Japanese · Restaurants

Guu Otokomae & Granville Strip

I originally made plans for Beep Beep’s birthday dinner at Minami in Yaletown. Even though Beep Beep wasn’t picking up the tab, she balked at my choice because she was worried it would be too expensive for her friends. I know for a fact most of her friends don’t eat and would only drink. However, since it was her birthday and I could tell she was going to be stubborn, I did as she requested and moved her party to Guu Otokomae in Gastown.

wine

This Guu location allow for larger parties and you can make reservations through Opentable. The spirit, wine and beer list is more varied than the Robson and Thurlow locations.  I ordered a bottle of rosé to share with Beep Beep and Vanessa. I was happy with the wine for the price ($40). As I predicted, most of the girls didn’t eat and just ordered beer or cocktails.

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 12.13.34 PM

Beep Beep and I shared the Chicken Kara-age ($7.90), and two $16 Boss rolls. The exterior of the chicken kara-age was moist and lacked a crunch. I wouldn’t order this again.

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 12.13.54 PM

The Boss rolls were awful. I ordered one with salmon and tuna, but the restaurant was out of tuna and replaced it with snapper. The piece of fish was paper-thin. The rice was super sour and fell apart the moment I touched it. For $16 a roll I could have gone to Minami! This was worse than mall sushi.

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 12.13.43 PM.png

I tried a piece of Vanessa’s pork cheek, which was tasty. I did see one person order a stone bowl and that looked delicious. I usually add appropriate music to my blog posts, and this one is no exception. For this piece, I’m going to suggest Nelly – Hot in Herre.

After dinner, Beep Beep wanted to the Granville Strip. We jumped into a taxi and our cab driver asked us where we wanted to go. I wanted to be discreet so I just gave the address of the strip club. He immediately recognized the address and said, “Oh the strip club! Sure thing ladies. I know where that is.” When we arrived, the entire street was filled with the police, ambulance and the fire department. Our driver gave himself a five-dollar tip from Beep Beep’s twenty and said the Granville Strip has the green awning.

fire.jpg

I walked up to the police officer and asked if we could still access one of the businesses. He asked, “Which one?” I replied the store with the green awning. “Oh the Granville Strip? Yeah, go down the street and around the fire truck.” I walked over to the fireman at the end of the street and told him the officer said we could access a store. Again, I was asked which business we wanted to visit. I responded with my standard “green awning” answer and he replied, “Oh, the Granville Strip? Okay. Give me three minutes. We are just getting rid of toxic waste.”

girls.jpg

Finally, we got to the door and I told the doorman that it was my friend’s birthday. The doorman said Beep Beep could get in for free. While we were getting our ID scanned, another customer behind us started chatting with the doorman and said it was his birthday too. The doorman, a man of about 50 years, said, “Hey dude. Why are you talking to me? You’re a dude! Can’t you see I’m talking to these old broads?” I don’t know which I find more offensive. To be called a broad or old. Whatever grandpa, I’m no spring chicken but neither are you. No need to name call. I’m a paying customer.

Grandpa said Beep Beep could get inside for free but we would have to pay $20. Beep Beep’s friend looks young and is really cute. She has huge implants and wears very little clothing. Coincidentlly, she’s also use to getting into clubs for free. She tried to walk in without paying but the doorman shouted at her twice for the $20 bucks. She pouted (I’m pretty sure she heard the first time) but paid. The admission is totally worth it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 12.53.44 PM.png

We finally got inside and we ordered a round of drinks. I texted my brother Narc to tell him where I was and showed him the above pictures. Narc told me not to take pictures as it’s not permited.  I texted back that I wasn’t taking pictures of the dancers or customers, just the ambience and music.

In any case, there was one dancer who was awesome. She did this burlesque style dance with feathers and acrobatics on the pole. You need major arm and leg strength to pull those moves off. I can’t even do a push-up. Just to watch her was worth the admission. My friend told me there’s another well-known Indian dancer that just does one show and leaves right after. Seriously, the top acts here are like Cirque du Soleil in Vegas, but with less clothes.

Guu Otokomae Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese · Restaurants

Kissa Tanto and Kingyo Izakaya

On Friday night, I met up with my friend Naomi and her sister Gisele for drinks at Kissa Tanto in Chinatown. Naomi told me it took her two weeks to get a reservation. Apparently Kissa Tanto has a solid reputation for its creative food and cocktails.  There were also enough vegetarian options on the menu to satisfy Naomi and Gisele vegetarian diet.

I love Kissa Tanto’s retro decor. It has a distinctly 70’s vibe to it that makes it feel like you’re dining in another era. The old building itself is old school. It has a small landing and the steep stairs up to the restaurant. The street itself didn’t seem to change much from my childhood memories of Chinatown in the 1980s.

Naomi and Gisele ordered specialty cocktails, chosen by our server based on their preferences. I ordered an Asahi beer because I wanted to ease into drinking again.

I had to leave shortly after we arrived to make it to Beep Beep’s family dinner at Kingyo for a birthday dinner. However, Naomi ordered one dish for me to taste – croquette ($7). The croquette was typical – crunchy exterior with a super smooth potato and parmesan filling. I’d like to return on my next visit to give it a spin.

I grew up with Beep Beep and her family would take me out for dinner at least once a week. Kingyo is one of our regular spots for celebrations. Her family knows how to order, particularly at Japanese restaurants. I’m going to insert some appropriate music for you to listen to while you read on.

We started off with the seared tuna ($12.80). The tuna in particular tasted super fresh. The pea shoots, cherry tomatoes and crunchy tobiko rounded out this salad.

The one-grilled kobe beef ($24) was neat. You seared the marinated beef on the stone to lightly grill it. The beef was very tender and flavourful.

Beep Beep’s husband Mars doesn’t eat seafood or mushrooms, which really limits what he can eat at any Chinese or Japanese restaurant. He ordered two plates of the chicken karrage ($9.40) for himself. The karage here is solid – crispy boneless chicken served with salt. Good but not as great as Shokunin’s version in Calgary.

Mars could eat the Chinese sweetened balsamic beef rib ($22). The rib meat was soft and fatty (in a good way), sweet from the balsamic vinaigrette. Mar’s liked the presentation, which I thought was pretty standard for Chinese restaurants. Edith offered the last piece to Mars, but he complained it was all fat. Edith chided him and said that fat has all the flavour. She’s right.

I also enjoy the fresh sashimi salad ($12.80). The tuna in particular tasted super fresh. The organic greens were tossed in light garlic soy sauce vinaigrette that went well with the sashimi.

I enjoyed the aonori calamari ($9.40), which didn’t look impressive. However, Kingyo’s version was killer due to the seasoning of dried seaweed powder and the tartar sauce with shiso herb salsa. I accidentally deleted my photo of the calamari.

My favourite dishes were the negitoro sushi and pressed sushi ($14). If you’re stuck in a land lock city like Calgary, you really appreciate the care that goes into the sushi here.

The amount of chopped tuna was generous, and the addition of the Japanese pickles, green onions, and tobiko added a refreshing element and crunch to the soft texture of the tuna. The wasabi sesame soy dressing and wasabi added a nice pop to it.

The pressed mackerel was another winner. The seared marinated mackerel was warm; the oily meat contained a whack of flavour. The sauce of mustard and soy sauce, green onion and ginger paste oil went really well with the strong taste of the fish.

I don’t normally like bibimbap as some restaurants in Calgary don’t make the bowl hot enough to make the rice crispy. That’s not the case at Kingyo. The tender pieces of pork belly sizzled beautifully in the bowl, the oils released seared into the rice.

One of my favourite dishes is the uni miso udon ($13.80). I avoided this dish for two reasons. First, I could tell it was popular one and the portion wasn’t big enough for everyone at the table. Second, I know this dish is deadly, calorie-wise. The udon noodles are covered in sea urchin and sweet miso cream sauce, topped with salmon caviar. I drooled a little as I watched everyone else lift the cream covered noodles to their mouths.

The deep-fried corn was another winner ($5.80). The corn was sweet and crunchy, drenched in soy butter.

Beep Beep’s favourite dish was a March feature – cold tofu with bread. The tofu was creamy like cream cheese. The combination of the bread and tofu reminded me of brie on a baguette. I didn’t really understand why she liked this dish so much. It was good, but I could make this at home.

Another feature dish we tried was the grilled asparagus with prosciutto, bocchini, and a sweet balsamic reduction sauce. I thought this dish was very Italian. I didn’t notice any Japanese influences. Regardless, it was a nice dish.

I had an argument recently with my in-law Dhiss. He said he loves Guu in Vancouver. I told him to try Kingyo as the food is better but he insisted Guu was the best despite not trying Kingyo. I don’t know how you can believe one restaurant is better than all else when you’ve never tried other restaurants. His loss and Kingyo’s customers gain. Kingyo is completely packed and busy every night, it doesn’t need more business from non-believers.

 

Kingyo Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Chinese · Dim Sum · Restaurants

Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine- Dim Sum

My parents picked me up at the airport. I purposely didn’t eat all morning because I knew we were having dim sum at Shi-Art. Located inside Richmond Centre, I like how there’s always parking and that the restaurant takes reservations.

In Richmond, Shi-Art is not considered the best or the cheapest. However, if this restaurant was in Calgary, it would be easily considered a dim sum destination. Office Dad told me it’s because the top chefs won’t go to Calgary due to the climate and its smaller Asian community. My mom thinks it’s because the restaurant scene is so competitive in Vancouver and Richmond, that if you’re mediocre, you’ll be out of business in no time. The seafood is also cheaper and fresher in Vancouver. So it makes sense that my favourite dishes included shrimp and scallops.

One of the best dishes I tried was Mushroom and Scallop Congee. The rice soup wasn’t heavily seasoned, which I preferred, as it allowed the natural taste of the scallops and mushrooms to shine through. The mushrooms were cut in thin wedges, soft and slippery. The scallops were fat and silky.

The haw gow was supersized with sweet crunchy shrimp. The white dumpling wrapper was thin, but not wet. My pet peeve is moist haw gow, when the wrapper gets wet and slippery from the moisture.

The shui mai was also large. Each dumpling contained a flavorful, juicy mixture of pork the size of a golf ball. I didn’t try the beef balls because there was cilantro in it. My mother enjoyed it.

Another winner was the deep-fried shrimp spring roll. The wrapper was crunchy and cracker-thin, filled with a cylinder of crunchy shrimp meat.

The pan-fried radish cake with preserves tasted fresh from the kitchen. Steaming hot, the cake was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The deep-fried rice doughnut was delicious. The doughnut was freshly fried and warm and crunchy, snuggled inside a perfectly steamed rice wrapper. So tasty, I didn’t bother to use the side of peanut and hoisin sauce.

The steamed shrimp roll was less than average. The shrimp was small and not sweet or crunchy. I should have listened to my mother and ordered the BBQ roll instead. I didn’t bother to take a picture of it as the roll didn’t look too appetizing.

The seafood E-Fu noodles didn’t have much flavor, but the scallops and shrimp was plentiful and properly cooked. Again, I didn’t mind the noodles were bland as it allowed me to taste the freshness of the scallops and shrimp.

Overall, I was happy with the food and service. My pick for Shi-Art – any dishes with scallops and shrimp, excluding the steamed shrimp roll. The prices are reasonable and I believe if you eat here before 11:00 a.m., you receive a discount off your entire bill.

Shi-Art Chinese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Brunch · Fusion · Happy Hour · Restaurants

The Mission – Happy Hour

I was at a yoga party a while back and a fellow yogi told me that a new chef has taken over The Mission. I think he was either the father or knew the chef is some capacity. In either case, he piqued my interest. So when my buddy Jaime visited me last weekend we dropped by to try some bites from their happy hour. Mission has a great happy hour. From 3:00pm-6:00 pm, beers and select wines and cocktails are only $6.00. All appetizers are half off. On Sunday, it’s happy hour all day.

Happy Hour.jpg

We ordered the Brussel Sprouts ($10, $5 hh), Fried Pickles ($11, $5.5 hh), and Tuna Poke Hand Cones ($10, $5 hh).  I love how the light filters through the windows onto the tables. We could feel the sun on our skin, even though it was -10 outside.

Wine.jpg

For drinks, we asked our server Jess for a recommendation. Jess’ pick was a dry rose – Murmurium (France, $12, $6 hh). For six bucks, this was a winner! I would come back just for this wondrously priced rose wine. The colour was a pretty amber hue.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.08.49 PM.png

The brussel sprouts were nicely browned, sweet from the maple lemon glaze. The crunchy almonds were a good contrast to the glaze, otherwise it would have been too sweet. I was surprised the portion was so large.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.08.25 PM

I liked the fried pickles, which are house-pickled zucchini. I didn’t care for the sweet apricot relish as I thought the crunchy critters were tasty enough on it’s own. These reminded me of White Spot’s zoo sticks, but it tasted way better.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.08.37 PM.png

The tuna poke yellow fin hand cones were nice. The bits of tuna tasted fresh and instead of rice, these were packed with carrots, red onions, and red peppers. The plate was dotted with wasabi and tobiko. A good option if you’re watching your weight. I’d like to return for happy hour to try the chicken wings with hoisin garlic glaze ($15, lb), the seared yellow fin tuna ($14) and more of that rose.

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

Restaurants · Special Occasion

Workshop Kitchen + Culture

I’ve heard good things about Workshop Kitchen + Culture. My fine dining buddy Todd told me one of his best meals ever was at Workshop. For the Big Taste festival, my colleagues Legal and Crazy Girl joined me for Workshop $25.00 lunch special. From our office, we braved walking in the -20 weather to a completely packed restaurant. We had to wait in the Junction Theatre Grand lobby for a couple of minutes for our seats because other customers were dawdling.

entrance.jpg

Our server Jennifer was personable, pleasant and a wealth of information. For example, I learned that at dinner, Workshop offers a “blind” three-course ($55) or five-course meal ($80). I envisioned being blindfolded while I ate.  Jennifer elaborated and said the “blind tasting” means you leave the menu in the hands of the chefs. From what I sampled, you’re in excellent hands. Jennifer also told me that alternatively, you can come with a big group and share a bunch of platters for a reasonable amount.

room.jpg

Crazy Girl and I ordered a salad for our first course. I figured I ought to eat a salad, seeing as how I can’t remember the last time I ate a vegetable that wasn’t fried. Legal choose the soup of the day – a Moroccan and sausage creation. The soup was hearty like chilli and fragrant from the use of cumin.

soup.jpg

My salad was lovely. It tasted good and it felt healthy. The baby beets and pink apples were sweet, which contrasted with the tartness of the green apples. The assortment of fresh, frilly greens soaked up the light dressing of honey and goat cheese.

salad.jpg

The showstopper was our main of albacore tuna. The moment I had a bite, I had a hey ya moment. I received two thick slices of medium rare tuna. The rare part of the fish was silky and juicy. The outside was beautifully charred.

ahi 1.jpg

The warm potato kimchi salad consisted of soft potatoes that I swirled around in the gochujang hollandaise sauce. The maple grilled bok choy was crunchy, and reminded us of a summer BBQ. The spice in the sauce and kimchi was subtle and restrained. I thought the use of kimchi was sophisticated. The micro-greens tasted like fresh peas.

ahi 2

I ate as slowly as possible so I could saviour every single morsel. The entire dish was brilliant. So much, Workshop is now on my list of favourite restaurants for best lunch and best special occasion splurge.

