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Lunch at Q Haute

table

Seven of us from work (L and B no-showed) went to Q Haute for their $20.00 two-course meal. Q Haute is a bit of trek from our office. However, with our bosses away on vacation, I thought this would be a golden opportunity to go somewhere special.

table2

We were surprised to see that we got our own private room. The table was beautifully set-up, long wooden logs were elegantly arranged in the centre. I could imagine how cozy the fireplace would be during the winter. The window offered a pretty view of the trees and the street below. The back drop of the room would be ideal for a Christmas party.

bread

The complimentary buns were really good – almost scone-like in texture. I thought I could taste cheese and chives. The herb butter was so good, I couldn’t help but slather it on the bun.

best pour

For my appetizer, I picked the Carrot Veloute with Chive Creme Fraiche. The richness of the chive creme fraiche was a good contrast to the soup, which was light but flavourful.

carrot

When all the food arrived, I darted around taking pictures. My husband gets embarrassed when I take photos at a restaurant, though he won’t admit it. My mother gets impatient, telling me the food is getting cold and I shouldn’t be working while I eat. I explained to my co-workers that I was taking photos of their food for my blog. They didn’t mind and patiently waited while I snapped away.

peperoni

PB opted for the pastrami with hot mustard, rye crostini and pickles. PB real first initial is A, but I got to know him better that afternoon and thought PB was better suited to his lifestyle. PB stands for playboy.

pork salad

C and M ordered the beet salad with pork belly, tomato goat cheese and olive oil bread. This salad looked beautiful and according to C and M, it was delicious too. The presentation of the dish was so nice.

pork salad da

I was surprised how quickly our food came out. Our servers were friendly, professional and efficient. Despite the privacy of our room, there was always someone around to ensure we had everything we needed. From what I could see, Q Haute is well-staffed. Doing lunch at Q Haute within an hour is totally doable.

pork

J ordered the brined pork loin with lentil pilaf and honey glazed beets. The portions look small, but its actually quite dense and filling.

salmon cake

T ordered the salmon cake with warm quinoa salad and cucumber caper and red onion bruschetta. I think this is the perfect summer entree. If you visit and see this on the menu, do get it.

lamb

I ordered the sous vide leg of lamb tomato with barley risotto. The topping tasted like potatoes and eggs, aka potato salad which went well with the lamb. The meat itself was tender and pink. The barley risotto was perfectly cooked, each grain was smooth, glossy and firm. What we all liked nothing we ate was over salted, letting the flavours of the food shine through.

dessert

For $5.00 more, you can partake in dessert. J ordered the tonka bean cheesecake with almond financier and creme Chantilly. I loved the bright pop of colour on this plate.

beer

I didn’t have dessert because I had a beer instead ($10.00). I was going to order wine but changed my mind when J ordered a beer. With the air quality advisory, beer is much more refreshing. Disclaimer – I took the afternoon off – so I was not drinking on the job.

gerbra

The food was beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. The value was outstanding. The room was gorgeous and service was stellar. Company was great, but hey, what else do you expect when I’m in the room? The crowning glory however, was our server bringing orange and pink gerbras to all the ladies in our table. We squealed like teenagers, delighted with the gesture. I noted that the gerbras were really fresh – as in just delivered from the greenhouse.

gerbras

We all walked out feeling pretty special. Our server asked us if we would see him next Friday. Our bosses are back, otherwise the answer would be a resounding yes. I plan to organize another lunch or dinner at Q Haute with my buddies soon. Dining here is most definitely an elevated experience.

painting
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Sidewalk Citizen – Fei Po gives two fat thumbs up

At lunch, M and I went to check out the Simmons building in East Village. Charbar was packed so we went over to Sidewalk Citizen. I really like the soups and pizzas at Sidewalk Citizen’s Kensington location, so I was confident that food at this location would be good as well.

displaga

M picked up a pastry filled with cream that was decorated with blueberries. She said it was one of the best pastries she has eaten in a while. At 63 years old and an avid traveller and eater of desserts, I’d say that’s quite the compliment.

crossiant

I ordered the Sabich ($12), a homemade pita filled with vegetables. Yes – I knowingly ordered something with no meat. Jaime would be proud of me. And I wasn’t even doing it to impress her. An employee told me it was a unique pita and Sidewalk was probably the only place in Calgary that serves this type of vegetarian sandwich.

eggplant

The pita was thick, soft and pillowy. Stuffed with eggplant, hummus, egg and matchsticks of tomato and cucumber, it was surprisingly filling and I stayed full until the evening. The eggplant was creamy, smoky and full of flavour. There was also some cilantro (which I hate) in the pita, however the other ingredients were so good, I didn’t mind the offensive herb.

sauce

The side of amba looked like it was spinach, but I could also taste cumin. I smeared this tasty spicy oil-based goodness all over the pita. Double yum. I would happily order this pita again.

bread budding

My husband loves bread pudding, and my recent attempt at home was not nearly as good as Sidewalk Citizen’s version. This was phenomenal. The pudding was doughy (in a good way) and dense, studded with plump raisons. There was a flavour in the pudding that really elevated it – it tasted like vanilla but lighter, more subtle and fragrant. Perhaps it was magic.

display

From what I sampled, I’m a huge fan of Sidewalk Citizen. Fei Po gives Sidewalk Citizen an unheard of Zomato rating of five.

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One18 Empire – $15 Lunch Special

Today was P’s last day at our office as his contract ended. A group of nine of us decided to take him out for lunch. I picked One18 Empire in part because of bloggers Le Petite Shar and KimmyW/Journey of Wellness posts, the close proximity of the restaurant to my office, and the $15 two course/$20 three course meal.

lunch menu

Props to our server Vanessa (I hope I got her name right, my apologies if I did not). She managed our table efficiently, politely reminding latecomers to order sooner rather than later, so that everyone could eat at the same time. She explained the menu’s concept of 2 dishes for $15 or three for $19 and then described the special sandwich several times for those in our group in la la land. Vanessa went the extra mile to split up our tab and dividing P’s tab on our bills all in a remarkably short time. I appreciated this greatly as I had a meeting immediately after lunch with no time to dawdle.

special treat bottle

We couldn’t partake in a cocktail as our work place has a strict no drinking policy. Instead, we gasped at the list of special treat bottles and dared each other to buy a bottle. The most expensive bottle was a 1969 Glenrothes Vintage Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($11,450). My budget allows for more modest tastes. If I didn’t have to work that afternoon, I would have tried some of the Japanese whisky.

japanese saki

One18 Empire offers good value for lunch, much like Charcut across the street. Though the two restaurants share a similarly priced lunch set special, both offer something different.

grilled cheese

One18 is quieter and roomier than Charcut, making it more ideal for customers seeking some privacy. One18 is more conducive for bigger groups because its not as busy as Charcut and it has larger sized tables. On the other hand, if you want to experience Calgary or show the city off to an out-of-towner, I would go to Charcut for the wow factor.

omellete

Charcut has superior soups than One18. However, the sandwiches at One18 are very tasty and much more filling than Charcut’s lunch sandwich. Charcut promises to get you in and out within 45 minutes, which I did not see on One18’s menu. Charcut also has a larger lunch menu whereas One18 Empire menu is more limited in selection.

lamb

Everyone enjoyed the main component of their lunch – a huge mushroom omelette, grilled cheese, roasted chicken on a pretzel bun and the special of the day, lamb sandwich with brie on sourdough bread. The lamb was cooked medium rare, tender and a generous amount of meat. The combination of the toppings – sweet tomato sauce, rich aioli and brie made this a deliciously saucy sandwich to eat.

chicken salad

My co-workers that ordered the salads enjoyed it. Caesar with jumbo croutons, Kale and Farro and the Roasted Salad with bacon. The best looking salad was the Kale and Farro. You can see from the photo how vibrant the kale looks.

chicken

The only minor disappointment of the meal were the soups. P’s garlic and spinach soup was a bit bland and tasted more of spinach than garlic. My tomato soup was not warm and while it was not bad, it was not good either. However, two out of three components were good and the price was a good deal.

recipe

When our server Vanessa found out we were taking P out for lunch for a special occasion, she brought out a slice of cake from him. This dessert was a winner. Soft, luscious and chocolate heavy. We all really enjoyed the bag of Bourbon Yorkshire pudding to go. The bag it was enclosed in had the recipe on the back. These little babies reminded me of French toast. I’ll definitely make this at home.

dessert

Overall, the food was pretty darn tasty. One18 offers complimentary sparkling water, free Bourbon Yorkshire pudding and a great value lunch that should get you in and out within an hour. Service was awesome and the venue was very nice with its modern fixtures and clean colours.

yorkshire
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Proof – Happy Hour

Saturday night on the second last week of August. I told L we were not wasting a sunny weekend evening playing guitar (L) or watching Anthony Bourdain (me). We were going out and it would be a happening hotspot.

bar

I like reading all the reviews on Zomato and Yelp before checking out a new restaurant. I usually find Dale, Ange, Mcclane and Tunit top picks are to my taste.

ahppy hour

I saw Dale’s and Ange’s review of Proof and decided it was time to check it out. When I checked Proof’s Twitter action, I was surprised to see that Proof offers happy hour all week and on weekends. Score! I love a good happy hour and to get a good deal on a Saturday is unheard of in these parts. Now Seattle, that’s a different story.

ber

Happy hour begins at 4 pm and ends at 7 pm. We arrived around 5 pm and the bar was about half full. L chose a can of the Tool Shed People Skills Pilsner ($5) while I ordered the feature cocktail, the Wallace (2 OZ, $7).

cinamon

The Wallace was a well-made drink. A nice balance of intoxicants: Writer’s Tears Irish Whiskey, Dillon’s Pear eau-de-vie, Cocchi Americano and some non-alcoholic liquid, fresh lemon juice. I thought the torched cinnamon stick, which arrived with my drink still smoking, reminded me of a smoking cigar.

1

I also really enjoyed the Old Fashioned (2 OZ, $7). The cocktail was presented with a big ice cube, which I prefer as it keeps the drink cold but doesn’t water it down. The smell and flavour of orange and citrus was pleasing on the palate.

platter

For a snack, we ordered the meats and cheeses platter ($20). We received three meats, three cheeses, a bowl of toasted buttered bread, peach chutney and homemade mustard. The cheeses were top-notch. If you are like me and hate it when restaurants give you a cheese and meat platter that consists of what you can pick up at Safeway, then you’ll like Proof’s version. The orange blue cheese was smooth and not too sharp tasting. The other two cheeses were very different from each other and had unique flavours – the triangular square was nutty and the other reminded me a bit of cheese curds.

prok

We also ordered a preserved pork belly rillette ($8). The cured pork was salty and rich, a good bite on top of the toast. I appreciated how much bread Proof provides diners. It’s a pet peeve of mine when a restaurant doesn’t provide you with enough condiments or vessels for a dish in the first place and then charges you extra when you need more.

bread

Calgary needs more places like Proof. Fantastic drinks, good prices and a nice environment to quaff the evening away. The windows offer light and people watching. The room is small and urban chic with a touch of the old world. Cozy couch seats, tall table stools and a centre piece bar seating with a first rate view of a wall stocked with every type of booze imaginable.

unnamed

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Italian Supermarket

I overheard my work buddies saying they were going to eat at the Italian Supermarket for lunch. I asked Cindy if there was room for me in her SUV. She granted me access and vroom vroom, we were off!

front

I love the Italian Supermarket. It’s the sort of place my father Ludvig and I would frequent in Vancouver. Ludvig grew up in a predominately Italian neighbourhood and he would often reminisce about the spaghetti, ribs and veal at Nick’s Spaghetti House, one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the city. His own mother could speak Italian and he always felt it was a privilege to grow up in the Italian district.

cutlet

To honour my father, I ordered what he would have picked. Veal Parmigiana with Vegetable Linguine ($11.99). Damn this was good! The breaded cutlet was still crispy despite the soft cheese layer and zesty tomato sauce. I could detect lemon in the veal, which help cut into the richness of the dish.

