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Mill Street Brewery

I love the new Mill Street Brewery on 17th Ave, located at the old Republic Club spot. L and I were warmly greeted by a hostess and ushered into a quiet corner nook section. I dig the high energy vibe. The clientele looked to be in mostly between 20s-40s range.  The playlist was fun.  I could hear other customers squeal in pleasant surprise as Mase, Michael Jackson and Simon & Garfunkel came up.

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We started off with a sampler tray of beer ($11). There’s a huge selection of beers to try. The 5 ounce glasses were numbered on the tray and we were given a sheet that described each one we ordered. My favourite beers were: 100th Meridan; West Coast IPA; Honest Bucker Pale Ale; Twin Tips Double IPA; and Snow Day White IPA. In my humble opinion, I think the beers, atmosphere and food at Mill Street Pub are superior than Trolley Five Restaurant & Brewery, Last Best Brewing & Distillery, and Wildrose Brewery.

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L and I were only going to order the House Cut Fries with garlic aioli  ($8) and then head to another destination for dinner. However, the hot crispy fries were good so we decided to stay for dinner. Plus, I was getting a little tipsy from all the drinks.

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We ordered two dishes: Gouda Cheese Perogies ($13 half order, $19 full order) and Venison Reuben with Fries ($18). L preferred the reuben and my favourite dish was the perogies.

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The half order consisted of three super sized perogies. The dumplings were soft, doughy (in a good way) and required minimal chewing. The gouda filling was gooey. The spicy garlic sausage was sliced thin and crunchy. The caramelized onions were  sweet and tender. I really liked the addition of the pork belly bits. Mill Street’s perogies were the best I’ve tried anywhere.

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L enjoyed the Venison Rueben ($18). The venison tasted just like Montreal smoked meat. The sauerkraut and melty oka cheese were a nice addition. The rye bread tasted like it was deep-fried. The side of coleslaw and pickles were fresh.  L said the fries were too salty. I thought the fries were nicely salted. It was the quantity that he ate that was the problem.

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I really enjoyed dishes I sampled. This is refine pub food. The prices may seem more than other pubs,  but I think the quality and portion size makes it absolutely worth it. Next time I’m in, I want to try the short rib mac and cheese ($23) and the perogies (again).

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For two sets of flights, an appy, and two main dishes, our bill came up to about $60 bucks. I think that’s a reasonable amount for all that food, booze and good vibes. Fei Po gives Mill Street Brew Pub two fat thumbs up.

Mill Street Brew Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Stage West – Hollywood Hits

The girls from work organized a night out at Stage West to watch Hollywood Hits. I went online to check out the prices and I saw that tickets were going for just over a $100. My friends managed to get a deal and we paid about $78 each, which included the buffet and the show. Dinner starts at 6:00 pm and the show begins at 8:00 pm. Drinks, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic are extra.

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I’ve been to Stage West before to watch the 80’s Solid Gold Show. The music is nostalgic for me and I found the food tasty. Parts of the show are corny, such as the MC’s jokes, but they cater to their crowd. One tip – don’t use the washrooms later in the evening. Large crowd +small washrooms + all-you-can-eat buffet = gross.

You want selection in a buffet? You got it here. For salad and cold food, you can choose from: Caesar Salad with Stage West Garlic Anchovy Dressing & Parmesan Cheese; Fresh Vegetable Florets, Celery Sticks with Blue Cheese Dip; Russian Potato Salad with Dijon Mayonnaise & Hardboiled Eggs; Athens Greek Salad; Roasted Beet Root, Orange, Fennel and Bocconcini Salad; Cranberry Coleslaw; Spicy Beef Salad with Crispy Vegetables; and Festive Hawaiian Chicken Salad.

At the make your own salad bar, pick from the: Taco Bar; Baby Shrimp Salad with Lime Vinaigrette; Taco Shell; Nachos (Red, Green and Yellow Corn Tortilla); Tomato Salsa; Guacamole; Sour Cream;  and Jalapeño Cheese Dip.

For seafood, you can try: Cold Shrimp; Ancas de Rana (frog legs) Creole Honey Mustard Aioli; and Alaskan Snow Crab Legs. Sushi and sashimi offerings include: Atlantic Salmon, Albacore Tuna and Ahi Tuna Tataki Sashimi; Yellow Pickled Daikon and Cucumber Maki Rolls; Tempura Crab Stick and Carrot California Rolls with Togarashi Aioli; Tri-colour Tobiko Roe with Wasabi & Pickled Ginger; Boiled Edamame with Sea Salt and Seaweed Salad.

There were two carvings stations: Herb-Crusted Turkey with Fresh Cranberry Sauce and the Roasted Alberta Baron of Beef with Merlot Jus (aged 15 days). At the sauté and grill section, options included the Escargot and Baked Polenta.

Hot foods included: Roasted Rosemary Parisienne Potatoes; Baked Sweet Potato with Cinnamon Sugar; Stir Fry Vegetables with Shitake Mushrooms; Lobster Mac and Cheese; Roasted Garlic and Smashed Potato with Bacon, Cheese and Green Onion; Turkey Gravy; Apple and Cranberry Stuffing; Butter Nut Squash Ravioli with Tomato Cream Sauce; Chicken Breast en Croute (Mushroom Duxelles and Aged Cheddar); Roasted Pork Loin with Roasted Pepper Relish; Garlic Peppered Black Harbor Salmon (Crisp Batter with Spiced Pepper) and Sautéed Red Thai Curry Jumbo Prawns.

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Dessert options included: White & Dark Chocolate Dipped Florentine Cookies; Chocolate Rum Balls; Pumpkin Cheesecake; Cranberry Yogurt Parfait; Mocha Latte Parfait; Assorted Fruit Tart and Cheesecake Squares; Chocolate Fudge Cake; Caramel Chocolate Cake; Cranberry Butter Cookies; Eggnog Mousse Cake; Chocolate Mint Cake; Holiday English Trifle; Chocolate Christmas Log; Warm Christmas Pudding, Rum Sauce and Chantilly Cream; Assorted Canadian & Imported Cheese and Fresh Fruits.

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The selection varies seasonally. I ate mostly the sashimi, ravioli, escargot, lobster macaroni and cheese, caesar salad, crab legs, and the Thai curry shrimp. I ate all three plates, but only one piece of the ravioli as I found the pasta undercooked. I also didn’t finish the crab legs because I didn’t like the way it tasted. The sashimi wasn’t expertly cut but it tasted fresh and it was nicely chilled. The escargot was delicious, buttery and heavy on the garlic. The curry shrimp was crunchy and not overcooked.

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The food is better than what you get at places like Chili’s Texas Grill or Boston Pizza. I thought the selection was better than all the buffets I’ve sampled at all-inclusive resorts, but then again, I go to 4-star resorts, not 5.

The Hollywood hit songs ranged from James Bond Films, Saturday Night Fever, 8 Mile, The Breakfast Club, A Hard Day’s Night, Despicable Me 2, The Graduate, Top Gun, Easy Rider, Ghostbusters, Dirty Dancing, Frozen, The Bodyguard, Titanic and more. The only songs I didn’t enjoy listening to were Gangsta’s Paradise (Coolio) and 8 Mile (Eminem) mostly because the singers tried to sing the lyrics instead of rapping it. For the full list, click here.

Who would enjoy this sort of venue? Middle-aged people looking for a night out with a lot of food. I can see my parents’ friends really enjoying themselves here or the type of people who like to eat at casinos. The show is entertaining and some of the cast have an amazing set of chords. Who wouldn’t enjoy this place? My husband would find the show corny or anyone expecting to see a Broadway show. If I get an invite from my friends at work for another show, I would happily go again.

Stage West Theatre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Il Centro

On Friday, I planned and hosted my husband’s 40th birthday party so  I thought I deserved a night out by Saturday.  I picked Il Centro as my ex-neighbour highly recommended their pizza. I mistakenly thought Il Centro would have a quiet, romantic ambience like La Luna Rosso. Il Centro is more the sort of place you take that loud talking friend or that relative that can’t handle their wine. Il Centro is a casual, family friendly restaurant, popular with larger groups.

I have painfully good hearing. I don’t try to eavesdrop but what happens when you hear all the conversations around you? Anyway, when L and I were waiting for our table I overheard customers talking politics. One table was chatting about MLA Sandra Jansen’s floor crossing to the NDP party. Another table was talking about a city councillor (I’m pretty sure it was Evan Woolley) that was supporting Uber’s anticipated move to Calgary. However, I didn’t hear anyone talking about religion, so that was a good thing I guess.

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We had reservations, but we had to wait a bit for someone to set up our table. There were only three servers that night, working frantically to bring out food. I saw a server bringing out samples of wine to three female customers waiting for a table. He looked geniunely concerned that they had to wait (for about 15 -20 minutes).

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There were only two types of red wine served ($13.99). I read that the calamari (16.50) was good, so L and I started off with that as our appetizer. The ringlets were huge, but not as tender or clean tasting as La Luna Rosso’s version. La Luna’s calamari is smaller, but the squid has such a nice taste to it, almost like they soaked it in buttermilk before frying it up. The tomato sauce on Il Centro’s calamari was slightly sweet. The portion was enough for four people.

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We shared a small Stuzzicinia pizza ($18.50) and the Homemade Gnocchi ($26.50) with ham and mushrooms. If you have questions about the menu, don’t expect too much patience. When we were debating the size of the pizza, the server was abrupt, just short of rolling his eyes.

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L said Il Centro’s pizza was phenomenal. The crust was light, not thick or thin. All the ingredients tasted fresh. The raw tomatoes were cut thick, its juices made the pie a touch soggy. I ordered some jalapeno pepper and garlic oil ($4.50) on the side.

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The gnocchi was my favourite. The rose sauce was creamy and sweet. The gnocchi was fluffy and soft. Everything just melted on your tongue. I thought Il Centro’s version was even better than Mercato.

This little pizza joint was very busy and obviously popular with regular customers. It’s about the same price or a little more than La Luna Rosso. I’m still on the hunt to find my favourite Italian restaurant in #yyc. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Il Centro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Rosso Coffee Roasters

I had a document that I needed to drop off early on Thursday morning. My husband saw the confidential sign on the envelope and asked me what it was about. I responded, “It says confidential. I’m not suppose to talk about it! It’s for work.” He thought it was for something relating to our household. Nope.

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After I ran my errand, I decided to treat myself to breakfast at Rosso. I don’t normally eat out for breakfast because it’s so easy to make it myself. I ordered a bacon, egg and tomato wrap ($6.75). It took about five minutes to grill and it came with a side of salsa.

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The breakfast wrap was the size of a small six-inch sub. The amount of eggs in the wrap made this a hearty breakfast. The tomatoes gave the wrap a freshness and I also liked the generous amount of cheddar cheese. The bacon was undercooked and mostly white fat.

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I didn’t like the salsa as it tasted like it was out of a bottle. However, the breakfast wrap was flavourful enough that you don’t really need any other condiments, like ketchup. I’d like to return to compare their americano with nearby competitor Good Earth.

 

Rosso Coffee Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Brasserie Kensington

My buddy Veronica found out that my husband was away at a week-long conference. She was solo herself on Friday night, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up over dinner. Initially, I tried to get reservations at Pigeonhole and Bocce, but I couldn’t get a table. Then I remembered Brasserie Kensington. If you haven’t been yet, go!

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Veronica and I ordered a bottle of Kuhlmann-Platz Pinot Gris (France, $45). The description of the wine was “fresh pear and apricot, white flowers and lifted smokiness.” Um….  I couldn’t detect lifted smokiness but I really enjoyed drinking this delicious wine.

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We shared two dishes: Saffron Cream Mussels ($18.50) and the Alberta Beef Steak ($28). The portions for both dishes were generous. The mussels were small, silky and fresh. Instead of pomme frites we choose a baguette. Next time, I’d stick to the frites. We received crunchy toasted slices of bread. I would have preferred soft pieces of bread that would have absorbed all that nice saffron cream.

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Our 6oz Alberta Grassfed Beef Steak was gorgeous. Cooked to a medium rare, the steak was ruby red. The foie gras and roasted shallot compound butter was decadent. I used the frites to mopped up all that leftover sauce.

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Veronica ordered a coffee and she peer pressured me to order a blueberry tea cocktail ($10.99). This was one of the best versions I’ve tried in Calgary. There was a nice fragrance to the tea and the booze wasn’t overly sweet.

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I don’t know why Brasserie wasn’t jam-packed on a Friday night. If this place was in Vancouver, there would be a long line-up to get in. The prices are reasonable for the  quality and expertly prepared food. Fei Po gives Brassiere Kensington two fat thumbs up.

 

Brasserie Kensington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Soluxe – Dim Sum

Ms. Biz invited myself, Cruising and Office Dad out for lunch. Cruising hinted she wanted dim sum and Ms. Biz was curious about Soluxe. I purposely just ate a big, healthy lunch so I wouldn’t eat with them. My clothes are getting too tight and I’m not buying new clothes.  I know… your probably thinking why am I blogging about food I didn’t eat? Well, Ms. Biz has far superior taste buds than I, so you are in good hands.

