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Posts tagged ‘downtown eats’

Restaurant Review: Kabuku

Location: 414 3 St SW (Downtown location)
Website: http://www.kabuku.ca/tabid/10640/Default.aspx

The first time I heard of this restaurant was through work. I had booked several reservations at this location for my lawyer and it appeared to be one of his favourite places to go. Eventually, I did end up eating here, but the first time doing so was with a client. Today, I had the opportunity to return with my sister.

As this place is situated in downtown, the prices reflect as such. However, I strongly believe that the preparation and presentation of the dishes warrants such steep pricing.

We ordered the orange bay scallops, an assorted tempura, tempura avocado, goma-ae, gyu sashimi, tamago sashimi, inari nigiri, a volcano roll, and the sushi/sashimi lunch special. The sushi/sashimi lunch special came with rice, miso soup, and a house salad which was dressed with a ginger vinaigrette and consisted of one piece each of ebi, salmon, and tuna nigiri, one piece of unagi sashimi, two salmon, two Atlantic salmon, two blue fin tuna, and a spicy temaki.

The two salads and soup arrived first. On the surface, they didn’t look like much, but once we dug in, we were pleasantly surprised. The first time I came here I had ordered the goma-ae before and it had not disappointed. This time, it lived up to those standards. As Val mentioned, it was almost as if the spinach had been marinated in the sesame, as the flavour permeated throughout every leaf. It was a little bit on the salty side, but it was bearable. The highlight of the dish was the nuttiness of the sesame; it really came through. The house salad, though ordinary in appearance was quite hearty. The lettuce leaves were sturdy and held the dressing quite well. As it turns out, this ginger vinaigrette dressing was a little saltier than the sesame dressing and made the goma-ae seem significantly less salty. But again, it wasn’t so salty it was unbearable. In fact, I hardly noticed it with the house salad. Perhaps that could be attributed to the acidic element within the dressing. Both salads were served cold, which was a welcome change to the room temperature salads I was accustomed to. Unfortunately, I’ve been having some issues with sensitivity and the cold caused some issues with my teeth which affected my ability to completely enjoy my meal. The first thing I noticed about the soup was the slice of white mushroom floating on the surface. I voiced my observation just as Valerie broke the surface of the soup, dredging up the expected tofu and seaweed from below. However, what we didn’t expect to find were more white mushrooms and enoki mushrooms. I love mushrooms and really appreciated this small touch to make their miso soup unique in comparison to the other sushi restaurants I’ve been to. According to their menu, the miso base is further enhanced by the use of a fish broth to better develop the flavour of the soup.

The soup and salads were followed by the tempuras. I ordered the avocado tempura because I was curious and Val had mentioned trying some at Globefish in Kensington, which she had thoroughly enjoyed. Avocado develops a very different taste and texture after been coated in batter and deep fried. While it didn’t taste bad, I don’t think I’ll be ordering that one again. According to Val, it’s paired with a different sauce at Globefish Kensington, which works better than the warm sweet soy sauce that is often paired with tempura. The assorted tempura was a good size containing two piece of yam tempura, two spears of asparagus (cut in half), two whole white mushrooms, two pieces of broccoli, and three pieces of shrimp. I would have preferred the yam to be a little softer, but other than that, I have no complaints about the dish as a whole. Overall, the batter on the tempura was very well done. The ratio of vegetable/shrimp to batter was well balanced and didn’t leave an excess of oil on my palate.

The next to arrive were the orange bay scallops and volcano roll, inari nigiri, and tamago and gyu sashimi on one plate. The volcano roll was another item I had on my first visit. The spicy sauce is among one of the best I’ve had. It provides just the right amount of heat. Since I don’t typically use soy sauce, I often rely on the sauce(s) that comes with the roll and too often I’m left wanting. This was not the case with this roll. Like the miso soup, Kabuku put a twist on their tamago with the addition of shiitake mushrooms. To be honest, I didn’t know that to expect from a tamago sashimi. I ordered it primarily to avoid eating more rice than was necessary. I think in recent years, I’ve been able to develop both my palate and tolerance when it comes to raw fish and meat and today I was “brave” enough to order the practically raw beef sashimi. Unlike tataki, it is unseasoned, save for some pepper, green onion, and ginger, but to be honest, it didn’t need more than that. The pepper, green onion, and ginger helped to enhance the taste of the beef, which was very clean. I didn’t really realize that, like sashimi and sushi, the gyu sashimi is meant to be enjoyed with a splash of soy sauce. According to Val, the sweet soy is more complementary. I would very much like to try this the next time I order gyu sashimi. The inari was fairly standard of sushi restaurants. However, they didn’t put in too much rice, which I was very happy about and they neatly folded and tucked in the excess inari making a very pretty and clean presentation. My only quip about this is that there weren’t sesame seeds mixed in with the rice in the inari, but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The orange bay scallops were ordered more out of curiosity. This dish was described as bay scallop tempura and diced fresh orange tossed in an aioli sauce with tobiko. While the dish was delicious with the crunch and pop of the tobiko, the creaminess of the aioli, and the sweet, freshness of the diced orange, I agree with Val’s sentiment that it could have done with a touch less of aioli. It honestly felt like the scallops and orange were swimming in it.

