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Restaurant Review: RE:GЯUB

Location: 625 11th Ave SW
Website: http://www.regrub.ca/#home

Since the day my sister showed me their over the top milkshakes, I have wanted to try this place out.  I’m not one to go into a restaurant just to try one thing on the menu; all aspects have to appeal to me in some sense.  As per usual, I perused the menu before hand, pegging a few items of interest that I would want to try.  I liked that even though they had many experimental and over the top items, there were still some classics on the menu.

We arrived just as the restaurant opened, but it was clear that they had been open earlier than the posted hours of operation.  Clearly, this was a very popular place, as we would find out later, this place fills up quickly.  Our first order of business was to commandeer a table for our party of four.  Despite having chosen a few stand out dishes and milkshakes, I was still overwhelmed by all the choices I had.  It ended up being that Val was stuck between choosing the Eureka Burger or the Space Case Burger, both of which I had expressed a desire to try, so we each got one of them and split them in half.  Brae went with a more traditionalist approach, or so we thought till the burger came.  We thought that Cheeseworld was going to be a cheese bun.  No, the “buns” turned out to be full sized grilled cheese sandwiches sandwiching a succulent patty.  The last of our party, my cousin, Yulin, ordered the vintage deluxe, another traditional choice.  We also ordered an onion ring for the table.

Of the two burgers, the Eureka Burger was more ordinary, but that did not make it any less tasty.  The Space Case Burger was from their list of experimental burgers. The Eureka burger, like almost all their burgers consisted of a 6 oz Alberta grassfed beef patty, but this one had been butter spiked.  It was then topped off with smoked gouda, thick cut bacon, brioche breaded onion rings, butter lettuce, and tomato relish.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t discern all the elements that were listed, in particular the tomato relish, which I could possibly have mistaken as ketchup.  The onion ring in the burger was the same as the ones we ordered as side for the table.  Both were greasy and after one or two became very heavy and difficult to finish.  When the onion rings first came, we thought that it may have been honey drizzled over the rings, but as it turned out, they were pools of oil which detracted from it appetizability.   The Space Case Burger was a crab cake patty with space tortilla chip, coleslaw cabbage, citrus aioli, pineapple salsa, and arugula.  Unlike the menu, the burger didn’t come topped with a mighty pineapple star.  I definitely wasn’t disappointed by this burger.  Sure it was hard to eat because of how easily the crab crumbled and it looked funny with the tortilla UFO-esque protrusion, but taste wise it was one of the better burgers.  The coleslaw, aioli, and salsa helped to balance out the burger, ensuring that it didn’t feel too greasy or heavy.  Both the Vintage Deluxe and Cheeseworld came with cheeky sauce.  Besides the interesting name, it was pretty tasty.  For those wondering what cheeky sauce is, the easiest description I can give is a garlic aioli and who doesn’t love garlic?

Between the four of us, we only ended up getting one milkshake.  And it’s a good thing we shared.  Milkshakes have a tendency to be incredibly sweet and this one was.  Of all their shakes, we decided to order the Cookie Monster which consisted of a chocolate (I think) shake topped with Oreo cookies and a glazed doughnut.  This was definitely more about the experience than the taste.  The taste was fine, normal, nothing special.  I wouldn’t order it again, but I’m glad that I can at least say I’ve tried it.

Overall, this place is a nice gathering place for a casual outing with friends.  This place is always busy with people trying out these new and extreme “concoctions.”  I would definitely recommend trying this place out, especially if you are adventurous with your food (or with anything really).  I’m not sure I would come back as often as I go to somewhere like Vendome, but I would come back.  Based on my experience here, I would give this place a 3.25/5.

 

 

Cookie Monster

Cookie Monster

Onion Rings

Onion Rings

Space Case Burger

Space Case Burger

Eureka

Eureka

Cheeseworld

Cheeseworld

Vintage Deluxe

Vintage Deluxe

 

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Restaurant Review: Vin Room

Location: 2310 4 St SW (Mission Location)
Website: http://www.vinroom.com

This was the second time I had been to Vin Room Mission. The first time was some time in the last year of my undergrad, but we came primarily for drinks rather than food. The menu had intrigued me since and I finally got the chance to try it out.