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Ms. Biz waited a few minutes and noticed none of the servers were hustling to get us the menu and dim sum checklist. She got up and found the ordering list and a pencil. She shook her head and snapped her fingers, “Chop chop people! This would never happen in Hong Kong. Everyone there is highly efficient.” I gave Ms. Biz her name for a reason.

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The sui mai (pork shrimp dumplings) were juicy. Ms. Biz said we got 20% more, as we received five dumplings instead of the standard four. U & Me serves four, but their dumplings are plumper.

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I’ve never seen congee (rice soup) with squid legs. Ms. Biz liked this ‘canoe’ version, as it was served hot and filled with goodies like peanuts, squid, shrimp, dried squid, pork and green onions. Canoe means paddling through the sea or something like that in Chinese.

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The deep-fried pork and cilantro dumplings looked good. The minced meat was saucy and glistened. However, Ms. Biz didn’t like how the interior part of the pastry would stick to her teeth.

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Cruising wasn’t impressed with the tripe’s flavour. Ms. Biz was disappointed because the tripe lacked a satisfactory crunch.

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The chicken feet was only average according to Cruising. She said the flavour was off and the skin was not soft enough,

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I forgot to ask everyone about these white buns. All I can say is I enjoy a nice pair of soft, round buns. Tee-hee. According to Ms. Biz and Office Dad, U & Me trumps Soluxe. Their verdict? A solid 6.5/10.

Soluxe Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Umami Noodle Bar

After watching the results of the USA 2016 election,  I felt pretty bummed out. I dragged my sorry ass to work, humming R.E.M’s It’s The End of the World. To snap out of my mood, I asked Asian Persuasion, Office Dad and What’s up Hamsup if they wanted to go out for something soul satisfying. I had already brought my lunch, but I have a habit of eating out when I’m having a bad day. Asian Persuasion suggested Umami Noodle Bar because it wouldn’t be too busy and the ramen was good.

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There were only two tables of three customers when we arrived. However, my ramen took 35 minutes to arrive while Office Dad and What’s up Hamsup had to wait 40 + minutes. I was peeved that I came back to work so late. Let’s just say trotting into the office after an extended lunch doesn’t win you any brownie points with my boss.

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Was the food worth the wait? The Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen ($12.50 plus $1.00 for the soy sauce egg) was tasty. I didn’t like the spicy red sauce as it tasted a bit harsh to me, like Korean hot sauce. The noodles were skinny and not overcooked. That soy egg was marvellous. The creamy orange egg yolk had a subtle amount of salty goodness. The pork belly was the best part of the bowl,  the fatty edges were beautifully seared, the leaner bits melted on your tongue.

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I ordered the cha shu Don ($3.50), which was worth the calories. The cha shu (BBQ pork) was finely cubed, sprinkled all over the rice, topped with Japanese mayo, a sweet brown sauce, red tobiko, and green onions. Savoury, sweet, and creamy all at once.

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What’s up Hamsup’s ordered the Tan Tanmen ($13). The peanut broth was fragrant and nutty. I preferred his broth over mine. If we return, Asian Persuasion and I would both order the Tan Tanmen ramen.

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Office Dad thought the broth of his Tom Yum broth ($13.50) ramen lacked flavour. He said the seafood was okay. He ordered the pork and beef curry don ($4.00) and he said there was barely any meat. What’s up Hamsup concurred, but Asian Persuasion said she liked taste of the  curry, which reminded her of Redheads Cafe.

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My  favourite place for ramen is Jinya in Vancouver. In Calgary, I’ve tried Muku, Shokunin, Shikiji Japanese Noodles & Sushi, Redheads (which is the best of the bunch for the price). I’ll have to give Ramen IchinenShiki MenyaIkemen Ramen Bar, and Gagana Ramen a chance before I give my vote on best ramen in Calgary.

 

Umami Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ghosts and Gourmet

I’m a sucker for Halloween. So when I saw that Heritage Park was hosting its annual Ghosts and Gourmet event, I was sold. For $60.00 (per person, plus GST), we were treated to a delicious three course meal at the Wainwright Hotel and a ghost tour. As you’ll see below, my photos didn’t turn out so well.

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L wasn’t initially keen on sharing a table with strangers, but it turned out the company was spooktacular. Everyone was friendly and the conversation was easy and interesting. In-between courses, we were entertained with ghost stories by our host.

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The first course was Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Star Anise Creme Fraiche. The portion looked small but it was actually quite hearty. This was one of the better butternut squash soups I’ve consumed. Hot, smooth and full of flavour, this was a delightful autumn-inspired soup.

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For my main, I chose the Certified Angus Beef Braised Short Rib with Sarsaparilla Reduction. The portion of beef was generous, the meat itself soft. Beets, broccoli, roasted parsnip and a potato galette were the sides. The vegetables were cooked perfectly, not overdone with sauce or seasoning, which allowed the freshness to shine through. I was starving when I arrived but by the time I cleaned my plate, I was full.

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For dessert, we received a sliver of Alberta Pumpkin Pie and the most delicious Raspberry Mousse. The raspberry dessert was again, a big portion, but it was so good that I ate all of it. The dessert was light and reminded me of whip cream. The crust tasted like cake. After a nice cup of strong coffee, guests were bundled in three groups for the tour with an expert guide.

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The 90-minute tour included a cemetery, two heritage buildings, the town area and hot chocolate at the theatre. For $60, this excursion was well-worth it. I enjoyed myself so much, I’m thinking about booking the Classic Christmas and the Valentine’s event.

 

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Wainwright Hotel at Heritage Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sauce Italian Market

I recently realized that I spent most of my income on restaurants and booze. I made the decision to cut back on both vices. However, I think L is getting tired of my home cooking because he announced on Monday that he wanted to eat out. We picked Sauce Italian Market as we’ve been hearing good things from our neighbours. When we arrived, the restaurant was packed.

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I ordered the Everything but the Kitchen Sink wine ($10) while L opted for a pint of the Fugetaboutit beer from Big Rock ($7). I learned from our server that the owner is a wine lover and she picked some great deals for customers. For example, Cusmano Syrah sells for $28.50 for a bottle or a glass for $7.50. On Wednesdays, all wines are 50% off.

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L picked the Clam Linguine ($10 on Sunday and Monday nights). I liked the heat and the taste of the sea in the light sauce. I enjoyed the thinly silvered crunchy red onions and the freshness from the diced tomatoes.

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I ordered the Carbonara Linguine ($10). The smell and taste of the parmesan cheese was pleasantly strong. The peas made the pasta pop. The taste of bacon was prominent. The sauce was light, not heavy like I was anticipating.

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I knew L wanted dessert but I told him to wait until we got up to leave. The market area is known for the cannoli ($2.50). We picked up two and ate them when we got home. L said it was the best cannoli he’s ever tried.

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The shell was crispy and the filling was creamy but not too sweet or heavy. $2.50 is excellent value for this pastry. L has an upcoming birthday party and I plan to buy a couple dozen for dessert. I really like Sauce Italian Market. It reminds me of an affordable, casual version of Calgary’s Mercato Restaurant and Market.

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Sauce Italian Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Glamorgan Bakery

I always buy my cakes at Glamorgan Bakery. It’s close to my house and the cakes are reasonably priced. For example, I bought a 10″inch round cake and embossed a picture for about $55.00. In addition, I also made a cake for my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday party, so the 10″inch size from Glamorgan was perfect for 25 people. My sister-in-law said the number seven candle looked like a one. It looked like a seven to me. And if you can’t read the writing on the cake and put two and two together, I feel sorry for you.

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I chose the chocolate filling, chocolate cake and the butter cream frosting. For an extra charge, you can get Black Forest and other more exciting flavours. What I really like about the cakes is that isn’t too sweet. It taste like the cakes I had when I was a kid, spongy layers that taste fresh and homemade. Nothing too fancy. Plus, I’m always impressed with the screening job Glamorgan does with the photos.

If you’re in the hood, pick up some cheese buns, old-fashion sugar cookies, Florentines and scones. I hope Glamorgan stays around for a long time. This is one gem I want to return to over and over again.

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Glamorgan Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Newcastle – Happy Hour

The number of happy spots are growing in Calgary. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve noticed that my husband’s favourite local pub Newcastle offers a daily happy hour from 3:00 pm- 6:00 pm.

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Newcastle features draft beers, hi balls, domestic bottles and house red or white wine for only $4.00. So cheap! For happy hour eats,  there are four $4.00 options. We’ve tried the pickles, dry ribs and the two cheeseburger sliders.

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The dry ribs and mini cheeseburgers were alright. The best of the bunch were the fried pickles. For $4.00, you have nothing to complain about. However, I will say that the regular price food does taste better than the happy hour bites.

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Personally, I prefer the fish and chips. At lunch you can get a one piece cod with fries for $9.99. On Fridays, you can get a two-piece cod and chips for $11.99 (regular price is $16). The wings are tasty as well, and only 25 cents on Wednesdays.

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I hear Hy’s Steakhouse has a wicked happy hour from 3:00-7:00pm. Champagne is half off and cocktails are on special. I plan to check Hy’s version of happy hour soon. Stay tuned…

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Newcastle Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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La Luna Rossa Ristorante

Office Dad has been after me for a while to try La Luna Rossa, one of his favourite restaurants in #yyc. Office Dad knows the owner and chef Benny, who you can see in the picture below. I love that Benny wears a chef’s hat. I think it shows an old world craftsmanship and ceremony you don’t often see in Calgary.

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I had bought a TravelZoo voucher for our dinner. It cost me $50 for one appetizer, two mains and dessert, plus extra for certain dishes, add-ons and beverages. Though we received a big discount, the food we received was the real deal. The dishes we tried were delicious, service was great and the freshness of the seafood was incredible. Another bonus, since it was Thursday, select bottles of wine were only $30.00.

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For our appetizer, L and I shared the Calamari ($14). The ringlets were lightly battered with a thin crispy coating. The squid was soft and cooked perfectly. The heat from the spicy tomato sauce lingered on our lips. I would order this again.

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L ordered the veal special. I took a bite of his veal, which was super tender. His entree came with pasta and a side of vegetables. I haven’t tried veal since grade nine, when I made it for my home economics class.

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I ordered pasta with two lobster tails in a rose sauce. I devoured this dish. The lobster was sweet, plump and fresh. The sauce was creamy and tangy. Those noodles? Luscious, soft strands of heaven. Yum, yum, yum.

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Office Dad informed me that La Luna is popular with local politicians. Though we didn’t see Mayor Nenshi or Premier Notley in the room, we did bump into L’s colleague, Flower Child. I took a picture of Flower Child and her husband but L made me delete it. He said I was invading their privacy. I thought I was being careful as I purposely didn’t zoom in to their faces. L permitted me to use the picture above – you can only see a quarter of her face. We stopped by their table and Flower Child’s spaghetti with seafood looked amazing. I want to return to try it myself.

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L picked the homemade apple cake with caramel gelato for dessert. The apple cake was warm and it matched well with the gelato. The texture of the gelato was cool – it felt like whip cream and it didn’t melt as quickly as ice-cream. Flower Child told us her tirimisu was fantastic.

The food was so good that each time our server came to remove our dishes, each plate was scrapped clean. Our server joked that us that we were doing them a favour, as they  wouldn’t have to use as much water to clean the plates, as we had done most of the work ourselves.

La Luna Rossa is a real gem. The restaurant reminds me of the places in Italy I’ve visited. There’s an open kitchen where you can see the chef at his helm and hear the hiss of the grill. The ambience is romantic, with its white table-cloth, candle-lit room, professional service and soothing music playing quietly in the background.  I can see why La Luna maintains a lot of regulars. I enjoyed my meal so much, I’m planning my next visit for either my birthday or Valentine’s Day.

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La Luna Rossa Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Wild Rose Brewery – Birthday Bash

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My brother-in-law Dave turned 40! To celebrate his birthday, we went to the Wild Rose Brewery. With all the on-going construction in the area, it was a little confusing to find the brewery. Drive on the gravel path slowly and just follow the signs.

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Dave’s brother ordered the Nachos ($17.95), which came in a heaping pile. The tortilla chips were covered with tomatoes, green onions, banana peppers, jalapenos, and olives. There was an ample sheet of  cheddar and mozzarella layered on top of all the chips. It took six hungry people to polish off the plate.

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I shared the Pulled Alberta Brisket Sandwich ($16.95) with a side of bacon mashed potatoes and gravy with my husband. The server was kind enough to split the burger and potatoes onto two plates. I was interested in trying the Wild Vietnamese Sub, but for $16 bucks, my inner Chinese came out and I couldn’t do it. I can eat a delicious sub for $5.50 at Thi Thi or Trung Nguyen anytime I want on the weekdays.

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Service was awesome. We were allowed to bring in a birthday cake and we weren’t charged for using their plates and utensils. Bills were split up without even asking and our beers were always refilled.