The last dish to come was the sushi/sashimi entree. Like the inari, they had kept the rice to a minimum. Even Val’s original concern about the temaki containing too much rice was unfounded; they had found the perfect ratio of rice to spicy tuna to greens. While the sashimi was thinly sliced, it was of the highest quality. The only complaint about this was that the unagi was cooked a touch over; therefore, it was a little stiff going down rather than the smoothness I’m used to from eel. As this was an entree, it also came with rice. However, with everything we ordered, there was enough rice between the rolls and nigiri that the bowl of rice remained untouched.

Service was excellent. Empty dishes never sat on the table long, teacups never remained empty long. The servers, whether we were their table or not, checked in periodically to make sure everything was still okay (not to the point where it got annoying).

I know I haven’t really be consistent in the past regarding accessibility and I apologize and am trying to be better and notice these kinds of issues. In terms of accessibility, it’s a little bit difficult. There is a step up in order to access the front door of the restaurant and the back way through the connecting building is a little narrow.

My overall assessment is that I would definitely come back, but because of how expensive this place is, I’d have to come here in moderation. Based on this experience, I’d give this restaurant a 4.25/5.

Restaurant Lights/Interior
Left to right: Goma-ae, house salad, miso soup
Assorted and avocado tempuras
Top: Orange Bay Scallops Bottom (starting at the 12 o’clock position, going clockwise): tamago sashimi, volcano roll, inari nigiri, gyu sashimi
Sushi/Sashimi Entree
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Restaurant Review: CRAFT Beer Market

Location: 345 10 Ave SW
Website: https://www.craftbeermarket.ca/calgary/downtown

This is the second time I’ve been to the restaurant, but the first time was for a company Christmas lunch and I didn’t think it was appropriate to take pictures.

The first time I was here I ordered the Ahi Poke Bowl because this was the first time I was going to lunch with my lawyers and other lawyers and assistants in my pod and I didn’t want to order anything too messy and make a bad first impression. To be clear though, it’s not like my lawyers haven’t given me work to do over my lunch break and I happened to be sitting at my desk eaten, so it’s not like they haven’t seen me eat, but I just don’t think I need to leave them with the image of a burger falling apart in my hands, sauce dripping down my arms and food all over my face. The Ahi Poke Bowl consisted of sashimi grade ahi tuna with cucumber, pickled carrots, avocado chunks, seaweed, fresh ginger and togarashi aioli all stacked on top of steamed rice and sesame seeds. While this was a good dish, there wasn’t anything particularly memorable about it. That being said, two things that did stand out for not the best reasons were that the pickled carrots weren’t really pickled and the fact I don’t even remember there being fresh ginger in the dish at all and ginger is a pretty strong flavour.

If you’ve ever been to CRAFT, then you know it’s more of a burger and wings kind of place. The bar/pub atmosphere isn’t really the kind of place you walk into and think hmm, let’s eat a pasta or poke bowl. These places make you want to get messy and really enjoy the entire experience of eating. Maybe that was one of the factors that made the Ahi Poke Bowl seem so underwhelming.

