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Restaurant Review: The Pizza Press

Location: 1534 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA

Website: http://www.thepizzapress.com

On our way in to our hotel, we passed this place.  It was, of course, Braeden who suggested we try it out.  After all, it is pizza and what does he love more than that? I didn’t mind since I hadn’t had pizza in a while, but more importantly, I was starving and any food sounded good to me.

We walked in at around 8pm local time and found it to still be quite bustling.  On the door, the hours stated that the place was open until 1am, one hour after the Disney Park closed, a perfect time and place to satiate any late night cravings.  From our vantage point, it was hard to see any details about the pizzas they had on their menu.  Luckily, they had smaller menus on double sided cards for us to peruse.  “The Herald” caught my attention right away.  It was the only pizza on the menu with a white sauce.  It also helped that there were onions and mushrooms on it, two of my favourite pizza toppings; I was sold. Despite not liking tomatoes on my pizza, with the exception of the actual tomato sauce, I decided to go with the pizza as is since that combination was chosen by the chef, I would give it a try first before changing anything because who knew, maybe I would end up liking it.  Braeden stuck to his familiar Hawaiian pizza, only here it was called The Sun and had bacon on it.  Honestly, before I could have cared less for bacon, but recently, after having fried up some pretty good maple bacon, I’m warming up to it.  The great thing about this place is that every pizza is customizable.  It’s clear that the chefs here take a lot of pride and care in what they do.  One in particular, I’m sorry I didn’t catch his name, asked each and every customer about his or her day.  It’s small things like that that make a place special.  Now I’m not saying that it’s not done at other places, but as this had a more fast food feel to it, it seemed different.  Like they actually cared.  He actually asked for details not like many other places where people ask as an automatic opener.

However, what struck me first was the way the place was setup.  Or rather, the theme that the place had.  I suppose the fact that it was called The Pizza PRESS should’ve clued me in.  The place is setup like a newspaper press.  The titles of the pizzas are related to common suffixes added to newspaper titles (ex. The Calgary Herald, The Calgary Sun, The Alberta Gazette, etc.).  Each step we had to take from ordering our pizza to customizing it to paying for it had a different “label” assigned that corresponded with some part of the editing/publishing process.  But what got me the most excited was the fact that there was a typewriter on display right on the counter.  And if I remember correctly, it was right between the two cash registers.

Since it was late, we opted to take the pizzas back tot the hotel to enjoy.  Since it was only a short walk from our hotel, the pizzas didn’t have a chance to get cold.  One bite and I was in love.  I remember thinking and saying to Braeden, “this is how [thin crust] pizza should be.”  The pizza here was vaguely reminiscent of the ones I had in Italy, only that the ones in Italy were more burnt and had less toppings.

Would I recommend coming here? Absolutely.  Would I come back here?  You bet.  The staff were friendly, the food was great, I didn’t have to wait long for my pizza.  They even have beer on tap (not that I drink beer, but it’s still pretty cool since beer and pizza are a classic pairing).  Of the many pizzas I’ve eaten, I have to say this place ranks in the top tiers.  Though it’s not my favourite food, I would still rate this place a 3.75/5.  I can’t say I’d give it a higher rating until I had the chance to dine in.  I guess there is only one bad thing I can say about this place, I can’t stop eating. It’s that good.

Restaurant Review: Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Location: 100-638 6 Ave SW
Website: http://www.gyu-kaku.com/

I confess, I am not familiar with Japanese BBQ. When greeted with the phrase “Japanese cuisine,” the first item that jumps into my mind is sushi, not BBQ. For me, BBQ conjures up images of either Korean BBQ or a Southern style one (or the kind using the BBQ lol). I mean, when my sister and I were in Vancouver with friends we went to a Korean and Japanese BBQ and had some similar dishes. To be honest, after today’s experience I’m still confused as to the difference between the two. Sure the seasonings are different, but they largely use the same cuts of meat and they are prepared in much the same way.