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Wild Rose Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Veg-In YYC

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A fellow staffer in my department recommended Veg-In YYC, a relatively new vegetarian take-out place near our office. The unit is small with a handful of spots for singles or pairs of two to eat. For a new place, the cafe sure has caught on with the locals. Whenever I walk by, there are two to three people waiting for their food.

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I asked for a recommendation, but the male employee working at the till couldn’t offer any suggestions and just shrugged his shoulders. After hemming and hawing, I picked the lunch special, a pakora naaco with rice and vegetables ($10.00).

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It took about ten minutes for the staff to assemble my order. You can tell everything is prepared and cooked with care. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavours of the vegetables, curry and potatoes. I don’t know how healthy the dish was, as quite a bit of it was deep-fried.

I plan to go back to try a burrito or something that isn’t fried. Most dishes are around the ten-dollar mark. For the quality and flavour, I’d say the food is worth it. If you haven’t already, check it out.

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Veg-In YYC Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Trung Nguyen – Vietnamese Subs

I love the subs and the owners at the infamous Thi Thi (Chinatown location), but I also really like Trung Nguyen. The line-up is also shorter than Thi Thi and the service is just as nice. I usually get the Assorted Sub ($5.50) but the Sate Chicken ($7.50) is also an excellent choice.

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The baggette is soft with a crusty exterior. The ratio of meat and veggie to bread is perfect. The assorted sub comes with cold cut meat, mayo, pickled carrots, onions, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro. I’ve added extra vegetables before but it just throws off that balance of bread vegetables and meat.

The sate chicken is good, with it’s spicy peanut flavour. However, there’s just something classic and comforting about the assorted sub. Whichever filling you pick, you can’t go wrong. The prices are great and the flavour unmatched. I noticed a duck sub ($7.00) which I’m interested in trying if I can manage to pry myself away front my beloved assorted.

The female owner told me to call ahead of time and she’ll come out to hand me the sub, so that I won’t get a parking ticket. Apparently, Calgary Parking is lurking out often enough that it’s not worth the risk of parking illegally. I don’t drive but I appreciate the gesture.

Trung Nguyen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pita Basket – Catering

My office held a meeting last week. Normally my office brings doughnuts and coffee. This time around, I suggested that we order something more substantial for the attendees. The problem is that our office has such a small budget. For 11-14 people, I couldn’t go over $80.00.

Enter Pita Basket. I ordered the Pita Wrap Tray ($63.00), which came with seven large wraps cut in half. I chose three chicken, three beef and one falafel. The next time I order, I’ll likely increase the chicken and falafel over the beef, as the former were more popular with our guests.

The portion of filling was generous and filling. The tangy sauces and addition of tomatoes made the wrap a bit wet and juicy. The vegetables taste fresh and were crunchy. The thin pita was still crisp and warm, despite waiting 15 minutes to eat after it was delivered to our room.

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I couldn’t take pictures of the platter. Sure, I can get away with that behaviour at a restaurant with my friends, but I didn’t want to look unprofessional around my boss and the attendees. Plus, we were discussing ‘serious’ topics.  I did manage to discreetly sneak one shot.

Truth be told, when I visited two years before, I wasn’t impressed with my shawarma at Pita Basket (NE location). However, I’m glad I gave the chain another try. I wouldn’t hesitate to use Pita Basket in the future.

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Pita Basket Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Shangri-La Palace Restaurant

Office Dad, Ms. Biz, Wendy and I met up for lunch at Shangri-La Palace Restaurant. Office Dad wanted to eat there as Asian Persuasion told us she really enjoyed the $13.99 all-you-can-eat buffet. Apparently, Shangri-La Palace has three chefs that specialized in Chinese, Indian and Malaysian food.

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I didn’t have much interest in eating anything but Chinese food. Office Dad tried some of the Indian and Malaysian curries and he enjoyed it. I focused on dim sum, soup and noodles. There is a large selection of food to choose from. Food is brought out frequently in small batches, so everything was served hot.

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Soy sauce, Singapore  and the Shanghai chow mein were all tasty. Not in the same league as Chong Fat or Lucky Place (which changed owners and is no longer open for lunch). However, given this is an economically priced buffet, it was good enough.

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The dim sum offered on the weekdays consists of deep-fried sesame balls, spring rolls, steamed BBQ buns, sui mai and how gow. The steamed dumplings sat empty most of the time because they are the most popular dishes.

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I waited at the buffet for the sui mai and how gow to come up. A bunch of Chinese seniors ran up as the dumplings came up and butted in line in front of me. I let two seniors cut in front of me before I grabbed some tongs and took some for myself. I can’t wait until I’m a senior and I can pull off crap like that. This whole respecting elders thing gets trying when I’m hungry. Luckily my parents don’t read my blog. They would be so ashamed of me right now.

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Ms. Biz enjoyed the sesame balls. She taught me never to get these balls cut, as it squishes the dough. You are supposed to tear it apart and marvel at the thinness of the dough and the section where the layer gets thicker. I really enjoyed this pastry.  FYI – there is no filling inside.

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I tried this Malaysian soup and thought it lacked flavour. I ended up wasting the entire bowl because I didn’t like it. Office Dad enjoyed his dish, so perhaps it was just me.

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The fried chicken could have used some salt or seasoning. However, the size of the drums were large. The salt and pepper squid was a winner. The squid was tender and the batter light.

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I enjoyed the hot and sour soup. Nice balance of sour and spice, and I liked the medley of tofu, carrots, mushrooms and bamboo shoots. The soup was labelled sweet and sour but I think it might have been an error.

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The food was a solid 3.5 out of 5, but the service was a 5. The owners and staff were courteous and encouraged us to try everything. Plates were taken away and tea was refilled promptly. $13.99 for such a selection is a deal. If you like to try a lot of dishes and need to get in and out quickly, I would recommend Shangri-La Palace. Thanks Office Dad for lunch. My treat next time.

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Shangri-La Palace Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Keg – Crowfoot Location

Veronica and Jughead asked L and I to join them for dinner at the Keg. I was keen to see them but I didn’t have much enthusiasm to eat the Keg. My past experiences at the University location left a lot to be desired. I’m glad I went, as I found the Crowfoot location far superior in terms of service, ambience and food.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-9-07-11-amThe first table we were seated at had broken heat lamps. A server walking by jumped in and told us he would have a new table for us in a second, after he cleaned it. I was really impressed with our interaction with several of the servers we met throughout the night. Everyone was professional, friendly and pleasant. The HR department did a phenomenal job hiring their staff.

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The boys ordered beers while Veronica and I shared the Home Ranch Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah & Malbec – California by J. Lohr ($38, on tap). All wines on tap are served in a decanter, which I thought was cool.

Veronica ordered a whole bunch of appetizers. I enjoyed the sauce in the Escargot ($11). We all tasted curry notes except for Veronica, who is Indian (her ancestry is from India and she prefers the term ‘Indian’). She stated that the seasoning was not curry and we had weak tastebuds if we thought it did. I much preferred the complimentary warm sourdough bread we received over the buns that were shaped like a butt. The butt buns tasted generic, like something you would get at Safeway.

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Veronica always orders the Mushrooms Neptune Crab ($11). The mushrooms were covered in a heavy cream cheese sauce. Veronica gets annoyed when I take pictures of the food when we go out . That’s her finger-pointing at a mushroom she ate before I could snap a shot.

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My favourite appetizer at the Keg are the Scallops and Bacon ($12). The scallops were small but silky and sweet. My husband liked the cocktail sauce, which was tangy and tasted like there was some horseradish in it. The bacon was practically still sizzling when this arrived at our table.

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L ordered the 12 ounce Top Sirloin Steak ($33), Jughead ordered the Peppercorn New York Steak ($36) and Veronica ordered the Californian Greens ($12). I shared my husband’s steak and I thought it was cooked to the requested medium rare. The stuffed potato was a bit 90s but it tasted good.

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Veronica’s salad isn’t a looker but it was huge and tasted fresh. The plate was piled high with greens, tomatoes, black beans, mushrooms, avocado, and pine nuts. In the future, I would not hesitate to order a salad at the Keg.

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For myself, I ordered the French Onion Soup ($10). The broth was served warm, not hot. The cheese was soft and soggy.  I’ve tried frozen French onion soup from Costco that’s a whole lot better than Keg’s version.

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Veronica’s daughter dropped by with a friend after their movie and they shared a Brownie Sundae ($8). Kids aren’t allowed in the patio so we were moved into the dining room. Veronica and I ordered blueberry tea as our after dinner drink.

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Yes, I nitpick a couple of things I didn’t like, such as the French Onion soup and a butt shaped bun. However, the food was good and the service  at the Crowfoot location was flawless. Thanks Veronica and Jughead for a wonderful meal.

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The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Nash Restaurant – Lunch

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My friend Veronica and I were shopping at Espy when she suggested we eat at Nash Restaurant for lunch. I was game, though I had a hankering for Spolumbos. We were greeted by a friendly hostess and we chose to dine at the bar section. We started off meal with two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc ($13).

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Veronica and I shared the special appetizer of the day – homemade ravioli with egg yolk, peas and mushrooms ($13). This was one of the best dishes I’ve tried in my life.

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The butter sauce, cheese and creamy egg yolk was so decadent. The ravioli was al dente and done right. One of my favourite ingredients were the peas. I love sweet peas so much, I could contently eat a big bowl for my meal.

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Veronica and I shared the Pacific Halibut and Heritage Breed Pork Hot Dog ($17). This similar to the  Japa hotdog you can get in Vancouver but with far superior ingredients. This dog was finger-licking good, drizzled in an addicting crack-like brown mayo sauce. When I bit into the sausage, I got sprayed with its juices. You need a shield to eat this baby. Veronica liked the fries but I found them a bit dry.

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I was really happy with my meal at Nash. I plan to return to check out more of the other dishes they have to offer. If you see the special ravioli appetizer featured again, you have to try it. Seriously, best dish I’ve tried #yyc for 2016.

 

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Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Angel’s Drive In

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EA Supreme and I were in Bowness Park for a community event. I had heard a lot of positive comments about the food at Angel’s Drive In, which is a couple of blocks away from the park. EA Supreme said she’s been coming to Angel’s for over a decade. My boss Tread Lightly has an obsession with the mushroom burger. He informed me that he’s eaten at Angel’s at least a thousand times.

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One thing you should know about Angel’s is that it isn’t fast food. Bugers are cooked to order, so it does take time. The clientele is a mix of 50 plus and hipsters. When I sat outside on the picnic bench, I watched a steady stream of cars and customers passing through the parking lot.

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I ordered a mushroom burger ($5.50) with onion rings, battered mushrooms ($5) and a chocolate banana milkshake ($5). The onion rings and mushrooms were covered in a delicious crunchy batter. Careful of the hot juice of the mushrooms, these babies were juicy. I really enjoyed the side of ranch sauce for my onion rings and mushrooms, way better than ketchup.

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The mushroom burger was yummy. The bun was big and soft. The 100% beef patty was covered in homemade mushroom sauce and plenty of thinly sliced mushrooms. I liked how the white cream sauce would ooze out from the bun.

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The milkshake was velvety smooth. The addition of the fresh fruit gave it a mellow sweetness. I noticed that the ice-cream didn’t melt right away and held its original consistency the length of time it took me to drink it.

I’m already salivating thinking of my next meal at Angel’s. Next, I want to try the mozzarella burger, fries, breakfast dishes and of course, those onion rings and deep-fried mushrooms.

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Angel's Drive In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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#YYCPIZZAWEEK – Full Circle Pizza

 

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You need to try Full Circle’s featured pizza for YYC Pizza Week. L and I dropped by for dinner on Friday. At 8:00 pm, the place was packed but we managed to get one of the few tables left. We started off with Banded Peak beers and L’s favourite Braised Octopus ($7.00).

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The octopus is braised in its own juices. The result?  The octopus is tender and juicy. I love the homemade bread, which is grilled and buttered, with a lovely charred taste.

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This Fritto Misto pizza taste like fish and chips. The cod, calamari, anchovies and oysters are triple-fried and spotted with tartar sauce. The potatoes are sweet and soft. L normally hates potato on pizza, but he really enjoyed it on this pizza. The grilled lemons and  hot peppers give it a nice acidic tang. The pizza was filling and only $20.00!

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L and I plan to come by again before YYC Pizza Week is over. That seafood is just so damn good. Such a creative pie and the combination of flavours just blows me away. I also want to try Posto’s Anatra pizza and Azzuri’s Cotto Funghi. So many pizzas, so little time.

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Full Circle Pizza and Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Redheads Cafe

Redheads is always tweaking its dishes or trying out something new. On my last visit, I learned that Sapporo is now on tap.  A new rice burger (not yet on the menu) has become my new favourite, beef and gobo. I still haven’t tried the Japagetti or five-course meal set, but I’ll get there eventually.

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The beef and gobo (burdock root) rice sandwich is something special. The beef is sweet and nicely seasoned. Gobo has this marvellous mild, earthy taste and crunchy texture. The rice was perfectly cooked, warm and topped with fresh spinach leaves. The nori is fresh and crisp.