I had the opportunity to return here a few nights ago and order what my lawyer had ordered that day. I’m not gonna even lie, I was side-eying (and at times straight up staring) that thing for the whole meal, wishing I could eat it, but imagining that in my tiny, girl hands, that the thing would become a disaster. The dish in question? The Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Now, I know some of my readers have only recently joined and I know some of you personally and vice versa, but if there’s anything to really know about me is that I love the combination of savoury and sweet in a dish. I don’t usually care for desserts unless it’s chocolate mousse, so the sweetness in the dish is that bit of balance that makes my palate feel satisfied. My all time favourite combination is chicken and waffles and this sandwich is kind of a play on that. The Crispy Chicken Sandwich consists of a succulent piece of fried chicken drizzled with hot sauce and maple syrup on a house made bun with lettuce, slaw, and house pickles. When it comes to hot sauce on chicken, I’m very particular about it. I definitely don’t like hot sauces that are more acidic because I only need it to burn me on one level. I like a complex blend of flavours in my hot sauce because if you’re going to burn me, at least let me enjoy it. I’m not sure if the hot sauce is house made, but it is pretty on par with the one I had at Diner Deluxe, which I also really enjoyed. If there’s one salad I love more than anything in the world, it’s coleslaw and that slaw on the burger provided the perfect hit of freshness, creaminess, and a little bit of acidity to cut through the deep fried chicken. The house made bun felt like it was egg based and vaguely reminiscent of waffles because of it (but also, nothing like waffles, but I do prefer egg buns over regular burger ones). The house pickles were slightly on the sweeter side, but I didn’t mind. I usually find that house pickles are sweeter than commercial ones, but that just might happen to be the case for all the places I’ve tried. I can appreciate both kinds of pickles as they each have their place in the dish and add depth to the dish.

Compared to the sandwich, the fries were mediocre. My coworker, Alex, someone I may have mentioned in past reviews who shares in my food adventures, disagrees. We both look for very different things in fries. I enjoy fries that are thinner and crunchier (think McDonald’s or Smashburger fries), while she enjoys the pillowy, fluffier fries. I liked the salt and pepper seasoning because it’s different from most places that just salt their fries, but it wasn’t really good enough for me to finish. Alex ordered the same thing as me and her boyfriend Alex (hence Alex²) ordered the Brewmaster’s Chicken Sandwich, which looked equally delicious, but he opted to get a side of Mac and Cheese instead of fries. From the small sampling of the Mac and Cheese, I’d have to say it was pretty good. I think if I ordered that I’d keep the poblano peppers in.

Then we decided to have dessert. I probably should’ve listened to Alex, but I wanted to find out for myself. We both ordered the Dessert in a Jar, while Alex (the boyfriend) got cookies. The Dessert in a Jar is a gluten free brownie topped with vanilla gelato, sponge toffee (made in house), sliced bananas and topped with chocolate sauce. This sounded a lot like the dessert I had at Cactus Club Cafe (a chocolate mousse shot) which I enjoyed, so I thought what the heck. The only thing I was apprehensive about were the bananas because I only enjoy them at a certain ripeness. Of course it came, the bananas were too ripe and eventually the overripe taste of bananas is what made me sick. It was a fairly disappointing dessert overall. The vanilla gelato was not even really cold and more like a flat whipped cream. The brownie was dry and I had to mash the ice cream into the brownie to make it a little more manageable to eat. The toffee was okay, but I like the one from Cactus Club Cafe better (not sure if they make theirs in-house though). I did not even come close to finishing that dessert. So, if you plan on ordering this, unless you are a garbage disposal chute, endless pit, or black hole, do not attempt alone.

The only difference between my meal and Alex’s (coworker) is that she had the International Beer Sampler. It was surprisingly affordable (only about $12). I can’t really comment on beer because I generally don’t like alcohol, unless it’s like Yakult or Peach Soju.

I would definitely come back here to try the fried pickles, tacos, and a few other burgers. This visit was far more enjoyable than the one with my pod. I would give this place a 4/5. It was a bit loud and I felt like my voice was going at the end of the night, but that’s typical of a place like this so that’s fine. Service was good. I liked that we were given enough time to order without pressure and that we weren’t just left in a corner and forgotten.

I do apologize for the quality of the photos though; the lighting wasn’t great.

CRAFT Interior
International Beer Sampler
Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Fries
Brewmaster’s Chicken Sandwich with Mac & Cheese
Dessert in a Jar

Restaurant Review: Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar

Location: 815 8 Avenue SW
Website: https://www.purecontemporaryvietnamese.com/

Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar or Pure CVKB was first introduced to me by my sister. I had been eying the place ever since and tonight I got to try this place out with my coworker and friend, Taylor.

Our first impression of the place was amazement. We both really loved the ultra modern aesthetic of the place. Of course, we had both looked at the menu numerous times before we came here and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they offered vegetarian options on their menu. This was in fact one of the conditions as Taylor is a vegetarian (okay, technically pescatarian, but vegetarian when possible). We had actually been debating whether we should come here or go to Tamarind (not to be confused with Tamarind the Indian food restaurant in the Panorama area, which is also excellent, but I haven’t had a chance to dine in, I’ve only ever gotten take out and I only write reviews on in restaurant experience of the food) as Tamarind offered a completely vegetarian and vegan menu. However, we ended up settling on Pure CVKB because it was closer (not by much, but it was kinda cold and we’re both kinda lazy).