To go out with my sister after classes again was a refreshing change from the mundane routine of school and work. It was a bit of a walk from the station and we were told that there would be a half hour wait since we didn’t have a reservation. I was starved, but we had come all this way and Valerie had spoken so highly of it, I decided to just push through the hunger pangs to try this place. As it turns out, the wait was only 4 minutes.

We were promptly seated, presented menus, and asked for our drink order. After a quick perusal of the menu on the advice of Val and the waitress we decided on two appetizers and two lunch specials. The appetizers we ordered were the fried calamari and takoyaki. We both decided on the three BBQ item lunch special and ordered Harami Miso Skirt Steak, Beef Tongue, Kalbi Short Rib Sweet Soy, Bistro Hanger Steak Miso, Filet Mignon, and Spicy Pork. The lunch special came with rice, soup and salad. Val opted to have the seaweed soup and I, the Miso. The seaweed soup was a nice surprise since I had expected the flowy, hair like seaweed that I’m used to for Chinese seaweed soup. They used the same seaweed as in the Miso and the broth was slightly saltier. The salad was dressed with a tangier, more acidic salad dressing that I’m used to having at Japanese restaurants. It reminded me more of the salads that we got at Korean restaurants. I would’ve have liked to have more salad and I probably should’ve saved some to eat with the meal since the acid would’ve helped cut through the richness of the meat.

The appetizers arrived shortly after the soup and salad. The first piece of takoyaki I dug into had a good octopus to batter ratio. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of the subsequent pieces I had. Flavour wise, the interior was standard, but I felt as though there could have been a little more sauce to give the outside a little more of that characteristic takoyaki flavour. Of course there is a difference between a slight drizzle (or more than that) and dousing it in sauce; a good balance must be found. The calamari I found to be ordinary. Nothing sets it apart from other calamari I’ve had. It certain isn’t one of the best, but it isn’t the worst either.

Besides some of the meat having already been seasoned, each table is set with three sauces: ponzu, spicy, and sweet soy. Although the ponzu sauce isn’t bad, it just isn’t my favourite of the three due to its unique tanginess. My favourite of the three is the spicy one, which wasn’t even spicy, but it was very flavourful. I found that I often didn’t need to dip my meat into the sauces, but when I did it made the meat saltier and had me reaching for my white rice.

Overall, I had no complaints. The food was really good and I would definitely go back. One thing I will say is that while it doesn’t look like all that much, the meal was very filling.

Based on my experience today, I’d give this place a 4.0/5. Our server as well as another one who appeared to be in training were great in helping us out today.

sign

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Light hanging at entrance

appies

Appetizers: Fried Calamari (back), Takoyaki (front)

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Miso Soup and Salad

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Seaweed Soup and Salad

better-meat

Meat (in no particular order): Harami Miso Skirt Steak, Beef Tongue, Kalbi Short Rib Sweet Soy, Bistro Hanger Steak Miso, Filet Mignon, and Spicy Pork

 

cooking-meat

Cooking the Meat

Restaurant Review: Via Cibo

Location: 101-104 Country Village Rd NE
Website: http://www.viacibo.com/

Years ago, I went here with my parents and sister after our trip to Italy, but I don’t remember much of it.  The only thing I remember of that trip was getting a macchiato and having my dad say, “That’s even stronger than what I drink.” It made for a good laugh.

This time, I had the fortune of going with my boyfriend, his cousin, and her kids. The best part about this was that we got to share everything family style, allowing us to try out more dishes off their menu. Via Cibo isn’t like your typical sit down restaurant. It’s setup more like Vendome’s is: you order at the counter and are given a number. Once the dishes have been prepared, they are brought out to your table.

Most everyone had a generic drink (soft drink or juice), but I ordered an Italian soda. Since they had cherry, I went for it. Usually it’s my sister who has the Italian soda, but today I felt adventurous. There was a nice balance of syrup to carbonated water making it so that it wasn’t too bland or too sweet.