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Recently, L and I have tried the Tofu Asian Salad ($6.99). What a great price for such a stunning salad. I particularly enjoyed the strands of seaweed and nori. The tofu was nicely cut and fresh-tasting. Just a tip, you probably don’t need to use all the dressing, as the sesame dressing is quite rich.

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One of my other go-to dishes is the miso-tonkatsu ramen ($9.99). I’ve been telling my friends Asian Persuasion and What’s Up Hamsup to try Redhead’s version. They want to but every time they visit, they can’t help themselves and order the tonkatsu curry. The soup is steaming hot. The broth is rich and the noodles are chewy. The pork crispy and fatty. I love the assortment of sprouts, the milky egg and all the garnishes.

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Redheads is best known for their Japa Curry, the Katsu ($10.99) or the Karaage Curry ($10.99). The katsu is well-marbled and crispy. The beef curry is thick, rich and flavourful.

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Finally, L and I were lucky to try a special dessert, apple with caramel and strawberries. Sounds simple, but so good. The tart crispness of the  apple with the sweetness of the caramel sauce was old-school delicious. Check out the crazy knife skills.

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The best time to go is in the evenings, when the cafe is quieter. The prices are a steal and the food is so comforting in the chilly weather. Thank you Redheads, for being so consistently delicious.

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Redheads Japa Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Coup – Meat Eaters Rejoice

L and I wanted to go out for dinner but he wanted something “different”. I told him to call J-Thug and ask for a recommendation. I know the name “J-Thug” doesn’t connotate images of refinement or sophistication, but this dude knows his restaurants, women and booze (in that particular order). J-Thug told L to check out The Coup.

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In the past, when I’ve recommended The Coup to L, he would never go with me. He always says that his balls would shrivel up if he didn’t eat meat with his meal. I told him we should do an experiment and do some measurements before and after. He looked at me like I was nuts  (pun intended).

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L ordered a beer which he thought tasted too yeasty. I didn’t see any beers that I liked, so I opted to go sober. I wish The Coup would start serving Banded Peak beers…

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J-Thug told us to try the scallops. The “scallops” turned out to be king oyster mushrooms ($14). The mushrooms are tea-smoked and pan-fried. At the table, hot dashi broth is poured all over the mushrooms.

The entire dish is a winner. The mushrooms have a similar texture as scallops. We used up the grilled red fife sourdough crostini to sop up all the delicious broth. The salad of seaweed and radish was lovely, clean with a taste of the sea.

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We both ordered the falafel quesadillas ($16.5). I really dig the blend of vegetables, like the carrots, purple cabbage, pickles, bell peppers and olives. The sauces included a light touch of hummus, tahini and tzatziki. I enjoyed the crunch of the toasted sprouted tortilla and the creaminess of the goat feta. Overall, a nice balance of flavours and textures. The fat rosemary yam fries were baked, soft and sweet. The extra sauce of garlic aioli I ordered added a pungent richness to the yams.

Both L and I will be back, more so for the appetizers than the mains or salads. Thank you for your recommendation J-Thug, it was a ballsy pick.

The Coup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Hayden Block Smoke & Whisky

I’ve heard good things about the food at Hayden Block Smoke & Whisky. So on a sunny Friday evening, L and I decided to drop by for dinner. We parked on the street right next to Original Joe’s. Who should walk by but his colleague Bottlenick!  He was on his way home, carrying two thoughtfully chosen bottles of wine. For his wife Candy, he selected a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. He opted for an Italian Pinot Noir. I know if L ever thought to pick me up a bottle of wine, it would either red or white and on sale that week at the Highlander. That’s just how we roll.

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Bottlenick asked me if L and I were going to Original Joe’s. I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic, serious or condescending. We would have invited him for drinks at Hayden’s, but it was pretty apparent that he had a hot date with Candy. And with a name like Candy, you know the date’s going to be sweet.

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L and I ordered pints of Banded Peak ($7.50), but we were positive that we were served a different beer. Oh well. We shared a half pound of pork ribs ($10), brisket ($11), beans, coleslaw and two pieces of cornbread ($2.00).

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The ribs were tender and juicy. I could taste the smoky flavour and I liked the dry rub spices on the top. I didn’t feel like there was a need to put sauce on the top.

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The brisket was a little dry and delicious. There was a trim line of fat that balanced the leanness of the soft meat. Again, I didn’t bother to sauce it up.

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The cornbread was yummy, far better than Booker’s or Palominos. Cake-like, moist, warm and sweet, it was a steal for only $1.00.

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Sometimes I like to include a link to a song to go with the post. In this case, I’d like to say….

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Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart,
The more you eat, the more you fart!
The more you fart, the happier/better you feel
So let’s eat beans with every meal!

Hayden’s version are worth farting for. The baked beans were soft with chunks of meat.

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The broccoli salad was fresh and crunchy. Personally, I’d pass on ordering the salad in the future. I didn’t like the dressing.

The prices are very reasonable for the quality and taste. Of all the other BBQ joints in Calgary, Hayden is my favourite. If you haven’t yet, check it out. Hayden offers specials all week and BBQ meat is half off after 10:00 p.m.

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Hayden Block Smoke & Whisky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Shokunin – A Birthday and a Lululemon Shirt

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I like to post my reviews in chronological order. Thought I still need to post about my experience at The Coup, Pure Contemporary Vietnamese, Hayden’s Smokehouse and Redheads, I have to blog about my latest meal at Shokunin. My husband L and I were in on Saturday night. When we went to say goodbye to the owner and chef, Darren, he mentioned it was his birthday on the following Tuesday. Well, L and I weren’t going to miss out on this special occasion!

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Picture was used without permission from Shokunin’s Instagram account.

On Tuesday, L and I showed up at 7:00 pm to a packed house. Bottles of sake were on special, for half price. The features of the night were AAA wagyu from Miazaki and a special platter of nigiri. Both dishes were $100.00 and L said it looked well-worth the cost. Our bartender Jamie informed us he sampled the wagyu and it was superb. He said that $100 for wagyu was actually a steal considering how much it cost to bring it to Calgary.

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Picture was used without permission from Shokunin’s Instagram account.

I’m no J-Thug or BottleNick, L’s high-rolling colleagues, so I told L that we were sticking to the shared platters. No AAA wagyu for him! I joked to my friend Asian Persuasion the next morning that all the around us, customers were ordering the creme de la creme while I was happily feasting on $2.00 skewers and draft beer. I like that about Shokunin – that you can order rare dishes you can’t find anywhere else in the city and at the same time, also get delicious food on a more modest budget.

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As we were sitting at the bar, we watched Jamie make cocktails. He informed us he had just bought the $100+ shirt he was wearing from Lululemon because he forgot to bring his work shirt. I told him that Lululemon is worth it, as doesn’t wear out and you get your money’s worth in the end. I joked that if he didn’t like his shirt, he should return it. Jamie looked aghast at the idea and responded, while caressing the material of his top, “You know, I really like this shirt. It fits so well and it is breathable. I’m keeping it!”

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L and I shared the Fava Bean Goma-ae ($8). I love the crunchy, sweet and savoury tastes and textures from the lava beans, sesame dressing, and sprouted lentils. The egg tofu is light and soft. You’re suppose to mix the dish all up, so you get a bite of all the ingredients at once.

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The showstopper for us was the Japanese Sweet Pork Ribs ($28). L and I both love ribs. It’s one of our most favourite dishes that he makes for me. L was so impressed he said he wants to try to replicate the sauce at home. As your wife, I support you 110%.

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There was so much meat on those bones. The pork was so tender, it fell off the bone. The addition of the pickled red onion and green onion just added to the ecstasy. Soft, succulent and covered in the most delightful sticky sweet Japanese BBQ sauce, we stopped talking and just shovelled the meat and scoops of rice into our mouths. We were full after sharing this platter.

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Our rib plate also came with a large assortment of pickled vegetables and a bowl of rice. My favourite was the eggplant and that brown root vegetable next to it. Crunchy, munchy and punchy.

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Kudos to all the kitchen staff, servers and Jamie. He was working up a storm making these intricate cocktails, chatting with customers, and expediting with other staff to get all the drinks out. In the very thick of things, a tipsy woman sitting next to us spilled her drink that Jamie just made for her, breaking the glass all over the counter and working area. If I were him, I would have lost it. At this point in the evening, there was a line-up outside the door and everyone was working really hard to keep up. I hope that chick tipped him good, so Jamie can pay off his new shirt.

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I like sitting up on the bar and seeing all the action. You get a deeper appreciation for all the effort and skill that goes into putting a drink or a plate of food on your table. I could hear Darren calling out to servers whenever a dish was ready to go. He was cooking all the speciality dishes and making sure everything was perfect before it was sent out. Customers would come up and interrupt his work to say happy birthday, chit-chat or to say good-bye. Happy birthday Darren and please keep the ribs on the menu! Fei Po gives Shokunin’s shared platters two fat thumbs up.

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Vancouver – Beaucoup Bakery

I don’t know how my friends in Vancouver stay so slim. Whenever I go back, there are so many great places to eat. Sushi, Indian, Chinese and a whole whack of sweet places like Bon Ton, Chocolate Arts, Ganache, and my new favourite, Beaucoup Bakery.

This tiny bakery is busy. Despite the steady line-up, staff were friendly and welcoming. There are a handful of tables and chairs for you to sit and enjoy an espresso drink and of course, eat one of their famous croissants.

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My buddy Jaime insisted I try a croissant. I opted for a petite pain au chocolat. The chocolate was dark and intense. The actual pastry was incredibly flaky. I’ve never had a croissant in which there seem to be endless layers.

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Jaimie ordered a regular croissant, which looked massive. However, when you bite into the pastry, you see that it’s mostly air. When I’m back in Vancouver in October and I plan to bring my husband to this gem.

Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Vancouver – Rangoli

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I met my friend Jaime at Rangoli for lunch. I’ve eaten at Rangoli a few times before and I found the food consistently delicious. I particularly enjoy the vegetarian dishes, which I think are tastier than the meat options.

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Jaime ordered a chai tea and I ordered a Jongleur beer from Strange Fellows Brewery ($7). I liked the spice and orange notes, which paired well with the curries we ordered.

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Jaime and I shared two dishes: Portobello Mushroom and Red Pepper Curry on Paneer ($17) and the Grilled Eggplant with Basmati risotto ($18).

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The paneer on the eggplant was subtle. I really liked the char taste of the grilled eggplant. The creamy coconut curry sauce was delicious. The toasted pumpkin seeds gave the dish a little crunch.

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Of the two dishes, the Portobello Curry was my favourite. The beet salad had a nice tartness to it and I loved the crunchy texture. The red peppers were sweet. The sauce creamy and spicy and went so well with the silky, meaty mushrooms.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about our lunch was the service. Our server was curt to us from the beginning of the meal right up to the end. Though we were there for less than an hour, he made it clear that he wanted to turn the table, despite the fact I had beer left in my glass. I’m a fast eater and drinker too. Normally I wouldn’t make a big deal about this but isn’t this Vij’s restaurant? Vij is the king of hospitality. I would expect this service from a cash only, no frills Chinese restaurant, not a restaurant from Vij. In any case, the food is delicious. Fei Po gives the food at Rangoli two fat thumbs up.

Rangoli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Richmond -Tsim Chai Noodles

My family has frequented Tsim Chai Noodles since it opened. My brother Narc likes the fried wonton. You get about eight of these huge, juicy shrimp balls that stay crispy even when we order take-out.  My father Ludvig use to bring back sui kau for my younger brother Jacuzzi and I after he went out with his buddies. I wasn’t surprised with Ludvig`s answer when I asked him where wanted to go for his birthday. Tsim Chai Noodles! Fine with me. Better than his other favourite place, the White Spot.

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My aunt Bendy was in town, so she came as well. She ordered shrimp wonton without the noodles. Man, check out these fat shrimp balls! The broth is salty with a very distinctive smell to it.

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I ordered Sui Kau with white flat noodles. Sui Kau is a bigger version of wonton with black fungus, mushroom and I think, another beige, crunchy vegetable that reminded me of water chestnuts.

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Ludvig ordered a bowl of sui kai without noodles (you get two more as a result) and a plate of Singapore Fried Rice Noodles. The Singapore noodles were moist with a good amount of yellow curry seasoning. The onions, green onions and sprouts were cooked just so it retained a pleasant crunch. Ludvig picked out all the pork and left it in a tidy pile on his plate. He avoids meat when he can.

This cash only, no frills Chinese pit stop is popular for a reason. If there`s a better place for shrimp wonton and sui kai, let me know. For now, I`ll say this is the best place for wonton in Richmond. Fei Po gives Tsim Chai two fat thumbs up.

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Vancouver – Red Star

I like Red Star. My parents hosted my wedding reception at the Richmond location. I heard that their dim sum is pretty good too. I suggested to Beep Beep that we enjoy our last lunch together at Red Star’s Marpole location.

