A steaming cup of chai tea is offered as you enter, a first hint of the graciousness of the service at this year’s most anticipated restaurant opening. Meeru Dhalwala, co-owner with her husband, Vikram Vij, of Vancouver, B.C.’s illustrious Vij’s, has created a sophisticated setting for her enchanting curries and her layered flavors in this South Lake Union spot. This is Indian food unlike any we’ve had before, quietly thrumming with heat and paired with silky smooth basmati rice scented with cumin seed and sweet, soft onions. One moment you’ll ride the high notes of a saffron-infused tamarind curry bathing tender grilled chicken ($21); in another, you’ll taste again and again the turmeric-laced coconut sauce beneath gamey lamb chop “popsicles” ($27, pictured), trying to discern each of its elusive pleasure points. You’ll swoon over the saag paneer (spinach with fresh cheese, $24), and even though you’ll have no room left after the feast, make space for a bite of gulab jamun ($7), which are like freshly fried doughnuts that arrive at the table cloaked in a warm cardamom syrup. It’s early yet, but Shanik is quite seductive so far.
Dinner, Mon.-Sat. Lunch takeout, Mon.-Fri. South Lake Union, 500 Terry Ave. N; 206.486.6884; shanikrestaurant.com