pasta

The pasta was soft and slippery. The marinated zucchini and eggplant was surprisingly flavourful, in a subdued way. Delicious.

menu

Next time I want to try the pizza. The dough is prepared once you order. The crust is thin, so it takes no time to bake in the oven.

pizza oven

After lunch I strolled around and picked up extra virgin olive oil ($25.99); ladyfingers ($3.99); parmesan cheese ($12.00); brie ($4.00); fresh buffalo mozzarella ($8:00); dried lasagna noodles; dried pasta; pesto; sun dried tomatoes; fresh bread, anchovy paste and candy for my co-worker M.

anchove

bread

lady fingers

sundried

olive oil

parm

pastadried

pesto

I left $100.00 lighter but a whole lot happier. I found a great store with quality products from Italy at excellent prices. Better yet, I can get a taste of home and tell my father all about it. He’ll be happy to hear I found an Italian supermarket that serves up food even better than what we could find on the Drive.
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SAIT Culinary Campus

My co-worker M wanted to walk down Stephen Avenue for lunch. We convinced our counterpart R to join us. We hemmed and hawed until I made the decision to pick something up at SAIT Culinary Campus.

flank steak

I poked around and looked at the cold sandwiches and salads. The hot food appealed to me as everything looked fresh. There were several stations serving up Perogies ($10), Pad Thai ($10), Pappardelle with Pork Ragu ($8.99), Flank Steak ($9) and Prime Rib ($9).

prime rib

The Chopped Salad ($6.50) was a good deal. Unlike most to-go salads, this one wasn’t mostly lettuce, but filled with bright red tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers and pumpkin seeds.

chop salad
salad

The Italian sandwich ($6.50) was light and fresh despite the heavy filling. The sandwich was filled with proscuitto, salami, capicola and provolone cheese.

italian

The prime rib sandwich was basic but I thought its simplicity let the quality ingredients shine. The beef was thinly sliced and still warm. The meat was soft and tender with a nice marbling of fat while the bread was dry was crusty. The sea salt and olive oil flavours really came through.

beef andwich

I like SAIT and I would go back again. The food is well-priced and there is a great variety of sandwiches, salads, and dessert. I’d compare it to the food at Whole Foods, but SAIT seems fresher with fancier ingredients and some of the hot dishes are prepared individually and just for you. FYI – SAIT is only open at breakfast and lunch during the week days.

cookie

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Sushi Bistro Anzu

miso

It took a long time for me to convince L to give Sushi Bistro Anzu a try. He doesn’t believe anyone can replace Wa’s, the former restaurant. Wa’s was our favourite restaurant in the city. We would dine there at least twice a month. The food, particularly the chirashi, was a work of art. The owner and chef also took a liking to L, so they would always chat in English and Japanese. The owner told L that he had some health concerns and he had to cut back on the opening hours. Then all of a sudden, the restaurant closed.

tea

As I was sick all week, when I finally got over my stomach bug I persuaded L to give Anzu a chance. Plus, we were picking up meats at Sun’s BBQ, which is two blocks away. He relented but I could tell he wouldn’t give Anzu a fair chance.

anzo

What I like the most about Anzu was the cooked food and the way the sushi chef slices the sashimi. L and I shared the bento box with sashimi, chicken teriyaki, and tonkatsu and a sashimi lunch special. The prices were inexpensive for the quantity of the food.

azuou two

The portion of the sashimi was generous: two large, flat piece of salmon; two pieces of ahi tuna; two pieces of snapper and a small piece of surf clam. Usually I don’t like snapper because I find it sinewy and hard to chew. However, the sushi chef sliced the snapper in thin slices, making it easy to eat. The salmon tasted fresh. The surf clam was sweet. I prefer the raw fish at Anzu more than Nami.

reward

In the cooked food, I saw touches of the old Wa’s. The miso soup was richly flavoured, with needle thin slices of scallions and crab. You would chew it and get this burst of green onion flavour. A little side dish came with root vegetables covered in a wonderful sauce and a piece of marinated beef. The tonkatsu was fresh from the fryer, the exterior crunchy. The chicken teriyaki was unusual. The sauce wasn’t the sickly sweet stuff you find at some restaurants, but lighter and more subtle. The batter around the chicken was soft and squishy, but comforting to eat.

I would like to return to try some of the other kitchen dishes. I saw other bento boxes sail past me and I thought the shrimp tempura looked lovely – long with a snow white batter. There’s also a reward program at Anzu. You get a stamp for every $10 you spend, and after you spend a $100 you get $5.00 off your bill.

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Sun Chiu Kee BBQ Restaurant – Take out

I’ve been getting requests for my duck fried rice. So on Sunday, L and I made a stop off at Sun Chiu Kee BBQ. While I always have to wait in line to order, this time was particularly crazy.

long line-up

prices

Sun’s BBQ meats are pretty close to the best of the best I can get in Richmond, BC. The duck has lots of meaty goodness, and not too much fat. I ordered a whole duck, which is about $26.00.

duck

I ordered a pound and a half of char sui, roughly $15.00. The meat looks like a lean cut and is bright red. The sticky sauce makes the pork a sweet tasting meat.

chai sui cut

Last but not least, I also picked out a pound and a half of the roasted pork ($16). The top layer is this delicious, crunchy fatty skin. In between are layers of fat and lean pork. I know this type of meat would really gross out my vegetarian friend Jaime.

roast pork

For every person that orders, the butcher has to select the meat, carefully cut it up and then place it in a styrofoam box. Then another staffer writes up the cheque, bags the boxes, and hands it to the cashier. While all the employees work efficiently, its excrucinating to wait. You can hear kids cry in the background. Servers dart in and out of the line, reaching for food for the sit down customers.

half duck

L timed how long it took for me to get my meats. 25 minutes. L loves the BBQ meats but hates how the car smells after the trip. He says it smells like duck farts.

roasted pork cut

Personally, I don’t mind the smell. It reminds me of dinner as a kid. It was common to eat dishes of BBQ Chinese meats, like char sui, duck, and lap cheong (Chinese sausage) with rice and gai lan (Chinese greens). The meats are rich so the plain rice and steamed vegetables help to cut down on the heaviness of the meal.

chicken

Sun Chiu Kee BBQ is worth the wait. I have yet to find another place in Calgary that offers the same quality meats. Just an FYI, if you order in, the food comes out more quickly as there is a staffer dedicated to cutting the BBQ meats for customers eating at the restaurant.

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Ship & Anchor – Preconcert pit stop

poster

I find that people either love or hate the Ship & Anchor. Personally, I’m a fan of the Ship. The food is good pub grub and a bargain (in Calgary). No matter what you wear, I’ll bet you aren’t underdressed, unless perhaps you try to go in your birthday suit.

drink

That night, L bought us tickets to see the Foo Fighters. We met up with his two friends, recent immigrants from Labrador. The night before, I was so frustrated that I couldn’t eat solid foods due to stomach bug, I had a glass of wine. Guess what? Turns out though solids irk my health, a little booze is good for me. So while everyone was chowing down on delicious food, I indulged in a can of Sofia Blanc de Blancs, a sparkling wine by Francis Coppola Winery ($8.95). The can reminded me of Red Bull.

butter chicken

I told L’s friends that the Ship Burger w/ the works ($10.95) or the Butter Chicken ($11.50) were solid picks. Zee ordered the butter chicken, and boy did it look good. I could smell the curry from across the table. The heaping portion of chicken and basalti rice came with naan bread too. I could see nice chunks of tomatoes, peas and onions. Z gave two thumbs up for the curry, which he said was hot, flavourful and spicy.

Ship burger w: salad

The Ship burger with the works comes with super crispy bacon and oozes with cheddar cheese. The grass fed beef patty was thick and charbroiled. The Kaiser bun was proportional to the patty and toppings: tomatoes, pickles, onions and mushrooms. However, the mushrooms would have been better sandwiched next to the patty and produce versus against just the patty and bun, as it made the bread soggy. My advice to L’s friend M would be to eat faster, so the bun doesn’t have time to get soft.

ship and fries

It was very interesting to post about food when you can’t eat it. The experience left me feeling angry and frustrated. However, little sips of my drink calmed my nerves down a bit. Hopefully I’ll be back to eating solids in no time. When I get better, I want to try NU Burger and Sushi Bar and the Redheads Bagel Cafe for their Japanese food.

straw

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Cedars – Market Mall

I’ve been fighting the flu for the past week. L wanted me to get up and walk around a bit, so he thought he’d kill two birds with one stone by shopping and taking me along. I haven’t eaten in a food court in a long time. In my wasted youth, I was a mall rat and even back then, I’ve never been a fan of the food.

sign cedars

We walked past KFC (too greasy), Subway (too generic), and finally stopped at Cedars. I really enjoyed the food at the Panorama Hills location, so I thought it would be a safe choice.

cedars two

The price is right. Around $8.00 for a regular size chicken wrap. The pita was stuffed with everything you could want: lettuce; beets; onions; parsley; tomato; radish and hot peppers. A healthy amount of chicken and garlic mayo completed the wrap.

cedars whole

The value is here. I just wish it was as flavourful as the Panorama Hills location. While there were so many vegetables and pickled condiments, it lacked flavour. The pita would also have tasted better if it was grilled for a couple of minutes longer. However, for mall food, Cedars does a good job of filling you up without using a deep-fryer. Better than Subway, Cedars at Market Mall is just not as good as the original location.

mug

I also wanted to take this moment to thank community manager Lisa Nguyen for sending me a card and water bottle. Zomato just turned seven today and Lisa sent me a gift to celebrate with them. Yahoo. When I’m up and better, I’ll fill it up with some bubbly. Cheers to you Zomato.

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Garden Patio Date Night at Bonterra Trattoria

ceiling

L and I have several trips planned, which means lots of eating out. So for the next six months, I am self-imposing one restaurant meal per week. This means when I do go out, I sure as heck won’t waste it on a chain restaurant (no offence White Spot, you know I love you).

breadstick

This week’s rationed restaurant meal was at Bonterra Trattoria. We snagged a seat on their city renowned garden patio. When we sat down, I realized why they win best patio category in various magazines. The spacious patio is outfitted with flowers and covered overhead, which is handy in Calgary’s hail fraught summer. I also like the view of the sky scrappers. A male server noticed I was rubbing my goose pimpled arms and he kindly offered to kick on the heater. After two minutes, I was warm and cozy.

patio

I liked our female server too. She had this no nonsense aura about her. I like the way she thinks – she analyzed which wine I should drink and which pasta I should order based on what I told her I did and didn’t like. She picked a glass of chianti ($13) which was a heavier, berry-like red.

wine

We ate some complimentary rosemary focaccia while we waited for our appetizer. Fluffy with a nice crust not the outside, it was the perfect vessel to soak up the olive oil and salty chopped up olives.

antipesto

On Yelp, I read that reviewers loved the antipasti at Bonterra. We ordered the Antipasti Piatti ($36), which contained three imported cheeses, about four meats, and tons of pickled vegetables.

L enjoyed the high quality meats. My favourite item were the fresh tomatoes. Oh my goodness. These were the best tomatoes ever. Sweet and juicy and ripe. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I also ate pickled beets, pickled cauliflower, pickled onions, olives, and some other vegetable that looked like a curly white noodle that was also pickled. I love pickled veggies but I thought it was a bit much for me. I did dig the cranberry mustard, which was tart.

I told my server that I loved fat noodles, but the sausage on the Garganelli alla Salsiccia ($19) didn’t appeal to me. She was nice enough to do a special order for me. I got my fat noodles, but with a mix of chicken, arugula, and those tomatoes I love so much. L ordered the Linguine Carbonara ($17.00).