Red Star offers free parking, though there are limited stalls. When we arrived, I noticed several parties were ordering crab and lobster to supplement their dim sum feast. It took a while for the dishes to come out, but everything that arrived was hot and fresh.

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Beep Beep asked me to order radish cake.  The image below is what showed up at our table. I mistakenly ordered radish shrimp cake instead of radish cake with pork. She wanted the latter, which comes in stacked white pan-fried squares, soft on the inside and the perfect comfort food. I didn’t care for shrimp cake that I ordered,  as it had a gummy texture and was too oily.

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The how gow wasn’t bad. The shrimp ball was large, sweet and crunchy. However, I found the wrapper too soft and moist. The how gow wrapper broke too easily when I picked it up with my chopsticks.

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The pan-fried soy sauce rice rolls with chives and sprouts is one of my all-time favourite dim sum dishes. Red Start does a good job. The chives were a flavourful  addition.

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Beep Beep wanted to order the rice roll doughnuts. I don’t care for this dish because I always find the deep-fried doughnut greasy. We received a little dish with two dark sauces you can use to dip the doughnuts into.

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The deep-fried bean curd with pea tips and shrimp was the best dish. I found the filling vibrant from the generous amount of pea tips. Red Star doesn’t cheap out in the amount of shrimp either. I would happily order this dish again. I noticed most tables ordered the stuffed bean curds.

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The sui mai was tasty. The juicy pork, Chinese mushroom and shrimp mixture made for pleasant chomping. Again, I found the wrapper over-steamed.

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Overall, I enjoyed dim sum at Red Star. Some of the dishes are superior to what I get in Calgary but the how gow and sui mai could use a little more finesse. The total bill for seven dishes was around $60.00.

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Seattle – List

In the old days, Beep Beep and I spent most of our time in the clubs in Pioneer Square. This was actually our first time in Pioneer Square sober. So far on this trip, I drank like I was pregnant. I averaged a beer and a glass of wine a night, and that was with Beep Beep’s encouragement. Being back on our old stomping grounds didn’t make me want to drink. Instead of a beer on a patio, I suggested an ice-cold kombucha.

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There was a game going on that day and everyone was dressed up in green. A band played their trumpets on the street. Blue smoke billowed out and then a throng of fans came out like a horde of zombies on Walking Dead.

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When we returned to our hotel, we found out that Beep Beep’s relatives were staying with us – a total of four adults and a baby. The penthouse only had two bedrooms and a pull out bed in the kitchen. On the way to dinner, Beep Beep said she wanted to do a midnight run and head back to Vancouver after supper. Just like the old days when we would manufacture drama. I was game, I found this turn of events exciting.

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To fuel up for our move, we went to my husband’s favourite happy hour spot, List. On Sundays, appetizers are half price all day long. Beers and wine are $4.00. First up was the ahi tuna on a bed of lentils. The seared honey ginger tuna was perfectly rare on the inside. The lentils were too spicy which made it almost uneatable.

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The Baked Broccoli ($8.50) was simple. The broccoli tasted like it was boiled and then pan-fried. The florets retained a nice crunch. Beep Beep liked this dish but I would pass in the future.

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The Octopus Salad ($14) was a winner. The tender pieces of octopus was cut in little pieces and tasted of grill. The citrus emulsion was quite bright and strong.

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The Homemade Gnocchi with black truffle cream ($14) was so good that I ordered two plates. The fragrant truffle sauce and the soft bites of gnocchi melted on our tongue. Be warned – this is a rich tasting dish.

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I read on Yelp that the  Salt and Pepper Calamari ($11) wasn’t anything special and it was too salty. I ordered it and asked for the kitchen to go easy on salt.  For $5.50, I thought it was great. The squid was tender and delicious, nicely fried and the light batter was crispy. No complaints from me.

List is always busy and offers happy hour until 6:00pm and then again later at night. Happy hour is one of the best deals in Seattle for booze and food. I’m already looking to my next visit.

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Seattle – Lola

Beep Beep and I started our Sunday at Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. Forget the original store in Pike Market. Check this place out instead. Other Yelp reviewers have compared Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Personally, I think it’s more like a Playboy Mansion for coffee nerds. There are two floors to this super sweet pimped up Starbucks.

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We learned from our friendly barista that when this place first opened, to work here you had to 1) be a Starbucks employee 2) be nominated by Starbucks and 3) undergo months of training before even touching the coffee.

Beep Beep use to work at Starbucks too, and I still remember when Gordon Campbell picked up a latte she made. He drank a sip and make a big face, like he drank sour milk. I joked to Beep Beep that she would have never made the cut at Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. She  agreed. She’s better at writing data then pulling shots of espresso.

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I ordered a Nitro Cold Brew ($7.50). This cold brew is infused with nitrogen, which brings out the coffee’s creamy, natural sweetness. I added fior di latte (cold sweet cream) to my brew. Refreshing, but I preferred Beep Beep’s drink over mine.

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Beep Beep ordered the Classic Affogato ($7.50), which is made with two shots of Starbucks Reserve espresso, poured over a scoop of Mora Iced Creamery ice-cream. Oh my. This ice-cream is full of creamy goodness. All this pleasure for only 120 calories.

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There’s something intoxicating in the air here. I swear, when Beep Beep and I were drinking at the bar, we both felt tipsy. The prices are higher than your run-of-the mill Starbucks, but justifiably so. Service is excellent, baristas are knowledgeable, and the drinks are far superior than your standard Starbucks.

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After our Starbucks experience, we walked over to Pappardelle’s Pasta in Pike Place. I bought enough dried pasta to completely fill up my carry-on luggage. There was a team of young kids manning the pasta station. They do a good job engaging with customers and offering samples. When Beep Beep saw how the staff were having a fun time working together, she started to romanticize and theorize. “Do you think they hang out after their shifts? What do you think they do when they aren’t here?” I shook my head and retorted, “Do you realize you’re fantasizing about these kids like they are on that show Friends? Do you think they’re talking about us and saying, “Oh. There are those stalkers again. I wonder what those bored, middle-aged office workers do after working in an office all day? Besides stalking us of course”.

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We walked for about ten minute from Pike Market to Belltown for brunch at Lola. Though I made reservations, we still had to wait. We ordered the doughnuts ($9.50), Eggs Benedict ($19.25) and Fava Skordalia ($4.25)  and Kopanisti ($4.25) with freshly griddled pita. The doughnuts were fine but it was the vanilla mascarpone that made this dish so yummy.

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Cool on the tongue, not too sweet and with a rich whip cream like texture, putting this mascarpone on anything would taste good. With the cherry jam, the doughnut reminded me of an old-fashion jelly doughnut.

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Our server recommended two dips. The Fava Skordalia and Kopanisti. The fava skordalia was bland and tasted like a hummus I could make at home (by the way, my homemade hummus sucks). The kopanisti was very tasty. I liked the smooth cheese texture, herbs and the toasted pistachios. The pita was nice when it was warm, but once it got cold, it didn’t taste nearly as good.

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The best dish for me was the Eggs Benedict. Beep Beep and I shared an order, which was plenty of food. The garlic fried smashed potatoes were crunchy and well-seasoned. The Bavarian ham was high-quality. The egg was poached perfectly. I asked for the hollandaise to be served on the side. With the addition of fresh dill, the sauce was light and subtle.

I would return. The prices are on the high-end but the portions and quality make up for it. Note that Lola adds an automatic gratuity of 20% to your bill. Our server saw me exchange Canadian cash with Beep Beep’s American money (I was buying some American money off her).  I could see our server’s face contort in panic. She ran over to take a peek at the bill to ensure we didn’t give her our dreaded Monopoly money. I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to be stuck with Canadian currency either.

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Seattle – A+ Chinese Restaurant

Beep Beep’s little brother, And Tony and his girlfriend Spring Time joined us for dinner on Saturday night. I told them that Beep Beep I were going out for wonton in the International District. They skipped their original plans to visit a BBQ shack and opted instead to tag along.

My first pick was Mike’s Noodle House. However, upon arrival we saw that the restaurant was closed. Odd since on Yelp states it is open on Saturdays. Spring Time noticed the line-up outside of A+ Hong Kong Kitchen. I remembered reading positive reviews on Yelp so we got in line.  We must have waited at least half an hour. Our server recommended to order our food while we were waiting for a table, as some dishes take up to twenty minutes to bake.

When Spring Time and I were discussing what to order for the group, she denied my request for a seafood rice dish. I stood up straighter and leaned in close to Spring Time face and said passive-aggressively, “Okay, since I’m the oldest and despite in Chinese culture, you know, how we respect our elders, I’m going to let you pick because I’m the nice one here.” And Tony and Beep Beep nervously laughed and Beep Beep responded diplomatically, “Just order both dishes Spring Time. I’m eating for two now and I’m starving.”

Spring Time ordered four dishes: Seafood Rice Clay Pot, Tomato Baked Pork Shop, Seafood Spaghetti Bake, and the Lamb Noodle Soup. Spring Time went overboard with the seafood and didn’t order her beef dish. I felt bad for being so hangry.

Each dish was around the ten dollar mark. Was the food worth the wait? Only one dish stood out for me and it wasn’t the seafood dish. The lamb soup noodles.

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The broth tasted like it was cooked with love. The clear soup was surprisingly rich in flavour, with an undertone of a deep, spicy heat. The amount of tender lamb slices was generous and filling. The thick, bouncy glass noodles were slippery and hard to catch with my chopsticks.

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The pork chop was covered in a mild tomato cream sauce. The rice was dry and fluffy. I enjoyed the addition of the peas in the sauce.

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The seafood and rice dish was good, but I could do without the fake crab sticks. We were given a little pot of soy sauce to pour over the seafood and vegetables. The rice on the bottom of dish was crispy but stuck to the pot.

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Beep Beep’s pick, the baked seafood spaghetti, could have used some salt and pepper and perhaps some other seasoning. The spaghetti was topped with squid, shrimp and again, fake crab sticks. I thought it was odd we got two seafood dishes when I only wanted one, but I thought it would be best to shut my mouth.

I would return but I would order what A+ does really well. Noodle soups. The regulars in the restaurants, most flying solo, would order a big bowl of noodles and slowly slurp away. I noticed these customers would monopolize a whole table for over an hour despite the servers polite attempt of trying to settle the bill. Would I give this place an A+? No. But I think a rating of A- just for the soup is fair.

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Seattle – Tilikum Place Cafe

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I’m starting to know Seattle pretty well. In my twenties, I would come with friends for a weekend away. When I hit my thirties, my husband and I would visit so he could get his Nordstrom fix. The purpose of this particular trip was to celebrate my friend’s pregnancy. Beep Beep and I did our usual round at Pike Place Market and then walked over to Tilikum Place Cafe in Belltown for brunch.

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I was impressed with our server and our table. We sat right by the window. Look upwards and you can see the Space Needle. Our server made excellent recommendations for portion sizes, food and booze.

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I ordered a glass of rosé ($9). As Beep Beep’s pregnancy makes her hungrier than usual, we picked three dishes. We ordered a stack of crumpets with plum preserves and ginger butter ($10), poached egg avocado toast ($14) and Dutch babies – baked blueberry pancakes with powdered sugar (14).

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I’ll start with the savoury – the avocado toast. The bread was thick, crusty and rustic. An appropriately hearty vessel for the buttery smoothness of the avocado. Personally, I would have liked more than one egg. There wasn’t enough yolk to eat with the carbs. The toasted Middle Eastern spices over the eggs also nicely accented the salad. I loved everything about this salad – the mix of fresh greens, the assortment of herbs, the light dressing and the generous slices of grapefruit. So refreshing, I could eat this salad all day long.

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The crumpets arrived steaming hot. I watched as the ginger butter trickled down the sides of the fluffy crumpet tower. The sugar icing added a touch of sweetness to the tartness of the plums.

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Beep Beep liked the baked blueberry pancake. The texture was smooth and eggy, like a hot custard. The exterior was crispy and the interior reminded me a bit like quiche.

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We walked around some more and found my  friend Buzzy’s favourite spot for coffee, Top Pot Doughnuts. We were too full to try the doughnuts but I did get a coffee. I can’t believe how cheap everything was – a dollar for coffee or a doughnut. With its free Wifi, friendly staff, cool set-up and inexpensive food, I would frequent this place if I were a local.Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 4.55.51 PM.png

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On our way back to our accommodations, we picked up some mugs at Starbucks to bring home for our husbands. I found another thing Seattle has over Vancouver and Calgary… wine is served at select stores…. Where was this when I was a barista?

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Seattle – Late Night at Tsukushinbo

Beep Beep and I arrived at the WorldMark Seattle at the Camlin. Beep Beep’s step-mother has a time share there and she gave us the penthouse for the weekend. We valeted Beep Beep’s car and hopped inside to check-in. That’s when the timeshare salesman pounced on us. After half an hour of hearing him talk nonstop about coupons and an Amex gift card for $150 if we attend a meeting (but don’t tell anyone because I’m just giving YOU a special deal), we finally got away to eat dinner. I picked Tsukushinbo based on the numerous and positive reviews on Yelp.