The menu at the restaurant is different from the menu online in that the menu online is for SkipTheDishes, so some of the things they offer for dine in don’t do well for delivery and as such, have been removed from that menu. The ones that will hold up are on both menus. What caught my eye first, when I opened the menu, was the “small plates” heading. I’m a sucker for the tapas style or sharing small, appetizer sized bites because I want to try everything and tapas sized dishes allow me to do that. That’s the same reason why I love dim sum and Sushi Boat. After much hemming and hawing, we both ended up ordering the items we had initially picked before we set food in the restaurant. Taylor ordered the Vegetarian Vermicelli and I had the Grilled Ultimeat Feast. Now, I don’t know if that is just a play on how much meat this dish came with or if they spelled “ultimate” wrong. Either way, there was a lot of meat, but not to the point that I couldn’t finish it or felt sick eating it. All vermicelli dishes contained scallion confit, cucumber, carrots, herbs, and peanuts. The Vegetarian Vermicelli had a vegetarian spring roll (cabbage, mung bean, carrot, and mushroom), fried tofu, bean sprouts, and a sauce (wasn’t sure what kind it was as it wasn’t the usual nuoc mam, but a darker, soy sauce like sauce). The Grilled Ultimeat Feast contained beef, shrimp, chicken, and a spring roll in addition to the above ingredients that all vermicelli dishes contain and came with a nuoc mam sauce. I really liked that the cucumber and carrots were sliced to look like noodles (long and string-like) because it mixed well with the vermicelli allowing an equal distribution of carrot, cucumber, sauce and noodle in each chopstick full.

This place definitely elevates the basic comfort of Vietnamese food to a fine dining level, which should be expected as it is in downtown. I appreciate that it has catered its approach and decor towards such clientele. As some of you may know, depending on what kind of restaurant I’m in, my mannerisms change and usually in fine dining places, I kinda turn into a snob. This place is actually a balance between casual and fine dining so it’s a great place to have a get together with friends (and chat for an hour without them trying to kick you out, although that may have been because they weren’t super busy tonight) and I didn’t act like a snob tonight (haha).

Next time I come, I definitely want to give those small plates a try and I definitely want to try the all you can eat wings night (I think Val said that’s Wednesday nights?). Service was great. We were seated promptly (we also happened to be the first people in the restaurant at like 5 PM) and our waitress was attentive throughout the meal. Even after we finished eating and had paid the bill, she came by and offered to top off our waters.

Based on this experience, I would give this place a 4.25/5.

 

Grilled Ultimeat Feast

Restaurant Review: Escoba Bistro and Wine Bar

Location: 624 8 Ave SW
Website: https://www.escoba.ca/

I first heard about Escoba as it was the place chosen to sorta host our welcome lunch for our articling students (a mentors, principals, and articling students lunch).  As you may well know, Italian flavours are very attractive to me.  While they do have other items on their menu that wouldn’t fall under Italian and they do classify themselves as a Mediterranean restaurant, they have some quintessentially Italian offerings such as arancini and panzanella salad.

Originally, Carmen and I were planning on going to Teatro, but as we were unable to procure a reservation, this became our next restaurant of choice.  I love how convenient it is to make and cancel reservations through OpenTable and I’m glad to say that this is one of the places that does accept reservations through that app.