That evening we ordered a pepperoni pizza for Braeden and two formaggio (cheese) pizzas off the children’s menu (which is actually a meal combo which comes with a drink and gelato) for Cindy’s kids, Keenah and Taye. The pepperoni pizza isn’t like the chain pizza joints’ style of pepperoni pizza. The crust was thin where the toppings were and airy around the edges.  It was garnished with rosemary which set it apart from most other kinds of pepperoni pizza, giving it an almost more high class, refined taste. And the pepperoni tasted like cured meat usually tastes, unlike pepperoni on store bought or chain pizza restaurants, which tastes just like salt.  Cindy and I ordered the Gnocchi and Steak Italiana to share. The Gnocchi was a no brainer as it had been a recommendation from Cindy/a friend of hers.  The Gnocchi consisted of a Gorgonzola cream sauce, pancetta, and slow roasted tomato, garnished with green onion and Grana Padano. I am typically apprehensive about dishes that contain Gorgonzola or any form of bleu cheese because of its strong taste and smell. However, this was not the case with this dish. For those who don’t know, pancetta is essentially Italian bacon, which of course enhanced the flavour of the dish, potentially masking.  Another reason could be that Gorgonzola is a milder bleu cheese than others I have had. One bite of the gnocchi was all it took to send me to cloud nine. If luxury was a dish, this would be it. The richness of the dish made me feel as though I was dining in a high end, expensive restaurant rather than a place serving Italian street food. My only reservation about this dish is the addition of the tomatoes. They did not serve to enhance the flavour or add anything to the dish. The second thing, I’m not sure if this is a reservation or not, but the balance of gnocchi to pancetta was off. I’m not sure if that was originally how it was or if it was because the gnocchi was so good that we were too focused on eating that and not paying attention to the pancetta. The Steak Italiana was something more reminiscent of Italian street food. It consisted of Grilled Steak, arugula, carmelized onion, slow roasted tomato, Grana Padano, and a Pesto Aioli. The steak was perfectly cooked.  The tomatoes had far more utility in this dish than in the gnocchi. There was a nice balance of sweet (tomatoes and onions), salty (steak and Grana Padano), bitter (arugula), and richness (onion and aioli) in the sandwich. The sandwich came with a small salad that provided the acid the dish needed. However, since we got so much food, I wasn’t able to finish the salad on my own. Lastly we got Tuscan fries to share (regular for the kids). The Tuscan fries were aggressively seasoned with rosemary and salt with a hint of white truffle oil, garnished with Grana Padano and served with a spicy aioli. I found the fries to be a little on the salty side, but they had good flavour and crunch.

For dessert the children consisted of Nutella gelato. Brae got the mango pineapple gelato, and I got a pistachio affogato. Turns out Brae loved it so much that after we left, we actually came back later that evening to get another one and came back again the following day. This was my first time getting an affogato. An affogato is  gelato with a shot of espresso. Although I chose pistachio, I feel like coconut or something creamier (chocolate -which they were out of- or vanilla) would have complemented the espresso better because pistachio has such a light flavour that it got lost. The next day, when Brae came to get his mango pineapple gelato, I got the coconut one. It is more like a sorbetto than a gelato and I’m thinking it probably wouldn’t have worked any better.

If I had another stomach I would’ve tried the mushroom pizza they had on special. If their pizza was anything like the one I had at Scopa, I would have died. That pizza is truly the most amazing, delicious pizza I have had in my life. Maybe next time I go they’ll still have it.

Based on my experience this time, I would rate it 4.5/5 and would definitely return. I love restaurants with an open kitchen so that I can watch them cook, but also because I can see exactly how far along they are along with my dish and watch them walk my food out to me. The wait staff was patient and very helpful and friendly. I can’t wait to come back here again another day.