I don’t normally eat at Italian restaurants because I find I can replicate the food well enough at home. Well, eating at Bonterra proved me wrong. These are pastas I can’t make at home. And unlike Buon Giorno, each pasta was very different from each other and didn’t taste the same.

special order

The chicken in my pasta was almost delicate in flavour. In fact, all the ingredients were subtle. The sweetness of the tomatoes. The peppery flavour of the arugula. I really enjoyed the addition of the warm roasted pine nuts.

carbonara

L’s pasta was like buttery heaven. The wild boar bacon added a smokey flavour.
Though the spaghetti noodles were so thin and fine, it was still al dente. We noted that Bonterra doesn’t rely on rich heavy sauces to give their pastas flavour.

kitchen

One last thing I noticed. When we were standing inside to wait for our table, all the staff were very courteous, asking us if we were looked after. The chefs in the open kitchen were busy making kick-ass food, but you could hear them cheerfully converse with each other. The whole scene looked so fun it almost made me want to apply for culinary school and then a job at Bonterra :-)

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1 Pot – Hot Pot

Leighton soup

I added six more hours of exercise to my routine, totally about nine hours per week. This doesn’t leave much time to eat out anymore. However, I was feeling homesick on Saturday and I wanted to go out for Chinese hot pot. When my grandparents were alive, they would always make something warm to eat even if it was a humid summer day. Congee, wonton, herbal soups and deep-fried chicken were just some of the dishes I would have at their house.

spicy soup

1 Pot was recommended to me by a restauranteur Heather Wigmore of Pigeonhole. I love getting recommendations from people in the industry as I figure they know the inside scoop. 1 Pot differs from other hot pot restaurants by the following: individual pot of soup; more condiments to make your own dipping sauce; and food is brought to your table. Personally, I really enjoyed having my own pot of broth and not having to get up to get my food.

dipping sauce

L ordered a sate broth and a beer. I made the mistake of ordering Szechuan broth and putting too many spicy condiments in my dipping sauce. In the middle of the meal, L noticed beads of perspiration dripping down my neck. Good thing I’m married to the guy and this was not our first date. Seriously, I felt like I was in hot yoga. Next time I’ll bring a towel and put it underneath me while I eat. I’m glad I brought my own homemade gatorade to drink. I know better than to bring my own beverage to a restaurant, but I wanted my electrolytes. I figured they wouldn’t care if my beverage was water (with freshly squeezed lemon and orange, sea salt and a pinch of brown sugar).

chicken springroll

1 Pot offers a few cooked items. The two dishes L and I indulged in were the spring rolls and chicken wings. The spring rolls were very crunchy with a soft filling. The wings were sticky on the outside, made just like my gong gong (grandfather) use to make when we were kids. Both dishes came straight from the deep-fryer and arrived piping hot.

dumplings

I ordered an assortment of dumplings: lobster, shrimp and beef balls, sui mai and wontons. My favourite was the wonton – I thought these were a step above the usual stuff you find at westernized Chinese restaurants. I liked the contrasting textures in the wonton and the filling was quite flavourful with a touch of sweetness.

meats

The oysters were small but tasted fresh. We ordered a little of the beef, pork and chicken. I thought the pork and chicken tasted like it was a bit over tenderized. The texture tasted off.

paste

L and I really enjoyed the fish pastes, which were much tastier than the fish balls. I also liked the non-meat items like Chinese mushrooms, taro, Korean cakes, and assorted vegetables.

Veggies

I really enjoyed 1 Pot and I would happily return. We paid about $28 per person for the all-you-can eat hot pot experience, which I thought was very reasonable, considering the quality of the food was a step above some hot pot restaurants I visit in Richmond, BC that charge the same price or more. I plan to try Regency’s version of hot pot and revisit the Chinese Cultural Centre just to see how they compare to 1 Pot.

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Anju – Late Night Eats

Jaime and I were on 17th Ave and wanted a snack at Anju. At 9:00 p.m., the restaurant was packed. I put my name down and the hostess told me she would give me a text when a table become available. In the meantime, I took Jaime to the Ship and Anchor, as she’s never been before. We sat at a table covered in beer and drank Moosehead Lite. In about 15 minutes, Anju texted to tell us we had a table.

Our table was right behind the hostess, so we didn’t have to walk far to our seats. All around us were customers winding up or down. We fell in the latter group. As Jaime is a meat-hater, we chose a few vegetarian dishes.

anju

We started off with the King Mushrooms ($8.00). The shrooms were meaty, accompanied with some tasty charred green onions. Jaime and I weren’t drinking at this point, but I think I would have enjoyed the mushrooms more if I was sipping some soju or a cold beer.

tofu

I ordered the infamous Crispy Tofu with Pork Belly with sweet kimchi and citrus aioli ($14.00). I asked if we could have the pork belly on the side. When the tofu appetizer arrived, we both noticed the tofu was cold. As I know how the dish can taste, I asked the server if he could heat up the tofu. Instead, he brought out a new dish that was piping hot. Jaime really liked the kimchi.

noodles

Our favourite dish was the Japchae noodles ($12.00). The sweet potato noodles were glassy and slippery. I liked generous amount of the julienne vegetables that still had a pleasant crunch. I liked all the different colours and textures in this dish.

Price-wise, if you stick to the appetizers and side dishes, you can get in and out for a very reasonable price. On a side note, it must be a hard time to own a restaurant right now. With food costs rising, then the slumping oil prices and layoffs. Having said that, apparently spending at restaurants and bars is still high in Alberta.

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Carino Riserva – Fei Po’s Favourite Restaurant of 2015

I had one of the best meals at Carino Riserva in Mission. The food is just killer. I haven’t been this excited about a restaurant since Anju back in 2011.

cherry tomatoes

We sat in the back of the room, which was a semi-private space. The restaurant itself is small and narrow. There were about half a dozen tables filled when L and I arrived at 8:00pm. The majority of customers were fluent in Japanese.

drinks

After we ordered our food, my husband and I ate complimentary candied cherry tomatoes that were sweet and crunchy. I started off with very bubbly glass of prosecco ($10) while L ordered an Asahi. I was pleased as punch to notice most wines by the glass were $10.00 or $11.00. Just another reason to make Carino my new go-to restaurant for date night.

risootta

We each ordered an Aranchio ($3.00), which was decorated with a little flower. The smell of the cheese hit our nose the moment it landed on our table. Oh, this was a taste teaser. The softness of the risotto and the richness of the cheese contrasted with the crispy exterior. The spicy tomato sauce with wagyu beef was spicy but not enough to burn our tongue. You can tell that a great deal of attention is paid to the flavours of the food.

pasta

L and I shared an order of the Spaghetti alle Pescatore ($22.00). The noodles were al dente and lightly sauced in a clear dashi broth. I thought the sweet sauce highlighted the freshness of the clams, scallops, prawn, and squid. The big old prawn was large and plump. I’m not sure if I was suppose to suck the prawn head, but I did anyway, and the flavour was heavenly.

soup gnocchi

I ordered a glass of Vioneti de Monteforte, which was smooth like sake and it had an almost flat aftertaste. The wine went so well with the Duck Leg Confit and Ricotta Gnocchi ($24). This last dish was even better than the previous dishes. The duck and gnocchi came in a separate bowl, in two different broths. The broth with the gnocchi was almost like an intense French onion soup. The broth with the duck confit was very flavourful with a heat to it. Both broths were so good, L and I drank every drop. The duck was was fall off the bone soft. The vegetables were so fresh and perfectly cooked. The small potatoes were sweet and tasted like they just came from the garden. The bok choy and sugar snap peas still had a snap to it. The mushrooms were soft and silky smooth.

chocolate dessert

L and I were too full for dessert, but we received a complimentary chocolate at the end of the meal. Dark chocolate with some crispy filling, the sweet (which actually wasn’t sweet) was the perfect end to a truly amazing meal.

The prices are incredible for this league of food. We plan to come and often. Normally when I find a dish I like, I stick to it. However, the taste explosions at Carino Riserva make me want to sample across the entire menu.

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Zipang – An Oldie but a Goodie

I’ve tried other popular Japanese restaurants in Calgary, but for what I enjoy eating (chirashi, nigiri, oysters), Zipang is my favourite pick. The seafood is fresh and consistent. And in my humble opinion, Zipang makes the best fried oysters.

octopus

L wanted to order Octopus and Kimchi ($6.99). The small bowl contained a chilled mix of octopus and cucumber in a kimchi sauce. The sauce was spicy and smokey, and it went really well with our Asahi beer.

oysters

One dish I always order at Zipang is the appetizer of Oysters in Ponzu Sauce ($7.99). Yum. The batter is light and tempura like, yet it retains its crispiness despite the sauce and grated mountain yam. The cooked oysters at Zipang are never over-cooked and taste like the sea.

chirashi

L and I usually share the Chirashi ($24.00). The scallop is usually the highlight of the meal, however, on the most recent visit, the scallop was very small and a little fishy. The red tuna was my favourite, with its firm texture and subtle flavour. The Amaebi (raw shrimp) was cool in temperature, sweet and delicious. The texture was creamy with a bit of a snap.

nigiri

The salmon in the nigiri was served at room temperature, which I think allowed the flavour of the fish to come out. L really likes the fact Zipang doesn’t overwhelm the balance of the fish and rice with too much wasabi. He also likes that the sushi rice is a little wet. The surf clam was sweet and had a nice chew to it.

shrimphead

I asked for my shrimp head to be deep-fried. Before I received my “dessert”, we received our bill, which was a bit awkward. I normally love the deep-fried shrimp head, but this time around, I found the shell too tough and it had a grittiness to it. There was a light sprinkle of sea salt, but I wish there was some fresh lemon too.

Regardless of a few minor glitches, Zipang Sushi is still my favourite Japanese restaurant since Wa’s and Sushi Club closed down. I have heard rumours that one of the chefs from Sushi Club is now at Sukiyaki House and a chef from Wa’s is at Sushi Bistro Anzu. I haven’t checked either restaurants but I just may try it the next time I’m craving sushi.

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Lemon Garden – Chinese Food in the Hood

You won’t find “authentic” Chinese cuisine at Lemon Garden. Judging from its clientele, customers are happy there’s an absence of traditional Cantonese fare, like tripe, chicken feet or Chinese daikon and carrot broth. If you don’t like the exotic stuff, you’ll love the menu. Salt and pepper squid, sweet and sour chicken balls, as well as an assortment of western food such as burgers, fish and chips, and sandwiches.

By the way, I’ve ordered cheeseburgers at Lemon Garden before and enjoyed the thick patty and the large, soft sesame bun. Don’t expect homemade patties or handout fries, and you will be pleasantly surprised with the food. My burger was juicy and thick, stacked with processed cheese, iceberg lettuce, and a thick slice of tomato. I saw that Lemon Garden has recently raised their prices again, but I noticed the portion has also increased.

assorted chowmein

L and I usually order two dishes, which is enough food for three people. I like the Special Chow Mein ($12.99) which comes with bbq pork, chicken and shrimp. The chicken is a tad too tenderized for me, but I dig the still crispy noodles and assortment of vegetables. For some reason, the celery is a bit mushy.

salt and pepper squid

We always order the Salt and Pepper Squid ($13.99), which this time was not crispy. The container was packed to the rim. The squid is tender and has a good amount of spice to it.

Lemon Garden is always packed with customers, particularly on holidays and weekends. The food is mostly consistent, though sometimes the vegetables are too squishy. My favourite picks at Lemon Garden include the Almond Chicken ($11.99), Salt and Pepper Squid ($13.99) and the Singapore Rice Noodles ($10.99).