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The front of the restaurant is nondescript. Blink and you’ll miss it. The restaurant was busy and our server was attentive but she looked exhausted. From what I could see, she was the main server for the entire restaurant.

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The miso soup was thick, cloudy, rich and salty. There was lots of seaweed and slivers of green onions.

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We received a complimentary dish of edamame. These lightly salted, slightly warm pods weren’t the cheap frozen ones you get at T&T. The boiled soy beans were sweet. You know when the free stuff taste this good, the food is going to be fantastic.

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Beep Beep is pregnant and she can’t eat raw fish, oysters, and soft cheeses. She also won’t drink any booze, not even a sip. However, since she was craving sushi, I ordered Yen an ebi onigiri ($5). For her main, she wanted cold noodles ($12.99). I opted for the chirashi ($25).

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Not the prettiest onigiri I’ve seen, but it is one of the most delicious I’ve tried. The tempura crumbs were crunchy and light, and that soy soaked sauce over the perfect rice was mouth-watering. I didn’t try her cold noodles, but she said it was refreshing and yummy. Our server told us that her dish were one of the most popular items at the restaurant.

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My bowl of chirashi was worth every American dollar. The rice had a strong vinegar taste. The presentation and the cut of the fish wasn’t best, but the freshness was incredible. Each piece of fish tasted better than I can get in Vancouver. The eel and snapper, normally my least favourite, were the best. In the past, I found eel has an almost dirt like taste. At Tsukushinbo, you can taste the charcoal essence, the crispy skin and the sweet glaze. I thought the snapper had great texture.  This chirashi was without a doubt one of the best versions I’ve tried.

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I was starving when I got to Tsukushinbo but when I left I was uncomfortably full. We both would have loved to just return here night after night, but we wanted to see what else the city had to offer. Fei Po gives Tsukushinbo two fat thumbs up.

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Richmond – Bob’s Submarine Sandwiches

Beep Beep picked me up at YVR for our girls’ trip to Seattle. We wanted to get a bite to eat before the drive over to the border. I saw on Yelp that Sakana Sushi was a popular bet, so off we went.

Beep Beep parked her car and we walked to Sakana, which is a few doors past Bob’s Submarine Sandwiches. I’ve read about this sandwich joint but I never tried it. Sitting by the front window, I saw two guys with huge smiles on their faces, just about to dig into their footlong sandwiches. Screw Sakana… Beep Beep and I were going to eat subs.

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I walked up to the guys and asked them what they were eating. They told me they got a large Teriyaki and Deluxe hot subs. Each half sub is cut into two pieces, so each of their subs looked like four sandwiches. Based on the expression on their face, I wanted to try Bob’s submarines.

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Inside the shop, it’s like a time warp. The decor and set-up reminds me of a 80’s style diner, a dingier version of the coffee shop in Seinfeld. There’s a steady line-up of customers and tables filled with dirty plates. There’s one chef at the front grilling the meats for the sandwich, a young man at the cashier and a woman popping in and out of the kitchen.

I noticed an empty heater for fried chicken. There was grease and crumbs littering the bottom of the case. When we left, it was refilled with freshly fried chicken. Maybe next time…

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We shared two small hot submarines, the Super Sub ($5.90) and the Teriyaki Chicken ($5.90) and a side of fries with gravy ($2.50). The Super Sub was the best of the two sandwiches. Packed with double layers of melted mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, salami, capicollo and steak, this is one of the meatiest subs I’ve ever consumed. The toasted seasame bun looked puny compared to all the meats, grilled onions, shredded lettuce and tomatoes.

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The Chicken Teriyaki sub came with big, meaty pieces of chicken. I could see the teriyaki sauce but I couldn’t taste it. Flavour-wise, both subs could use more seasoning, like salt and pepper and maybe some mustard or mayo. I found the chicken a bit bland.

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The subs were hot off the grill and messy to eat. Oddly enough, the fries tasted better when cold. Filling, super cheap and retro cool, I think this is a neat place to check out. If you’re a germophobe, I would skip this place for something more sterile, like Subway.

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Anejo Restaurant – Happy Hour

I’ve heard good things about Anejo Restaurant. My boss Tread Lightly told me Anejo makes the best chili coconut margaritas and guacamole. I know What’s Up Hamsup frequents Anejo for happy hour. So when it was time to meet up with some of my husband’s work friends for drinks, we picked Anejo.

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Every day from 3-5 p.m., Anejo offers $5 margaritas and beers, and half off tacos. I don’t particularly care for Mexican food, but I do love tequila and a strong margarita.

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Trojan ordered the Guacamole ($14). Three avocado halves, diced white onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro, sea salt and a squeeze of lime were all mixed up together at our table. L and Trojan enjoyed the guacamole. I thought the chips tasted stale.

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Trojan and I ordered our margaritas half sweet. Trojan was partial to the Mango Margarita, which is made with blanco, triple sec, mango pulp, agave, and lime. I tried the Guava Margarita, which was very tart. My favourite was the Coconut Chili. The coconut syrup was subtle and the heat from the habernero was intense. I could really taste the citrus.

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Trojan ethusiastically and authoritatively informed us that Anejo has the best looking customers and staff. He would know, he’s dated half the city. Trojan makes What’s Up Hamsup seem almost monk-like.

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Robin and Batman arrived late due to their work schedule. Our server came up to our table to warn us that happy hour was coming to an end. Both doubled downed on drinks and tacos.

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I tried the chicken, bison, pork and fish tacos. I thought the fish and chicken tacos were the tastiest. The bison was a little dry. Each taco was packed with filling. At $2.50, this was a great price. Sour cream is extra. I noticed we didn’t get the bottles of condiments, perhaps because ordered the happy hour tacos.

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Our server Chad should be commended. He was professional and offered excellent suggestions for tequila, margaritas, and tacos. I wanted to discretely find out his name so I looked at our bill, which stated our server was Estrella. I asked Chad if he is Estrella. He said no, that’s the automatic name which shows up on the bills and it means “upstairs floor”.

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If you love tequila as much as I do, the entire list is 50% off during happy hour. So if you want to try some premium stuff, there is a time and a place for it. Anejo, between 3:00-5:00 pm.

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Anejo Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Office Dad is turning 50 years old this week! To celebrate his birthday, What’s Up Hamsup, Asian Persuasion and I took him out for lunch. This time around, What’s Up Hamsup didn’t bail on us (good office son!). We thought Office Dad would enjoy the BBQ experience at Gyu-Kaku. As well, Asian Persuasion and I have been wanting to check this place out since it opened.

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We each order the three BBQ meat item lunch special ($15.95), which came with a fresh salad, miso or seaweed soup,  and rice. The salad was fresh and crisp, the Asian vinaigrette was addictive.

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The seaweed in the soup was plentiful. The taste of the seaweed was subtle. What’s Up Hamsup thought it tasted like a Japanese seaweed salad, just in soup form.

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We opted to share all nine meats. For sauces, there were bottles of ponzu, sweet and spicy. I enjoyed the sweet sauce the most and the ponzu the least.

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For meats, we pretty much picked one of everything on the menu. We ordered: Bistro Hanger Steak Miso, Filet Mignon, Kalbi Chuck Short Rib Garlic, Angus Beef Ribs Sweet Soy, New York Steak Miso, Toro Beef Sweet Soy, Yaki-Shabu Beef Miso, Pork Belly White Soy, Spicy Pork, and Pork Toro White Soy. The only thing we didn’t try was the chicken, shrimp and more expensive cuts of meat.

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Everyone had a personal favourite. Surprisingly, I liked the Spicy Pork the most. I thought I would like the beef more but I preferred the texture and taste of the pork options.

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The group sitting next to us had this one guy lecturing his friends about Japanese cuisine. He went on and on about my favourite cafe, Redheads Japa Cafe. He told his friends that Redheads wasn’t open in the evenings. Redheads is open in the evenings, from Tuesday to Friday.  I wanted to correct him. I kept glancing over and his friends would look over too, as if they sensed my urgency to reveal the truth. I decided to mind my own business as I didn’t want to engage in a conversation with the guy.

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Office Dad took over most of the cooking. You can learn a lot about people when you BBQ with them. Man, I’ll tell you, Office Dad is bossy. He barked at me for flipping over a piece too early or late and viciously accused me of burning a few pieces. The only reason I tried to help was because he kept infecting the almost ready to eat meat with the raw meat with his tongs.

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The picture above is What’s Up Hamsup’s hand over the BBQ grill. As you can tell, his hands are much larger than Trump’s hands. I put Trump’s picture in as a comparison to What’s Up Hamsup.Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 8.03.25 AM

Just joking, that’s not very nice of me. Below is a more accurate picture. I don’t know why everyone  makes fun of Trump’s hands. He’s running for president, not as a pianist.

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Service was great. Our server was pleasant and patient explaining which meats were which because we kept forgetting. She refilled our teas often and replaced our grill for the smores ($2.50). I’m not a sweets person, but even I enjoyed this treat. You grill the marshmallow until its nice and warm, then mash it against Hershey’s chocolate and two graham crackers.

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The best part of the lunch was when our server learned it was Office Dad’s birthday when we paid the bill. We got up to leave only to see our server run over to say, “Don’t leave! We have a surprise.” We scampered back to our table. A whole bunch of employees came out, one holding a birthday sign, another bringing a dessert with a candle and yet another crowning Office Dad with a hat. We all sang happy birthday at the top of our lungs.

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I like Gyu-Kaku and I would return again. My husband would enjoy this place and I’ll let him do all BBQing. If you work downtown, definitely give it a try. The price for lunch is a bargain.

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Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pho Binh Minh

I already finished my lunch when Mindy and Crazy Girl asked if I wanted to join them in Forest Lawn with Buzzy for pho. I said no a few times, but when they asked me right before they were  about to leave, I decided to go. I never get to see Buzzy or go to Forest Lawn, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll eat two lunches.

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We dropped by to check out Buzzy’s new work digs and then over to Pho Binh Minh. When we arrived at 12:00 p.m., the restaurant was quiet. By the time we left, Pho Binh Minh was almost completely packed. We received tea the moment we sat down.

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I ordered a small pho sate ($8.00) while Buzzy, Meetz, Mindy and Randy ordered a large sate pho ($9.99). Crazy Girl ordered the chicken vermicelli with spring rolls. We received fresh bean sprouts (I forgot to ask for them to cooked), fresh basil and a herb that tasted like cilantro. FYI, If you don’t request cilantro, you’ll get it automatically in your soup.

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My small pho would be a good size for a child. The meat was served pink. The portion of meat was a little scanty. Not too spicy, broth had a subtle spice to it that hit your throat. The clear broth had a slightly tart taste to it, flecked with drops of oil. I was informed by my friend Asian Persuasion that the noodles are homemade. I couldn’t detect the difference.

Service was prompt and friendly. The restaurant is clean and neat. If you like a clean, simple beef sate pho, I’d recommend Pho Binh Minh.

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Pho Binh Minh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Canmore and Banff Day Trip

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My colleague EA Supreme took me out to Banff and Canmore for an afternoon retreat. She picked me up at the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Bowness, and off we rode off in her big red truck. The ride up was scenic, lots of green fields and a view of the looming mountains.

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Our first stop was at her favourite breakfast spot, The Summit. According to EA Supreme, this cafe is always busy, filled with hikers fueling up for the day. The food is simple and homey, something my father would make for us when we were kids. EA Supreme ordered the breakfast bagel ($6) and I ordered the breakfast sandwich ($7.50). The egg was flat, the orange yolk still warm and gooey. The piece of lettuce, tomato, cheese and bacon was also thinly sliced.

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Before we left for Banff, we stopped next door to Fergie’s, a convenience store with homemade baked goods. EA Supreme told me the owner is French. At the front by the cashier, you can buy freshly made doughnuts, cinnamon buns and the best, hugest apple fritter. I could not stop eating this over sized treat ($2.99 or 2/$5.00). The exterior was crunchy, greasy and drenched in a sweet glaze. The interior was soft but not doughy. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water.

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Once in Banff, we went up to the gondola ($42) on Sulfur Mountain. I was initially reluctant to go along as it was foggy. However, the staff informed us that there was an inversion, so once we made it past the dense layer of fog, the view was spectacular. When we arrived at the top, we spent an hour walking on the hiking paths and soaked in the sights.

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EA sumpreme

When we came down, we walked over to dip into the sulfur hot springs ($7.00). Most people were with their significant other. Both our husbands dislike this sort of day trip. EA Supreme and I joked this was a romantic trip so far. I asked her if she wanted to hold hands but she declined the offer.Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 1.25.38 PM.png

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From the hot springs, we walked past the Banff Springs Hotel into the touristy downtown core. After I spent too much money on workout gear, EA Supreme and I checked out Bow Falls for a few photos.

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On the way home, we stopped by my favourite poutinerie, La Belle Patate. We shared a large deluxe poutine ($15) which came with sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, smoked meat, cheese curds, gravy and fries. The toppings were enormous, piled high on our foil takeaway container. I was so full, that I didn’t eat dinner that night. The dish is salty, which makes sense given the ingredients. I prefer the traditional poutine, as the fries stay crisper. Next time I’m in, I think I’ll share a small classic poutine with a side of extra curds.