For the starter, we chose to go with the Appetizer Taster, which allowed us to try three appetizers for $18 (or $9 per additional person).  For the Appetizer Taster, we could choose from the top five items on the appetizer menu: Escoba Spring Rolls, Prawn & Crab Cakes, Italian Meatballs, Wild Mushroom and Oka Arancini, and the Mediterranean Black Bean Croquettes.  As Carmen has a plethora of sensitivities and allergies, it ruled out all but three of the options.  Through inquiries, we found out that the restaurant doesn’t deep fry anything, everything is oven baked using olive oil.  We ordered the Prawn & Crab Cakes, Italian Meatballs and Wild Mushroom and Oka Arancini.  The Italian Meatballs and Arancini could be enjoyed as is while the Prawn & Crab cakes had to be enjoyed with the aioli on the side, as the mayonnaise used in the aioli contained an oil that Carmen couldn’t have.  We both started with the Arancini.  I was slightly disappointed as I couldn’t find the wild mushrooms or Oka as advertised in its name.  I love mushrooms and really would have loved to have been able to taste it.  I will admit that the balsamic drizzle on the Arancini was very nice and the truffle crème fraîche was quite nice.  Though I’m not sure whether it was white or black truffle, I’m pretty certain it was white, but it wasn’t overpowering as is often the case with white truffle oil.  The pepperiness of the arugula was a nice contrast to the creamy crème fraîche and Arancini.  Next we tried the Italian Meatball that had a lovely warm tomato sauce, pesto, and Parmesan accompaniment.  The Meatballs were served on top of watercrest.  I originally thought that it was arugula, but Carmen noticed the difference in the leaf shape and corrected me.  Watercrest tastes remarkably similar to arugula that I didn’t notice they were different.  Next time, I’ll have to pay closer attention.  The final component to our trio was the Prawn & Crab Cakes, which was the one I was most excited for.  While it was difficult to discern prawn from crab, the lemon-caper aioli was the best thing I have ever tasted.  That aioli was the make and break point of this component.  Carmen noted that usually crab cakes are among one of her favourite, she did not enjoy it as it was “quite fishy.”  I believe that the aioli, had she been able to eat it, would have counteracted that quite nicely.  I was also surprised at myself as I usually don’t like capers, but I loved it in this application.

For our mains, Carmen ordered the Tiger Rose and I had the Alberta Beef Tenderloin.  While I don’t drink, I like that the menu recommends wine pairing for each of their dishes for people who do drink and aren’t sommeliers (and are too shy to ask about wine pairings, but also, this makes things easier on servers).  The Tiger Rose contains pan-seared tiger prawns, asparagus & sundried tomatoes tossed in a tomato Dijon cream sauce with linguine.  I have to admit, I was eying this, but as I frequently get pasta, I decided to go for the tenderloin. I suppose I could have gone with the best of both worlds and chosen the beef tenderloin fettuccini.  I only shied away from the Tiger Rose because I wasn’t sure I was feeling in the mood for a Dijon cream sauce.  Thinking about it now, it sounds intriguing and I would definitely give it a try.   I was actually debating whether to go with the tenderloin or salmon, but ultimately went with the tenderloin.  The tenderloin was an 6 oz AAA tenderloin, served with Gorgonzola smashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, bordelaise sauce and a foie gras butter.  Like the Dijon, I was a little apprehensive about the Gorgonzola as I was worried that it would be overpoweringly strong, as is often the case with blue cheeses, but I knew that Gorgonzola went really well with beef and the server gave me one last push by saying that her favourite thing to do when she ordered the tenderloin was to take a bite of potato with the steak.  Intrigued, I ordered it.  Unfortunately, the Gorgonzola was undetectable, which was disappointing.  I may not like how strong it is at times, but if I ordered it, I want to be able to at least taste it.  In recent years, I’ve grown to really love red peppers and I always find that it pairs really well with beef.  I was, at one point really excited because I thought I had gotten two pieces of red pepper, turns out the other was a slice of tomato…

Of course, what is a meal without dessert.  The dessert menu had so many amazing options, but again, it was the server’s suggestion that cemented my decision.  I ordered the Cookies and Cream which was amazing!  It was essentially caramel sauce sandwiched between two fluffy chocolate cakes with spiced rum, topped with vanilla ice cream and more caramel and a raspberry coulis and more caramel sauce drizzled on the plate.  The only weird thing on the plate were the microgreens under the ramekin.  A better choice here would have been mint.  If I wasn’t already so full and happy with my main, I probably would have gotten another dessert.

The food and service at Escoba was exceptional!  Our server not only wanted to know what Carmen was allergic to based on what she could think of by looking at the ingredients listed on the menu, but wanted to know all her allergies and sensitivities in case they weren’t listed and in case there was any cross-contamination.  I got to learn a lot about processes and ingredients and I really like to be able to learn about my dining experience, especially as  a restaurant reviewer.

I would definitely come back here.  It’s a great date night spot.  Based on my experience here, I would rate this place a 4.5/5.

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Sign

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Projected sign

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Restaurant Exterior

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Restaurant Interior

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Cork Wall (behind me)

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Appetizer Teaser (left to right): Wild Mushroom and Oka Arancini, Prawn & Crab Cakes, and Italian Meatballs

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Tiger Rose

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Alberta Beef Tenderloin

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Cookies and Cream

Restaurant Review: Oriental Phoenix

Location: 105, 401 – 9th Avenue SW
Website: http://www.orientalphoenix.ca/

Seeing as this restaurant is only about a block away from my office, I thought after about 5 months of seeing it everyday, that I ought to try it out.  It was a kind of impromptu decision, but Alex made us a reservation the morning of and we were able to be seated fairly quickly (once they noticed us at least).