After an entire summer of promising to hang out and see each other, the plan to do so finally came to fruition. Being a tapas bar, I knew that portion sizes would be small and prices would be high. We started small and ordered five dishes: wild boar gnocchi, chicken meatballs, beef carpaccio, lobster nachos, and crab cakes. The wild boar gnocchi is not quite a tapas item, it was large enough to be considered a dish on its own if you wanted. The purpose of the gnocchi was primarily to fill us up (and gnocchi is very filling since it’s essentially fluffy pillows of carbs). This is one of the best gnocchi I’ve had to date for Brae, it’s one more dish I can add to the list of things he likes to eat. The biggest surprise were the chicken meatballs. On the menu, they didn’t seem like they’d be anything special, but the chili jam that came with it elevated it to a fine dining status. The biggest disappointment for me were the crab cakes. It was my most highly anticipated dish, but it fell flat on many levels. I understand that crab cakes are inherently “crumbly,” but I just expected it to hold together much better than it did. There was a lot less curry sauce than I expected and I was only able to detect hints of the curry because there was so little of it. Of course I don’t need the cakes to be swimming in it, but enough to drizzle over the cakes or provide more than a hint of flavour was along the lines of what I was looking for. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of tatakis or carpaccios (which are essentially the same thing, save for the seasonings -one being Japanese and the other Italian). Combined with the arugula and russet potato chip that it was meant to be paired with, the delicate flavour of that particular carpaccio got lost. The lobster nachos were exactly as I expected: chopped up lobster piled on top of tortilla chips with a whole bunch of plain chips below. I found the best way to eat them was to take one chip that had been loaded with lobster and divide it between two or three other plain chips. However, there was still so much extra that I started putting the ground wild boar from the gnocchi on them and this turned out to be a great idea. Not only was it delicious, but it made sure none of the boar went to waste.

We had tried to stick around until happy hour as the oysters would be offered at a discounted price. In an attempt to prolong our visit, we ordered a calamari. Calamari is typically my favourite and this one didn’t live up to its potential. While the dipping sauce and breading were well done, the calamari itself was a little problematic. The first bite was normal, but as you continued to chew, a sort of liquid started seeping out, leaving a rather unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth.

For a Friday night I found it to be quieter than I expected. Perhaps it was because we had an “early” dinner (the reservation was at 7pm, but regardless). I’m guessing that most of the patrons were seated on the patio to enjoy the last days of summer. As we found out later, their patio is dog friendly and two of the friends I went with had dogs so one of the waitresses gave them each a small doggy bag with treats to take home, inviting us to bring the dogs next time we visited. We were served by two waitresses and one of them seemed like she was a location owner or at the very least a manager as she was dressed differently from everyone else. According to Brae, the waitress that was the first to help us grew increasing irritable by the end of the night. I didn’t quite understand why she wanted us out of there so quickly. I mean there were plenty of empty tables and we were still kind of ordering food.

Despite those minor hiccups, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time here. Taking everything into consideration, I would rate this place a 3.5/4. I would return here, but probably not in the recent future as the price is expensive and the menu has not changed much since I was here the first time.

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Chicken Meatballs

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Crab Cakes

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Wild Boar Gnocchi

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Lobster Nachos

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img_1147

Lobster Nachos

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Beef Carpaccio

Attraction Review: Telus Spark

Location: 220 St Georges Dr NE

A visit to the new science centre is something I’ve been putting off partly because of what I had heard about it.  The most resonant criticism about the Telus Spark was that it wasn’t as good as the old one.  Today, I was on a mission to find out for myself.

We arrived at 12:50 pm, purchasing the tickets for admission to the science centre and to a show at the dome theatre.  We started on the first floor and explored the exhibits they had there first.  As the cashier at the desk told us, everything was very hands on.  There were no instructions to tell us how to go about doing things and there wasn’t too much in terms of informational bulletins either.  In a way, this was good.  Like the cashier said, there are multiple solutions to a problem and trying to figure it out for yourself is half the fun.  We finished looking around the exhibition hall at around 1:20 pm and headed upstairs to continue looking at the exhibits up there.  The first half was about the human body: puberty, the brain, reaction time, and so on.  The second half was focused on animation.  We took our time with the first half, but had to rush through the second half to make our show at the dome theatre.