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Thanks EA Supreme for taking me on such a delightful day trip. It’s a shame I don’t get out more often to enjoy Alberta’s unique and beautiful landscape. Next, I want to visit Jasper and Drumheller.

 

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La Belle Patate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Banded Peak Brewery

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I’m a believer of Banded Peak Brewery. I first sampled Banded Peak’s delicious beers at Full Circle Pizza. I dig the beer so much, I’d pass on a glass of vino for a pint of the Chinook Saison. I saw on Yelp that Banded Peak has a brewery. So on a rainy Saturday afternoon, my husband and I stopped by to check it out.

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Located in an industrial area in the SE, the brewery looks kinda like a garage-style venue. There’s free popcorn at the front and a set of tables and chairs underneath a storage area. I love the music playing, a mix of the Monkees, Bill Hayley , Simon and Garfunkel, George Harrison, and the Beattles. I would return just to enjoy the playlist.

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We arrived around 3:00 pm and the place was packed. There was only one person working (one of the three owners). I felt bad for him as the stream of customers never ended. I felt the urge to ask him if I could help pour pints. To make matters worse, a customer knocked over a glass when the owner was trying to fill up a large order and a bunch of people were waiting to pay for their beers.

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We sampled three beers, the Chinook Saison, Summit Seeker and the Plainsbreaker. The Plainsbreaker was L’s favourite beer. I also really enjoyed it, it’s a pleasant, easy drinking ale with a touch of what I thought tasted like citrus.

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My favourite beer was the Chinook Saison, a Belgium-style ale that was crisp and fresh. I could drink the Saison all day long. The Plainsbreaker is a great beer for those who don’t normally like IPAs. There was touch of sweetness to it which mellowed out the hoppy notes.

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Banded Peak has only been opened for four months. However, the cat is out of the bag thanks to Shelley Boettcher, who wrote about this new local brewery in the Calgary Herald. If you are a beer drinker, you need to check this place out. How good is this place? Banded Peak makes it on Fei Po’s list of favourite places in Calgary. Note that other than popcorn, no food is served.

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Banded Peak Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Kim Chi House – Lunch

Kim Chi House is located in Chinatown, inside the City Plaza building. The main floor houses several restaurants, such as Han’s, Delicious Country and Gui Lin. Kim Chi House is one of three stalls in the food court. The other two stalls include a bakery and a vegetarian joint.

Don’t make the rookie mistake I made when I first ate at Kim Chi House. I ordered a rice plate. What you need to order is the stone bowl bibimbap. What a deal! For $10.00, you get a sizzling stone bowl filled with rice, vegetables and a protein of your choice. All stone bowls come with complimentary vegetable side dishes, barley tea and miso soup.

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The owner carries these red hot stone bowls to your table. Please do him a favour and get out of his way. What’s up Hamsup was his usual oblivious self and blocked the owner as he was carrying out trays of the heavy, sizzling bowls to a table.

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I enjoyed the Spicy Pork and Crispy Calamari bibimbap stone bowl. The squid was tender and the batter was crispy. The addition of the julienne carrots, daikon and sprouts cut into the spicines and oiliness of the rice and squid. I let the rice sit against the hot stone for a few minutes, which made into a crunchy layer. The portion of the pork and calamari dish was large. I ended taking about a quarter of it home.

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Office Dad ordered the chicken bibimbap stone bowl, which came topped with an sunny side up egg. The chicken is chopped up finer than Stone Bowl Korean. I like the big juicy pieces of chicken from Stone Bowl Korean, but flavour-wise, I prefer Kim Chi House.

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The food court gets busy, with the vast majority of the customers digging into a stone bowl. The husband and wife team do an admirable job churning out bowl after bowl during the lunch rush. I’ve been a few times and the quality and presentation is consistent. If you’re in the hood, I would totally recommend this cash only joint.

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Kim Chi House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chong Fat – Best Eats in Chinatown

Chong Fat is one of my favourite Chinese restaurants. The hours are odd. The restaurant closes early for dinner and isn’t open on Tuesdays. The room itself is utilitarian. However,  none of that matters to me. It’s the food and service I love. The dishes are simple and well-cooked. The food isn’t sloppily cooked like so many other Chinese restaurants in Calgary.

Most customers order the hearty noodle soups, like the meatball, brisket or seafood balls. The homemade fish cakes have a nice bounce and a nice sweet, clean taste. I often see customers chowing down on plates of chow mein and duck. Lately, there’s one dish that has caught my fancy but it isn’t on the menu.

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What is this mystery dish? Eggplant, tofu and peppers are stuffed with shrimp paste. Doesn’t sound exciting but it is amazing. The eggplant is silky smooth. The peppers are crunchy and spicy. The exterior of the tofu is crispy and the interior is soft and light. The savoury oyster sauce has that wok hei smell and taste that I love.

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You can order this dish with rice or soup noodles. I prefer rice, so all that sauce gets soaked up. A whole plate of the stuffed vegetables and tofu with rice will fill you up.

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A warning if you drop by during the lunch rush. If you’re only one or two people, you might have to share a communal table. The last time we sat at a shared table, Office Dad chatted with a group of four. When I got up to leave I said jokingly,”Thanks for the meal. That was very generous of you. Next time it’s our treat.” Everyone at the table knew I wasn’t serious with the exception of one guy. He looked alarmed and said firmly, “No, I’m not treating.” I walked up to the front and I made a big production of pointing to his table while I paid for our meal. The guy stood up and shouted, “No. You pay for yourself!”. Hahahahaha. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Chong Fat is located in Far East Shopping Centre. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you smell the Chinese herb store. There’s a reason why this shopping centre is commonly referred to as the ‘stinky mall’.

If you want to try the dish I described above, just show the server the picture on my blog. I always find the service to be welcoming and kind, despite my limited Cantonese. Cash only.

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Chong Fat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Cerezeo Cafe & Bar

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Date night! L asked if we could go somewhere different from our usual rotation of restaurants. What? He doesn’t want to go to Full Circle for three nights in a row? Fine. I decided to humour him as he was picking up the bill. I thought of Cerezeo as my friend Jaimie recommended this cute spot before she left for a life of leisure in Kamloops.

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The Japanese cafe is located in an older, well-kept bungalow style house. I liked the hardwood floors, large windows and cute little nooks and crannies in the house. We sat outside in the patio. Since we were the only ones dining in the back, we felt like we were our own private backyard.

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We received a complimentary amuse-bouche. I think the dish consisted of a citrus aioli, crispy tofu and a lip-smacking dashi sauce.

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L ordered a European draft beer ($7), in a frosted glass. For an extra $1.00 more, we received a bowl piled high with fried mushrooms. The quartered, button mushrooms made for an addicting snack. We thought we could taste soy sauce and something sweet. The batter melted on your tongue. A little salty though.

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My sangria ($5) was refreshing and fruity without being too sweet. An inexpensive cocktail and it tasted better than the version I make at home. I would order the sangria again.

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Next up was the chicken karrage ($8). The chicken wasn’t as crispy or battered as other versions in the city. L enjoyed the seasoning, sesame seeds and the flavour of the marinated chicken. I found this dish a bit salty.

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We shared the foie gras rice bowl ($23). The rice was perfect, firm and with a bite to it. I liked the sprinkle of green onions and the generous amount of shredded black seaweed. The foie gras was rich, smooth and creamy. One of my favourite elements of the dish was the deep-fried shiso leaves and the duck sauce soaked rice.

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The ikameshi was beautifully presented on the plate ($17). The squid was nicely charred and tasted of the grill. The combination of seasoned rice, tobiko, homemade mayonnaise, ginger and citrus was unique to me. I did find this dish heavy-handed in the salt department.

All the food we ordered was tasty and filling. We will return and try some of the other non-fried dishes, like Ton Toro ($16), Hotate Enoki ($16) and Toro Sashimi ($17). I’m going to try to persuade my office family to check this place out for lunch, as I have my eye on the Gyu Suji Beef Curry Rice ($16). Office Dad’s birthday is coming up and there are a few places I have in mind for his lunch. Cerzeo, Roku and my go-to favourite places, Pure Contemporary Vietnamese and Full Circle Pizza are all possible contenders.

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Cerezo Cafe & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Ho Won – Work Lunch

I told my husband L that I need a pseudonym for my boss when I blog. L advised, “I don’t know honey… Whatever you choose, you should tread lightly”. Originally, I was thinking of naming my boss ‘Mozza’ or ‘Angel’, because he’s obsessed with the mozza mushroom burger at Angel’s Drive In. However, after L’s heeding, I decided that from here on in I will refer to my boss as Tread Lightly.

Tread Lightly announced he was taking his team out for a lunch meeting. My co-worker Rascal said that since Tread Lightly was treating, he wanted steak or lobster. Tread Lightly retorted, “No. We’re going for Chinese. I want to go the squid and dumpling place that Hitting the Sauce picked the last time.” He was referring to Ho Won.

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At the restaurant, I ordered Salt and Pepper Squid, Ginger Chicken, Singapore Noodles, Pea Tips and Pork Dumplings. I requested the dumplings to be steamed rather than fried, as we would be having enough oily delights throughout our meal. Rascal said he wanted it fried. I told him Office Dad prefers the dumpling steamed, as it’s not as greasy. Rascal retorted, “Yeah, while I’m not Office Dad.” I ignored him and ordered what I wanted. I’m learning a lot from Tread Lightly. The large dumplings were fat and bursting with pork, ginger and cabbage.

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The best thing to order at Ho Won is the salt and pepper squid. The batter is mouth-watering, well-seasoned with salt, pepper and hot chilli flakes. Rascal thought the squid was too long in size. I disagree with him but I lacked the energy to tell him that not everything should be shaped like a chicken nugget.

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Before I left for lunch, I asked Office Dad to write in Chinese “pea tips in garlic sauce” so the server would know what I wanted for our vegetable dish. He obliged and wrote out the Chinese characters. It turns out he forgot a character so the piece of paper read “peas”. In any case, the snow peas were sweet and crisp, covered in a garlic sauce. Tread Lightly said we should give Office Dad the bill as he screwed up on the ordering. When we got back to the office, Tread Lightly tried to find Office Dad to give him the bill. Lucky for Office Dad, he had already left for a meeting.

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Next up was the Singapore Noodles. The noodles were spicy and clearly fresh off the wok. I liked the generous coating of curry. Flecked with green peppers, egg, sweet onions, chai su and shrimp, this dish was very tasty.

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Rascal didn’t comment about the Ginger Chicken, but I noticed that he ate most of it. Tread Lightly prefers ginger chicken over ginger beef. I prefer the ginger beef, but the chicken was good. Though heavily battered, there was a decent amount of meat. The ginger sauce was syrupy and reminded me of honey, but lacked a garlicky bite to it.

There’s a bigwig that is leaving our company soon. Ho Won was his weekly lunch spot on Fridays. Office Dad and I plan to take him to Ho Won to celebrate his retirement. This time around, I hope to get my order of pea tips.

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Ho Won Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pho Hoai Vietnamese Noodle House

Office Dad and I were suppose to take Ms. Biz out for lunch to celebrate her latest promotion, but she insisted it was her turn to treat. I was feeling a little under the weather, so I suggested pho. The only place that’s decent for pho in Chinatown is Pho Hoai Vietnamese.

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Biz was reluctant to go to Pho Hoai as she finds the owner’s son particularly rude. While I don’t disagree with her, I’m willing to gloss over his angry gestures for the sake of the food. I reminded Ms. Biz that the prices and quality are the best in the vicinity. Plus, the owner is a real sweetheart and the rest of the staff are quick to get you a delicious and hearty bowl of pho. Ms. Biz and Office Dad agreed to go for the sake of my ailing health.

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We started off with a plate of piping hot spring rolls. The wrapper was thin and melted on your tongue. The filling was full of meat rather than vegetables and noodles.

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Ms. Biz and Office Dad ordered either the Pho Hoai Dac Biet ($11.99) or the Bon Bo Hue. I thought they ordered the latter, but in their bowl I could see sliced beef, beef ball, tendon and beef tripe, which is the description for Pho Hoai Dac Biet. Ms. Biz asked for the sprouts to be boiled rather than served raw.

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My bowl of Pho Sate ($11.99) was delicious. I ordered a medium bowl with no cilantro. There was more rare beef than noodles. The beef slices were tender and not stringy. The noodles were perfectly cooked, with some bounce still to them. The broth was served hot and filled with cloudy bits of peanuts, green onions, lettuce and red spices. It was so spicy I would take turns sputtering, coughing, sneezing, and then dripping in my own perspiration.

In Pho Hoai’s defense, I think it says a lot about the food if the restaurant is packed every lunch. The pho is darn tasty, inexpensive for the quantity and quality, and you can get in and out under an hour.