As with all restaurants, I like to look at the menu before and and the site stated that there was a slight chance that the downtown location could have a different menu with slightly different prices (aka more expensive because it is expensive to do business/rent a location downtown, plus all the “rich” business people working down there).  So it was a more general idea of what I wanted slash seeing if the downtown location had the things I had chosen off of the menu on their website.

I started off with the shrimp salad rolls, which I shared with Alex.  They consisted of A LOT of vermicelli and not much else.  Having grown up with making my own at home and stuffing it full of meat and veggies rather than vermicelli (even though I do love my carbs), this seemed to be very expensive for a roll of carbs served with hoisin mixed with a sriracha style hot sauce, topped with peanuts.  I couldn’t even figure out where the shrimps were!  The University of Calgary salad rolls from La Prep are even better than the ones here!

For our mains I ordered the Sate Beef Pho and Alex had the Grilled Pork Vermicelli.  When the dishes arrived I was both offended and delighted by the size of the veggie accompaniment (bean sprouts).  I’m used to going to Vietnamese restaurants that give at least four times that amount with a lime and basil, so offended was my first reaction, but then my sense kicked in because I don’t actually eat that much of the bean sprout and hardly any basil that it was probably better they didn’t waste it on me anyways.  I was still offended it was a lemon rather than a lime because it completely changes the flavour profile.  The other thing that irked me was that there was no dish for me to put my hoisin sauce in to dip the meat into and the spoon was way too small for me to be able to balance the food on and put on it without it slipping into the soup (so I eventually had to put it in the spoon and then grab the meat to dip it, but it was also annoying I had to pick up the bottle every single time I wanted some hoisin).  When it came to taste, I really don’t think it was sate; it was more like chili flakes in soup, but other than that the broth was really well developed and flavourful.  But just because it wasn’t sate didn’t mean it wouldn’t burn you.  At first it was like, oh ok, this is alright, but after a long time (since the soup is hot temperature wise and hot spicy wise), it gets to you.  Then of course my body likes to exaggerate (just like me) how spicy it actually is by full on crying and runny nose and make me look like I’m really suffering.  The other thing I really loved was the texture of the noodles.  Maybe it was because I was really craving noodles or they truly are superior noodles, but they were so good!  The presentation was interesting; I was intrigued by the bowl shape, but as usual, way too much soup.

Alex’s Grilled Pork Vermicelli is her Vietnamese restaurant staple; one that she orders at every Vietnamese restaurant she goes to.  It looks like a typical grilled pork vermicelli, nothing special.  I watched as she poured on the nước mắm over the dish and then then that turned to horror when she grabbed the hoisin sauce and drizzled it all over her vermicelli and pork.  I’ve never understood why people put hoisin on there.  I probably should’ve asked, but the most logical answer would probably be “it tastes good,” but me being me, growing up on homemade nước mắm  and vermicelli it seems very odd and feels very wrong.  Also, it seemed weird that she wouldn’t mix it all up.  She just ate it, working from one side of the plate to the other, which is also not something I am used to.  So this was an interesting experience for me.  I wouldn’t say it was wrong, but it was definitely different.

We both ordered the iced coffee and unlike what I’m used to at Vietnamese restaurants, they brought out the already mixed coffee (I’m used to them bringing out the thing to drip the coffee into a glass cup that has condensed milk on the bottom of the cup and then pouring it over the ice myself).  I completely understand the reasoning why they would choose not to do this, the first being what a mess it would make and the second being that this is downtown and if they’re expecting us to pay them more, then they have to provide the service of a slightly higher class.

Although this place isn’t exactly wheelchair accessible from the entrance we entered in from, I’m sure there is a way to get in through the Gulf Canada building, but I don’t know for certain.

Overall, I would recommend this place and I would definitely come back.  The service was quick and the servers were polite enough, checking in at the appropriate times to make sure everything was to our liking.  I know that a coworker of mine came here last week, but didn’t have as great of an experience.  They went to lunch at their usual time, noon, ordered, but their food didn’t arrive until 12:45 and they had to shovel down their food.  She said that she got sick from doing that, but still thought the food was really good.  Based on my experience today, I would give this place a 3.75/5.

Salad Rolls

Shrimp Salad Rolls

Pho

Sate Beef Pho

Vermicelli

Grilled Pork Vermicelli

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