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Kitchen

cashier

Cashier

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Formaggio (Cheese) Pizza

tuscan-fries

Tuscan Fries

steak-italiana

Steak Italiana

pepperoni-pizza

Pepperoni Pizza

gelato

Mango Pineapple Gelato

affogato

Pistachio Affogato

Restaurant Review: Open Sesame

Location: 6920 Macleod Trail South
Website: http://www.open-sesame.ca/

Open Sesame, like Smuggler’s Inn and Tango Bistro, are part of the Smuggler’s Group of restaurants ( the last one is Bolero and all four of these restaurants are clustered together in one building). Open Sesame is their Pan-Asian cuisine which is best known for their do it yourself stir-fries. As described on their website’s menu, customers “[c]hoose [their] own selections from our fresh Asian Market brimming 
with crisp vegetables, spices and condiments. Season with [Open Sesame’s] authentic 
sauces created from scratch for every taste. [After the completion of the compilation, customers] [t]ake [their] selection to [the] 
Wok Chef.” The market features only sauces and vegetables, the orders for the carbs and protein are placed with the waitress and marked down on cards which will be placed with the veggies for stir-frying.

We started with drinks and I’d have to say, Open Sesame has one of the best strawberry lemonades I’ve ever had. The addition of mint is brilliant and adds a fresh bite to the drink that would otherwise be sweet with nothing else to offer.

We started with an appetizer, the Pu pu platter. A name that kept making people at our table laugh. The platter consisted of teriyaki riblings, calamari, satay, crisp spiced naan, crab wontons, pickled vegetables, chili mango dip, and raita. When the platter first came out, I thought that it was a decent sized appetizer, however, it proved not to be enough when it came down to sharing it between five people. Overall, despite it not being enough for all five of us, it was at the same time, enough for all five of us. What I mean by that is that there was enough for everyone to sample each of the items, but not enough for us to have any more if we like a particular element. Of the six items on the platter, the riblings were my least favourite. There was very little meat, which is understandable because they were riblings, but also I don’t love teriyaki sauce on my ribs or wings (a little in stir-fry would be good). The raita was reminiscent of tzatziki sauce and in essence it was.

For our mains, three of the five ordered the stir-fry, which made sense, since this is what they are known for. My cousin added the Asian pancake wraps/mu shu wraps, grilled naan, and lettuce wraps to his meal and the maid of honour added the grilled naan to hers. I didn’t have a chance to try out their stir-fry combos, but as everyone cleaned their bowls, I’d say everyone enjoyed them thoroughly. My sister and I, ironically, ordered the same thing: the Hibachi Steak. The temperature was perfect on the steak and well seasoned. The seasoning took into account how salty the dipping sauce was, but at times it still seemed a little too salty for my liking. In regards to the portion size, I’d say that it was pretty good. I was unable to finish it since I had had the appetizer and was saving some space for dessert, but what I had packed up was enough to make a meal for the next day.

What meal is complete without dessert? Of course we went all out on it. I ordered the black and white brownie, while my sister had the ginger creme brulee, and my cousin and his fiancee shared a mango and coconut snowball (the lump of frozenness). I found the brownie to be a bit dry (some parts could almost be passed off as cookie like in its consistency) and the ice cream generic (would’ve been nice if it had been a vanilla bean ice cream). The ginger creme brulee was very strong on the ginger. I mean, there was no question that there was ginger in it and that it was good, but I just don’t think that it’s really for me.

Based on this experience, I would give this place a 4/5 and would most certainly return. Next time I would want to give the stir-fry a try since that is, after all, their specialty.

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Restaurant Interior

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Restaurant Interior

drinks

Aladdin’s Passion and Strawberry Lemonade

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Pu Pu Platter

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Asian Market

food-options

Asian Market

food-options-3

Asian Market

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Asian Market Sauces

sauce-options

before-stirfried

Beverly and Diana’s veggies for stir-fry

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Beverly stir-fry

dianas

Diana’s Stir-fry

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David’s Stir-fry

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Extra sides: Asian Pancakes/Mu shu wrappers, grilled naan, lettuce wraps

hibachi-steak

Hibachi Steak

black-and-white-brownie

Black and White Brownie

ginger-creme-brulee

Ginger Creme Brulee

mango-and-coconut-snowball

Mango and Coconut Snowball

 

Restaurants Revisited

Based on some recent experiences, I thought I’d do something different and review restaurants I’ve already reviewed and gone back to. Sometimes the experience has improved, but more often than not, most of these places have somewhat slipped.