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Catch Restaurant & Oyster Bar – Happy Hour

prosecco

I love oysters. So during Stampede week, when my friend K wanted to have a drink on Stephen Avenue, I picked Catch for their oyster bar specials. Monday to Friday, from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, you can get: Fish & Chips ($13); Tempura Prawns ($2 each); 6 Chef’s Choice Oyster ($13); Moules Frites ($14) or New England Clam Chowder ($6).

blue buck

We sat on the patio and we ordered Philips Blue Buck ($6.00) and prosecco ($6.00). I mentioned to K, an ex-bartender, that it is a pet peeve of mine when I get too much head in my beer. She informed me that a little head is good, as it indicates the beer is fresh.

first round oysters

For the first round of a half a dozen oysters ($13) I received three east coast and three New Zealand oysters. I enjoyed the New Zealand oysters more, as it was larger, creamier and salty. The east coast oysters were briny and almost lettuce like in flavour. For the next half dozen, I requested the Kiwi oysters.

oysters catch

K ordered a Halibut Burger with Salad ($19), which she enjoyed. She liked the apple and fennel in the burger. Her side salad was impressive – big croutons, large pieces of crispy pancetta, and a healthy sprinkling of grana padano.

halibut burger

Service was excellent and the company even better. It’s my turn to treat K out next week. I got my eye on One 18 Empire, a restaurant that’s been featured in two Yelp Elite events. I sampled some cheeses and meats from One 18 Empire, and it left me wanting more…

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Raw Bar

On our most recent date night, L and I were in the mood for beers and oysters. On Fridays, Raw Bar offers dollar oysters and pints or prosecco for only $5.00. Whoo hoo! Now that is a reason to celebrate!

osysters

We ordered a dozen of oysters, a Lagunitas IPA, and a Blanche de Chambly for moi. My beer was cold and bubbly. Raw Bar offers a nice selection of draft beer – such as what we ordered and Sapporo, What the Huck, Canada 81/2 Village Brewery, Phillips Analogue 78, and Blacksmith India Black Ale.

beers raw bar

I saw Christina Mah, the general manager of Raw Bar, walking around in one of her usual gorgeous outfits. I go to Raw Bar often enough to know that everything she wears looks like a unique runway dress. She came over to say hi and she told me about a new dish, the Grilled Prawn and Noodle Salad ($14).

salad prawn

L wasn’t hungry so we ordered the Grilled Prawns and the Fried Boneless Chicken Thighs ($18). The prawn and noodle salad was so good, I wish I ordered my own. The large marinated prawns were charbroiled, crunchy and juicy. The chilled noodles were like spaghetti-like, with a light cream-like coating of peanut satay sauce.

raw bar chicken

L liked the Fried Chicken more than me. Sweet and savoury, the sticky battered glaze reminded him of General Tso chicken. The chicken itself was cooked well. I like the chicken a lot more than my recent experience with Olive Chicken. The portion was large enough to fill L and myself up.

chocolate raw bar

At the end of the night, Christina gave us two hand painted chocolate bars that pastry chef Karine Moulin created. The chocolate didn’t make the 10 minute car ride home. The soft chocolate filling tasted like there was a hint of cinnamon while the white chocolate had a faint citrus note. Great food and value has made Raw Bar my favourite date night spot. L and I plan to return to try the duck entree, and if he’s hungry, the fix price $35 (per person) family platter. Thank you Raw Bar for another great dining experience.

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Emerald Peking and Seafood

My new co-worker R told me about Emerald Garden, his favourite Chinese restaurant. Instead of our usual team pow wow at Good Earth, I told R and MD that I was treating them to lunch at Emerald Garden. I know better than to ask my boss if I could expense the meeting.

I still remember my first day on the job. My boss said he would take me out for lunch. We walked along Stephen Avenue and I remember feeling giddy, wondering if we were going to check out one of the restaurants I could never afford to eat as a student. He picked A&W because “It’s cheap and it’s fast.”

chow fun

I was surprised to see that we were charged for tea at the Emerald Garden. Not a biggie. Our server was friendly and attentive throughout our meal. The restaurant itself was about 1/5 full.

The dish I enjoyed the most was Beef Chow Fun ($11.99). The sprouts and onions were crisp. The noodles were slippery and smooth, with that heavenly wok smell and flavour. The beef was tasty and tender.

sizzling rice hot sour soup

R loves the hot and sour soup at Emerald Garden. I can see why. Emerald Garden nailed the right consistency and ingredients. Peas, tofu, pork, thin strands carrots which added lots of different textures. I liked the strong taste of pepper, the spicy heat and hint of vinegar. I would have preferred the soup without the crispy rice as I thought it took away from the soup, but R wanted it.

ginger beef

The Ginger Beef ($12.99) was disappointing. The dish wasn’t very hot and I found the flavours one dimensional. There was little beef but lots of this hard candied batter. However, the temperature of the other two dishes was spot on. The hot and sour soup was served sizzling hot. The chow fun arrived steaming hot as well.

Overall, I liked the food. I would order the hot and soup again, without the rice. The chow fun was good as well, though the server told me they don’t always serve it. Reviews on Yelp mentioned Emerald Garden served Portuguese influenced dishes, of which I saw none on the regular menu.

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Paros Souvla

front paro

L asked if I would come with him while he picked up a new pedal in Royal Oak for his guitar. I was game but I used the opportunity to try a newish fast food joint, Paros Souvla.

first calamari

My sole reason for wanting to check out Paros was because I heard they make incredible calamari ($6 half order, $10 large). Oh my. The calamari was so good that after L and I devoured a half order, I went and ordered another. A half order comes with about a dozen ringlets. The batter was light and melted on your tongue. The squid itself was tender and toothsome.

calamari second round

L and I shared a Chicken Wrap ($8). The chicken was juicy and tender. The fries were cold and overcooked. We liked the cool, refreshing white sauce and fresh lettuce. This wasn’t the most flavourful chicken wrap, but it was good.

chicken wrap

I plan to drop by again for more calamari and to try some other dishes. The shop had a constant stream of customers, who ordered a range of food, from salads, wraps to more substantial platters. I haven’t been to Greece but L has visited and he informed me the food tasted authentic to him. One thing is for sure, Paros ain’t no Opa (no offence Opa, you were there for me when I needed you).

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The Keg – Stadium Location

Ah, the good old Keg. Back in Vancouver, my family would always default to the Keg for family dinners. I would usually get the most marbled steak available or choose the ribs.

keg drinks

When L and I arrived at the patio, our server greeted us with water. We ordered our drinks immediately, a Stiegl Radler Grapefruit ($7) and a Keg size caesar ($11). We waited 20 minutes for our drinks. In the meantime, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the picturesque view of Tim Horton’s and the gas station across the street.

Despite how busy it was, our server still asked L if he would like a glass for his beer and topped up our waters. She also replaced a knife inside the cloth napkin that was stained with something sticky. The caesar was too spicy for me, and I have a very high spice tolerance. I think this was the first time I felt like sending a drink back but I didn’t because it was so busy.

steak

After 30 minutes, we received our food. A medium-rare 12 ounce Top Sirloin ($29) and the Scallops and Bacon ($11). When our server brought our steak, she warned us it looked more well-done because of the natural sunlight. When I cut into the steak, it was most definately well-done. I didn’t bother to say anything to our server, as she just told us if we found our steaks more cooked than requested, it was all in the lighting. I disagree with her rationale. Wouldn’t more light mean you could better see the steak?

scallop

I really enjoyed the scallops. Each piece was meaty and sweet. The bacon around it was crisp. The steak was tasty thought it was a little tough only because it wasn’t cooked to our specification. If it was cooked to a medium, I can only imagine how tender and juicy this cut would have been.

The Keg is doing something right. Every table was filled by the time L and I left. Overall, if I was craving steak again, I think I would rather go somewhere known for being more attentive to the quality of the food and service, like Modern Steak in Kensington or Vintage Chophouse. You pay more but with that I think you can expect more too.

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Sunny Vietnamese

I went out for lunch with KN and H. They felt like eating Vietnamese food but didn’t want to eat at Pho Hoai Vietnamese Noodle House because of the poor service they received in the past. The older gentleman that works on the weekends is nice, but I did notice the guy who mans the till on the weekday is short with customers. He usually points a table without saying anything and then throws the menus on the table.

sprouts

We each ordered small/medium bowls of Pho Sate ($9.00). KN orders the sprouts cooked to avoid salmonella and E. coli. The broth was steaming hot but the noodles were barely warm. I’m glad the sprouts were cooked beforehand, so that it didn’t further cool the soup. The beef was razor thin and not a generous portion. The broth was bright orange with a mouth-watering spice to it.

I would come back again. The portion was what I should be eating. I wasn’t full but I wasn’t hungry. The service was polite and it was easy to wave a server over if we needed anything. The restaurant is calmer and less cramped than Pho Hoai, so that’s another bonus.

pho

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Cleaver

curry popcorn

Ever since I read Dale’s Yelp review, I wanted to try Cleaver. Finally, on Saturday night, I told L I was treating him out to dinner. Unfortunately, that night it was raining and we got the end seat on the patio. The servers brought over multiple blankets and made sure we were comfortable. A few drops weren’t going to make me melt. I could see L’s eyes glaze over in prerest (meaning – pretend interest) as I described how I thought it was kinda romantic to eat, cozily wrapped up in blankets, as the rain dripped behind our table.

drinks

L ordered an IPA ($9) while I stuck to a white ($11) and later, a full bodied Malbec ($13). As we sipped on our chosen poison, I noticed that Cleaver is full of decked out women. Have you seen that Real Housewives of Vancouver? Imagine full on make-up, hard to wear but nice to look at shoes, and clothes you would need to not ever eat to wear well. I opened the door to the ladies washroom and walked into a scene involving a brunette and something illegal. You would think she’d have the sense to lock the door.

real housewives

My favourite dish at Cleaver turns out to be the cheapest. Double dipped duck fat fried fries ($7.00). The fries were so good, I would come just for these crispy suckers. The exterior was crunchy while the interior held pillowy goodness. Dunked in curry aioli, I was in ecstasy. The chips and dip combo reminded me of my favourite late night fry house in Vancouver, Fritz European Fry House.

fries duck fat

Cleaver makes two wicked sliders. We order the trio ($24) The soft shell crab was hot, meaty and full of goodness. I was surprised that I thought the buttermilk chicken was as good or better. The chicken was crunchy, double-down, with cucumber ribbons and sweetness from I think, an apple. The lamb slider was okay, flavourful but puny in size.

slider

The only dish that disappointed was the Kale Salad ($17). I thought the raspberry vinaigrette was too light for the sharpness of kale. The arugula did cut into the bitterness of the kale, but the dry sprinkling of quinoa and curry croutons didn’t add much to it. I did like the blue cheese and thin slices of two different colours of beets.

salad beets

I would come back for the duck fries, two of the sliders and to people watch. There are lots of other dishes that look good. If you’re a dessert person, I saw some pretty decadent desserts at reasonable prices.

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Cafe Medina

AY insisted she was taking L and I out for brunch. She told me to pick whichever restaurant I wanted, but recommended Cafe Medina. Cafe Medina it was! My sister use to take me here for brunch, back in the day we both lived in the same city. Once we arrived, waited about 25 minutes for our table (no reservations).

While we waited in the sitting area, L and I noticed how loud the music was playing. I felt like a premature granny, wincing at the noise. The grumpy old man next to me concurred – Cafe Medina liks to rock out.

We ordered rounds of coffee ($2.75) and decided to share a few dishes: Les Boulettes ($17), Poisson Lem Marrakech ($17), Oeufs Du Jour ($15) and a Liege Waffle with a topping ($4.15). Coffee came quickly, and our server topped it up frequently.

waffle

We picked the white chocolate pistachio rosewater topping. Made fresh, the waffle was still warm. The portion of the sauce was generous for the size of the waffle. I like the simple presentation of the dish.

poached eggs

Les Boulettes translated into two poached eggs with lamb meatballs in a tomato stew with focaccia. The meatballs were very firm and didn’t have the juicy fat ratio I enjoy. However, the eggs were poached to a creamy medium and delicious with the spicy stew with roasted peppers and olives.

salmon

The Poisson Lem Marrakech included one soft poached egg with elegantly placed Marrakech cured wild salmon. The salad was out of this world. Made with sprouted wheat berries, pistachios and parsley, the salad was unique and zesty. I would order this wild salmon dish again, the flavours of the salmon and assorted greens were light and refreshing.

fritata

I was also a fan of the Oeufs Du Jour. The daily frittata showcased sausage, fresh dill, peppers, and asparagus. The omelette was fluffy and a filling portion. I like the addition of the arugula, which cut into the heaviness of the dish.