I love astronomy so we went to the show “Our Solar System with a Spotlight on the Sun,” a suggestion made by the cashier because of my interest.  This show was presented in the form of a story, which is an interesting take and an obvious attempt to open astronomy up to a wider audience, but unfortunately I didn’t really learn much as promised and well Brae almost fell asleep.  Heck, I nearly fell asleep myself.  On the one hand, I would say that it would have been a very informative show had I not taken two university level courses on astronomy, one of which focused on our solar system.  On the other, I would have to agree with Brae and say that it was really kind of boring.  It was awe inspiring at first to watch the stars fill the screen, but after a while it just wasn’t.  It didn’t help that the reclining seats were obstructed by the concrete step behind us (that was where the next row of seats were).

After the show, we went back through the exhibition hall to see/do the exhibits that we missed because there were too many children running around for us to be able to try.  After we looked around, we headed outside to check out the outdoor park, which was somewhat of an exhibit itself.  I liked that even in play, there is a chance to educate and show the science behind the importance of play.

People were right, this new science centre is not as good as the old one.  Sure there are improvements to it that I would have said would be good to incorporate into the old science centre, but to move to this completely new model, I think, was a mistake.  This place would be perfect for three or four year olds who are curious about the workings of the world, but any older, I’d say they wouldn’t have too much interest.  Maybe I’m overestimating the intellectual capacity of children, but I’d like to think not. I probably won’t be returning here unless I have children of my own one day.

Restaurant Review: Nick’s Steakhouse & Pizza

Location: 2430 Crowchild Trail NW
Website: http://nickssteakandpizza.com/

After a mixed feeling kind of day, we finally got to try out Nick’s.  Brae had been planning on bringing me here when we just first started dating. Tonight we finally got that chance.  The restaurant wasn’t dead, but it wasn’t super busy either, but it was a Tuesday, so I didn’t expect it to be too busy anyways.

We were promptly seated in what I assumed to be the bar/lounge area and given just enough time to peruse the menu.  I had already looked at the menu before, but still didn’t exactly know what I wanted.  I know Brae wanted me to try the pizza since that was once of the things they were known for, but wanted to try their steaks, which is the other thing they specialize in (I mean, duh, look at their name).  After looking at the prices, I decided I’d stick to a pizza this time and come back another time to try some other items on their menu because a lot of it sounded really good.  Me being me wanted to order an appetizer and guess what, we ordered the calamari.  As most of you will know by now, this is my go to appetizer.

Like the kind of day I had been having, I had a mixed opinion about the calamari.  Having had so many varieties of calamari, I’d have to say that the batter could have been lighter.  At first, it isn’t so bad, but after about half or more of it, it starts to feel very greasy and heavy.  There are two solutions for that: sharing that with more people or make a lighter batter.  However, the tzatziki is one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s not the kind that has an overbearing amount of garlic, but just the right amount for me (I do love my garlic, but I know that sometimes the quantity that I like is often too much).  The pizzas followed shortly after we finished the calamari.

Brae got his favourite: Hawaiian and I tried the Sweet Chili Chicken. I was torn between the Sweet Chili Chicken and Chicken Carbonara, but Brae helped me choose.  I think that was a great choice because it satisfied all the tastes one craves for and chicken carbonara has the potential to be very heavy and rich.  The first thing that struck me was the stringy mozzarella cheese. Mozzarella is one of my favourite cheeses simply because of how well it melts and the slightly chewy texture it has after it’s been melted.  The pizza was simply blanketed in cheese.  Now, some may say that that is too much cheese, but for me, there’s no such thing.  In fact, when our waitress offered us some parmesan, I jumped at the chance to have more melty cheese on my pizza. While it was annoying that the pizza toppings kept slipping off the pizza while it was hot, it tasted so much better that way.  The crust itself tasted almost buttery.  It’s one of the better pizzas I’ve had, but the thickness of the crust and the doughiness are somewhat off-putting.