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 6.57.10 PM.png

I’m not a dessert person but the Azaelia Milk Chocolate Ganache Tart had me swooning. The chocolate ganache and mascarpone was soft and gooey. Mixed with the hazelnut praline and sponge toffee, it was like a fresh, homemade version of Ferrero Rocher.

bread pudding.jpg

This whole meal cost only $25. The main alone was worth $25.00 and that dessert, I’d easily pay $10.00. To put this value in perspective, I want to point out that my husband recently went to McDonald’s and bought a combo meal for $9.05 which made him and my dog sick all morning. To the chefs and staff behind Workshop, I salute you. Your milkshake  brings all the foodies to the yard.

Workshop Kitchen + Culture Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Restaurants

Ricardo’s Hideaway – Date night

It was Friday night and I wanted to go out. Despite that night being the start of The Big Taste festival, a nine-day event of restaurant specials, I opted out. Though the reputable restaurants that participate in The Big Taste offer wicked value – a three-course meal for $20.00 and up, I don’t like the crowd and how crazy it gets. Having said that, I do have my eye on Model Milk and Workshop Kitchen and Culture. I’ll be heading to Workshop for lunch this week but I also want to try their dinner menu. Perhaps I can convince my friend Legal to skip lunch and go for dinner after work instead?

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 9.15.43 AM.png

I picked Ricardo’s Hideaway, as I visited previously with my friend Blondie and the food looked fantastic. L bumped into someone he knew from work – Roman. Kudos to Roman for the warm welcome and suggesting a delicious rum – Ron Abuelo (seven-year|Panama|$5.5). I love rum even more than tequila.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 9.15.20 AM.png

The seven-year rum was smooth and sweet and reminded me of whisky. A nice way to toast to the night. We both opted for beers, as I spotted Banded Peak Chinook Saison and L wanted the Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. The Driftwood was really tasty – bright with notes of grapefruit and not too hoppy. I like that glasses are smaller, so the beer stays colder and fresher for longer.

Beers.jpg

For food, we ordered cashews ($5), crab legs ($14) with melted butter, jerk chicken ($16), roti ($5) and rice and beans ($5). I noticed enough vegetarian items on the menu for my buddy Jaime.

cashews.jpg

The cashews were warm and reminded me of Christmas. The seasoning had either cinnamon or nutmeg in it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 9.15.31 AM.png

The jerk marinaded crab legs were a delight to eat. We were provided with all the proper utensils to crack and pick the meat out. The crab was grilled and blackened, spicy and full of chunks of goodness.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 9.16.45 AM.png

The highlight of our meal was the jerk chicken, which incidentally is my worst photo of the night. Next time my husband and I are going to order a full portion. The half order contained four succulent pieces of chicken.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 9.15.54 AM.png

The chicken was garnished with cilantro, which I detest, but even that noxious herb couldn’t hide the fact this was an amazing bird. The skin was crunchy, the sticky sauce was spicy and sweet. The meat was top quality, juicy and white. If you go out for cheap wings, you’ll appreciate this bird. There’s no blueish veins or bruised meat. I’m willing to bet that before this chicken crossed the road to Ricardo, it led a happy life.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 9.16.15 AM.png

The rice and beans tasted clean, a refreshing contrast to the flavour explosion from the chicken and crab. The beans didn’t have that nasty metallic taste and mushy texture you get from canned beans.

Roti.jpg

The roti was fabulous. Flaky, light and buttery, it was the perfect vessel to wrap around the chicken. The roti came with herbed butter.

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 9.16.06 AM.png

I’ve been cutting down on my alcoholic intake, but the pina colada ($10) might undo all my healthy intentions. This drink brought me back to when I was 20 at my first all-inclusive resort in Mexico. Except Ricardo’s version is far superior – sweet from pineapple juice, creamy from coconut milk and boozy from rum. I remember why I avoid pina coladas. It goes down way too easy. And I’m better this little cocktail was packed with at least 450 calories.

flavor-flav01

L and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. The music was fun and tropical. The crowd wasn’t douchy. The environment was unlike the other bars and pubs along 17th Ave, it felt like I was transported to an island. Ricardo’s Hideaway gets two fat thumbs up from me and makes it as my top pick as Flavour of the Month. Yeah Boyyy!

Ricardo's Hideaway Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurants

Kyoto Blueprint

I’m started to do a little planning for my trip to Japan. My husband and I are travelling with a bunch of students on a very limited budget, which means hostel-like accommodations. Around 22-25 of us in total. In Kyoto, we booked our accommodations at Dormy Inn Premium Kyoto Ekimae . In Tokyo, we are staying at Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro.

Below are some pictures I stole from TripAdvisor of Dormy Inn. I’m not worried I’m going to get sued for using these photos. I can’t even get my own parents to read my blog.

The rooms are small, which is apparently the norm. However, from what I’ve read, these rooms are considered spacious by Japanese standard. Dormy Inn is considered a business hotel, best for those don’t spend a whole lot of time inside their rooms.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 3.22.35 PM.png

The location is minutes away from Kyota Station. There’s also a Lawson convenience store inside the hotel. Lawson’s is one of several popular chain convenience stores in Japan. Convenience stores in Japan far superior to what we get here in Canada.

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-5-36-48-pm

In past visits, my husband enjoyed the delicious ready made sandwiches and onigiri. I remember watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain where he went crazy over the egg sandwiches and his guest loved the ready made fried “Red Chicken“.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 3.23.01 PM.png

Dormy Inn offers public baths and steam rooms for guests. The bath and steam room are not unisex. You have to wash yourself thoroughly before entering the baths and steam room.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 3.22.18 PM.png

If you have a tattoo, you have to cover it up. I hope I will be permitted to wear a towel or bathing suit. I don’t want the group of people I’m with to see me naked. Yes, Hitting the Sauce is a prude.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 3.23.12 PM.png

Dormy Inn has free ramen from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm. L thinks it is hilarious that I keep talking about the complimentary ramen. You can buy the ramen from here if you want. I’m trying to find out what’s the best brands of ramen to buy and bring back. Along with a lot of kit kat and other treats.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 3.25.04 PM.png

I don’t plan on going out of my way to check out any restaurant. I heard it’s difficult to find restaurants because places are hidden, around the train, on the 14th floor, in the basement, etc.  I took a look at the nearby restaurants on Tripadvisor to find some potential places to use as a guide. I have a feeling I won’t be going to all the places I found because I actually prefer just to walk around and find a place based on the vibe, queue (long but not too long) and if locals are eating there.

For okonomyaki, I found Donguri Shijokarasuma. You have to pre-order at the vending machine which is outside the restaurant.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 3.46.37 PM.png

Okonomyaki is like a savoury pancake. The batter consists of seafood or meats and vegetables like cabbage, green onions, onions. The top is drizzled with high fat sauces like Japanese mayonnaise and a salty brown sauce. You can get fried yakisoba noodles too, which are put underneath the pancake.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-33-59-pm

Other nearby okonomyaki restaurants include: Okonomiyaki Katsu, Okonomiyaki Machiya and Donguri Shijokarasuma. Okonomiyaki Katsu (see image above) is the top rated restaurant in Kyoto on Tripadvisor.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-20-46-pm

I’m keen to try conveyor belt sushi. One restaurant by our hotel is Sushi no Musashi, by the JR Kyoto Station 8 entrance. For this trip, because the whole language and finding my way around will be challenging, I’m going to try and remember what each place looks like so I’ll recognize it when I see it.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-11-01-pm

Sushi no Musashi was a place recommended on Tripadvisor for the price and close proximity to our hotel. The wait isn’t horrendously long either. The picture below is the best of the bunch that was posted. The rest of the pictures of rolls and nigiri look sloppy.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-11-43-pm

The second sushi train restaurant that’s close to our hotel is Musashi Sushi.  This restaurant gets higher reviews and the fish is suppose to be good quality for the price. I’ll remember the white sign with lanterns and the piece of green material.
screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-18-45-pm
Based on the pictures, Musashi Sushi looks superior to Sushi no Musashi.  If I had the choice, I’d pick Musashi. The interior looks more orderly as well. The sushi looks neater and more elegant. I like the little garnishes and ingredients too.
screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-19-12-pm

In central Kyoto, I want to try Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi for gyoza and draft beer. There’s always a wait for this 20-seat room. However, this place is considered touristy.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-36-10-pm

The gyoza is made right in front of you. The shrimp and chicken wasabi pan-fried dumplings appear to be popular choices. L told me that there are lots of stands that grill food for you, by the trains and other nooks in the city.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-36-23-pm

Located in Nishiki Market, in alley is Ramen Sen No Kaze. Word is to come before 7PM, as this family-run establishment runs out of ramen. The best time to visit for dinner is around 5:00pm. Otherwise, expect to wait between one to two hours.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-44-01-pm

For about $20 Canadian, you can opt for a ramen, coleslaw, five gyozas and a beer. Best to look for black ramen signage that states No.1 ramen in Kyoto and the word. I thought the Japanese were suppose to be modest or humble? Well, if you got it, flaunt it I guess.screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-45-07-pm

Another ramen joint I want to check out is Ippudo Nishikikoji in the Shkinyogoku Shopping District. This chain restaurant has a long line-up but apparently it moves fast.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-54-47-pm

For a regular ramen and a beer, expect to pay about $20.00 Canadian. The gyoza here is suppose to be tasty. There are options for vegetarians too. Cash only.

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-55-23-pm

Open 21 hours of the day – Kyoto Takabashi Honke Daiichiashi. This place is really close to our hotel. Pork based broth with some travellers complaining the ramen is more Chinese style than Japanese.

If you know of any good places to eat in Kyoto, let me know. I’m counting down the days until I’m noshing on ramen, egg sandwiches, and red nuggets.

Japanese · Restaurants

Menyatai Japanese – Ramen

My buddy Asian Persuasion recommended Menyatai to me. She hasn’t been in a year but she told me the ramen is good. My husband L and I decided to check it out Friday evening. He ordered the Miso Ramen ($11.99), I ordered the Spicy Tonkatsu ($12.99) and we shared a seaweed salad ($4.50).

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 9.36.33 AM.png

L meant to order the seaweed salad but he mistakenly ordered the wakame sunomomo salad. The whole time we were eating this I was thinking what the heck – this is the weirdest version of seaweed salad ever. Two minutes after we ordered the wakame sunomomo, we received our ramen. I wish the servers and cooks would time the appetizers and mains a bit better.

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 9.36.40 AM.png

I preferred L’s ramen over my order. The miso broth was delicious, flavourful with a rich savoury flavour. All the ramen is served with one piece of pork and half an egg. The thin piece of pork was the best part of the meal. It wasn’t too fatty and it was grilled to perfection. The miso ramen came with corn, dried seaweed, green onions and sprouts.

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 9.36.48 AM.png

The spiciness of my tonkatsu broth made me sputter and cough, sneeze and wheeze, which is always embarrassing. My half egg was overcooked. I noticed both our bowls are heavy with the noodles and light on the protein, like the egg and pork. The noodles are homemade but not made in-house.

close up.jpg

I enjoyed the ramen here and would return to order the miso ramen. Currently, my two favourite places for ramen are Redheads Japa Cafe and Ichi Rock. Redheads serves only ten bowls a night, in the evenings from Tuesday to Friday, and it cost $10 a bowl. Ichi Rock’s ramen is more expensive but they put a lot of goodies into their bowls, which makes it so worth it. I still need to try Ramen Ichimen , Gagana Ramen and Shiki Menya.

Menyatai Japanese Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurants · Seafood · Sushi

Fusion Sushi – All-you-can-eat

For our upcoming Japan trip, L and I are going with about 25 other travellers. A bunch of them invited L out for dinner. Most of the travellers are students and they picked an all-you-can-eat venue in Kensington called Fusion Sushi, which is not be confused with another Fusion Sushi restaurant about two blocks away, that is a la carte.

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 8.50.03 AM.png

Fusion took over the old Osteria Restaurant, which has moved into a smaller space next door called Osteria Chef’s Table. The all-you-can-eat menu is $30.00 and compared to Oishii in Riverbend, has a smaller menu. For example, you can’t get chopped scallop nigiri, baked oysters, creamy udon, seaweed salad, or soft shell crab rolls.

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 8.50.26 AM.png

What you can get is all the salmon sashimi you can eat! Everyone at our table enjoyed slices of fresh tasting salmon. The young servers  brought us as much sashimi as we wanted with no attitude. If you go to a lot of all-you-can-eat, you know what I’m talking about. Some places just won’t give you as much as you ordered or avoid taking your order. The salmon sashimi was the highlight of our meal.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-8-50-33-am

The tuna sashimi was white as snow. I didn’t try a piece but K-Dog and Sake Kid said it was good, buttery and almost creamy in texture.

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 8.50.40 AM.png

Another dish I enjoyed was the pad thai. The noodles were soft and the sauce was tangy. I liked the healthy dollop of peanuts and slice of lime that came with each serving.

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 8.50.13 AM.png

Other dishes I tried included: tempura shrimp (good), fried crab roll (pass), salmon nigiri (sashimi is better), assortment of rolls (ok), fried chicken skewers (good), and shrimp skewers (very good). If you are selective in what you order, you’ll get your money’s worth and find the food is pretty tasty. I skipped dessert, but L enjoyed the fried banana and green tea ice-cream.