Overall, I really enjoyed the food at Cafe Medina. Despite how busy it is, servers were polite and attentive. The venue is nice as well, I adore the super high ceilings. If you want to brunch in style, check out Cafe Medina.

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Craft Beer Market

L and I met our friends N and R for drinks. R picked Big Rock, which didn’t impress us much with its lackluster flatbread and mediocre wine. For the next venue, I chose Craft Beer Market, as the trainer at my gym raved about the food at the Calgary location.

We sat outside on the patio, overlooking the park which overlooked the water. N ordered the Harvest Graden Sandwich ($15) L ordered the Baja Fish Tacos ($16.00), and I ordered the Craft T.L.T. ($17).

I tried a bite of N’s vegetarian sandwich. The distinctive taste and texture of sprouts was evident. The sandwich was too large for N to finish and according to her, not good enough for her to take home.

I loved my tuna sandwich. The cool slices tuna was a generous size, which was proportional to the thick, still warm slices of toasted focaccia. I really appreciated the layers of fresh, chilled vegetables: pea shoots, avocado, tomato and cucumber. The spinach salad was nice as well, lightly dressed and speckled with walnuts, strawberries, and feta.

tuna ahi

L and R polished off their dishes and said it was tasty. I enjoyed Craft T.L.T. so much, I’m going to venture to the Calgary location when I return home. Fei Po doesn’t normally like chain restaurants, but Craft is the exception.

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Vij’s

L and I met my buddy N and her new man friend, M, at Vij’s. L has never been to Vij’s before but he has heard me rave about the food and service often enough. My sister use to take me there when I was a student at SFU. I remember the first time I dined at Vij’s. I felt out of place until the owner introduced himself to us. He seem genuinely interested in our experience and made us giggle like school girls over his jokes. Now that’s a host.

veg dish

We sat outside in the patio for about an hour and a half, drinking wine and snacking on complimentary hor d’oeuvres. My favourite appy was a vegetable pakora that tasted a lot like KFC chicken. I must have eaten at least five of those delicious fritters. By the time we sat down to eat, I was full.

lamb sticks

L and I both ordered Wine Marinated Lamb Popsicles ($30), which come with endless rice and naan. I was the only one who dug into the carbs. N only nibbled on her vegetarian dish, her boyfriend was on the Paleo diet, and L only ate the lamb, ignoring the potatoes and spinach.

I love the taste of the lamb popsicles. I received five chops, each grilled with that heavenly charbroil taste. I though each chop had the perfect amount of fat, that type that squishes onto your tongue like hot juice. The yellow fenugreek sauce was rich and creamy. I made good use of the naan and rice to soak up the flavours of the dish.

Too bad Calgary doesn’t have a place like Vij’s. We could use a restaurant that turns hospitality into an art. Oh well, just more reason for us to visit my old hometown more often.

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Rodney’s Oyster House – Yaletown v. Gastown Location

beer

My sister and her family was back in town, so L and I decided to visit. The first thing we did when we landed in Vancouver was to head to Rodney’s Oyster House for the “low-tide” specials, $1.50 oysters. My family can wait till after happy hour for us to visit. I had oysters to devour.

caesar

We sat by the door, which emitted an occasional cool breeze. I ordered a Caesar ($10.25) while L ordered an IPA ($7.00). The caesar was pint size, filled with crushed ice, freshly grated horseradish, pepper and decorated with a large chilled shrimp. There is only one place that makes a better caesar than Rodney’s, and that’s the Lazy S in Calgary.

wine

I also ordered a glass of Burrowing Owl pinot gris ($10.50) which was poured to the brim. I giddily bent over to slurp the first sip of wine, as lifting it up to my mouth would mean spillage of this precious liquid.

oysters

We started off with a dozen of the oysters on special. Each was shucked perfectly – there wasn’t any shell fragments. The oysters were sweet and creamy, so good that I only needed a squeeze of lemon. L made good use of the half dozen condiments on our table.

fried oysters

I wanted to try the fried oysters, which was on special for only $12.99. We received six large oysters. The thin crispy coating of batter was dark and a tad burnt tasting, but the oysters themselves were perfectly cooked, soft and silky.

sparkling

The next day we headed to Rodney’s second location in Gastown. We sat upstairs in the loft section. While the ambience is newer and nicer than the Yaletown location, I prefer the original spot. The service and oyster shucking was superior at the Yaletown location.

second oysters

This time around, I ordered a glass of prosecco ($11) while L ordered an IPA for only $5.00. We ordered two dozen oysters. While the oysters tasted the same as the previous day, each one was filled with shell fragments. We saw other customers order the garlic prawns, clams, mussels and scallops. Of the bunch, the garlic prawns and scallops looked appetizing.

The service at the Gastown location was fine but it doesn’t compare to the charm that exudes from the servers at the Yaletown location. When we return in August, we plan to visit Rodney’s in Yaletown for oysters, garlic prawns and scallops.

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Last Best Brewery & Distillery

On Thursday, I came home in a foul mood. L took one look at me and told me he was taking me out for dinner. His reaction reminded me of my father, who would often cheer me up by offering to take me to a new restaurant. Ah, great minds think alike! I opted for the Last Best Brewery & Distillery as I knew L would dig the beer selection.

trybeers again

The distillery attracts its fair share of hipsters. I never saw so many manicured beards and elaborate moustaches in one place. I stuck out like a sore thumb. Perhaps I should try to do something cool with my upper lip peach fuzz.

If it wasn’t for our super server Dagny, we wouldn’t have stayed for food. I saw an old co-worker right before we were seated. M told me that the wings, calamari, and knuckle sandwich were not worth ordering. However, our server Dagny made us give the distillery a shot. Her sunny disposition and knowledge of the beer won us over.

Dagny served our six beer sampler ($14) in drinking order: Rock ISA; Kolsch; Organic; Show Pony; WIPA; and the Latte.

– The Rock was light, a little fruity, dry and not in the least bitter.

– I took to the Klosch, which was a floral light beer that tasted like the smell of lilacs. I found the Klosch to be a refreshing sipping beer.

– My favourite beer was the Organic, which is aged in a Chardonnay cask. This beer was mellow, smooth, mild with a creamy after taste. I liked it so much, I ordered another sleeve.

– The Showcase smelled like marihuana (hey, I use to live in Vancouver, so I know what it smells like) but tasted like lychee. This beer was a tad bitter. I found the smell a little unsettling.

– L did not like the WIPA, as it smelled strongly of cloves. I thought it was fine, but it was my least favourite beer.

– The Latte beer tasted like a good quality espresso with a sweet, creamy finish. Though I couldn’t drink a whole pint, I found the flavour of the latte beer quite delicious and not fake tasting, like most coffee flavoured beers. Continue reading “Last Best Brewery & Distillery”

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Posto Pizzeria and Bar

bottled water

L’s best friend S, and his wife E wanted to take us out for dinner. They felt like pizza, so I picked Posto Pizzeria and Bar. We sat in the patio, in the cool shade.

Our server asked us if we wanted still or sparking, to which we responded accordingly. I should have asked, but I assumed they offered their own filtration system like in the restaurants I usually frequent, such as Suzette Bistro, Una, and Cassis. Instead, we received bottled water, which I wouldn’t have ordered had I known. Lesson learned.

pistachio hummous

For drinks, the boys ordered beer while I opted for my usual, a glass of BonAnno cabernet ($13), which E preferred over her glass, a chianti ($14). E was hungry and ordered a couple of appetizers, the Chickpea Brushetta with Pistachio ($8.00) and the special appetizer of the day, grilled prawns. The bread that came with the chickpea mixture was soft, chewy and oily.

prawns

The prawns were nicely presented with toasted pine nuts, panko crumbs, and beans. We received a total of five large prawns, and man it was cooked perfectly. Crunchy and juicy, we all raved about the prawns. The beans were sweet and had a nice snap to it.

mystery pizza

Our server recommended ordering three pizzas if we were hungry. S chose the meat laden pizza, with sausage, salami, smoked pancetta, and calabrese ($19.00). This was L and S’s favourite dish. The meats were cooked to a crisp.

Meat pizza

My favourite dish was the pizza with potato, creme fraiche, leek, smoked pancetta ($18). The unusual combination of ingredients and textures worked. To us, it tasted like one giant, delicious perogy.

salmon

E’s favourite dish was the pizza prosciutto, fiore de latte, arugula, and grana padano ($22). The arugula gave the pizza a freshness while the chili flakes added a nice heat to the pie. The crust was light and airy, and it pleasantly crackled when you bit in it.

gelato

Instead of dessert, I opted for another glass of wine. My counterparts indulged in gelato, mini doughnuts, and panna cotta. To each their own. I declined a taste of dessert, but everyone seem to like what they ordered.

creme brulee

Overall, we enjoyed the food and wine. Posto takes reservations, unlike my favourite pizza place, Una. I would like to go back and try some of their non pizza items, which I hear is pretty tasty.

doughnuts

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Place Pizza and Steak House

My brother-in-law lives in Bowness. Whenever our family gets together at his house, we always find ourselves at Place Pizza and Steak House. The restaurant is usually packed with customers hankering for steak and potatoes. Our family goes for the Fish and Chips ($12.00).

I deviated the last visit and ordered the Seafood Tortellini ($16). I received a large serving of baked creamy pasta. Besides the generous amount of soft tortellini, I found chunks of crab stick and small but plentiful amount of shrimp.

pasta

I took a bite of my husband’s fish and chips. As standard, the batter on the fish was thin and crispy. The fish itself was hot and flaky. Though the pasta was tasty, I think the fish and chips are still my favourite dish to get at the Place.

fish chip

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Pigeonhole

On Saturday night, I had plans with my friend Jaime. I put on my most comfortable shoes, wore my most stretchy pants, and put on a fresh pair of contacts. I stopped by Jaime’s place for a glass of wine before we walked over to 17 Ave for dinner.

room

I know Jaime always wants to try the newest hot spot. I heard good things about Pigeonhole, plus I follow the GM, Heather Wighton, on Twitter so I figured it would be a safe bet. We arrived around 7pm and landed a spot by the window.

strond

Jaime and I were really impressed with our server, Hanna. She was funny, witty and knew the menu inside and out. When she described the drinks and food, she waxed poetic.

pigeonholewine

I ordered a Hanky Panky cocktail ($12.00) because Hanna described it as strong and boozy. Made with Tanqueray, Punt E Mes, and Fernet, this drink had a punch to it. I could feel the drink uppercut my liver. I could taste orange and I think, juniper berries.

cheese

The Halloumi Cheese ($11) was kick-ass good. The cheese was firm and warm. With each nibble, I would swirl some of the pistachio sauce and a piece of the pickled celery or olive. The flavour of the pistachio was pronounced, as well tartness from the rhubarb.

dumplingd

The second snack we ordered was the Morels and Dumplings ($12). Oh wow. This dish is a stunner. The morels were soft, the dumpling skin was delicate. The herby filling tasted like there was ricotta inside. I loved the freshness of the peas. All together, the flavours were well-balanceed.

Pigeonhole calls these dishes “snacks”. I call it fine dining. This is food that I can’t make at home. For those on Yelp/Zomato that complain that the dishes are expensive for the portion, try shopping for some of these ingredients yourself and see how much that would cost you.