Vendome Cafe
Vendome is still among one of my favourite cafes; however, in recent years, I’ve notice a decline in food quality. What was once flavourful and inspired me to start restaurant and cafe reviews has fallen to the wayside. Their most well-known dish is their duck confit. It used to be the reason I always wanted to spend time in Kensington. The two or three times I’ve gone, the texture of the meat hasn’t been quite right (the only way I can think of describing it is that it’s kind of grainy or has a powder like texture in my mouth). Besides that, the meat was way over-salty, to the point that I had blisters on my tongue and lip.

Van Gogh’s
The tzatziki sauce is still one of the most amazing I’ve ever had, but now service is lacking, prices are incredibly high, and portion sizes have shrunk. Since the restaurant used to be busier, there used to be more servers and as a result, there was a higher standard. Though I know I shouldn’t eat too much and smaller portion sizes and higher prices will help to discourage me from over-eating, I’d still want to get my monies worth.  I will still come here because I love the tzatziki until this place closes down.And I don’t think that this restaurant will last much longer. I mean, considering how “isolated” our community is, I’m not surprised that the only traffic this place usually sees is from its residents. And with no other restaurants around, there isn’t all that much competition which would drive it to maintain better standards.

Empress Palace Restaurant
I go back and forth with this place. When we first visited this place with my family, it had just been open for a few weeks and it was horrible, the second time (when I wrote my review) it wasn’t all that bad. However, just recently I returned there and they served pringles with my chicken. Why? I wanted the shrimp chips that the fried chicken is normally served with, not salt and pepper pringles. They were just so out of place and weird. Other than that slight transgression, this place, for the most part, is getting much better.

Chili’s
It’s hard to believe that I once sang praises of this place. I’m not sure if the time I had affects anything, but the first review was written was during dinner service, while this second visit was during lunch. For one thing, when I recommend a restaurant to someone,  it reflects favourably or negatively on me depending on their experience. When we walked in, it was about 1pm and there was only one family waiting in front of us. Once they seated that large party, I approached the desk where the host typically stands and the host never returns. After about ten minutes I decided to take a seat and wait for someone to come out. It took nearly another twenty minutes before someone acknowledged us and another five before we were seated. Once seated it took fifteen minutes before our waitress came over to take our drink order. The restaurant was empty, I didn’t understand why it would take so long for the waitress to come and do that. It took her another ten minutes to bring the drinks and take our order. Food came out relatively timely, but as we were eating, my boyfriend finished his drink and was looking for our waitress to get another. From his vantage point at our table, he could see her standing in the kitchen just chatting. We tried getting her attention and she either ignored us or just didn’t see us (because she wasn’t paying attention). We finished our meal and took another fifteen minutes. By this point I was furious particularly because I had suggested going here and my boyfriend was pretty hungry. When she finally brought the bill, I didn’t want to go through the hassle of waiting longer because she had to go get the machine. I actually was angry enough that I didn’t want to even tip her. However, my boyfriend made me so I tipped about 10% which I feel was overly generous. This was about two weeks ago and I am still so angry about it. I won’t go as far as saying I’ll never go back because the food’s pretty good, but the likelihood of me returning to that location is fairly low. I might give it another chance, but that will be in a few years.

The Fine Diner
Sometimes restaurants have a rocky start when they first open, so I usually give it a second chance unless my first impression/experience was horrible enough to keep me away for good. I came to here again for brunch with my cousin to introduce my boyfriend to the family, a few people at a time. Although we made reservations and ended up getting there a bit late (maybe 15-30 mins late), my cousin and her boyfriend who arrived on time hadn’t even been brought their drinks. I understand that it was very busy (as I’ve said on numerous occasions, brunch is very quickly becoming the thing to do on weekends) and that they were understaffed, but something as simple as a drink should not take 15-30 minutes. And though in my last review of this place I said I wouldn’t be coming back, I most certainly will not be coming back after this experience. The only good that came out of this visit was that the waitress was cheerful despite being completely overwhelmed and overworked and she didn’t look like she hated everyone there like the last waiter we had here.