Screen Shot 2017-02-25 at 8.50.19 AM.png

I like going with a big group for all-you-can-eat, because there’s no waste, particularly when you are with students. These kids can eat!

I have to commend Fusion Sushi for the pleasant service by all the staffers. The restaurant was busy on a Wednesday but we still received all our orders, refills on water and tea. Go in with realistic expectations (don’t expect Zipang quality) and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Fusion Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Deli · French · Restaurants

Peasant Cheese

My new favourite find is Peasant Cheese in Kensington. The service is fantastic, the selection is amazing, and the prices are affordable. I walked in and a lovely staffer immediately helped me find the right cheese to go with my clam pizza. She also found me a chorizo which would go well with the cheese and clams.

peasant

I picked up a baguette, a chunk of duck pate, a dozen duck eggs, a big chuck of St. Andre cheese (double-brined), and chorizo for $36.00. With the excellent personalized help and quality of everything I picked up – this was quite a bargain.

baguette

When I returned home, L and I cracked open a bottle of wine and we indulged in the pate. Delicious, it was creamy and light. Peasant Cheese’s version reminded me of the pate at Cassis Bistro, which is my one of my favourite versions in the city. However, in my opinion, the best pate award still goes to Justin Leboe from Model Milk. Sometimes Pigeonhole  features Leboe’s chicken pate. His pate is smooth like butter.

pate

I used the Clam-Chowder recipe from Cooking with the New York Times. The St. Andre cheese I picked up really kicked this pizza up a notch. Buttery with an edible rind, this was a rich, smooth cheese with a unique taste.

pizza

I dropped by Sidewalk Citizen to pick up dough ($5.00) for my pizza. I also visited Vine Styles to pick up beers. Vine Styles has a non generic selection of bubbles. I’ll have to drop by again and see if I can find a new favourite bottle of bubbly.

My experience at Peasant Cheese was a positive one. I can still remember when I was in school and I went to Janice Beaton’s cheese shop to pick up three small chunks of cheese for $60.00. Peasant Cheese makes it on Fei Po’s list of favourite eats in Calgary.

Peasant Cheese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Restaurants

Ricardo’s Hideaway

Ricardo's Hideaway Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese

Ichi Rock – Ramenania

I first heard about Ichi Rock through Karen’s post on Zomato. Then I saw Ichi Rock post a promotion on Instagram. On Friday, my buddy Asian Persuasion told me she’s gone twice before and she was heading over for lunch that day. I was saving myself for Saturday but figured since my boss Tread Lightly wasn’t at work that I could enjoy a leisurely lunch.

Screen Shot 2017-02-17 at 6.59.54 PM.png

Ichi Rock was busy. Asian Persuasion said the restaurant was always quiet before so I guess word has gotten out. We sat at the high table. The chair groaned and creaked under my weight. The new boy in our office, Dick,  came along, as did What’s Up Hamsup and his girlfriend Patience. Asian Persuasion’s favourite picks are the Tonkatsu Black and Jiro. I opted for the Jiro Spicy ($14).

room

The regular size bowl is plenty of food. For those with a really big appetite, you can opt for large and extra-large sizes. I also spied a vegetarian choice – Wild Mushroom Ramen – made with a vegetarian broth.

ramen

The Japanese jiro style tonkotsu consists of pan-fried braised cha-shu pork belly, cabbage, corn and bean sprouts, green onion, butter, tempura onion and carrot bits. The broth was steaming hot, something that Jinya lacked on my previous visits.

My bowl contained several pieces of pork belly that melted in my mouth. Eat the pork early on while the broth is hot. When the soup cools off, the pork doesn’t taste as good. I took Asian Persuasion’s advice and put the tempura bits aside in a bowl so that it remained crispy. Genius move girl!

The wavy noodles were firm and chewy. The corn tasted like it was fresh, sweet and crunchy. The egg, one of my favourite parts of the ramen experience was the only less than stellar ingredient. My egg was cooked so that it was more hard-boiled. The yolk also lacked that rich flavour that I get from farm fresh eggs.

pear

We received complimentary pear sorbet thanks to Asian Persuasion. She got to know the owners because she’s here so often. I enjoyed my ramen so much I started humming Beethoven Ode to Joy  movement and called it Ode to Choi. I joked that we should make a video of us eating ramen and stealing on the theme of the movie Rings, call the people who watched the video whisper sinisterly, “In seven days, you will eat Ichi Rock!”

The owner and staff here are very sweet. I told them that their ramen was far superior than a new crazy busy ramen shop that just opened up in Mission. I got a modest thank you and a big smile.

The ramen was so good that I made reservations for the next day.  Famished Feline – you have to check this place out during the weekend for the promotion. Take a screenshot of Ichi Rock promotion and post it on your Facebook page and show them when you order to get the second ramen for 50% off and two pieces of gyoza. I think this is one place that you’ll love.

 

Ichi Rock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinese · Dim Sum · Restaurants

Silver Dragon – Dim Sum Yum

white.jpg

I’ve heard about Silver Dragon but I never had the inclination to try it out before. Everyone that’s ever recommended this restaurant to me doesn’t eat traditional Chinese food. The bad ass crew I hang out with at lunch – the Ivy Leaguers – also confirmed this is a place that caters to the ginger beef crowd.

lamp.jpg

Inside, Silver Dragon is a nice looking restaurant. I like the lanterns and particularly, the attentive and friendly service. My buddy Office Dad knows the owners. He stated Silver Dragon is one of the oldest restaurants in Calgary. When I told him I thought Hi-Ball (now located in Montgomery after the fire at Stadium Shopping Centre) was the oldest, he corrected me and said Silver Dragon still has the original owners.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 7.18.33 PM.png

Dim sum is served old school – via carts. We ordered Sui Mai. I thought these pork dumplings were very tasty. Served hot, the pork was juicy and flavourful. The shrimp had a good snap to it and the wrapper was nice and firm.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 7.18.56 PM.png

The best dish we tried was the squid curry. The squid was tender and soft, piping hot. The curry flavour was very nice. We savoured each bite.

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-7-18-49-pm

The ha gow was good. The wrapper was soft and the shrimp ball was large but lacked that satisfying crunch and sweetness. I learned that I’ve been have been eating these shrimp balls wrong for decades. When we were kids, my older brother would eat only the shrimp and the younger one would only eat the wrapper. I eat the shrimp and wrapper separately. Office Dad shook his head in disgust. “Ha gow is meant to be eating with the skin and shrimp together. Otherwise you’re just eating a wrapper and how good would that taste on its own?”  He’s right, but he could lose the attitude in his tone.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 7.18.40 PM.png

The only thing we didn’t like was the taro balls. Normally, these deep-fried delights are my favourite dish. This dish weren’t even lukewarm. There was hardly any pork filling and the little there was dry. My final beef was that the taro barely tasted like taro. The flavour was more like a potato. You know how people cut narcotics with cheaper ingredients to make more money? That’s exactly like the taro here, but the result isn’t deadly.

taro-real

Prices are average for Calgary. Most dishes range from $5.25 to $7.00. I think the food would be even better if it was busier. The problem with the cart system is if it’s not busy, the food circulates around the room which results in less than fresh dishes.

Silver Dragon Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinatown · Comfort food · Curry · Restaurants

Mamak Dang Malaysian Fusion Cuisine Downtown Location

For years, Office Dad has been bugging me to try Mamak Dang Malaysian Fusion, but it’s located way out in NE. Imagine my delight when I learned that a second location  opened up by my office (aka cubicle).

office-dad

Office Dad is friends with quite a few restaurant owners/chefs in Calgary. He always tells them that I’m a food blogger even though I’ve told him not to do that. It’s uncomfortable when the people cooking the food think you’re going to write about it and I feel like he’s pimping me out. I know he still tells them but in Chinese, as he thinks I won’t understand. I do. Sometimes he reminds me of my mom.

app-menu

Office Dad ordered the Roti with Curry Sauce ($5.99) and the Special Assorted Laksa Noodle Soup ($12.49). I’ve only tried Malaysian food a handful of times at food courts and I never took to it. I was informed that the food here is more of a fusion style of Malaysian cuisine.

menu

The broth was creamy and spicy, with deep heat. Office Dad and I would both take turns sneezing, coughing and wheezing. He said this is the type of soup you need to drink when you’re sick, as it would clear out your sinuses. I thought it was odd that lettuce is added to the soup, but I like the crunchiness and texture it gives to the soup.

soup

Mamak didn’t skimp with the ingredients.  The bowl was filled with shrimp, fish cake, pork, beef and fish balls. The noodles were slippery and chewy. I like the fish cake the most, it was sweet and silky.

roti

The two pieces of roti came out blisteringly hot. The roti was thin and crispy and it flaked apart when you tore into the bread. Office Dad looked annoyed when I commented I prefered using the laksa broth over the curry sauce. He briefly glanced up from his meal and muttered, “It’s different. Doesn’t mean one is better than the other.” Excuse me Office Dad for having an opinion.

For the bowl of laksa and roti, Office Dad’s meal came up to around $20.00. Until February 10th, if you dine in you get 10% or 20% if you order take-out. Noodle bowls range from around $10-$12.50 and appetizers/roti range from $3.99 to $9.99. Besides laksa and roti, you can get dried noodles, house noodle soups, Thai and Malay noodle soups, rice combos (rendang beef/chicken curry) and nasi lemak.

Mamak Dang Malaysian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Happy Hour · Pubs · Restaurants · Seafood

National – Super Bowl Beers

The title of this post is misleading. Yes, I went to National on Sunday, but not to watch the Super Bowl. I haven’t bothered to pay to watch a game of any sport since I met my husband. In the past, my only reason for going to a football or hockey game was to ogle the athletes. Why buy a cow when you can get milk for free?

Beer.jpg

Unfortunately, we arrived before happy hour, which meant our pints were $8.50. However, after finishing our first round, the magical time of 3:00 o’clock permitted one more pint at the very sweet price of $5.00. My favourite beer on the list is Electric Unicorn White IPA by Philips. It’s a citrusy, pleasantly creamy beer with a 6.5% alcohol content.

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-7-03-21-pm

L and I shared hot wings ($14). If National threw a couple more wings on the plate, I’d say this dish is a winner. But I’m a cheapie, so I’ll just say you pay for what you get. The sauce was hot but not mouth burning. It tasted like perhaps lime or citrus was added to a hot sauce, making it more sophisticated in flavouring than my usual 35 cent wings at Newcastle Pub.

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-7-03-27-pm

I wanted something else to snack on, so I ordered tater tots ($7.00). These were hot, munchy and perfectly crunchy. These tots inspired me to stop by Safeway and pick up a whole bag of frozen tots for $2.25 (Compliments brand).

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 7.03.15 PM.png

During happy hour, you can choose from east coast or west coast oysters for only $1.00. Naturally, I picked the west coast because I like my oysters creamy and sweet. Each sea treasure was shucked properly, not one contained any shell fragment.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 7.03.37 PM.png

What will bring me back to National again and again are the buck a shuck oysters. For now, this is my new favourite place for happy hour oysters.

National Westhills Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Restaurants

Chianti Cafe – Willow Park

It was Disco Mary’s birthday on Saturday. Vintage Girl organized this gathering and she picked Chianti Cafe. She and Mindy comes to this location often and Mindy knows one of the servers.

When Vintage Girl booked the reservations, I thought of a restaurant I am dying to try called Garden of Italy. A couple of weeks ago, I saw Mayor Nenshi tweet about his meal there. I send the girls an email suggesting we go, thus hinting we change the original plans. I guess I’m not as subtle as I think. Vintage Girl asked me straight out just when and for what occasion we should go to Garden of Italy?  I sheepishly said, “Whoever has a birthday after Disco Mary.” I’m a beta, not an alpha. Oh well, we are going to Garden of Italy for Vintage Girl’s birthday in May, though that’s months away.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 6.23.07 PM.png

I use to go to the Crowfoot location with my friends for the $8.99 pasta specials when I was in grad school. The only thing that’s changed is the parmesan cheese is no longer grated fresh at your table. Instead, there’s a shaker. Mindy told me it’s the same cheese. Apparently, management discovered that grating the cheese led to greater waste.

Heaven.jpg

Mindy ordered the spinach and bacon salad ($6). It tasted pretty much like I remembered. The bacon tasted like bacon bits and there was a generous amount of mushrooms. Mindy prefers the salad with more dressing. I agree, it helps mask the flavour of spinach.

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-2-54-02-pm

We shared a couple of appetizers: Ravioli Bites Trio ($9) and Fonduta ($10). Mindy dug into the dip before I could take a picture. She apologized profusely as Disco Mary reprimanded her, “She’s got to take a picture first!” No worries girls, I can improvise.

The crab dip was cheesy and warm, with chunks of crab and artichoke. The bread was toasted and smeared with a delicious pesto spread. Chianti’s version is better than my past attempts making crab dip.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 2.53.47 PM.png

The trio of pasta wasn’t as yummy as the crab dip. The filling was sparse and the pasta  itself was hard. The sauce was a smokey chipotle. Taste wise, there was little difference between the three types of stuffed pasta.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 2.53.53 PM.png

I couldn’t decide which pasta to pick for my entree. Mindy told me that Chianti’s is very accommodating, and they will let you switch the sauces, noodles or you can pick two and have both. I ordered the Mare e Monte Fettucine ($12.50)  and the Mediterranean Ravioli ($12.50). I’m not sure if Chianti charges extra for making changes or requesting a split order because Mindy treated me out for my belated birthday.

The mare e monte sauce was a light cream sauce mixed with scallops, peas and mushrooms. The scallops were plump and tender. I found the Mediterranean sauce bland. The lemon garlic wine oregano sauce was watery and I could just taste the individual components of the dish, boiled ravioli, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, feta cheese, spinach and artichokes. Again, the ravioli was hard.

my-dish

One of the many reasons I love going out with these girls is because they give me so much food. I tried Disco Mary’s Salmon Con Gamberoni ($18.50). The baked salmon was moist and tender. The mascarpone cheese sauce was heavy and swirled around my ravioli, made it taste a lot better.

salmon dish.jpg

Mindy’s Pollo Alla Parmigiana ($16.50) was a good choice. The breaded chicken was crispy, covered in ham and bubbling with cheese. She opted for the shrimp fettucine, which was loaded with cheese and garlic.  I found out from our server that the spaghetti, linguine and fettucine is homemade, but the other pastas are not.

veal

I didn’t take pictures of Vintage Girl or Jeanette’s food because their plates were far away from me and I was too lazy to get up. I tried Jeanette’s veal and I thought it was tasty.

cake.jpg

Our server brought out a piece of chocolate cake with a candle for the birthday girl. I took a couple of bites. Drizzled with caramel sauce and dotted with whip cream, with lots of layers of dense chocolate cake and sweet icing, it did the trick.

