One dish Meeru Dhalwala has been experimenting with: curry with okra and jelly beans. Yes, jelly beans.

 There is nothing—nothing—that thrills me like news of a new restaurant. Except maybe the realization, all those months later, that this abstract concept I wrote about and tracked in increments will suddenly, magically, become real. 

Hence Shanik’s opening on Monday, December 3, feels like the dining equivalent of Christmas morning. Meeru Dhalwala’s modern Indian food is the reason diners line up outside Vij’s—the restaurant she and chef husband Vikram Vij own in Vancouver—an hour before the doors open. It’s the reason Seattle residents pull out their passports and make a two-hour drive to a different country solely for dinner. 

Admittedly, "magic" is probably not how Dhalwala would describe the process of building out her South Lake Union space, grappling with budgets, or her highly unusual quest to find a kitchen staff. She and partner Oğuz Istif (the chief of operations for all things Vij’s in Vancouver) have built a 72-seat dining room, an adjacent lounge, and a lunchtime takeout area called Tiffin to feed hungry Amazonians. This sample dinner menu should inspire a few hunger pangs.

Dhalwala's husband may have more star power, but Seattle now has the woman who has been creating Vij's menu for the past 18 years. Dinner service starts at 5, and just like Vij's and its sibling Rangoli, Shanik won't take reservations—except for the six-seat private dining room. Dhalwala says she's braced for some inevitable chaos Monday night. Also, Vikram Vij will be there for moral support on opening night along with the couple's two daughters, Nanaki and Shanik. I guess when your parents name a restaurant after you, it's an excuse to stay up a little later than usual.