This is one of Brae’s favourite restaurants and I can see why.  I like this restaurant, it’s good for a casual night out and I would agree to come back here, especially since I would love to try some of the other items on their menu, but would I say this is the kind of restaurant I would choose if given a choice? No.  Restaurants like this aren’t usually in my wheelhouse, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy them when I do go.  It’s homey and the servers are friendly enough.  Besides, it’s one of Brae’s favourites so I can definitely see myself coming back here in the future for sure.  I would rate this place 3.75/5.

nick's 2

Calamari

nick's 3

Hawaiian Pizza (Brae’s)

nick's 4

Sweet Chili Chicken (Mine)

Restaurant Review: Xan’s Mongolian Barbeque

Location: 11670 Sarcee Trail NW

We’ve passed this restaurant on many occasions when going to other businesses in the Beacon Hill area.  Each time, Brae and I have remarked that we should try this place out, but, of course, once it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.  For a picky eater, this place is ideal.  After all, there is complete control over every aspect of your dish; it is the ultimate customization of your meal.  For those who are unfamiliar with Mongolian BBQs or grills, you are, in essence, given a bowl and told to fill it up with whatever you want.  The charge varies by restaurant, but the charge is almost always based on weight.

The general rule with restaurants like these is not to choose foods that have a lot of water weight because when the cook, a lot of it is lost and you’re left with a sad, half full plate of food.  This place is different and possibly better than others as it comes with wraps and rice so you don’t have to include a carb element in your dish which removes some of the “extra” weight.

At this restaurant, the food is arranged in several “stations.” While there is no proper way of going through the “stations,” Brae suggested we start at the vegetable station and move from there.  In a way that makes the most sense because once you’ve loaded up on all your food then you would know how much sauce you need.  I got water chestnuts, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and white mushrooms from the veggie station, while Brae only got pineapple. There was a small section with noodles (two trays) following the veggies: Shanghai noodles and rice noodles.  Brae grabbed some rice noodles. Next we moved on to the meat and seafood station.  I got squid, prawns, chicken, and beef and Brae got beef, chicken, pork, imitation crab meat, salmon, shrimp, and scallops. The last station is the sauce station.  They have such a variety that I was tempted to mix and match, but I knew that the flavour wouldn’t turn out well if I were to do that. I ultimately settled on a coconut curry sauce. Brae, of course, went straight for the teriyaki sauce, as per usual.

Our items were promptly weighed and we were given slips with the prices on them.  Mine came to almost $20 and Brae’s was about $18.  Given that the restaurant was practically empty when we go there, I’d say service was pretty fast.  When mine came, it looked complete void of sauce even though I had put in a lot (that’s probably what made mine heavier than Brae’s).  I could barely taste the sauce. It was as though it had completely evaporated as coconut curry sauce so often does when cooked unless a large quantity is used. The only other issue I had was that the beef was kinda tough. Or some pieces were and I nearly choked on one. Even Brae’s teriyaki sauce wasn’t as prominent as it normally is, but luckily, as Brae said, they will give you extra sauce on the side if you need it. And in my case, I poured the entire tea cup of it onto my dish in order for it to be enough. I would also recommend that you add salt to the dish before it is cooked because there’s nothing in there really that would give it that salinity.  The food at the stations are just that. The raw, unaltered, unseasoned state that you’d expect.  While the sauces are meant to season, most of them appear too weak and diluted to do much. But I suppose, as in my case, I would normally recommend tasting before adding more salt to the dish and they do have salt at the table if you find that you need some salt after the fact.

While the rice is just rice, I was glad that they included it in the meal as part of the overall price. The wrap on the other hand tasted raw to me and reminded me of spring roll wrappers before they have been deep fried, which made me want to go deep fry them and eat them like that.

While it was good, I’m not sure it is good enough for me to want to return.  I feel as though Open Sesame offered a better selection of items and tasted more polished, if you will. The service on the other hand was pretty good.  The waitress, who I think was also the hostess, checked in at the perfect times.  Based on my overall experience today I’d give it a 2.75/5, but, of course, I’d be willing to give the place another chance some day down the road.  Especially since I’ve never seen Brae eat his food so fast in my life. He clearly enjoyed it and seeing him that happy over food makes me happy.

xan panorama

Restaurant Interior

xan 1 -my food

My Stir-fry

xan 2 -brae's food

Brae’s Stir-fry

xan rice 2

Look at the cute bowl with a cover that the rice comes in. It even has a place for the spoon’s handle to come out of

xan rice

Rice

xan wraps

Wraps

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

light

Light hanging at entrance

appies

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

miso-and-salad

Miso Soup and Salad

seaweed-soup-and-salad

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

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