Chianti in Willow Park was busy, filled with mostly families and groups of friends. I can see why. Service was friendly and attentive throughout our meal.  I also appreciate how accommodating the restaurant was when it comes to changing the dishes based on your preference. Chianti’s is a good option for family with kids. There’s something for all ages and the food is affordable, more so on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

Chianti Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Japanese · Restaurants · Sandwiches · Vietnamese

Green Cilantro- Banh Mi

I purchase my wine and beer at the Highlander at Richmond Place. One of the staffers there told me that she’s addicted to Green Cilantro, a Vietnamese take-out shop a few doors away. I’ve been before and I wasn’t impressed, but after being informed that new management took over, I gave Green Cilantro another chance.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.00.17 AM.png

The new manager is a real sweetheart and he likes my dog, so big bonus points right there. He took over Green Cilantro since January 5, 2017. Business has been growing too. He had to open up later that day because of a large catering order. I learned that if you order a certain amount, you get 10% off the bill and Green Cilantro will deliver too.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.00.00 AM.png

I ordered a chicken sate sub ($7.50) with cucumber, onions, peanuts and carrots. The bread was airy and fluffy. While it was toasted, it didn’t scratch the top part of my mouth. The vegetables aren’t pickled like at Thi Thi in Chinatown. Also, I don’t think Green Cilantro offers pate mayo.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.00.45 AM.png

I appreciated the care that went into making my sub. The result was a tasty and light sandwich, still warm after a 10 minute walk in the freezing cold. The sate sauce and mayo soaked nicely into the bread.

If you live in the hood, check out Green Cilantro. This is one business that deserves our support. Besides subs, pho and vermecelli dishes are offered here as well.

 

Green Cilantro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Bakery · Cheap Eats · Restaurants

A Taste of Beirut Bakery

On Sunday, L and I were running errands all day. We wanted to grab something quick for lunch and we heard that new managers have taken over Green Cilantro. We both had a craving for a Vietnamese sub, but unfortunately, Green Cilantro isn’t open on Sundays.

Menu.jpg

I haven’t had a good shawarma in ages, so we checked out A Taste of Beirut. While I was deciding what to order, an employee gave me a chicken fatayer to sample. This little meat pocket of heaven was delicious. It’s like a meat pie crossed with a pizza bundle.

chicken fatyr.jpg

I ordered a regular chicken ($8) and a beef ($8) wrap. The condiments were the standard variety of lettuce, pickled beets, raw chopped onions, juicy tomatoes, pickles and hot peppers. Two different sauces were squirted on both wraps.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.05.19 PM.png

The chicken and beef wrap contained ample meat. I preferred the chicken which was moist and juicy. The pita is grilled, which made a satisfying chomping sound when I munched away.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.05.00 PM.png

The beef was nuked in the microwave. I could detect cinnamon in the seasoning. Normally I like beef more than chicken, but I found the beef dry. L liked the beef more than the chicken.

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.04.45 PM.png

We were full after eating a regular size wrap. If you live in the hood, give A Taste of Beirut a chance. Personally, I like this place more Little Lebanon, a popular shawarma spot across the street.  I would return again for the chicken wrap and the chicken fatayers.

A Taste of Beirut Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood

Red Ember – Chirashi Time

My husband and I have been coming to Red Ember since it opened around 2012. I remember reading a post on Zomato from Gianni M that made me want to check restaurant out. Every time L and I eat here, we wonder why we don’t come more often.  Red Ember is a small restaurant on a busy street with signage that’s hard to see. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 8.40.04 AM.png

My favourite staffer at Red Ember (besides the owner/chef Calvin) is Christina. She’s now at the helm assisting with sushi-making. In any case, I don’t think it was a coincidence that one of our best meals to date occurred when she was standing next to Calvin at the sushi bar.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 8.40.12 AM.png

Christina and Calvin spoiled us with a scrumptious appetizer. The tuna was lightly seared, sitting underneath a crisp, cool slice of cucumber, perched on top of a spoonful of ponzu sauce. A lemon wedge was propped under the spoon. A green dusting was underneath the fried lotus, next to the best kimchi salad I’ve ever tried.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 8.40.39 AM.png

The kimchi was more sophisticatd than the type I usually get a Korean restaurant. The pieces of octopus were firm, with a nice chew to it. The cubes of crunchy cucumber tasted like it was just picked from a farm. I thought the sweet and spicy notes from the heat of the kimchi and seaweed was a nice contrast. L said he could eat this dish all day long. I wish it was on the regular menu, but I can imagine how time consuming it would to prepare such an excellently prepared salad.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 8.40.54 AM.png

We each ordered a bowl of the chirashi, our go-to dish at Red Ember. Every morsel of seafood tasted fresh. The cuts of seafood were gorgeous. That sushi rice? Sticky, firm with a whiff of vinegar and a subtle sweetness of sugar.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 8.40.23 AM.png

I love the scallops at Red Ember. In my past dozen visits, the scallops were consistently large, fat and sweet. I’ve never tasted a fishy scallop here. The portions of fish are very generous.

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 8.40.31 AM.png

Christina will personalize the chirashi for us too. She still remembers that my husband loves octopus and I’m the one who adores fried shrimp heads. The amaebi (raw sweet shrimp) was cool and creamy, with a pleasant almost crunchy flesh. The fried shrimp head was scrumptious.

I’m getting so hungry just writing about Red Ember and looking at the pictures, I’m thinking about going there tonight. This was so good I’m putting Red Ember on to my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. Thank you Christina and Calvin for ensuring Calgarians can get an affordably priced and brilliantly made chirashi.

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

Bars/Lounges · Chinese · Happy Hour · Japanese · Korean · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Vietnamese

Foreign Concept – Birthday Dinner

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-9-25-46-am

My actual birthday was on a Thursday but my husband L had to work late that night. Instead, I had my coworkers come over and we feasted on delicious food and wined the night away.

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-9-25-36-am

My office mate Patricia brought over three boxes of empanadas, cheese, chicken and beef from the Empanada Queen. These heavenly critters made the party. The crowd favourite was the cheese version, the pastry was deep-fried and the cheese was warm and salty.

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-9-25-27-am

On Friday night, L took me out to Foreign Concept. L and I are both fans of the owner and chef – Duncan Ly. We arrived at 7:00 p.m. to a packed restaurant. On the night I visited, the restaurant hummed like a well-oiled machine. From front to the back, every component from the initial greeting, coat check, and the delivery of the food and drinks was smoothly coordinated.

beer

I started off with a glass of Escapade Cava ($9) while L ordered a Philips Hop Circle ($7.00). Our server suggested we try Last Best Tokyo Drift ($8).

2

This beer is awesome! Hoppy but still mellow and smooth. I also drank a glass of Chenin Blanc (Domaine de Vaufraget Vouvray) which was  sweet.

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-7-59-53-pm

One of my favourite dishes is the Yuzu cured salmon fresh roll ($12). Delicate and light, I like the different textures and tastes of the creamy avocado, crème fraiche, cashews, gochujang, radish and cucumber. The rice wrapper was soft. The salmon was a good bite-size. The ikuri was the highlight. When it popped in my mouth, it added the taste of the sea. I could have eaten the entire plate myself.

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-7-59-37-pm

L and I both enjoyed the Vietnamese style Scotch egg ($11.00), with green onions and chili thread. The sausage casing was juicy and crispy, cupping the warm, creamy yolk goodness inside. The greens were delicious.

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-7-59-21-pm

The miso baked sweet potato ($10) dish was more than a decent portion, which makes it ideal for sharing between two or more people.  I thought I could detect maple syrup. The Quebec cheese curds were yummy.

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-7-59-29-pm

L and I shared the Alberta trout cha ca la vong ($24). We don’t like trout, but Foreign Concept’s version converted us. The fish was thin and flat, crispy on the outside. The flesh itself was flaky. I enjoyed the delicateness of this dish, the flavours and lightness of the dill, persimmon, rice noodles and garlic. This was an excellent dish with well-balanced flavours.

3

When we received our bill, we were given these plastic fish. Depending on how the fish curls in your palm, you can determine your fortune. A nice touch and a lighthearted way to end the meal.

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-7-59-46-pm

The music was loud, but in an upbeat, lively way. L and I felt like we were out on the town. You could still have a good conversation using a regular speaking tone. The vibrant ambience makes for a good first date place. Service was excellent.

I could see Duncan Ly and Jinhee Lee at the front of the kitchen, ensuring every dish that went out was perfect. I know you aren’t suppose to bug the chefs, especially when it was so busy… However, I was tipsy and forgot my manners and I asked for a photo. Duncan kindly obliged. Tee-hee. Fei Po gives Foreign Concept two fat thumbs up. This new restaurant makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

Foreign Concept Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese · Sushi

Sushi Bistro Anzu – Birthday Lunch

For my birthday lunch, my office family took me to Sushi Bistro Anzu. I picked Anzu because neither Asian Persuasion, What’s up Hamsup and Office Dad have been before. Also, the bento boxes offer wicked variety and value. Office Dad threw a hissy fit in the car when I told him the reasons I picked the restaurant. He retorted that he doesn’t like bento boxes. I told him when it’s his birthday, he can decide where to go. He sulked in the backseat and would intermittently start an argument with the other members of the office family.

When we arrived at Sushi Anzu, we ordered green tea ($1.50) and gyoza ($6.00) to start. The gyoza here is tasty. It tasted homemade with its silky, extra big wrapper and juicy, flavourful pork filling.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.36 PM.png

We all order slightly different versions of the same bento box ($13.99). Office Dad and I picked mackerel, tempura and sashimi as our main proteins. Our combos also came with a hot, flavourful bowl of miso, rice, a salad and a side dish of root vegetables and tofu. The tempura was oily and not as light or fresh as Red Ember‘s version.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.01.45 PM.png

This was my first time eating grilled mackerel. I ate the skin too. The flesh is heavier and has a more pronounced flavour than cod, salmon and tuna.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.14 PM.png

The cuts of sashimi were small but fresh. I thought each piece of fish was cut well and when you bite into it, it would cleanly tear away from your teeth.

Office Dad enjoyed his food and exclaimed how much he likes bento boxes because of the variety and generous portions. I pounced on him in a millisecond. “I told you that I picked this restaurant because you guys like bento boxes.” He nodded in agreement and responded, “I know. I don’t know what got into me earlier. I think I was just hungry.” Damn Office Dad, I’ll be keeping a Snickers in my purse for when you get hangry again.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.22 PM.png

What’s Up Hamsup picked the pan-fried sliced beef with Anzu’s special yakiniku sauce, breaded deep-fried tenderloin pork cutlet and nigiri.  He really liked the sauce  and the onions in the sliced beef dish. I took a bite and it was tasty and tasted homemade.

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-9-01-55-pm

Asian Persuasion picked the same thing but chose sashimi instead of sushi. She wasn’t a fan of the katsu sauce.  She also thought the salad was plain. I agreed, the dressing on the lettuce was almost nonexistent.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.05 PM.png

Office Dad insisted the four of us share dessert. He wanted to order mango ice-cream but Asian Persuasion and I both told him we would rather have sesame ice-cream. Since it was my birthday, he consented. Man, I love the taste of sesame, it’s so nutty and rich.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 9.02.28 PM.png

Service was great and the food was excellent value. Asian Persuasion, What’s Up Hamsup and Office Dad still think Red Ember has the best bento box in the city. Red Ember is awesome and I always enjoy the food and service. However, Sushi Bistro Anzu is a nice alternative if you want to try traditional Japanese dishes. Both Red Ember and Sushi Bistro Anzu get two thumbs up from me.


Sushi Bistro Anzu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Comfort food · Japanese

Jinya – Ramen Time

I was pumped when I found out Jinya was opening up in Calgary. To date, the best bowl of ramen I ever ate was at Jinya in Kerrisdale, Vancouver. Asian Persuasion and What’s Up Hamsup and I arrived ten minutes to 11:00 a.m. The restaurant opens at 11:00 a.m., so we had to wait outside until it officially opened.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.18.54 PM.png

I like the interior of the restaurant. It’s a hip space. The prices are reasonable too. I did get the sense that this is not the place to sit and linger. I could feel our server’s urgency for us order and to leave after we finished our meal. If I was a customer waiting in for a table, I would absolutely support Jinya’s efficiency. We ordered a couple of appetizers before Asian Persuasion’s friend arrived.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.19.03 PM.png

The fried chicken ($6.00) was tasty. The batter was light and crackled on your tongue. The sour note of the ponzu sauce and the taste of the pepper seasoning was noticeable. The size of the pieces was more than decent for the price. However, best fried chicken in #yyc still goes to Shokunin.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.19.12 PM.png

We each ordered a Jinya Bun ($4.50). The steam bun was soft like a marshmallow. The slow braised pork was tender and fatty. I liked the addition of Japanese mayo and Jinya’s special sauce.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.19.44 PM.png

When Asian Persuasion’s best friend Son showed up, we ordered our ramen. I noticed his necklace because it was jade and a buddha. My parents also have a penchant for jade.

budha.jpg

Son has the same birthday as me and he mentioned to Asian Persuasion that he found the perfect gift for her to buy for him.

diamond jade.jpg

He wanted a diamond encrusted buddha. Damn, that’s some Chinese bling! The only thing that would make that piece even flashier is if there were diamonds in his belly button and grill.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.19.27 PM.png

Back to the food, cuz this ain’t the shopping channel. We all ordered the same thing – the Chef’s special,  Tokyo Tonkotsu Ramen ($13.25). I was pleased how relatively quickly our bowls of came out.

Look at all these goodies! I received two fatty pieces of pork, a whole egg, green onions, kikurage and onions. The amount of ingredients in this bowl was generous and filling.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.19.35 PM.png

The thin noodles were firm, just the way I like it. The egg was creamy and poured out into the broth like thick lava. The pork practically melted on your tongue. The broth was thick, rich, and heavy. I tried not to drink too much of the broth.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 6.19.20 PM.png

Jinya would be a fun place to check out late at night. I plan to bring L here for dinner. The prices for booze is downright cheap. $5.00 for beer (Big Rock, Village Wit, Lazy Mutt Alberta Red Ale) and red and white wine (Oyster Bay Merlot/Chardonnay).

