Egypt’s equivalent of sailboats). This connects the owners to their homeland; Amin remembers playing with friends in Lake Victoria that streams into the Nile. The other print is of a gorgeous peacock, which is an Indian symbol of grace, joy, beauty and love.
The location is exceptional. It’s a tranquil and unique waterfront dining setting. The corner restaurant seats 60 indoors and 35 on the outdoor patio. Wall to wall windows face east and south, with two glass roll up garage doors that open to patio seating facing the Fraser River and Shady Island; as you dine you may spot eagles and herons flying by.
Behind the scenes the spacious stainless steel kitchen is a chef’s dream come true. Amin mentions that everyone who has toured the facility is suitably impressed. Both naan and roti will be made on site in the restaurant’s gas burning tandoor.
The business name salutes the popular African Indian method of grilling over charcoal embers.
Ember Indian Kitchen’s specialty will be African Indian food with a spotlight on regional dishes from both Northern and Southern Indian cuisine. Grilled meats will take centre stage alongside crowd pleasing perennial favourites such as butter chicken and fish pakoras. Patrons will explore African Indian food through appetizers and entrees including coconut chicken curry, fish masala, lamb biryani, lentil dal and cauliflower and potato curry. Both gluten-free and vegetarian selections will be offered.
Amin and Farida suspect take out orders and catering opportunities will be very popular. There have already been requests to book receptions in the gorgeous space.
“The quality of food is our number one priority. It is very important to us that the community enjoys Ember. We want it to feel like home,” Amin says.
Welcome to the neighbourhood, Ember Indian Kitchen. Steveston has eagerly been waiting your arrival!
Ember Indian Kitchen
135-6160 London Road
Richmond BC V7E 4J2