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Archive for August, 2016

Restaurant Review: Raj Palace

Location: 3117-8650 112 Ave NW
Website: http://www.rajpalace.ca/

Considering the number of times we’re in Royal Oak at the Chinese restaurant (Empress Palace Restaurant), the Crock-A-Doodle (with Julia), the Wal-Mart, Smashburger, and Little Caesars, you’d think I would have come here at least once considering how much I love East Indian food. But alas, today we finally got to try this place out. Typically, for lunch, Indian restaurants opt to have a buffet and reserve the a la carte stuff for dinner. However, this was not the case for Raj Palace. At Raj Palace they have lunch specials that vary in price depending on the type of protein you choose to go with. In terms of price, this is probably the most economical way to go because each lunch special comes with rice and naan. However, having to stick to just one dish is kinda boring and I, unlike some others I know, like to mix things up instead of just eating one item on the plate at a time.

We were promptly seated and decided to go with the a la carte menu instead of the lunch specials. However, it was really hard to get the waiter’s attention (he was hiding behind the counter doing something on the POS system). It seemed as though he was the only one working front of house.

When I started ordering things from the a la carte menu, the waiter became very confused. I’m sure he was just trying to recommend the best course of action, but it was one I had already considered and dismissed and therefore I was a bit annoyed at him for having questioned whether that was actually what we wanted to do for lunch. For lunch we ordered the Coconut Prawn Curry, Butter Chicken, and Baingan Bharta with Steamed Basmati Rice and Butter Naan. The Coconut Prawn Curry was prawns cooked in a thick sauce of fresh tomatoes and spices with coconut cream. It was clear that the sauce was made and the prawns added to it later as opposed to being marinated/cooked in the sauce because the flavour didn’t penetrate the meat.Butter Chicken, one of my favourite dishes, consisted of chicken cooked in a mild buttery sauce of tomato and fenugreek with cashew nut paste. The only issue I had with the Butter Chicken was that the texture of the chicken was a bit off, was a bit rubbery and bouncy and that doesn’t seem right to me. And the Baingan Bharta was eggplant roasted in tandoor, cooked with onions, fresh tomatoes, garlic and seasoned with spices. The first two are flavours I’m relatively used to, the eggplant was not, but not in a bad way. The eggplant, though oily, was well prepared and seasoned. I was surprised at how fast the food came considering how long it took to get our order in. In fact, we got our food before another table who was there before us and ordered before us. Unlike Chinese restaurants, the dishes came all at once instead of one continuous stream in which you have to learn to pace yourself. The flavour of everything was amazing. The food definitely made up for the lack of service. It had just the right amount of heat and it wasn’t spicy for the sake of being spicy (like don’t make me cry, that’s too spicy although I did bite into a pepper and that really burned the back of my throat). I’m not sure exactly how to describe the spices or the combination other than it was in perfect balance. The issue with Indian food is that it can be quite heavy because of the oil content in each of the dishes. I didn’t notice it too much in these dishes with the exception of the eggplant, but that’s probably because the eggplant had to be deep-fried before cooking so that it wouldn’t fall apart and turn to mush. I would say, if I came back, I would go for the plain naan instead of butter because the butter made the naan unnecessarily oily.

For me, the sauce, as good as it is, isn’t a big deal. I’ve been told though, that the sauce to some is like liquid gold and should never go to waste. This notion was reinforced by the waiter asking us whether we wanted to pack the sauce to go and when we said no he asked if we were sure. As delicious as it was, sauce, like carbs (rice, fries, etc.) aren’t worth packing away as leftovers.

Overall, I’d say despite the service, the food was amazing and I would definitely come back here again for lunch or dinner. However, I’d say if I were to go again, I’d like to go with a lot more people so we can try out more dishes. Generally speaking, the restaurant was pretty quiet; there was only one other table besides us in there. I wouldn’t be surprised if this place were to close down due to low turnout of customers. Based on everything today, I’d still give this place a 3.9/5.

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Clockwise from top (sort of): Coconut Prawn Curry, Butter Chicken, Butter Naan, Baingan Bharta, and Steamed Basmati Rice

 

 

 

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Restaurant Review: Ship and Anchor

Location: 534 17 Ave SW
Website: http://www.shipandanchor.com/

I know Ship and Anchor isn’t exactly a restaurant and I have distinguished restaurants from cafes, so maybe I should create a category called drinking establishments since “bar/pub/tavern/club/lounge review” is just a ridiculously long name to be writing out. I mean some of them can be considered restaurants up until a certain time (like minors are allowed in until 5pm or something like that) or have a division between restaurant and bar within the same establishment.

Having been on 17th Ave more frequently now, I’ve passed by this place on more than one occasion. The establishment always was bustling and I was always curious as to the type of food they served and the atmosphere inside. Today I got to finally try it out with my cousin Yulin. When we first stepped inside, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, luckily Yulin did and we quickly found a seat near the window. The interior of the restaurant was very dark and I’m sure sitting my the window that illuminated the back of Yulin’s head didn’t help. It didn’t take long for the server to present us with menus. Since I had already looked at the menu I already knew what I wanted.

We ordered honey garlic chicken wings to start, Yulin ordered the grilled cheese with house salad and I had the baked mac and cheese. Honey garlic, I must say is my favourite flavouring on wings. I mean what is there not to love about its sweet, sticky, garlicky deliciousness? Unfortunately, I’d have to say I was slightly disappointed that these wings were mostly honey as opposed to a balance of honey and garlic. This didn’t really make too much of a difference, but I would have preferred if the garlic taste was a little more pronounced. We had barely gotten halfway through the wings when our mains came. It’s commendable how fast food was coming out, but of course there wasn’t much of a lunch crowd. Typically mains should not be served so quickly, but again, not a restaurant, so it’s excusable. Besides, I enjoy a variance of flavours in a meal otherwise I’d get bored.

I was unfortunately very disappointed by the baked mac and cheese. While it’s true that it’s hard to find a mac and cheese in a restaurant that I can confidently say I love (FARM’s mac and cheese was pretty close to being one of the best I’ve had), this was pretty hard to get through (even though I did get through it because I was hungry). The cheese sauce was much too soupy, the jalapenos impossible to find, the bacon was not worth fishing out of the cheese soup, and overall the taste didn’t scream delicious. Though I didn’t try it, Yulin’s grilled cheese looked like any other grilled cheese and she said it tasted like an ordinary grilled cheese so I didn’t think it was necessary to give that a try. The house salad looked just like any other, but I could tell as she got to the bottom of the salad, some of the greens had been soaked in way too much dressing (obviously because the dressing settled at the bottom).

Overall, the server was super nice and checked in with us frequently (but not to frequent), however, the food wasn’t to die for or anything worth raving about. I suppose if you came for the alcohol, the food wouldn’t really be the focus or centre of attention. Based on this experience I’d have to give it a 2.2/5.

*I apologize for the quality of the photos. The lighting and my camera didn’t work well together.

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Honey Garlic Wings

mac and cheese.jpg

Baked Mac and Cheese

Grilled Cheese.jpg

Grilled Cheese with House Salad

All The Small Things

It’s easy to say
Don’t let the small things bother you
But you don’t know me
The intimate way I know me

You don’t know what it’s like
To have a small nip
Gnawing away your insides
Until it’s raw and throbbing in pain
Turning nothing into a life destroying travesty

I wish you could understand
That this is the way I am
I wish you could help me through it
Instead of telling me not to worry

What you don’t understand
Is the monsters under your bed
Live inside my head

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