Welcome to Calgary Jinya. Fei Po gives Jinya two fat thumbs up.

JINYA Ramen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

View my food journey on Zomato!

Happy Hour · Japanese · Sushi

Goro and Gun -Happy Hour

I think one of the best bloggers, vegan bakery chefs, and photographers in Calgary is Jomama, aka Jomar of @jomamaeats. I like his photography style – his photos are clean, simple and elegant. After viewing his website,  I realized how terrible my own site looks in comparison. I contacted him and asked if I could treat him to a bowl of ramen in return for his advice. He kindly obliged to meet his #1 fan at Goro and Gun. I picked Goro and Gun because Jomar said in his blog that he wanted to try the mushroom ramen. He’s also a vegetarian, which makes it trickier to find a place where he can eat.

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 9.02.51 PM.png

When Jomar arrived he introduced himself and said, “Hi Fei Po (the name of my blog)!.”  I was taken aback because I haven’t been called fei po (at least to my face) since I lived at home with my family.  Fei po in Cantonese means “obese woman” and it is meant as an insult for overweight females.

The restaurant filled up by the time we left. Jomar mentioned that Goro and Gun gets very busy in the afternoons. I can see why. The venue is nice. Once inside, you don’t feel like you’re in a mall. Service by Katie was excellent and the happy hour prices are darn cheap. Sapporo, house wine and several appetizers go for $5.00.

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 9.02.23 PM.png

Jomar ordered the Mushroom Ramen ($15.50), which contained oyster and button mushrooms. Arugula, roasted tomatoes and spinach ramen noodles were intermingled in the vegetarian broth. I asked Jomar what he thought of his ramen. He thought the broth had good umami and it was tasty if you like mushrooms (which he does). The green noodles were chewy and the portion was filling enough for him. He noticed the broth wasn’t piping hot but he thought it was because he took so long taking photos.

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 9.02.30 PM.png

Since it was happy hour, I ordered the Tomo roll ($5), featured sashimi ($5) and Tuna Poke ($5.00). I didn’t order any beer ($5) or wine ($5) because it was 3:30 pm and I was going to hot yoga in the evening.

The Tomo roll was filled with a piece of raw salmon, tomatoes and rice, wrapped with crisp nori, a soy wrapper, then drizzled with a creamy hot sauce. I thought the roll was well-made and all the ingredients tasted fresh.

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 9.02.37 PM.png

The tuna poke was a small portion. The albacore tuna was cool on the tongue, cut into cubes. I liked the mixture of creamy avocado, seaweed, greens, seaweed salad and the sweet sesame dressing.

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 9.02.44 PM.png

The best dish was the sashimi. I received one piece of toro, two pieces of tuna, two pieces of wild salmon and a piece of ebi. The toro was delicious. The tuna was smooth. The salmon wasn’t stringy like I usually find wild salmon. The ebi was sweet and crunchy. Each piece of seafood was incredibly fresh and beautifully cut. I would come back just for the sashimi offerings.

I learned how Jomar captures such fantastic photos. He stands up and will contort his body and hands to get the best shots. Jomar was like an acrobat. He even used just one finger to press the button so his hand wouldn’t cast a shadow.

I can’t wait until Jomar opens up his vegan bakery. In the meantime, you can order his creations, like his lavender rose cake, vegan chocolate whipped cream, or his matcha cake by contacting him on his website.

 

Goro + Gun Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer

Los Cabos – Day Seven

Our direct flight back to Calgary was at noon.  L walked to Starbucks for coffee and a bagel while I made another pack of ramen noodles for my breakfast. Cabo Shuttle Services picked us at 9:15 am. While our driver Macho arrived on time, he looked hung over and cranky. His mood improved when he found out that L had visited Macho’s hometown, Mexico City. I knew my place and remained silent throughout the ride to the airport. I did make one comment and Macho looked irritated that I chimed in and interrupted them.

Some interesting tidbits I overheard, as I was not part of the conversion. Los Cabos is  pricey for locals to live, particularly when compared to other areas in Mexico, such as Puerto Vallarta or Mexico City. One reason is water. Apparently it only rains about five days a year. Water has to be imported and desalination is an expensive practice that locals pay for through municipal taxes.

Hurricanes are a cyclical issue in Cabos. Our driver pointed out a pile of rubble and said it was a run down resort that was purposely left alone, because it was common knowledge that the hurricane would eventually demolish the decrepit building. In 2014, Hurricane Odile did just that.

The current president of Mexico is heavily taxing residents, facing a series of scandals,  and is rapidly losing popularity.  I already know about the drug lord escape fiasco, but our driver also told us how he had friends that were students that were mass murdered by drug lords, and no one was happy how the president handled that crisis. Gasoline prices have sky rocketed due to crazy high taxation, which is more expensive than people pay in Texas.

We got to the airport and the whole process of checking in was  a breeze compared to my experiences at the Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Plata and Playa del Carmen airports. The duty-free store was pricey. My Don Julio was double what I paid in town. I didn’t bother buying anything. I was pleased that I already bought my souvenirs at the best price.

L has a ton of clients that we see whenever we travel. These clients get vacation the same time as L, and I can always count on bumping into them. We saw two of his clients at the duty-free shop and then they were seated right next to our table at the Corona Bar. I always have to mind my manners around them. Sigh.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.21.25 PM.png

We ordered Pacifico beers and shared some greasy fries. The ketchup was a Mexican brand and it looked like a gel. Our fries came automatically with the most disgusting cheese whiz. What annoyed me was that we never asked for cheese and it came at an extra charge.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.21.34 PM.png

On the plane I watched my new favourite show, Fresh off the Boat. I find the show hilarious though not entirely accurate. Eddie’s parents are unrealistically laid back, optimistic and there’s no talk about losing face or bringing shame to the family. The focus on grades is dead on. Also, I think these kids get way too much play time. Why aren’t they helping at the restaurant after school? It’s like they took the Brady Bunch show and incorporated aspects of it into a Chinese family.

fresh

Cabos was a pleasant escape for a week. If I can budget it, our next winter trip will be  Havana. However, right now my focus is on Japan. L and I are looking forward to our three-week trip to Kyoto and Tokyo in the spring.

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Cheap Eats · Italian · Mexican · Seafood

Los Cabos – Day Six

I woke up wanting to enjoy every second of our last full day in Cabos.  I made non-fried ramen noodles for breakfast. I usually eat Asian food for breakfast anyway, and I couldn’t stomach another Starbucks breakfast.

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 8.38.07 PM.png

L and I did our usual walk by the Marina and along the beach. Around 10:30 am I was craving a margarita from Monkey Business. Naomi’s drawing of her underwear was still up on the wall.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 7.19.38 PM.png

There was a large group of American tourists from Texas that monopolized the bar. I saw a blonde lady in her late forties grab the arm of a man and suggestively say, “Too bad your wife is here…” His expression was completely blank.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.19.57 PM.png

I was peacefully sipping away at my pineapple margarita  when I looked up and noticed a really gross advertisement for Viagra. I asked L why the elderly man’s face was so nasty. L said it was to add to the creepiness factor.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.31.35 PM.png

Before we left, I had to wait in line to use the washroom. That blonde woman I saw earlier (I’ll call her Jezebel) came up behind me and told me there was a hot guy there that looked like some actor I never heard of. Jezebel said that it was too bad he was with his wife. Her friend came out of the washroom and said it took her a long time to tee tee. I asked Jezebel what tee tee meant. She said Texans say tee tee instead of pee pee because it sounds nicer. I was surprised she cared enough to use a more polite word for urinating when she was so open about being a manizer.

L and I wanted a little snack at Burrito Surf. We walked near the outer skirts of Cab0s, which is about a ten minute walk from our Airbnb. Burrito Surf is known for their vegetarian friendly food, which is hard to find in Cabos.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.19.12 PM.png

I received a free tamarind drink for using my Yelp check-in. We shared a bowl of guacamole and one surf and turf burrito. The guacamole is made with olive oil. Personally, I think Burrito Surf serves up the best guacamole I tried all trip. The avocado was chunky and the tomatoes tasted like it was plucked from a garden. There was more guacamole than chips, always a winning ratio in my book.

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-9-18-41-pm

I liked the balance and ratio of vegetables, sauce, rice, and proteins in the burrito. The beans were firm and not mushy, like what you get from a can. However, the flank steak and shrimp were so salty. The shrimp and beef tasted like it was grilled with soy sauce. Otherwise, the burrito would have been perfect. This entire meal cost about $17.00 (CAN).

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-9-18-49-pm

We walked around for a few more hours to work up an appetite. At around 3:00pm we were off again to check out Tacos Gardenias. If you ever come to Cabos, you must come to Tacos Gardenias. This was one of best places we ate the entire week.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.20.11 PM.png

L raved about the fried fish tacos. The batter was light, crispy and not greasy. The generous piece of fish was fresh and flaky. The prices are a steal. A fish or shrimp taco is about $3.00 (CAN).

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.20.19 PM.png

The shrimp tacos were delicious, large, sweet and crunchy. The numerous condiments also tasted fresher than any other taco stand we visited.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.20.40 PM.png

I ordered the mixed seafood soup. The broth was hot and well-seasoned. Again, all the seafood tasted incredibly fresh, like it was just caught that morning. This bowl was filled with octopus, shrimp and fish. Muy bueno!

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.19.49 PM.png

We walked this meal off again and went back to our place for a siesta. I was still feeling that margarita. We watched another Netflix show and showered for our evening venture. L wanted to check out the local mall and some of the luxury shops. We spent a couple of hours walking along the marina because I knew I was going to miss the view and smell of the water.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.19.02 PM.png

Late that evening, we decided to dine at La Dolce. I had a craving for Italian food. The host took a liking to L and we got a prime spot on the patio without reservations. L ordered beer and I enjoyed a nice glass of pinot gris.

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-9-20-55-pm

L ordered fettuccine with chicken and I ordered the beef ravioli. Normally I order for both of us because L doesn’t really care or forgets what he wants by the time our server takes our order. However, I noticed throughout the trip that all our male servers found it odd that I did all the ordering. They give me a look and then look at L as to say, “Dude, you okay with this?” I also notice that when I speak to the local men (cabs, taxis, transfers, etc.) , they look like they aren’t listening to me. When L spoke to them after I attempted to talk, they were animated and would joke around.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.21.02 PM.png

L loved his pasta. I thought my homemade ravioli was even better than his dish. The ravioli filling was plump and the pasta itself was al dente. The sauce was creamy and filled with goodies, like toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms. With two beers, two glasses of wine, two mains, or entire whole dinner cost about $80.00 (CAN).

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.21.16 PM.png

For dessert, we walked over to a churro stand right next to our Airbnb. L ate churros from here the previous night. I wouldn’t eat one before because I wanted to see if L got sick first. Each churro was 50 pesos, which is a bit more than $3.00 (CAN).

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 9.21.09 PM.png

For the filling, we requested a mixture of chocolate, vanilla and caramel sauce. The filling was like hot lava, particularly at the bottom. Oh yeah – buy your water at the local grocery stores, it’s cheaper than the XOXO convenience stores. We ended the night the only way we should – by watching Back to the Future III.

Highlights of Day Six include: finding a real taco gem – Tacos Gardenias, having a delicious and romantic last meal at La Dolce, dessert at the Churro Man, and reliving my late 80’s/90’s childhood through Michael J Fox.

 

Beer · Italian · Seafood

Los Cabos – Day Five

L and I woke up on day five in Cabos wanting Starbucks again for breakfast. We are such regulars that all the baristas recognize us. My favourite breakfast is the ham and cheese croissant. Most of the hot sandwiches are slightly different from the options you get in Canada or the States. For example – the use of ricotta instead of feta, the grilled cheese sandwich, and a savoury strudel.

starbucks

That morning, we took a purple public bus to check out San Jose. As we arrived on a Thursday and leave on a Thursday, we missed out on San Jose’s popular weekly Art Walk. The bus ride took about 40 minutes.

The bus doesn’t take you directly into town. Instead, you have to get off near the highway and navigate your way over with a map.  I’ve never been to Palm Springs before but I imagine that it looks similar to San Jose. We passed by a lot of brand new American-style stores. Everyone I saw was North American and drove a car.

The town itself is pretty, peaceful and clean. Lots of flowers everywhere and quaint art galleries. I can see Canadian seniors really digging this place. From what I could see, San Jose is quieter than Cabos and sleepier. Personally, I like cities with an urban energy.  I find it far more interesting to be in Cabos, with its louder sounds, smells and hustle and bustle.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 6.37.34 PM.png

We stopped by Baja Brewing Company for beers to wait for La Lupita Taco & Mezcalto to open at 2:00pm. My boss Tread Lightly visits San Jose frequently and he recommended that I check out La Lupita. The beers at Baja are okay and a nice change from Pacifico. We sampled six different beers ($7.00).

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-6-37-45-pm

We sat in La Lupita’s outdoor patio and watched an employee make homemade tortillas. L and I both ordered Mexican craft beers ($10 CAN). My Vera Neiga was refreshing and offered a floral bouquet. My favourite beer by far.

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-7-23-33-pm

We started off with guacamole ($6 CAN) and a side of beans ($3 CAN). I’m glad we ordered something to nibble on because it took forty minutes for our tacos to come out. I didn’t mind because I could see the care and effort that went into each taco.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-8-39-30-pm

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-9-56-43-am

When the tacos finally arrived – some of them were worth the wait. I found two stones in the rib filling. I was informed it was part of an ingredient.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-8-39-36-pm

We sampled pork, rib meat, pork belly, steak, miso fish, and duck tacos ($2.50-$5.00). The best of the bunch were the duck tacos. It tasted like peking duck in a rice crepe. My least favourite were the more expensive ones – pork belly and the rib meat – both were bland.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-8-39-42-pm

L’s favourite was one of the cheapest – al pastor with pineapple. We ordered four tacos each and that made for a filling lunch. He still thinks that the best al pastor tacos are at Pancho’s Takos in Puerto Vallarta.

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-7-17-47-pm

L and I walked back to the highway and waited for our purple bus. We checked with the driver to ensure we were heading back to the Marina. We went back to our place and rested up before heading out to dinner at Los Tres Gallos, which was only a couple of blocks away from our Airbnb.