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Girls Night Out – Scary Sherry’s Bday

I was in charge of picking the restaurant for a surprise party for my friend Scary Sherry. I’m not making fun of her behind her back, that’s her nickname. Our mutual friend, JG, actually formally introduced me to her as “Scary Sherry”. To this day, I still don’t know how Sherry got the scary.

derlik

Now, where to go to celebrate someone’s 50th birthday? I wanted a venue ideal for a large party. I also wanted the service to match the food. I know if Duncan Ly is in the house (or rather in this case, the hotel), we would be in good hands. So JG booked a hotel room for the night and brought Scary Sherry to Raw Bar for drinks.

martini

Seven of us surprised Scary Sherry at the bar. After she bawled like a baby, we sat at the same table that Leonardo DiCaprio graced the previous month. We also drank what he drank – the Derelict $12 (spiced plum and clove jelly, Skyy Vodka, Soho Lychee liqueur, fresh lemon and pineapple juice).

mint

I ordered my usual – the Aztec Julep ($12). Every time I took a sip, the girls took turns impersonating some unknown southern belle, “I do declare, on a hot summer’s day, only a bourbon mint julep will do.” For my second round, I wanted to drink in peace so I ordered a glass of Wayne Gretzky the “Great White” ($10.00). I was mercilessly heckled for drinking a wine made/marketed by the “Great One”. Tough crowd.

salmon tartar

JG ordered the table oysters on the half shell with Thai chili hot sauce ($18 for six) and spicy salmon and tuna tartar ($14). Some of the hecklers at our table don’t eat raw seafood. All the more for me! The puffed rice cracker went really well with the tuna mixture. I wish more restaurants would serve tuna tartar with this type of vessel.

oysterrawbar

We really appreciated the VIP service. Yellow Door’s service manager, Sebastian Bravo (aka Awesome ‘Stache) help to arranged for Scary Sherry’s husband to drop off a gift from Tiffany & Co, as the previous plan fell through. As well, Christina Mah, the mixologist at Raw Bar, came over to say hi and wished Sherry a happy bday. Duncan Ly, who I know is crazy busy, came over to personally say hi and arranged for a special dessert for Sherry.

raw bar dessert

After drinks and oysters, we moved to the second venue, Yellow Door Bistro. We weren’t the only group who decided to celebrate at Yellow Door. A stag and a 30th birthday party was also in process, though neither was as loud nor rowdy as our group.

closer cheers

Our group opted for the daily chef’s choice (three courses $40) plus wine pairings (normally $25 but for the month of May, promotional price of $12.50). The fresh bread and butter on the table was too good to pass up. The foccacia was warm and you could taste and smell the rosemary. The brown bread had sesame seeds and was soft and sweet.

pate

A surprise for everyone at our table was an amuse-bouche of Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait with rhurbarb gelee. All eight of us loved this parfait shooter. The foam was fruity, while the rest of the mixture was rich and creamy.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 9.58.50 AM

The Scallop Ceviche with compressed Asian pear, frisée and salsa verde was light and refreshing. The salad had a nice mixture of different greens and a nice, zippy dressing. The pear was juicy and sweet, sliced razor thin. I couldn’t get enough of the scallop ceviche.

main

The fourth course was the Sous Vide Milk Fed Veal Strip loin with spring vegetable succotash and sun choke velouté. I know what veal is but the succotash and velouté I had to Google. The meat was soft and tender. I really enjoyed the vegetables, particularly the fresh beans. So much, I ate my skinny neighbour’s plate as she was too full. You know the food is good when you eat off another person’s plate. It also means that you eat too much.

dessert 2

Dessert was paired with a decadent coffee liquor. I don’t normally eat dessert but I devoured it. Layered with chocolate, it had just the right amount of sweetness to it. I drank the liquor before my dessert arrived, but I imagine it was a heavenly pairing.

dessert coffee

We were a loud and rowdy bunch. I was grateful we were not kicked out. Someone who shall remain nameless broke a wine glass, as that person slammed it down like a finished bottle of beer. Sorry about that Duncan.

For a fun night out with a bunch of friends, Raw Bar and Yellow Door sure know how to create a memorable experience. Thank you Duncan and Yellow Door/Raw Bar staff for truly making Scary Sherry’s birthday a special celebration.

bday dessert

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Seafood Lunch at Market on Macleod

royal miyagi

L prefers Market on Macleod (formerly Kingsland Market) because its quieter and more peaceful to shop around than Calgary’s Farmers Market and Crossroads. Market on Macleod has become my favourite too, mostly because Billingsgate Market recently opened up and they sell freshly shucked oysters. Besides oysters, I can also get steamed mussels and hot chowder.

malpeque

I was and I still am giddy. Here I was in Calgary, getting oysters shucked right in front of me while I was shopping. I picked 3 east coast and 3 west coast oysters. In about five minutes, I received perfectly shucked oysters on a bed of crushed ice. Lemon wedges and a bottle of hot sauce were served on top of the metal serving plate. This dish of delicacies cost me $11.00 clams.

oysters

L and I sat outside on the patio. The sun was shining down, our seafood feast glistened, no, it sparkled. The west coast oysters cost only $1.00. Creamy, cold and flavourful, oh I could have eaten a dozen of these. The east coast oysters ($1.89) had that bitter, briny taste to it. Could oysters be any fresher? Well, perhaps, if I lived on the west coast. So I suppose the question should be rephrased as “Can you get fresher oysters anywhere else in the prairie?” Not at these prices, you can’t.

toro

To round out my meal, I ordered a maki platter and an order of toro from Big Catch. The sushi was well-made and presented. The toro was buttery and delicious. Next time, I’m just going to order a few different plates of sashimi because I think raw fish tastes better with oysters. Big Catch served up their food in elaborate decorative plates. I was worried I would accidently knock it off the table, but luckily these dishes survived a meal with me.

combo

I can’t wait to return again for my oyster and sashimi fix. I was contemplating BYOC (bring your own champagne), but I saw bylaw officers in the market. Yikes, better not. Oh well, the oysters at Billingsgate and the toro at Big Catch are so good I will be intoxicated enough.

sign oysters

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Palomino Smokehouse

If my brothers visit me again in Calgary, I would take them to the Palomino. There aren’t many places in Vancouver that serve up so many meatalicious dishes in a delightful western style saloon.

palominobeers

My coworkers and I started off with a round of beers. I usually stick to Mill Street Organic ($7) while my friends prefer to drink Thirsty Beaver ($7). Palomino also makes a wicked Caesar, with a big crunchy pickle and a slice of bacon.

wings

My friends ordered the Carolina BBQ Wings ($12) which can be ordered battered or grilled. They also shared a huge plate of garlic fries ($7.00), which were better than the same fries that came with my burger. While my fries were small, cold little end bits, the fries on the appetizer plate were longer and fresh out of the fryer.

ribs

My buddy also ordered Smoked and Rub Ribs ($12) and BBQ Nachos ($17). All the appetizers looked good and received rave reviews around the table. I declined as I wanted to focus on my favourite dish, the Palomino Cheeseburger ($14).

nachos

The fresh ground chuck patty was large, thick and juicy. The produce was chilled, the bun grilled. Each bite was a contrasting mixture of soft meat, crisp bacon, warm apple smoked cheese, tomato, pickles and lettuce.

garlic fries

I ordered a side of soup and garlic fries with aioli. I would dip my fries in aiola and then stick the raw pieces of garlic on it. My breath was so bad, even my dog wouldn’t come near me when I returned home. Just the sandwich and fries let me stuffed until the next morning. The Bacon and Chicken soup was creamy, rich and heavy in the meat department.

bruger

I’ve eaten most of all the items at the Palomino: brisket; chicken; ribs; pulled pork; salads; appetizers; and catfish. I have to say that my favourite dishes include garlic fries, poutine, wings, and of course, the cheeseburgers.

Service 99 out of a 100 times is fantastic. The most recent visit was not the usual standard. The server had a special talent for complaining that made me want to stick pins into my head rather than listen to her. After a day of work, all I want to do is chill out. However, her good looks saved her from a corresponding tip, as my single and looking friend enthusiastically wanted to tip well.

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Suzette Bistro

Jaime treated to me to lunch at Suzette Bistro. I was keen to try the food, as I heard the restaurant is managed by the same owners of Cassis Bistro. While Suzette Bistro focuses more on buckwheat and sweet crepes, the trademark service and lovely ambience of Cassis carried over. Of course, let’s not forget the food. Oh, the food.

We were seated right by the window, right by all the street action. On a sunny day, the room is lit up with natural light. I really liked the energy of the room, it was clear that all the customers were loving life.

mussels2

Our gregarious server recommended that I pair dish of my mussels with a particular wine. I didn’t write the name of the wine down, but it was pretty, light yellow hue and a tart after taste.

mussels

I love the production of ordering Moules Frites ($22.00). First comes the heaping bowl of fragrant mussels, and a large metal tin for shells. Then comes the bowl of frites and condiments, a homemade ketchup and garlic aioli. The mussels were small in size, soft and silky. I shouldn’t have but I drank up spoonfuls of the addicting cream broth, which was speckled with shallots and parsley. The frites were a golden yellow, crisp and even better when I dipped it in alternating condiments.

crepe mushroom

Jaime ordered a tea and the Forestière ($18.00). Jaime has a small appetite, so I got the chance to eat about a third of the galette. The filling of sautéed mushrooms was rich, seasoned with garlic & parsley. I thought the crepe-like wrapper was lacey and crisp.

Suzette Bistro is the sort of place I would bring my out of town friends for delicious and good value food. The service, food and ambience are top notch. Thank you Jaime for a lovely lunch.

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Richmond Pub – Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight

L and I go out for dinner about twice a week. We already met our quota of the week when he mentioned to me that he wanted to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. L was surprised that I was so into watching the game. I wasn’t, I was into the opportunity to eat wings. I diligently researched nearby pubs to see which one was showing the boxing match.

Richmond pub beer

The person who answered the phone at Richmond Pub told to arrive before 6:00pm to score a seat. When we arrived, the manager showed us our options. We opted for the high seats near the big screen.

Hot wings

Cold beers and hot wings. Can life get any better? The wings were very good ($8.99). We received about 12 wings and drums. Nice amount of meat, crispy skin and one of the nicest hot sauces I’ve sampled. I could taste the vinegar in the hot sauce, which I enjoyed.

Pizza Richmodn Pub

We ordered the large Meat pizza ($19.99). The crust was crunchy and tasted homemade. The crust was not too thin but thick enough to hold up the heavy layer of cheese, crunchy green peppers, onions, and meat. The processed meat was a little too Safeway if you know what I mean. However, Richmond Pub makes a better pizza than many of its competitors. The pizza was really large too, and I had to tap out at three slices.

I saw a huge appetizer platter that called out for me to order it next time. I spied with my beady eyes onion rings, chicken fingers, ribs and some veggies. The next time L and I head over to Richmond’s Pub, we will have to give the platter a try.

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Chuen May Food Products

cheun may

My favourite thing to do after a night of moderate partying is to eat. In Vancouver, there was no shortage of late night restaurants. Well, I’m not in Vancouver anymore. Lucky for me, I found Chuen May Food, a store that specializes in homemade dim sum.

Chuen May list

The store itself is spotless. I’ve peered behind into the kitchen and I have seen first hand how clean the equipment and work areas. I also talked to the owner about the local ingredients she uses. She informed me that unlike some competitors, she never uses the scraps and end pieces of meat. For example, she buys whole local chickens and the best ingredients she can find. I can tell.

My dipping sauce - a mix of everything.
My dipping sauce – a mix of everything.

Before you see the photos, I’ll warn you that I use very little oil when I cook up the dumplings and spring rolls. As I have an unhealthy penchant for mayonnaise, I try to cut calories in other ways. If I used more oil, the spring rolls and dumpling would have a more consistent golden hue. I also bake my spring rolls instead of deep frying it. My picks at Chuen May include the Pork and Vegetable Dumplings ($15 for 50), Pork and Cabbage Spring Rolls ($35 for a huge bag), Sticky Rice ($7.00 for 2 large or 3 small), and Ground Pork and Mushroom ($8).
dumplings

For the dumplings, I drizzle about a teaspoon onto the pan and throw the dumplings on medium for 15 minutes. I put some water on the pan and put a cover on for the first 7 minutes. When I can see the dumpling plump up, I flip it over so that the dumpling is crispy all over. The dumpling wrapper is thick enough to hold the meaty goodness inside. The pork is mixed with minced Chinese greens and ginger. I like to put a little mayonnaise and red rooster sauce while L prefers to make his own soy based sauce.

spring roll

For the spring rolls, I lightly brush the shell with oil and chuck the tray in the oven at 400 degrees for about ten minutes. I watch for the spring rolls to turn a golden brown, then I shut the temperature off and let it sit inside the hot oven for a few more minutes. These spring rolls are quite large and filled with ground pork and bright green cabbage. I dig the saucy almost gravy-like filling, and I think I can detect Chinese five spice.