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Pho Hoai Vietnamese Noodle House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chrysler Club in the Saddledome

Every year, Mindy organizes our annual Stampede office luncheon at the Saddledome. The previous year, she asked me for my honest feedback on the food and service at the Chrysler Club. I told her that the salmon was inedible and our server had a bad attitude that put a damper on the mood of our entire table. Mindy told her contact at the Chrysler Club and that was that. I wasn’t expecting much this year. In fact, I had already planned to head over to Pure Contemporary Vietnamese after checking out the grounds.

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I was planning on eating a bit of salad and beef to tie me over. Chef David Petruic was overseeing the buffet and employees. He told me that the poached salmon was particularly delicious. I was sceptical based on my previous experience but I took a piece.

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Soft and moist, this salmon was far superior than I can make at home.  I really liked the seasoning of black beans, green onions and white sesame seeds. The combination of ingredients was delicious. The salmon was perfectly poached.

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The smoked roast beef was tender with a nice marbling of fat on the top. Everyone at our table thought this was one of the best items in the buffet. I didn’t even need the condiments of gravy and horseradish, as the beef was  flavourful enough.

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I’m not a baked bean lover, but the house made version at the Chrysler Club has converted me. The beans weren’t the gross mushy metallic canned beans that my brother Narc loves to eat with boiled wieners, a taste he cultivated from his air cadet camp days. Nasty.

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Asian Persuasion raved about the potatoes, which were soft and silky. It tasted like the potatoes were generously buttered and salted. Just potatoes, I know, but when done right, it’s a simple pleasure.

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The buffet also included green salad, steamed vegetables, bread and buns, and a few other things I’ve forgotten as I wasn’t planning on blogging about the buffet at the Chrysler Club.

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My server saw that I gave my tart to What’s Up Hamsup and asked me if she could get me something else. She offered to bring me some mixed fruit instead. I was very appreciative of the offer and the fact she even asked me.

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After my meal, I asked Petruic for his name, so I could credit the positive change in the food. He gave me executive sous chef James Haacke’s business card and told me to cite Haacke. If you are planning on hosting a fun and convenient lunch for a work event next Stampede, give the Chrysler Club a try. I was certainly impressed with the improvement from the years prior.

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The Chrysler Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar

Buzzy left our office to take another job. At her going away party, her boss Meeting said that while Buzzy says now that she’ll miss us, once she sees her first pay check, we’ll all be forgotten. Well, Buzzy got paid on Thursday and met us for lunch that day. His ominious premonition proved false.

Getting my co-workers to a destination, no matter how close, is an ordeal. Meetz and Little Red are like me, they walk fast and don’t get distracted. However, Buzzy, Crazy Girl, Randy,  Mindi and Queen Bee would stagger back and get lost around a corner or distracted by a fly. I resorted to playing tour guide to get our group to the restaurant in time. I did a head count out loud before we left the train. To keep the group herded together, I waved them along and pointed to “landmarks” to keep their attention. It was a bit like what I imagine it would be like to work on The City of Calgary’s new goat pilot.

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After what felt like eternity, we arrived on time (after I had bumped our reservations 15 minutes later as I could tell hear them dawdling in the hallway). We landed a semi private room, which was a positive as we are a loud, happy bunch. One thing you need to know about Pure Contemporary Vietnamese is that it was a former club and the changing techno coloured lights remain. You can see the rainbow of colours reflected in our food.

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Randy and Buzzy shared  a Char Sui Sesame Donut ($5). Our server Dani kindly asked the kitchen to cut it in half. They both raved about the saucy pork stuffing and the crispy sesame shell.

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A bunch of us ordered the Sate Pho ($11.75). The bowl was bigger than my head! The broth was spicy and rich. There was a ton of bouncy, perfectly cooked noodles and tender slices of beef. This pho is worth the drive from my house in Killarney. I ordered my pho without cilantro and instead, used up everyone else’s basil for my soup.

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Mindi ordered the Chicken and Spring Roll ($12.75). The picture below is awful and doesn’t do the dish justice. I was hungry and I didn’t feel like putting in the effort to take a better photo. Sorry.

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The pho is ridiculously delicious. The spiciness made me cough and choke and cry at times, but that’s cuz it went down the wrong pipe. Good thing I wasn’t on a date. It would likely be the last.

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Crazy Girl sat next to me and let me try her lemon grass vermicelli beef ($12.75). There was an ample amount of beef and onions. The noodles and all the vegetables were very tasty and fresh. A good option for those with a lighter appetite.

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Queen B ordered Chicken Wings ($8.75), which were huge, meaty and crunchy. She loved the seasoning and sauce, which she said was a nice change from the usual pub wings. Everyone at our table was jealous and wished they had ordered wings as well.

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Crazy Girl and Mindi have a birthday coming up. I’m going to book our lunch at Pure Contemporary Vietnamese. Pure can handle large groups and our server Dani was so patient with our table. She was even cool with us splitting the cheques, which I know is a pain in the fanny. I’m also going to bring my office family down here on Tuesday too, after our annual Stampede event on the grounds for happy hour. If you haven’t already, check this gem out.

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Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Red Ember – Lunch

I’ve been on a Red Ember rampage. This time around, I convinced my office family to join me for lunch. There is a long list of lunch specials, around the $15.00 mark. Be warned – the portions are large.

Asian Persuasion enjoyed the strong green tea,  which only cost a dollar per person. Our server constantly refilled our big teapot throughout lunch.

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At my recommendation, Office Dad ordered the chirashi ($16.99). We received the usual pieces of salmon, tuna, snapper, scallop, octopus, clam and the highlight – seared salmon belly. Office Dad enjoyed the thick slices of fish. He prefers the tuna and salmon at Zipang over Red Ember. However, Office Dad said that without a doubt, Red Ember wins in the value department. While I also favour Zipang’s white tuna and salmon, their scallop is sometimes fishy, unlike Red Ember, which come large, luscious and sweet. Plus, the prices at Red Ember are wallet-friendly. I tried to trade a piece of my salmon for Office Dad’s scallop, but he declined my offer. Dammit. The scallop was the size of a big old fat west coast oyster. The salmon belly was superb.

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Asian Persuasion ordered the tempura and sashimi combo ($15.50). She thought the sushi rice and tempura were particularly good. Though she enjoyed everything, she couldn’t finish everything on plate. Office Dad ate her surf clam and a piece of What’s Up Hamsup’s dynamite roll.

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What’s Up Hamsup ordered the teriyaki chicken and sushi combo. He really liked the salad dressing. He saved the salmon nigiri sushi for last because he says he wants it to be the last thing he tastes. I totally know what he means, that’s why I save the skin off my fried chicken to eat at the very end. The dynamite roll was well-made. The shrimp tempura was freshly made, the layer of rice well-formed.

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When What’s Up Hamsup heard that I prefer my sashimi cool rather than at room temperature. He said that in Japan, because the sashimi is so fresh, it’s served at room temperature as it allows the flavours to come through. Serving raw fish at cooler temperature masks less than fresh fish. Point taken, but here in landlocked Calgary, I don’t mind tricks to make raw fish taste better. I don’t know how “fresh” one can get it here, as I heard fish is frozen and then shipped to Cowtown (not sure if this is true or not). I guess when I go to Japan, I’ll see for myself.

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We returned to work full and giddy. In one of the elevators, and in front of other employees, Office Dad exclaimed he was going to fart. We badgered him and then entered the final set of stairs to our office. Office Dad opened the door and turned to me and said, “You know I was joking right? I wasn’t really going to fart.” When I walked through the door, right behind Office Dad,  I smelled sulphur. I covered my mouth and pushed my way back out the door, shouting “Gross! (Insert Office Dad’s real name _____) farted! Disgusting!” The odour was so strong, the rest of the family stumbled out into the hallway. Office Dad’s face turned bright red and he said,”It wasn’t me. It’s rank in there but it wasn’t me.” Sure Office Dad, sure.

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Red Ember Japanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Daruma

Asian Persuasion, Sun, What’s Up Hamsup and I made plans to check out Shokunin for ramen. I made reservations the day prior for lunch. What’s Up Hamsup dropped us off right at the front of the restaurant and then drove off to look for parking. However, when we walked up to the door, we saw that Shokunin was closed to prepare for a function that night.

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Asian Persuasion called What’s Up Hamsup to tell him that we had to find an alternative restaurant. He parked his SUV at the end of the street. The three of us ran to his car. Asian Persuasion said that this was likely the first and only time What’s Up Hamsup would have women running to him rather than sprinting away. I told him what Asian Persuasion said and he responded, “That was the most pathetic attempt of ‘running’ I have ever seen. You chicks need to learn how to run.” What’s Up Hamsup does pretty well with the ladies, so jokes about his prowess don’t bug him.

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We drove around and around because What’s Up Hamsup was craving ramen. He had eaten at Shokunin the weekend before and said thought it was the best traditional ramen in Calgary. I mentioned Redheads, but instead, What’s Up Hamsup drove over to Shiki Menya. The line-up was too long and at this point, I was feeling the time crunch. We already wasted 30 minutes driving to Shokunin and then to Shiki Menya. In a hurry to get back to work, I suggested Daruma which is a couple of minutes away from Shiki Menya.

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Asian Persuasion and I ordered the miso ramen ($9.50). Sun and What’s Up Hamsup ordered bento boxes ($11.50). The egg in the ramen wasn’t warm. It was pre-cooked and then added to the broth. The noodles were cooked al dente. The broth was tastier the more you drank it. I liked the addition of the sweet corn niblets.

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Sun and What’s Up Hamsup didn’t have much too much to say about the bento boxes. They were both full and didn’t eat all the food. I did notice was that the other customers at the restaurant complimented the chef on the way out.

The next food adventure? I want to take the office family to Pure Contemporary Vietnamese. We have a Stampede event coming up that includes a buffet lunch. I plan to skip the buffet and then head over to Pure for happy hour eats.

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Daruma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Bank and Baron – Happy Hour

I like the Bank and Baron, with its high ceilings, impressive digs and heritage status. My colleague is getting married soon and at her request, we held her office shower at the Bank and Baron.

I forgot my wallet at home and had a 6:00 pm yoga class that night, so I refrained from ordering booze. However, I did snag a big piece of  Kathy’s pizza (50% off on Thursday) which was tasty. The crust was thin and crunchy. For $10.00, there was absolutely nothing to complain about.

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Our table ordered $5.00 house wine and $5.00 pints of Mill St Organic. Twilight and MacBeth ordered fish and chips ($18.00). This picture doesn’t do the food  justice. The two pieces of cod were huge and the fish was fresh. The fries were plentiful and served hot and crispy. One order is big enough for two people. I will try the fish and chips when I return.

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Unfortunately, the bride to be wasn’t as impressed with her fish tacos. The trio of tacos looked pedestrian and she thought the portion was small for $14.00. She picked at Twilight’s fries instead.

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The food at the Bank and Baron has improved since it first opened. For Stephen Ave, the prices are cheap. If you work downtown and haven’t been yet, check it out!

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The Bank and Baron Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Katsuten

On Saturday, I was still feeling pretty rough from my office Christmas party the previous night. When dinner rolled around I wasn’t in the mood to go out drinking or anywhere loud and fun. I looked haggard and old. We decided to try Katsuten, which took over the old Teaspoon Restaurant spot by Richmond Plaza.

The restaurant is small, so it fills up fast. By the time we left, a large group showed up, filling up half the room.  Katsuten is not a place to bring a hot date. It’s peaceful, quiet place,  appealing to those with kids or customers just interested in eating a hot, filling meal.

L ordered an Asahi ($6.50) and I picked green tea to drink ($1.50). Usually when I order tea at Japanese restaurants I’m not impressed. Not so here. The green tea was served hot and strong, in my own teapot.

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L wanted to try the Gyoza ($6.99). The dumplings were deep-fried. I found the pork filling plain. I would pass on this appetizer in the future.

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L and I shared the Katsu Don ($14.99) and the Potato Croquette ($10.99). We each received a bowl of miso soup and one salad. The go-to dish at Katsuten is the Katsu Don. Holy moly, this was a wicked rice bowl. I’ve never had anything like this in Calgary before.

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The pork cutlet was thick in width. The golden brown batter was airy and soaked with the most delicious sauce. An egg is cooked with the cutlet along with onions, then topped with green onions. The only thing that wasn’t superb was the rice. I use Kokuho at home and I think it’s a superior rice to whatever Katsuten uses.

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The lemon dressing on the cabbage was light and refreshing. The bowl makes the salad look small, but the amount of cabbage Katsuten gives you is enough for two people.

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The potato croquette was well-done. The batter was fluffy and light. The potato filling was creamy and soft. The curry gravy came with bits of potato. A filling meal for $10.99.

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Katsuten is going to be a regular spot us. L and I were both stuffed after sharing an appy and two mains, which cost us about $40. When we return, we want to try the tenderloin Katsu ($16.50) and Okonomi-Katsu ($15.90). Though I nitpicked the rice and the gyoza, the katsu here is fantastic. Fei Po gives Katsuten two fat thumbs up.

Katsuten Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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