I would highly recommend reservations at Los Tres Gallos, as the restaurant is packed nightly. We arrived right at 5:00pm because we didn’t have reservations.  Even though the restaurant was empty, we were still asked if we had reservations and where our hotel was located.

The open air patio is beautiful, the trees in the courtyard are lush and old. Service was excellent – everyone was polite, friendly and professional.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-8-38-54-pm

The prices for the food are very reasonable. L and I shared the speciality appetizer of molten stringy cheese and sausage ($12 CAN). Delicious but very rich for even two people to share.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-8-38-40-pm

I wasn’t hungry so I ordered the tortilla soup ($10 CAN), which is poured into your bowl at the table. The broth wasn’t hot. There was cubed cheese and avocado and slivers of crispy tortilla. The bowl was small.  I didn’t think the soup was anything special.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-8-38-32-pm

L ordered the chicken breast mole enchiladas ($22 CAN). This dish was a winner. The sauce was rich and had a bittersweet aftertaste. The sides of rice and beans were excellent as well. If there’s only way place you could visit in Cabos, this would be it.

Just a warning – the prices for food are reasonable but the drinks are not. There also is no drink menu. For my small tamarind margarita, it cost about $14 (CAN). I could tell there was only a shot of tequila in it. L’s craft beer was $10 (CAN) and my bottle of water was $4 (CAN). If you don’t drink, this prices are a steal. If you do and are on a budget… well, maybe you pre-drink beforehand.

Day 5 highlights: Confirmation that I picked the right city (Cabos versus San Jose), and finding two of my favourite restaurants (Los Tres Gallos and La Lupita).

 

Mexican · Patio · Sushi

Los Cabos – Day Four

Well that was short-lived. I have to change Mr. Round Eyes back to boring old L. L wasn’t happy with his name change, though he got that name because he jokingly reminds me all that time that his eyes are round. I thought it would be fine to call him Mr. Round Eyes because he called himself that. L said it was racist and when I asked my boss Tread Lightly at work what he thought, he backed L up.

spinach

L and I started off our day having breakfast at Starbucks. My spinach and ricotta cheese breakfast sandwich was 69 pesos ($4 CAN) and L’s favourite breakfast – a toasted bagel with cream cheese and jam was 40 pesos ($2.66 CAN). A tall regular coffee cost 39 pesos ($2.60 CAN).

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 7.58.04 PM.pngDo you know why I loved eating breakfast here? You can flush tissue paper down the toilet. At our Airbnb, the plumbing won’t permit anything but organic material. Only a few places in Cabos had modern plumbing, such as the Puerto Parasio Mall, touristy high volume restaurants, and Wal-Mart.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 9.23.18 PM.png

After breakfast, L and I walked to The Office and Mango Deck. Both restaurants are located on the beach and are well advertised to tourists. I overheard several tourists ask the water taxi driver to take them to The Office or the Mango Deck because they thought that was the only way to get there. L figured out there are two ways – walk around Puerto Parasio Mall or stroll along the beach. Walking around the mall was a little faster (10 minutes), but I preferred to walk on the soft sand. The water is clean and refreshing as it laps up around your calves.

I didn’t bother to take L to Mango Deck, as the restaurant hosts rowdy contests for tourists and he doesn’t have any tolerance for that sort of stuff. We went to The Office instead asked for a table on the beach. A server looked around and couldn’t find an empty spot. He told us to go up the stairs. We went up to the bar and saw  a table. We asked a server if we could sit there and he informed we would get a table soon. About 10 minutes when by and L started to poke around. He found out we were suppose to put our name on the list at the back of the restaurant. He went to speak to the host who was really rude and yelled at L because his name was difficult to spell. L got pissed off and told me we were leaving.  That was fine with me. The food and drinks didn’t look appealing.

Instead, we hopped on a bus to Wal-Mart so I could buy more tequila to bring home. At the bus stop, we met a loud, know-it-all  woman and her husband. She told me her husband booked a tour for every single day of their trip and each excursion was expensive and awful. She told us she was from Edmonton. I told L that I think she’s from somewhere far worse.

The bus drivers don’t always give you back your change. It’s suppose to be 27 pesos for tourists. A local overhead me say to L that the driver wouldn’t give me my change. He said to me, “You want your change?” I nodded and he shouted at the driver to give me my money. What a nice guy.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 9.24.05 PM.png

At the strip mall, there’s a few random stores like Radio Shack, a BBQ store, an open air food court, a Japanese restaurant, Wal-Mart and my favourite store, La Europa. I couldn’t find Naomi’s tequila, but I did get Don Julio 70 for only 530 pesos. So cheap. An employee recommended an even better bottle for 1000 pesos, but I declined. Don Julio is good enough for my level of appreciation of tequila and budget.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 9.23.40 PM.png

I read good things about Koi Sushi and I wanted to eat there for lunch. The restaurant has two floors and comfortable seats. When I came in, all the servers, managers and chefs would look over and giggle at me. I was the only Asian there and I think they thought it was funny or novel. I didn’t see too many Asian tourists in Cabos. Each time I did see one, I wanted to high-five them or nod my head in recognition. I didn’t of course, because that would be weird.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 9.27.48 PM.png

L and I shared the tuna bowl and sushi combo set. The tuna tasted clean, cut into paper-thin slices. The rice was good, sticky with a nice balance of vinegar and sugar. The small bowl of rice and tuna was about $7 CAN.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 9.23.56 PM.png

The sushi combo was more substantial. The knife skills weren’t the best but the raw fish was good. The combo was only about $12 CAN. I noticed everyone else at the restaurant was ordering fantastic looking rolls. The cost for this lunch was about $20 CAN. I would have been happy to come to Koi again but L said he didn’t come to Cabos to eat sushi. Sigh.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 9.23.48 PM.png

For dinner, L wanted street tacos. I took him to El Gran Pastor, a taco stand open late at night. He ordered two al pastor tacos for 50 pesos. He had a couple of beers before and when he was eating them, he told me the tacos were awesome. When I asked him the next day, he said the tacos were good but not the best he’s ever had.

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 8.39.56 PM.png

I saw a crowd of tourists and locals eating at El Gran Pastor. There’s only one guy cooking and two other individuals taking money (cash only). There’s freshly grilled onions and a whole whack of condiments.

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 8.40.08 PM.png

If locals get tired of tourists, I can see why. When we were standing around eating, it seem every drunk tourist had to come over and command another customer (a local) to help them order. Some tipsy guy from the next door bar started shouting, “These are the best tacos of my life”. I thought that was funny.

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 8.40.02 PM.png

On the way home, I noticed there is a chain of strip clubs called Show Girls. An employee hollered at L to come inside. L pointed to me, made a face,  and shook his head. The guy laughed and each subsequent night we would walk past to get to our studio room, the employee would recognize L and heckle him.

Highlights of Day Four: Walking on the beach, finding cheap Don Julio 70, and watching Back to the Future II at the end of the night.

 

Mexican · Patio · Seafood

Los Cabos – Day Three

L was in the mood for some Mexican food for breakfast. We picked Mamas Royal Cafe based on Yelp reviews. The restaurant looked like it would be a good place for breakfast. The interior was charming – particularly the wall of ivy plants and the colourful table and decorations. I noticed there was a picture of a gorilla sipping coffee on the wall. There was a cartoon bubble that showed the gorilla thinking “barbarians” and the image of tourists in the background. Mama, tell me what you really think!

Mama Royale.jpg

We ordered coffee (40 pesos), which came in tiny little cups. After I drank my thimble of coffee I politely asked for a refill. The server looked me up and down and reluctantly refilled my cup. No offense, but this liquid was not so precious that I should be begrudged a refill.

ivy-wall

L ordered the breakfast fajita filled with scrambled eggs and sausage and I ordered Huevos Divorciados. I liked L’s dish more than my own.

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-9-12-18-pm

My eggs were runny. I asked for medium and the egg yolk came out undercooked. The beans weren’t anything special and the flavour of everything was bland. Each dish was around 120 pesos and our entire meal with tip was under $24.00 CAD. I got a bad tummy ache after eating here. I didn’t get d as a result, just a queasiness in my stomach.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 9.12.09 PM.png

We walked around the city after breakfast. The downtown core consists of maybe 6 blocks. We covered the entire area in less than three hours, including visits to the art galleries and checking out the menus of all the restaurants I recognized from my online stalking.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 9.28.56 PM.png

What I found most interesting was observing lots in prime locations with unfinished developments. One looked looked like it ran out of money after building the foundation and another that looked like it was destroyed by the hurricane and neglected ever since.Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 9.29.08 PM.png

By lunch time, L and I were feeling peckish. We decided to walk back to the Marina to Captain Tony’s. With a name like that, I wasn’t expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised.

making-guacWe ordered guacamole and two ice-cold Pacificos. The guacamole was better than Anejo in Calgary, and cheaper too. This filling snack plus gorgeous view cost $15.00 Canadian, including tip.

guac

We people-watched while the tourists strolling by would in turn watch us. I wanted to lightly heckle them or at least tell them to come in for beers, but I knew L would be displeased. He hates it when I  make random conversation with strangers when I’m drinking. For the record, at this point I only had one beer (on an empty stomach).

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-7-24-19-pm

For our New Year’s Eve dinner, I suggested we get off the touristy area and get some real Mexican food. I picked Mariscos Las Tres Islas. I ordered a margarita, which was pretty bad. The flavour was one-dimensional and it lacked a freshness to it.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-7-52-12-pm

I ordered based on what I saw the locals eating: fresh oysters, ceviche and fried shrimp. The oysters were large, warm and briny. I prefer my oysters chilled.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-7-52-00-pm

I meant to order ceviche but I accidentally ordered the mixed seafood cocktail. The sauce was sweet and heavy. There was plenty of octopus, marlin, shrimp and sweet scallops.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-7-51-53-pm

My fried shrimp was delicious. Large, crunchy and sweet. The batter was fine, like breadcrumbs. The rice didn’t look like it would taste good, but it was flavourful.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-8-03-44-pm

L, who I will hereby call Mr. Round Eyes, thought his fish tacos were greasy and flavourless. He also didn’t like that there were no condiments to dress his fish tacos. He was disappointed with this restaurant. The total cost for this supper was about $55.00 Canadian.

After dinner, we walked around some more. I didn’t feel like drinking so we came home early to watch Back to the Future. What a classic. Marty and Doc are so likeable, even though their characters are underdeveloped.

bttf

Highlights of Day Three: Theorizing on the urban ruins in downtown Cabos, changing L’s name to Mr. Round Eyes, and watching Back to the Future.

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Mexican · Pizza · Seafood

Los Cabos – Day Two

upstairs patio.jpg

L and I woke up not wanting a heavy breakfast. We opted for breakfast at Starbucks by the Marina. The second floor is much more tranquil  on the first floor, which is packed with tourists. The outdoor patio affords a view of El Squid Roe. L didn’t want to venture inside any of the clubs. I didn’t push him because the music blaring from each bar was too obnoxious for even me to enjoy.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 7.50.07 PM.png

My friend Asian Persuasion told me that her friends almost got shot at El Squid Roe. I asked her what happened when I return to work. She said that some of her friends look and act gangsta. I asked her to elaborate. “You know, some are Asian and Spanish with tattoos and they walk around like are like ‘Brap, brap'”. Asian Persuasion gestured her arms in a short jerky wave. I asked her what “Brap brap” meant.  She said that’s the sound of guns going off and her arm gestures were that of pumping a gun in each hand. Apparently her friends were loud and a local man gave them a dirty look and her friend said, “What the fuck you looking at man?” The guy pulled his shirt back to show a gun. Asian Persuasion screamed at her friends that they were going to get shot and they ran out to the bar next door. She has the best stories.

marina.jpg

L and I walked over to the Marina after breakfast. Every few steps someone would try to sell us a tour, jewelry or Romeo and Juliet cigars (most likely fake). The guy would always start off by saying, “Cigars?” Then when L would shake his head, the guy would whisper, “Weed? Blow?”. I can’t believe how easy it is to get drugs in Cabos.

dips

For lunch, we picked Los Claros. The restaurant was filled with tourists and locals. The place was very clean and the staff were friendly and efficient. We sat in the outdoor section.

On Yelp, reviewers commented on the freshness of the seafood tacos and ceviche. The ceviche was awesome, the vegetables of cucumber, tomatoes and onions were crisp and the seafood medley of shrimp and octopus was fresh and light. I would order this again. This dish cost about six bucks (CAN).

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 7.40.33 PM.png

Man, there are a lot of condiments and toppings for our tacos. There was a tray full of fried onions and hot peppers too. I counted about 15 choices.

dip tray.jpg

I ordered one grilled fish, one scallop and one grilled shrimp taco. The scallop taco was the most disappointing, the tiny sized scallops were rubbery. L ordered a fried fish, fried shrimp and one meat taco.  Each taco was between $2.50-$3.00 Canadian.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 7.40.20 PM.png

L and I enjoyed the food here. We planned to come again but there were so many options we didn’t end up eating anywhere twice.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 7.40.11 PM.png

After lunch L and I headed back for a siesta. Naomi and her sister wanted to meet us at the Rooftop At the Cape, Thompson Hotel. Whoot! I was game. We ended up paying 20 US to take a cab to the hotel, which I thought was a major rip off. I asked three taxis and they all quoted the same price. I found out later that my friend Naomi only paid $14 Canadian.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 7.41.06 PM.png

L and I arrived at 7:00 pm and we had to sit in the lounge area because when I went to the rooftop, the hostess said we couldn’t stay there unless we had reservations for the pre New Year’s Eve party. L and I sat downstairs and waited for Naomi and her sister to show up. L drank Pacificos ($10 US) while I drank a wicked cocktail ($16 US) and some average bubbles ($10 US).

view patio.jpg

Naomi and her sister arrived and went upstairs to talk to the hostess. She told Naomi the same thing but then changed her mind and said maybe we could sit there for an hour. We came upstairs and I overheard the supervisor tell her to give us seats. The entire upstairs was dead until 9:30pm.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.50.54 PM.png

There was a band playing that L hated. He said it was soft rock at its worst. I didn’t mind – the music just blended into the background. Naomi was more impressed with the Rooftop At the Cape in Playa del Carmen than the one in Cabos. L didn’t enjoy this place so much but he doesn’t like pretentious places. I do and I enjoyed the experience. The cocktails were top-notch and the view of the sunset was gorgeous. We also saw the actor from the 70’s Show, Danny Masterson with his wife.

losers

We wanted to get a bite to eat so we all headed back to the downtown core. Naomi insisted on treating us to dinner. I picked Da Vinci because 1) prices were reasonable 2) vegetarian friendly 3) no one would get sick 4) Naomi could get a cab easily after dinner.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.59.04 PM.png

We shared two pizzas (180-240 pesos), which was plenty of food for the four of us. The pizza wasn’t anything special. If you ever check this place out, pick the pastas which looked much better.  I ordered a glass of red which tasted off to me. I asked for a glass of pinot gris instead. I could tell the server didn’t think the wine was bad,  he started to protest, then stopped and walked over to the bartender to get me another glass.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 8.58.49 PM.png

Unfortunately, this was Naomi’s last night. She was already in Cabos for a week and stayed at RIU Sante Fe ($2,100 all-inclusive). Naomi mentioned she went on a tour and it was awful and a complete rip-off. She and her sister spent $100 US each to get shuttled to stores to taste tequila, watch glass being blown, and went for a short water taxi ride. She told me she bought Espada Azteca Tequila for $100 on the tour. I bet her that I could find it for cheaper. She told me to not bother and to visit her soon in Vancouver, so we could try it.

tequila.jpg

Highlights of Day Two include: Enjoying the view and killer cocktails at The Cape, hanging out with Naomi and ceviche at Los Claros.