Before I cook the Sticky Rice, I defrost it in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat it, I plop the lotus wrapped parcel in a bowl filled halfway with water. I nuke it for about 5-7 minutes, depending on its size. If you have the time and patience, you can steam the sticky rice instead of microwaving it. I love the big pieces of Chinese mushroom, fat chunks of juicy chicken, and lap cheong (Chinese sausage), which makes for a substantial snack.
Minced pork

Recently, I tried the Ground Pork and Mushroom dish. For this dish, you need a steamer or a tray in a covered pot. I improvised and found a little ramekin or miniature baking ornament. I let the water simmer for about 15 minutes, then I turn off the heat and let it sit for five minutes. L really enjoyed this dish. The meat is so tasty and succulent and cooks in a broth-like juices. This dish tastes like sui mai, a pork based dumpling served during dim sum. I liked the addition of the shredded beige vegetable with its crunchy texture.

I love Chuen May Food Products. The food is superior to the vast majority of dim sum restaurants I’ve consumed in Calgary. The frozen food is made daily and sells out regularly. Cash only. Chuen May Food Products is located on 221 1 St SE Calgary, AB T2G 2G3 (403) 232-8364

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Milestones on Stephen Ave

Milestones

My work buddies LB and BF wanted to meet up for drinks at Milestones. My past visits at Milestones on Stephen Avenue were not positive ones, but I didn’t want to be a negative Nancy. To my surprise, it turns out this location has improved vastly from previous visits in 2009 and 2012. Most likely due to Robin Hushagen, the new general manager at Milestones.

Milestones wine

LB and BF know Robin from previous visits. Frequent fliers at this location, my friends informed me Robin is always mingling with guests to ensure they are enjoying themselves. True to their word, he made his way over to our table and chatted with us.

Artichoke dip

I was surprised to see so many bottles of wine just over the $30.00 mark. Steal on Stephen Ave! The Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($12) was just like I remembered in Vancouver. Thick and creamy, the dip stayed soft and warm despite our leisurely pace of munching. We also snacked on the Mediterranean Bruschetta ($9), the toppings were strong on the balsamic reduction, feta cheese and tomatoes.

brushetta

The lounge is newly renovated, complete with a steam fireplace. No longer dark and cramped, the spacious lounge is now filled with lots of natural light. I can’t wait for the new patio to be built. This is one chain restaurant I’ll frequent more often for appies and well priced drinks.

Milestones2
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Gachi Restaurant

L and I are getting old. In my wilder days, I stayed up past midnight. I voted NDP because I knew it would upset my Liberal loving parents. I bussed for well over an hour to check out a new eatery. Now, I fall asleep by 10:00 pm. I vote based on my opinion on the character of the people running rather than ideology. More telling, L and I dine out based on convenience, which means anywhere within five minutes of our house.

beer

Gachi fits the bill. I like Gachi for a quick and quiet dinner. The room is comfortable, with hanging lights that colour of 70s style sunglasses. The restaurant is quieter than it should be – as the food is consistent and far better than its nearby competitors.

yam fires

For a light appetizer, we snacked on Yam Fries ($8.00). These were real yam fries, not the super battered type you find at fast food joints. I could really taste the sweetness of the soft yam. A side of house-made chili mayo accompanied the fries.
pizza - Korean

I’m a fan of the Korean pancake, which was filled with seafood. Though thick in size, the pancake wasn’t in the least doughy. The exterior was crispy while the pieces of squid, shrimp and octopus were high quality and perfectly cooked. The pancake was so flavourful, I felt no need to dip it in the accompanying sauce.

fire chicken

L and I both loved the Spicy Chicken Donburi ($14.00). L use to live in Korea and he declared Gachi makes an excellent version of “fire chicken”, a dish he ate often. I could smell the BBQness of the chicken the moment the dish arrived at our table. More chicken than rice, this dish was a delight. Chock full of spicy marinated chicken with perfect egg omelette ribbons, green onions, red peppers and crunchy strands of cabbage.

Fire chicken

The only other dish that is better than the Spicy Chicken is the Bon Thai with Soft Shell Crab ($16.00). The crab is crispy, standing up to the creamy spicy green curry. I thought the sautéed broccoli and mushrooms went with the curry. The side of rice was well flavoured, though I would prefer a simple white rice so I could really enjoy the taste of the curry. For $16.00, this dish is a big portion with excellent seafood.

Bon Thai

Thanks Gachi, for offering residents in Killarney an affordable option for delicious Korean food. Gachi has moved up to one of our favourite restaurants in the city.

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Spolumbo’s Fine Food and Deli

L and I were shopping in Inglewood last Saturday. We bought several spices from the Silk Road Spice Merchant, checked out a new store Plant as well as purchased a knife from Knifewear.

To rest our weary wallets, we popped into Spolumbo’s Fine Food and Deli for lunch. The line-up stretched down past the condiment table but the wait wasn’t long. Employees would pop out and ask you what you wanted so our food order quickly came up. I was delighted to discover that Spolumbo’s sells draft beer by the glass ($3.75) to wash down our food.

beer

L and I settled in a table with our cold beers and hot sandwiches. L ordered a Spolumbo’s Spicy Italian Sausage on a bun ($8.00) while I scored the winning choice, a Porchetta Sandwich ($7.00). L enjoyed his dog, the bun was crusty and the big old weiner was steaming hot, covered in fresh tomato sauce.

sauage

My Porchetta Muffaletta was FREAKING FANTASTIC. Holy moly. The pork was thinly sliced, stacked a mile high. The meat was juicy, succulent, and garlicky. The portion was large too. I should have just ate half the sandwich but my fei po tendencies got the best of me.

danwich

Next time we head over, I would love to try the Mama’s Meatloaf in a Bun and the Cutlet Parmegiana. Fei Po gives Spolumbo’s two fat thumbs up.

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Maurya Fine East Indian Restaurant

Twice I’ve been invited to a private party at Maurya. Both times, L and I really enjoyed the food and vowed to return again for dinner. The restaurant is large enough for about 50 guests.

Our friend N was hosting a surprise party for her husband. L and I were the only people there without children. My bad. We forgot to procreate a year before this party.

The buffet included about ten dishes: butter chicken; paneer; potatoes and eggplant; tandoori chicken; saffron rice; naan; beans; daal and salad. While all the food was tasty, there are three dishes that stood out.

buffet leighton

The naan was freshly made. You can see the chef making it at the front of the restaurant. I think there’s nothing better than fresh naan. Light and crispy, the flat bread was the perfect vessel to scoop up the butter chicken.
buffet platter

Speaking of butter chicken, the meat was tender and juicy. The sauce was thick, creamy and tangy. It rivaled the tandoori chicken, which I loved. Normally I find tandoori chicken a tad dry. Not the case at Maurya. The chicken was a reddish hue and wonderfully spiced.

Belly dancing rounded out the party for the birthday boy. The belly dancer asked all children and adults to join her in a series of lessons. My belly was in no shape to dance, as I was too stuffed with all the yummy food at Maurya.

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Momo Yami Sushi Japanese Cuisine

L and I were in the mood for sushi. Not wanting to drive very far, we settled on Momo-Yami. Located in the Glamorgan strip mall, we opted to order take-out. The manager/owner who’s always around makes the ambience a tad tense. Let’s just say you can read her mood easily and her staff look terrified of her. Good thing the sushi is consistent and well-made.

deluxe

I ordered the deluxe sushi combo ($18). Of the bunch, the salmon nigiri was my favourite. Smooth and buttery, the salmon was sweet and nicely marbled. The scallop was large but fishy. I usually find snapper too chewy to eat, but this piece was not at all sinewy. I enjoyed the sushi rice though it was half the size of the fish. The rest of the fish selection was good though not exceptional. Note that all the nigiri was heavily smeared with wasabi. Luckily, I’m a fan of that sinus clearing green stuff.

The California roll was tasty. The crab was sweet and mixed with mayonnaise. A sizeable triangle of avocado was perfectly ripe. The rice was nicely seasoned and spiked with orange tobiko.

L always ordered the Dynamite Combo ($12). I think Momo Yami makes one of the best dynamite rolls in town. Two pieces of shrimp fill this roll out and the airy batter remains crispy throughout. A dab of avocado, a healthy sprinkling of sparkling tobiko round out this texture and taste rich roll.

dyanmie combo

Overall, the nigiri and rolls that I’ve sampled are good. Fei Po gives Momo Yama two fat thumbs up for salmon nigiri and dynamite rolls.

Momo-Yama Sushi Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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Newcastle Pub – Wing Night

Last Wednesday L and I dropped by Newcastle Pub for wing night. The previous time we visited Newcastle, I chatted with a wing night regular who told me the best time to snag a seat. For a hint, check the last image at the end of the post.

mill street

I don’t know if Newcastle has a great HR team or just lucky because the service is consistently good. However, last night service and the food was excellent. We sat back and drank big pints of Mill St Organic. I like the pints at Newcastle more than Pop’s Taphouse because beer is filled in larger glasses for cheaper.

medium hot

I ordered Medium Hot and Lemon Salt Wings. Within five minutes, our wings were ready. L and I were impressed that the wings were hot and crispy. A trainer at my gym told me she won’t eat wings because she finds it disgusting to see the little veins and discoloured bits near the bone. No fear of that nastiness at Newcastle. The chicken was plump and all white in colour.

lemonsalt

We still felt peckish, so I ordered Poutine (9.00) and an order of Honey Hot Wings. The first time I ordered poutine at Newcastle, the fries were underdone. Not this time. The thick cut fries were soft in the inside, covered in blobs of cheese that would stretch for miles whenever I forked a fry.

poutine

I was too full to finish the Honey Hot Wings, but I tried a couple. I prefer the medium hot and lemon salt flavours, but at 25 cents per wing, it was fun to try something different.

bill

Newcastle, keep up the great work. Give it some time and I’ll predict that this pub will be an institution in Killarney like the Ship and Anchor is on 17th Avenue. Fei Po gives Newcastle two fat thumbs up.

Newcastle Pub on Urbanspoon

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Pop’s Taphouse

A trainer at my gym told me that she loves Pop’s Taphouse. She’s super fit, so I thought if she eats at Pop’s, maybe if I eat where and what she eats, I’ll be fit too. Faulty logic, I know. I also received coupons in the mail from Pop’s Taphouse to use in the month of April, which motivated me to try a different pub other than my beloved Newcastle.

cuban

I shared the Cuban Sandwich ($13.99) with skinny fries with L. The sandwich wasn’t anything special. A few pieces of thinly sliced meat, a whole lot of pickles, and a generic bun. I wouldn’t order this dish again.

L and my brother-in-law B enjoyed the sizzling calamari ($13). The batter was slightly sweet and fell off easily from the squid. I prefer Newcastle’s version, as their tentacles and arms are larger and didn’t taste like it was previously frozen (even though it was likely so, as we live in a landlocked city).

calamari

I liked the Artichoke Dip ($14.00). The dip was bubbling hot, and the consistency was thin and cheesy, which was perfect to coat the chips. I liked how the dish offered an assortment of dipping options, such as baguette slices, carrots and celery.

dip

The food on our second night at Pop’s was much better. I ordered the pasta special ($8), Chicken Fettuccine. The pasta was light and flavourful, with nice slices of chicken and spinach. I would order this dish again. The value was incredible.

pasta

L ordered the Buffalo Chicken Wrap with Waffle Fries ($12.50). The wrap is large in size and the tortilla wrapper was soft and fresh. There is a lot of greens and hot sauce in the wrap, which I enjoyed but L would have preferred more chicken and less hot sauce.

buffalo

The Poutine ($14.00) was another winner. The skinny fries remained crisp despite its bath in gravy and curds. The curds were clean tasting and firm, a nice contrast to the saltiness of the gravy. Everyone at our table thought the poutine was worth ordering again.

poutine

I really enjoyed the Big Ass Wings ($12). Our server recommended the honey hot flavour. The wings were crispy and stood up to the sweet, spicy sauce. I prefer Pop’s honey hot sauce over Newcastle’s version.

wings

In future visits, I want to try Pop’s burgers, fish tacos, and the taco salad. FYI, Friday at Pop’s has all their bottles of wine for half price and pasta for $8.00.