Chianti’s
I’ve never had any problems with the Crowfoot location, but on our six month anniversary/boyfriend’s birthday, we discovered an amazing appetizer platter that he’s come to love. I think from now on, every time I go I’ll have to get it. (For reference, it’s called the Antipasto Italian Platter).

Scopa
I returned to this place when my best friend visited from Vancouver back in July, to give it a second chance. I had the calamari to start and I ordered their mushroom pizza. Oh. My. God. Amazing. The mix of chili peppers with the calamari was a very delicious combination. And as I found out later, they’re actually best known for their pizza and honestly, their pizza is to die for. I also found out what a cannoli was. From now on, if I come back to this place, it’ll be for the pizza and the calamari.

 

Cafe Review: Wise and Wright

Location: 163-317 7 Ave SW
Website: http://www.wiseandwright.com/

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a cafe. I’ll admit, since I’ve been in this relationship, I’ve been a bit spoiled. Typically, we’re more of the take out and enjoy the food at home kind of people and since he has a car, I’ve gotten accustomed to being driven everywhere.

At my cousin, Yulin’s suggestion, we decided to try this place out. Based on her recommendations and experiences, I’d have to say she’s my cafe consultant. Like most of Calgary, the brunch craze is starting to hit and this cafe is no exception. My first impression based on the menu was that everything was very healthy and promoted a healthy lifestyle via food (like post- or pre-workout foods).

We arrived at around 10:30/10:45 and found the place to be relatively empty. It was clean and welcoming and although I had previously perused the menu, I still had no idea what I wanted. With most restaurants and cafes I’ve been to, they have a brunch menu on weekends in addition to their regular menu. However, this is not how Wise and Wright chose to do it. On the weekend, they only allow patrons to order off of the brunch menu. I was slightly disappointed because I wanted to try their mushroom flatbread and sweet potato and roasted garlic soup, but was told I couldn’t order those things. So I went for my go to dish: an eggs benny. Originally I was going to get a Rancheros Bowl -Wise Style, but as Yulin was getting it, I didn’t want to get the same thing. I got the house oven ham eggs benny, which comes with two soft poached eggs atop a toasted sprouted bun, topped with a yogurt hollandaise and a side of wise sweet potato hash and salad. Yulin’s Rancheros Bowl -Wise Style consisted of refried beans, brown rice, stone bread, crushed avocado, poached egg, cilantro, spicy salsa, arugula, and rancheros sauce. In terms of drinks, I decided to try the philosopher’s brew and Yulin had an Americano. As the waitress brought the Americano, I was removing my jacket and bumped her, spilling coffee everywhere on the floor. I felt terrible as she said she was going to make a new one. I felt as though she was saying that it was okay, but it was a situation where that’s what you say, but not how you feel. Even after I helped to clean it up, I still felt bad. The philosopher’s brew was fairly light, but because of the ginger, it really warms you up from the inside out. I probably wouldn’t order it again unless I was sick or really cold.

The eggs benny was the biggest disappointment. The ham and sprouted bun were dry, the hollandaise was essentially non-existant, the salad incredibly under-dressed, and the temperature on one of my eggs was wrong. The Rancheros Bowl on the other hand was the complete opposite, a complete delight. If you had not expected it, the heat of the salsa hits you like a ton of bricks. I wouldn’t exactly call it a salsa as much as a thick sauce, but it was amazing. As I sit here and write this, remembering the depth of flavour, I am salivating. I appreciated that it wasn’t spicy for spicy’s sake. That bowl was just perfection, it wasn’t over-salted, and next time I visit, if I can’t get the flatbread, I will definitely have this one.

Overall, the staff were really friendly and accommodating given the aforementioned incident. I would return to give this place a second chance with brunch and would return to try out the regular menu. However, based on today’s experience and judging it based on the dish I did order, I’d have to give it a 2/5.

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Background: Rancheros Bowl and Americano  Foreground: Oven

 

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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