 

Mexican

Los Cabos – Day One

My husband L and I usually go somewhere hot and cheap for a week in the winter. Since we can only travel in the high season, I try to save wherever I can. I have a Westjet credit card, which meant my husband’s airfare, using my companion pass, was only $299 plus taxes. I booked a room through Airbnb, a one bedroom in the heart of downtown Cabo for about $70 a night including taxes and the service fees. For transportation, I paid about $160 CAN roundtrip with Cabo Shuttle Service, which included a drop-off to a grocery store.

don-julio-anejo

We landed and ignored the timeshare people as instructed by Cabo Shuttle Company. We found our driver easily, as he was carrying the sign of his company. We guzzled down two cold Coronas each in our Suburban ride, making a pit stop at Walmart for limes and water, then to La Europa for tequila and beers. I saw online that La Europa sold my favourite champagne, Piper-Heidsieck for only 550 pesos, which is roughly $35 Canadian, a steal considering it costs me about $60 in Calgary. Unfortunately, there was no Piper-Heidsieck in stock. Instead I bought ice-cold Pacificos for about $1.10 Canadian and Don Julio Anejo for $33, which goes for about $68 at my local Highlander.

free toppings.jpg

After we settled into our new digs, we went searching for tacos. A popular place near our accommodations is Tacos Guss. Yelpers raved about the homemade tortillas and the large selection of fresh toppings.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 5.30.34 PM.png

I could really taste the difference eating homemade corn tortillas, which were hot, crisper and thinner than the store-bought ones. We ordered two al pastor (pork) two arrachera (skirt steak) and one asada (beef). The skirt steak tacos were my favourite. Mouth-watering, the delicious tender meat was smoky and flavourful. I didn’t get to try the asada because L accidentally ate it.

Guss.jpgL didn’t care for Tacos Gus pastor (pork) tacos, as he found the meat dry. There was only one server and he forgot to bring us our beers (twice), as well as our tray of condiments and napkins. When I went to pay, I had to ask for the cashier to take our beers off our bill, as we never received them. I would come back for the steak skirt tacos. Tacos cost between $2.00 – 3.00 Canadian.

tacos-guss-3

We met my friend Naomi and her sister at Monkey Business. Monkey Business is a small open air bar, located next to a shopping centre full of kiosks. It’s not fancy but the quality in the booze here shines. Free wi-fi is available.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 5.31.01 PM.png

I would estimate about two full shots of tequila are put in each margarita. Monkey Business uses fresh fruit juices and herbs for their drinks. You can watch and see how much time and care is put into each drink. My favourite drink was pineapple on the rocks, with a request of “less sweet, more booze than juice”. The margaritas are about $9.00 Canadian.

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-5-30-44-pm

Our bartender gave me some coloured felts and a pin. I didn’t understand why we were given these until L snickered and pointed up to the ceiling. L said, “He wants you to put your underwear on the ceiling”. I responded to our bartender, “But I’m not wearing any!” I could feel L cringe with embarrassment (for the record, I was wearing an undergarment).

underwear.jpg

Naomi asked for a napkin and provided her contribution. I made a dirty joke (quietly of course) and her sister thought I said, “I wonder if the underwear will fall on your head.” Naomi shook her head and said, “I don’t know what HittingtheSauce said, but I know it wasn’t that. She would say something much more gross.” Naomi knows me well.

underwear

At this time, we were all ready to eat. I asked our bartender Christian where we should go to eat. He drew L a map and wrote “Four free margaritas” on it. He said the prices were reasonable, locals ate there and there would be options for vegetarians.

lights

Misiones De Kino is a nice restaurant, with an open air patio. We got our free margaritas too, and there was plenty of tequila in it. Naomi and her sister shared the vegetarian fajitas and guacamole. The selection of vegetables for her fajitas looked limited.

meal.jpgL thought his fish tacos were fine. I thought it was interesting that the salsa and guacamole were served in empty avocado shells. The beans were placed in a potato shaped tin foil.

fish tacos.jpgI ordered Fettucine with Scallops (230 pesos) in Misiones de Kino’s special cream sauce. The scallops were plentiful, plump and perfectly cooked. I could not believe the number of fat scallops that were on my plate. The pasta itself could have been a bit more al dente.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 5.30.54 PM.png

Day one in Los Cabos done. Highlights included finding  Don Julio tequila for cheap and seeing my buddy Naomi, and making a dirty joke in public.

misones-kino

Japanese

Roku Japanese Restaurant- Bday Lunch

Asian Persuasion is turning 31! Ah, I remember the good old days when she was a mere 29 years old. To celebrate her birthday, I booked a reservation at Roku. If you’ve read the reviews on Yelp and Zomato and seen the fan fare on Instagram, you’ll know that there is a big foodie following for Roku, more so than my favourite Japanese restaurant in Calgary, Zipang. This visit was my second time at Roku. I picked Roku because Asian Persuasion loved Zipang but she wanted to go somewhere new.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 5.06.45 PM.png

What’s Up Hamsup protested because I picked a restaurant so far from work. He said I was exhibiting white privilege behaviour as I was married to L. I’m not sure if white privilege can be transferred by right of marriage or how picking a place that is out of the way can constitute such a claim, but I decided it was best to just not go there with him. Duly noted sir, for next time – restaurant should be within 10 minutes of the office.

Being the man that he is, What’s Up insisted he didn’t need to use his GPS (which I kept accidentally calling a UPS) to find Roku. Asian Persuasion told What’s Up to go to Sonia’s house, their mutual friend, but I guess he didn’t listen or forgot where Sonia use to live. We ended up in Rocky Ridge, passing Royal Oak by 10 minutes.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 5.06.08 PM.png

We finally got to Roku, which is situated in a maze-like strip mall. We ordered green tea ($2.00 per person) to drink. Office Dad ordered the sashimi and chicken karrage lunch combo ($15.00), which came with miso soup, a salad, a bowl of rice and a small scoop of potato salad. He asked our server at least four times how to pronounce karrage (KAH-rah-AH-ge). Āiyā (translation -tsk tsk) Office Dad – let us order our food!

Asian Persuasian ordered the sashimi and tempura lunch combo ($15.00). Asian Persuasion thought the sashimi at Zipang tasted a bit fresher. Office Dad concurred.

What’s Up ordered beef teriyaki and sushi lunch combo ($15.00). He liked the California roll, which he claimed tasted like there was plenty mayonnaise. His bowl of rice came too late, after he had already finished his beef.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 5.06.18 PM.png

I enjoyed my pick – the sashimi and sushi plate ($17.00). This combo doesn’t come with rice but I did get a bland salad and a hot, richly flavoured bowl of miso soup. The nigiri was well-made and the raw fish was cool in temperature and a generous cut. The rice was nicely seasoned, sticky and perfectly cooked.

Screen Shot 2016-12-26 at 5.05.53 PM.png

What’s Up and Office Dad thought the cooked food was good. The prices are reasonable and the portion sizes won’t leave you hungry at the end of the meal. If you’re in the hood, this is a solid place for Japanese food.

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

View my food journey on Zomato!

Special Occasion

Seasons of Bowness Park

Veggie Girl’s parents were in town. She invited my in-laws for brunch at Seasons of Bowness Park. I was game. My boss Tread Lightly has been after me to blog about the restaurants in Bowness for ages. My photos from this meal don’t do the views from Bowness Park justice. You know who is a talented photographer? Jomameeats. You should check his Instagram account here @Jomamaeats as well his food blog.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-6-07-21-pm

I read the reviews on Yelp and Zomato on Seasons and here’s my take on value for food. If you want large portions and a cheap price, you won’t like this restaurant. This is the sort of place you can take guests and have a leisurely meal and absorb the scenery. If I want a cheap meal, I’ll head to Forest Lawn, where there are a plethora of amazing hole in the wall spots.

When I visited, the view of the frozen lagoon sets the mood for an enjoyable holiday meal. The prices for brunch are quite a bit less than dinner. Most brunch and lunch items were around the $16.00 mark while entrees for dinner were $30 and up.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-6-07-33-pm

Everyone except for my mother-in-law ordered several beers and caesars. I enjoyed a cup of strong coffee from our communal carafe of coffee. The coffee was so good, I didn’t need to add any sugar.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-6-07-39-pm

Seasons is also kid-friendly. Jackman was warmly welcomed by the servers and there was a high chair available for him. Jackman’s hair isn’t normally parted like this – this was Uncle Ben’s doing.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-6-07-46-pm

Most of my in-laws ordered the burger with fries ($16). The burger itself was on the small side, but it was very tasty and made with local beef and organic vegetables. The fries were good – crispy and hot.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-6-08-09-pm

Veggie Girl ordered the Vegetarian Masala ($16), which came with two thin pieces of naan bread. The presentation was lovely. I asked her if she liked it – she said yes but didn’t offer to let me try it for the blog. Thanks a lot Veggie Girl.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-6-07-53-pm

This was my dish – Chicken Pot Pie ($16). A square bowl was filled with large pieces of tender, free-range chicken and organic vegetables. My husband wished he ordered this instead of the burger. Lucky for him, I saved more than half of the pie for him to eat later that day when I was out. This dish is a winner.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-6-08-04-pm

The carrots were a dark orange, flavourful and still had that farm fresh crispness to it. The sauce was amazing – my brother-in-law Dave thought he could detect white wine. I would recommend that you ask for a spoon, so you get every drop of the sauce. The puff pastry was soft and pillowy.

screen-shot-2016-12-19-at-6-08-15-pm

My mother-in-law ordered the Eggs Benny ($16). The egg yolks were a bright molten orange. She said the potatoes were scrumptious.

Service was friendly and geninue. I know my mother would enjoy the service at Seasons and my father would like the view and food. I like Seasons and would return again for a special occasion to celebrate with family and friends.

Seasons of Bowness Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

View my food journey on Zomato!

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Comfort food

Tang’s Dynasty

Office Dad and I wanted something hot and soupy for lunch. He informed me that Tang’s Dynasty has new owners and the lamb dishes are great value. Tang’s serves up northern Chinese food, which is different from southern Chinese, the latter being the stuff I grew up on. Northern cuisine focuses on wheat noodles, dumplings, mutton and uses cumin and hot oily spices.

unnamed

Office Dad got a real kick out of the touch system. If you want water, service, or the bill, you press one of the options. He wondered if it worked and wanted to try it out. I told him not to fool around with the gadget if he didn’t need our server. He punched in the water button and I could hear a loud ringing sound from the kitchen. I shook my head disapprovingly as he giggled and pressed the cancel button. Too late, our server came out. She said the touch system comes in handy when it gets busy. I bet the system is a nuisance when mischievous customers are fooling around.

Screen Shot 2016-12-17 at 4.09.39 PM.png

I asked Office Dad to request our food with no cilantro but he forgot. He picked out most of the noxious herb and complained that all his broth consisted of was cilantro. The Lamb Noodle Soup ($13.99) was a massive portion, big enough for two hungry people. I like the stripes of tofu and the addition of black fungus. The lamb was halal and it was tender.

close-up

The noodles are hand pulled came in long, flat wide ribbons. The noodles were soft and chewy. The flavouring of the soup was mild. I prefer to spice it up with the red oil available on the table.

close-up-again

Office Dad also ordered one lamb skewer ($3.00). Cumin was rubbed all over the thin pieces of meat. The exterior was dry and the lamb itself was juicy.

lamb

New Tang Dynasty is a welcome addition to Chinatown. Note that the restaurant gets busy at lunch and it is open for dinner in the evenings. I’ll be back to try New Tang Dynasty’s cold noodles, dumplings, pork burgers, and hot and sour soup.

New Tang Dynasty Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

View my food journey on Zomato!

Chain Restaurants · Cheap Eats · Fast Food · Japanese

TD Food Court – Koya Japan

I’m not one for food courts. However, I was conducting an investigation during my lunch hour. I was on a mission to find my left snow boot that I lost the previous night. I emailed Calgary Transit to see if anyone found my boot. I also went back  to Hy’s Steakhouse, the last place I saw both my boots.

shoes

I’m sad to say the hostess didn’t find anything in the lost and found room. Dejected, I was too tired to walk to Chinatown for a bowl of noodles. Also, without my warm winter boots, I didn’t want to walk anywhere in the freezing cold. I remembered reading Miso_Hangry’s post on Zomato about the beef brisket at Koya Japan, which was upstairs in the food court.

noodles

I ordered the Beef Brisket Noodle Soup ($8.39). The cashier asked if I wanted it spicy. I said yes, so she added an additional 50 cents to my bill. I told her I changed my mind and I didn’t want my soup spicy. I have to save where I can to buy my new winter boots! She didn’t even blink an eye and removed the additional charge. I bet she is use to serving cheapies like me at the mall. Note cilantro haters, that you have to request NO cilantro. Even though I asked for no cilantro, I still got a couple of pieces.

SOUp.jpg

You know what? For $8.81 (with GST), the beef brisket noodle soup was pretty good. My plastic bowl was filled with a generous heaping of slippery noodles and sprouts. The broth was piping hot, though a little too salty. The brisket was tasty and I liked the addition of daikon, carrots, and onions.