Pop's Taphouse Calgary SW on Urbanspoon

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Dragon Chinese Restaurant

wall

AC wanted GR and I to try the food at Dragon Chinese Restaurant. From the outside, the building is nothing to look. However, the interior of the restaurant is pretty cool. For example, the wall by the kitchen is glossy with textured blue and gold designs. The washroom isn’t the typical cold, utilitarian version you would expect to see in a Chinese restaurant. The tiling in the hallway leading to the washroom is elaborate and colourful.

donought

Dragon Chinese offers high quality dishes. Yes, the food is a few dollars more than my cheap and cheery lunch spots in Chinatown, but it is worth it. Take something as simple as the Chinese Dough in Rice Wrap ($6). We received two soy-based sauces plus a rich peanut dip. The doughnut was warm, airy and not in the least chewy. The rice wrapper was glossy and smooth.

rice

The Dragon Chinese Fried Rice ($15.95) contained a healthy amount of crunchy shrimp. The rice was yellow, and peppered with orange tobiko and bits of squid. This was my favourite dish.

squid

I ordered GR Salt and Pepper Squid ($9.99). The first order was too doughy. I could taste the wetness of the batter. AC asked the server if the cook could fry it for a bit longer. Instead, the chef made a fresh dish for us, and this version hit the spot. The batter was light and thin, crackling like fried skin on a chicken.

Fei Po gives Dragon Chinese Restaurant two fat thumbs up. The food is so good that both AC and I, world renowned cheapskates, are willing to cough up the extra cash.

Dragon Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Gohan Sushi Lounge – New Downtown Delight

To Groupon or not to Groupon? I’m hesitant to buy online deals. However, I saw some positive diner reviews on Urbanspoon for a new Japanese restaurant, Gohan Sushi Lounge. So when I saw a deal for Gohan on Groupon, I figured, why not?

First off, I want to give props to our server, Melissa. She was super sweet and did her job well. She also doesn’t annoy easily, as we could see from the high maintenance customers sitting next to us. The couple also had a Groupon. After Melissa brought them tea and a beer, the customer requested a water, with lemon but no ice. Two minutes later, the customer wanted a fork, which she used to flatten each piece of sushi before eating it. Three minutes later, she wanted a knife to cut into her maki rolls.

scallop

Back to the food. As it was Thursday, appetizers were half price. L and I decided to ordered a bunch of dishes to get a sense of what Gohan had to offer. L raved about the Motoyaki ($10). Both the scallop and shrimp were plump and well seared. Nestled between the seafood was a tangy seaweed salad doused in a creamy sauce.

Sushi pizza

I love deep fried food. L not so much. So I devoured most of the Sushi Pizza ($10). The rice patty was crispy on the outside like a hash brown. The rice inside the patty remained fluffy, each grain still held its integrity. The mixture of salmon, avocado, masago and mayonnaise was tangy and rich. The deep-fried carrot strands that garnished the top of the pizza was sweet.

scallophamaci

Our third appetizer was the Ahi Tuna and Scallop Carpaccio ($16.00). I thought the red tuna was fine and the avocado a tad unripe. However, the scallop was dynamite. Large, firm and sweet, the freshness of the scallop was unsurpassed.

ramen

L and I each ordered Tonkatsu Ramen ($15.00). The sea salt based pork was creamy and the flavour didn’t over power the more subtle ingredients, like the bamboo shoots, sprouts, fish cake and seaweed. The roasted pork slices were generous in size with a nice fat to lean meat ratio. I would have preferred if the ramen was a tad firmer, but that’s just my preference. The half slice of egg was phenomenal. The texture of the egg yolk was soft and melded so well with all the flavours of this dish. Next time, I’m going to ask if I can pay for an extra egg because it was that good.

Dynamite roll
We ordered the Dynamite Roll ($8.00) which was average in size, presentation and taste. Next time, I would opt for the Spider Roll ($15.00), which was double the size and looked like it was overflowing with deep-fried crab.

Overall, L and I really enjoyed the food. We plan to go again and try a few more dishes. Fried Oysters ($12.00), Seafood Yakiudon ($20.00), a sushi platter, and of course, more scallops. I made L buy a Groupon, so that we could try more items than we would normally order. Tee-hee. Fei Po gives Gohan Sushi Lounge two fat thumbs up. I hope the quality and service continues, so that Gohan becomes a regular stop for us (even without a coupon).
Gohan Sushi Lounge on Urbanspoon

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U & Me – Lunchlicious

The last few times I’ve dined at U & Me I was impressed with the food. I think the key to a good meal here is to come when the restaurant is the busiest. I usually try to come for lunch before 11:45 am in order to avoid waiting for a table.

century old

I ordered one of my favourite dishes at U & Me, Mixed Meat Congee with Century Old Egg ($6.99). The congee itself is fluffy, studded generously with tasty morsels of pork and beef. Ginger, green onion, and century old egg quarter give the soup plenty of flavour. The yolk part of the egg is creamy and salty, whereas the outer part of the egg is chewy and looks and taste like jelly.

squid

I wasn’t expecting much for the Salt and Pepper Squid ($8.99) because the last time I went, it was too tough to eat. Mind you, it was 2:00am the morning, so perhaps that had something to do with it. The pieces of squid were on the small side and cut irregularly. However, despite how it looked, the squid was tender and the batter was crisp and melted on your tongue.

chow fun

The XO Beef Chow Fun with XO ($12.99) was a heaping platter of well sauced noodles. There was a generous amount of meat. The bean sprouts were still crisp, as were the grilled onions and green and red peppers. The spice in the sauce was hot enough to linger in our mouths.

AC pointed out that the owner was present and in the kitchen making all dishes. I’d like to know when he’s in, so that I can dine here more often. I can taste the difference between when he cooks and the other chefs. Fei Po gives U & Me two fat thumbs up (when the owner is cooking).

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Vic’s Hong Kong Style BBQ and Meats

AC and I wanted congee, but Lucky Place was closed for a week. AC told me that Vic’s made congee. We bickered back and forth for a couple of blocks as I never recalled seeing congee on the menu. Turns out, he was right. One for AC, one billion for me. Not that I’m keeping track.

free broth

We enjoyed the complimentary soup, which is included in any lunch special. Unfortunately, I took a picture after we took all the goodies out of the soup.

chicken mushroom congee

AC ordered the Chinese Mushroom and Chicken Congee. The texture of the soup was more smooth and silky, rather than the thick and fluffy style at U & Me. I liked the big pieces of mushrooms and white pieces of chicken.

vic noodle shangai

AC and I shared an order of the Shanghai noodles. The noodles were saucy, tangled with carrots, baby corn, water chestnuts, onions and pieces of pork. Turns out the head chef was working, and man, I could tell by the way the food was prepared that he knows what’s he’s doing. Next time I bring my co-workers, I’ll make sure to order this dish again.

I also picked up some BBQ meats from Vic’s. This Easter, my in-laws requested that I make my famous duck fried rice. I usually go to Sun’s BBQ, but Vic’s is a more convenient location for me. Half a pound of chau siu, roasted pork and half a duck cost me about $30. Props to the BBQ master working behind the counter. He cut off the hard corners of the meat before weighing the pieces. He also took the care to cut the roasted pork skin separately after slicing through the meat, so that the crispy skin remain in even, unbroken pieces. It’s little details like this that you don’t see very often anymore.

Vic's Hong Kong Style BBQ & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Newcastle Pub – Weekly Specials

burgers

L doesn’t always like my taste in restaurants. Sometimes I have to compromise because the restaurant I picked is too far away, too frou-frou, or the wait time is too long. Thank goodness for Newcastle Pub. newcastle I like that Newcastle offers nightly specials. My favourite nights are Monday for burgers, Wednesday for wings, and Friday for fish and chips. This time around, we dropped by for 25 cent wings. My favourite of the evening was the Thai Chilli wings. These wings packed a nice combination of sweet and spicy. Despite the sticky sauce, the chicken remained crispy. Chili wings The garlic parmesean wings arrived with shaved cheese on top. The garlic was subtle. When I order an assortment of wings, I like to get a variety of wet (saucy) and dry (no sauce, only seasoning) wings. Next time I’ll order the salt and pepper wings, which I hear from my buddy GR are his favourite of the dry style. Garlic parmesean I accidentally ordered hot wings instead of medium hot. I pride myself on my spice tolerance, so I was surprised I could actually feel the heat. L normally can’t tolerate spice, but he devoured this batch. Turns out hot, not medium hot, is his favourite flavour. Hot wings L said we couldn’t just eat wings for dinner, and insisted on ordering fish tacos. Personally, I see nothing wrong with only consuming chicken skin, a little meat and beer for dinner. The fish was grilled, not deep fried. We both enjoyed the tacos, particularly the lightness of the grilled fish. tacos Newcastle Pub can get really busy on Fridays and Saturdays. However, in my dozen plus visits, service has always been pleasant and efficient. Fei Po gives Newcastle Pub two fat thumbs up.

Newcastle Pub on Urbanspoon

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Regency Palace- Downtown Dim Sum

My buddy AC attends a lot of functions at Regency Palace. AC informed me that Regency Palace is one of the biggest restaurants in the city. The largest room holds 60 tables, so about 600 people.

AC and I dropped by for lunch. I took a peek at the buffet options and decided to opt for dim sum. Regency does it old school, servers drive their cart of delicacies around the room. Insert stereotypical joke about Asian drivers here (not).

sui gail

One of the best dishes I sampled was Sui Mui, a steamed pork and shrimp dumpling. The texture was spot on. The size of a golf ball, the dumpling was juicy and flavourful.
how gai
Unfortunately, I didn’t care for the How Gai, a shrimp ball steamed in a rice wrapper. The shrimp was half the size it should be and the wrapper was too big, gummy and tough.
prok
AC told me to eat this dish, but wouldn’t tell me what it was. We fought back and forth, and it went something like this.

Me: “What is this?”
AC: “It’s good, try it.”
Me: “But what is it?”
AC: “Just try it. Surprise. Fall of the bone. So good.”
Me: (Growing more and more frustrated) “Yeah, but what is it? I want to know what it is before I eat it.”

Finally, AC told me its pork knuckle/feet or some joint in a sauce with peanuts. It taste better than it looks, it was soft and rich in flavour. He told me to suck on all the bones so that there are only little pieces of cartridge left over. I avoided eating the skin, as the sticky texture grossed me out.
shrimp warappaer
I liked the shrimp bean curd. The thin wrapper encasing the shrimp paste mixture was crispy.
tripe
I tried tripe for the first time. AC said that tripe is ideal in soup with noodles. The texture was chewy, soft and slightly sticky. The flavour was subtle and I liked it more than I thought I would.
rice wrapper
The shrimp rice roll was tasty. The noodle itself wasn’t gummy, but smooth and silky. The shrimp was plump and crunchy.
fish cake

Last up was a pan fried fish and shrimp cake. The texture of the dough was a bit like a Korean pancake. I liked the crunch of the shrimp and the flavour of the chives. AC didn’t care for it, but I gobbled it up.
feipo-leafbg
Regency Palace is nice for a quick meal in the downtown core. If you are in a rush and don’t want to wait in line, Regency will do in a pinch.
Regency Palace on Urbanspoon