Koya Japan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Steakhouse

Hy’s Steakhouse – Happy Hour

My colleagues wanted to get together after work for the holiday season. I suggested Hy’s as I’ve been wanting to try their happy hour menu for months. What’s the big dealio? Bubbles are 40% off, select wines for $8.00 and featured cocktails are 50% off. There’s also a tasty list of specially priced food, including one of the best steak sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Also note that now until Christmas, you can drop off a Christmas toy for The Magic of Christmas, a charity that gives toys to children in need.

Manhattan.jpg

I started with a Manhattan (2.5 oz, hh $7.50, regular $15.00). I savoured each chilled sip. This was a perfectly balanced martini, a blend of Jim Beam Black bourbon, Cinzano rosso, and Angostura bitters.

bubbles

I also indulged in two flutes of Domaine Chandon, Blanc de Noir,
Champagne Blend California NV (hh $8.00, regular $16.00). Oh my goodness. I loved these bubbles, which went straight to my head. My co-worker Patricia agreed, preferring the Domaine Chandon over the prosecco offered by the glass.

fish tacos.jpg

Marvelous Mary ordered the fish tacos (hh, $13). She thought the tacos were juicy, spicy and conveniently bite-sized.

sliders

Our legal representative that night opted for the Beef Sliders (hh, $5.oo each) plus a side of fries. Legal thought the sliders had lots of flavor and she loved the dressing on the bun.

bruger-heaven

My friend Cindy loves a good burger, so she opted for the Prime Beef Burger (hh, $13.99). She added bacon, mushrooms, and chose a Caesar salad for her side. Everyone at our office except for me is sick, otherwise I would have tried to snag a bite of her burger. She said she was in burger heaven.

fries.jpg

I wished I order the fries myself. These were soft and pillowy on the inside, and crunchy munchy golden brown on the outside. Lightly salted, steaming hot, I could eat a huge pile of fries. I sneaked a few whenever Legal wasn’t looking. She’s skinny, so I figured I was doing her a favour, doing my part to keep her slim.

steak sandwich.jpg

Here’s what I ordered – a New York Steak Sandwich (hh $20, regular $29). I ordered my steak medium rare and it came as requested. The steak was so tender, I barely needed to use a knife. The flavor was phenomenal, my steak was squirting with the richness of its own juices. I ordered the baked potato, which was massive and generously topped with scoops of sour cream, bacon and chives. This was the best steak I’ve eaten. I want to come back to try the featured steaks for dinner (e.g. Neptune, Filet Mignon, Oscar).

hello-kitty

My colleagues each brought a kid’s gift for each other to open and then donate to The Magic of Christmas at Hy’s. Some gifts were ethnically charged. Jen, always one to get politically incorrect, bought Asian Persuasion Hello Kitty themed gifts. I bought Marvelous Mary a Monopoly game because I could picture her and her family playing the game (I stalk her family on Facebook). I didn’t get a gift to open because co-worker Meagan who picked my name didn’t show up. This happens to me every year I participate in Secret Santa. It’s okay, I’m use to the disappointment.

ctrain

When the bill came, I realized I left my wallet at work. Yikes, I ain’t no scrub! Enter appropriate music here. I booted it back to my office via CTrain and returned in time to pay and get a group photo in front of Hy’s Christmas tree. In my happy stupor, I lost my winter boot somewhere, somehow between the restaurant, Foreign Concept’s grand opening and my time on the Ctrain. I don’t know what I’m going to do with only one boot! Door stopper?

shoes.jpg

Hy’s awesome happy hour is no secret. The entire lounge was filled with customers popping bottles and chomping on those delicious sliders, steak sandwiches and oysters. I like this place so much, I’m giving Hy’s two fat thumbs up and putting it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. I can see why Hy’s gets such high ratings on Yelp. Service was excellent and the food was superb.  I’m keen to come again, perhaps on my birthday in January. If you want an experience and are willing to splurge, you need to check out Hy’s Steakhouse now. If you’re frugal (like me) but still want to see what the big dealio is about Hy’s, come by for happy hour. You won’t be disappointed.

20161215_184521_resized.jpg

Hy's Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
View my food journey on Zomato!

Vegetarian

The Meal Tree

The VP of Community Engagement at The Meal Tree, Landon Kennedy, contacted me and asked if I would like a complimentary meal delivered to my home. Hell yeah! On a -20 Sunday night, a vegetarian dish of Pesto Squash was dropped off at my house.

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-6-57-50-pm

You can see how cold it was outside from the container. I had to leave immediately after Landon brought my dish,  as I had plans to watch the Walking Dead mid-season finale. So on Monday night, I took my meal out of the fridge to eat for dinner.

If you really care about what you eat, you’ll love the nutritional information posted on each container. When do you have to eat this by? How many calories, carbs, protein and fat are in it? Well, I just happen to know the answers.

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-6-57-09-pm

I’m suppose to eat this by December 15, 2016. Ingredients include; winter squash, tomato, bell pepper, almonds, spinach, pesto pine nuts, and lemon. Calories: 444, Carbs (g) 41, Protein (g) (12), and Fat (g) 29.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting me, you’ll know I don’t care about nutrition or calories. At least, not enough to make me eat healthier. I care about taste and price. This dish was killer good.

I can honestly say that I was surprised that I really enjoyed the pesto squash because it was vegetarian and healthy. I also forgot to read the instructions which said to heat up the food, so I ate it cold, straight from the fridge.

The pesto squash so packed with flavour. The squash was light and refreshing. The almonds, yellow and red peppers added a crunchy element. I loved the rich creamy pesto taste, which was in every bite. I felt full and totally satisfied.

What I liked about this meal was the combination and ingredients isn’t something I would normally prepare at home for myself. In January, after I finish with this deliciously gluttonous month of champagne, late night drunk eating, and a week of tequila and tacos in Cabos, I will have to clean up my act.  I plan to order some meals from The Meal Tree. For your first week, new customers can get 10% off. For one week of meals, prices start at $82.00. Check it out. Fei Po gives The Meal Tree two fat thumbs up.

 

The Meal Tree Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Comfort food · Curry · Japanese

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 a quiet restaurant,  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.

Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 5.29.17 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 5.28.59 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 5.28.29 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 5.28.37 PM.png

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.

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-5-28-52-pm

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.

Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 5.28.45 PM.png

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 the Okonomi-Katsu ($15.90). Though I nitpicked 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

View my food journey on Zomato!

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Burgers · Chain Restaurants · Comfort food · Sandwiches

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 9.01.22 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 9.01.36 PM.png

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-01-29-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-02-04-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-02-12-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-01-43-pm

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).

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-9-01-50-pm

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

View my food journey on Zomato!

Brunch

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.

mary.jpg

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.

srhim.jpg

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.

sushi.jpg

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.

Rav.jpg

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

Italian · Pizza

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 8.28.54 PM.png

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).

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 8.28.47 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 8.29.15 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 8.29.08 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 8.29.02 PM.png

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

Sandwiches

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.

intero.jpg

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.

length.jpg

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.

closeup.jpg

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

Beer · French · Happy Hour · Seafood · Steakhouse

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!

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-2-30-59-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-2-30-42-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-2-31-19-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-2-31-11-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-2-30-31-pm

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

Chinese · Dim Sum

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 5.39.52 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 5.39.45 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 5.39.37 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 5.39.29 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 5.39.22 PM.png

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

Screen Shot 2016-11-10 at 5.39.14 PM.png

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

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-5-39-06-pm

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

View my food journey on Zomato!

Japanese

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 6.32.43 PM.png

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-6-32-43-pm

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 6.32.52 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 6.33.19 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 6.32.58 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 6.33.11 PM.png

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

Special Occasion

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.

Ghost speaker.jpg

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.

fun-table

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.

soup.jpg

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.

beef

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.

dessert.jpg

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.

 

View my food journey on Zomato!

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

Bars/Lounges · Italian

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 5.29.09 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 5.28.54 PM.png

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-5-29-01-pm

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 5.29.15 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 5.29.22 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 5.29.29 PM.png

 

View my food journey on Zomato!

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

Bakery · Restaurants

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.

unnamed

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.

View my food journey on Zomato!

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

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Burgers · Chain Restaurants · Cheap Eats · Happy Hour · Pubs

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 5.35.00 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 5.34.53 PM.png

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.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-5-34-44-pm

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 5.34.32 PM.png

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…

View my food journey on Zomato!

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

Desserts · Italian · Seafood · Special Occasion

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-29 at 7.57.26 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-29 at 7.57.18 AM.png

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.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-7-57-11-am

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-29 at 7.57.03 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-29 at 7.56.46 AM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-29 at 7.56.56 AM.png

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.

View my food journey on Zomato!

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

Beer · Patio · Pubs · Sandwiches

Wild Rose Brewery – Birthday Bash

Bday.jpg

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.

beer.jpg

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.

half burger.jpg

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.

dave.jpg

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.

View my food journey on Zomato!

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

Restaurants

Tsukiji Fish Market Blueprint

My husband I will be spending most of our three weeks in Tokyo. He will be working and I’ll be playing. Some of the places we are visiting include: factories, businesses, museums and universities. I asked L if we would be visiting the University of Tokyo. He asked me why. I didn’t want to tell him but he kept bugging me so I finally answered that I read the University of Tokyo has a wicked cafeteria. Apparently, cafeterias operate on a non-profit basis. Let me tell you that if I went to school there, the cafeteria would experience significant financial losses. Check out that dish below! As per usual, I’ve been stealing the photos of the world-wide web and not crediting a single soul.

University-cafeteria-toyodaigaku-1.jpg

I may skipped a couple of classes to check out Tsukiji Fish Market on my own. I don’t have any interest in waking up early to watch the live tuna auctions. Instead, I’m pondering if I should bother to wait in line at 3:00 in the morning for a sushi breakfast at Sushi Dai.

tuna.jpg

Likely, I’ll have to stay up all night and walk to the market, as the trains stop at 1:00 a.m. One of the students coming along have offered to join me, knowing that it will be about 3-4.5 hour wait. I might venture on my own because I’ve read you can get in faster dining solo and I can’t carry a conversation for that long so early in the morning. The sushi at Dai is supposed to amazing and a steal at $40.00 (US) for the omakase (chef’s special). There are only 13 seats in the restaurant. My favourite blog posting on Sushi Dai is by David Murray.

Sushi Dai.jpg

Right next door to Sushi Dai is Daiwa Sushi, owned by the son of the owner of Sushi Dai. The wait isn’t nearly as long but I’ve read some of the seafood and the sushi rice is inferior to Sushi Dai. The restaurant is twice as big as Dai but you are served at a faster pace. I found a good summary of the two restaurants written by key2 on Reddit. To not confuse the two restaurants, I’ll remember that Dai has the longer line and the sign has three big characters and then smaller ones on the side. Daiwa Sushi has two big characters and little ones on both sides.

Sushi Daiwa.jpg

I would like to go to both restaurants. For a down and dirty comparison of Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi, check out Rubish Eat Rubish Grow. L said you can get sushi just as good and better elsewhere in the city but those places start at $110 US per person and up. L said his time is worth more than the savings at Sushi Dai. I estimate that each hour you waste costs about $17.50 US ($70/4 hours, based on average price $110-40=70). So yes, if you are waiting four hours, your meal cost including labour ends up at $110 and more if you make more than that per hour.

24 hour.jpg

There are several other vendors and restaurants that serve up food fresh from the fish auction. Some are even 24 hours, like Sushizanmai Tsukiji Ekiame. The tuna sampler below is a popular dish and it costs about $30.00 US.

tuna plate.jpg

In the alleyways of the fish market, there’s a stall called Tsukiji Itadori Uogashi Senryo that sells chirashi for $30+ (US). What looks unique to me is the “3-way” seafood rice. Naughty!

3way.jpg

You are supposed to take one-third of the mix and eat it normally, with wasabi and soy sauce. The second step is to mix it with uni and eat the second third-size portion. Finally, the remainder is served as soup by adding hot water to the dish.  Seems like a lot of work, but damn, isn’t that a beautiful bowl of goodies?

rice bowl damn soup.jpg

Another place that I will try is Nakaya. There are only 12 seats and there is usually a line-up. Apparently the owner operates a seafood wholesaler inside the market, which means the seafood is fresh. Nakya is located in building 8, three blocks from Sushi Dai.

Nak.jpg

The chirashi bowls range from around 1, 500 up to over 2,000 (Yen), which is about $20-25 Canadian. Each bowl comes with tea, pickled vegetables and miso soup. I want to get uni, tuna and ikura.

Nak1.jpg

I also plan to visit Tsukiji Dontaku for the scallops, raw shrimp, red tuna and toro. The chirashi and sets include tea and miso soup. Prices for a bowl or set is about 2,000 yen ($25 Canadian).

tuna bowl scallop.jpg

Tsukiji Dontaku sounds like an efficient, bare bones place to get some fresh seafood. Definitely a good option if it’s around 12:00 p.m., which is way too late to line-up at Sushi Dai or Daiwa Sushi. I’ll remember this place because the second character on the sign is large and looks like tik tai toe with an O in the middle.

outside.jpg

There’s a chain restaurant by the fish market called Sushizanmai Honten. This place is  popular with tourists because the employees speak English and I’m guessing there is a menu written in English as well. The food looks great and the prices are reasonable, but I don’t plan on checking out this particular location.

English sign.jpgI have nothing against chain restaurants, particularly the ones in Japan. But hello, “Earth to Brint“, there’s more to life than chain restaurants at the Tskijii Fish Market! For example, Yamazaki.

Good one.jpgYamakazi is located between Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa. Look for the black awning, blue curtains and the last two characters that remind me of the letter C with stuff squiggled on top.

Afonso.jpg

Yamazaki is on the pricier side of all the places I listed at the market. I’m estimating a meal would cost me around 4,000, which is $48 Canadian. The picture above is one of the restaurant’s star dishes – Alfonsino. I had no idea what “alfonsino” was, but I found a description from a blogger that ate at Yamazaki. Alfonsino is seared fish that has a smokey taste and zest from yozu. You can also order live shrimp and the chefs will kill it right before you eat it.

As usual, if you have any experiences or recommend a place to check out in Tsukiji fish market let me know. However, if the past is any predictor of future behaviour, no one will bother to post any comments on my blog. Peace out.