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Posts tagged ‘Food’

Restaurant Review: Cafe 100%

Location: #110 – 30 Country Hills Landing NW
Website: http://www.tasteofasiagroup.ca/

This restaurant is one of the many Hong Kong style restaurants (T.Pot, Pebble Street, Forbidden City) owned by the Taste of Asia Group Inc. Overall, these restaurants are very successful because they serve some of the most unique and delicious food anywhere in Calgary. As a person who loves appetizers, Hong Kong style cafes are the among my favourite places to eat out at. In line with Hong Kong’s postcolonial identity, the food reflects a fusion-esque blending of its two most influential cultures.

Unlike Chinese restaurants who give you a pot of tea and tiny tea cups, Hong Kong cafes usually give you a large glass full of hot or cold tea depending on the place, here it was hot. At cafes like these, tea is the equivalent of being started off with a glass of water at western restaurants. My sister and dad were the only two who ordered drinks: yinyang and cold almond milk. For those who don’t know what ying yang is, it is a drink that can be served hot or cold and is a combination of milk tea and coffee; my dad chose to have it hot. The cold almond milk was served in a bottle with ice, contributing to the rustic charm of the place.

For our “starter” we ordered the XO Fried Turnip Cakes with a Sweet Soya Sauce Finish. XO sauce is one of my favourite sauces which can be used in nearly everything from fried noodles to stir fried green beans to turnip cakes. It is a spicy seafood sauce that contains dried shrimp. Though I don’t particularly like eating the dried shrimp, it provides amazing depth of flavour and is among my favourite ingredients in a chili oil as a unique flavouring (many restaurants and individuals try to make their chili oil stand out from the rest by adding things like dried shrimp, garlic, sichuan peppers, etc.) . But back to the turnip cakes. Fried turnip cakes are a staple at dim sum and as a starter, it is very filling. I suppose the heading it was under was technically snacks as Hong Kong Cafes are known to be open really late and great places for late night snacks. Personally, I’ve never found XO sauce to be very spicy, but it has a complex savoury flavour about it, in part due to the dried shrimp. However, this dish was different in that it contained sweet soy sauce. The addition of the sweet soy sauce was a really nice touch because the more flavour profiles it fills, the more rounded the dish is. This dish is spicy, salty, and sweet, which are my flavours of preference.

We each decided to order our own mains, but with the intention of sharing. My sister had the Tender Beef with Handmade Noodles in Soup, I ordered the Shrimp Mentaiko Udon, my dad had the Fish Filet with Eggplant, and my mom had the Beef with Ginger and Green Onion. My parents meals came with steamed rice, soup and steamed lettuce with oyster sauce. I believe they had a choice of different kinds of soup, but my dad ordered what they called white soup. White soup is a cream based soup, a chowder of sorts containing bacon, and corn. Unlike most starter soups I’ve come across, the portion size could almost be considered meal sized at some restaurants. The Beef with Ginger and Green Onion was really something, the onions in the dish were huge, but in combination with the ginger, provided good flavour to the beef. I myself am don’t particularly like ginger because of how it tastes, but also because of the particular way it burns my throat, which is why I don’t eat ginger with my sushi either (although ginger in that case is suppose to be used as a palate cleanser, but that’s for a different time). My dad’s Fish Filet with Eggplant and ground pork is not unlike the hot pot dish at other restaurants or one of the choices at T&T for their 3 for $25 meals. It is good, but it’s nothing special and it is one of the greasiest dishes because the fish filet and eggplant are both fried before they are put into the hot pot. The Mentaiko Udon as the name suggests is a Japanese style dish. It was advertised as one of its specialty dishes so I decided to give it a try. I was sorely disappointed. The udon noodles were nice and chewy as they should be, but that’s about all they got right. The shrimp was overcooked, the scallops looked as though they had been sliced in half (as to save money by “stretching” the use of that ingredient), and the fish roe was cooked almost all the way through and was very salty. The bonito fish flakes and seaweed garnish weren’t bad, but it gave it an unappealing fishy smell and taste. And pooled at the bottom of my dish was an unsavoury amount of oil. That certainly didn’t help my appetite. My sister’s dish was also quite ordinary. Though the beef was cooked beautifully (it was so tender and melt in your mouth), the soup was bland and the noodles softer than I expected.

Overall, I’d say I liked this restaurant and would like to come back and try some of the snack/appetizer items on their menu, which I feel is probably what they’re known for and would excel at. Service was a bit slow and my dad had to stop a waiter to find out what was taking so long (though they didn’t really answer or acknowledge that they had heard him even). To give an idea of how long it too: my sister’s dish came out and she finished eating the entire thing and our dishes still hadn’t come out. Other menu items I’d like to try are their unagi fried rice, fried noodle and seafood in cream sauce, and calamari. Based on this experience I’d rank my experience as 3/5.

Cafe interior 2

Cafe Interior

Cafe interior

Cafe Interior

Turnip Cakes with xo sauce

XO Fried Turnip Cakes with Sweet Soya Sauce Finish

White Soup

White Soup

Stewed Beef and Handmade noodles 2

Tender Beef with Handmade Noodles in Soup

Beef and Ginger 2

Beef with Ginger and Green Onion

Fish Filet with Eggplant

Fish Filet with Eggplant and Ground Pork

Shrimp Mentaiko Udon

Shrimp Mentaiko Udon

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Cafe Review: Al Forno

Location:222 – 7 St. SW
Website: http://alforno.ca/

We originally came at around 10:30am, the place was packed. We scoped the place for any available seats, but there were none, so we headed to Cafe Blanca. After an hour or so we headed back here and found a table pretty much immediately. With one person saving our spot, the other two headed down to order. My first impression of the place was that it was very similar to Corbeaux on 17th Ave (that has sadly since closed down). As Valerie and I stood in line, waiting to place our order, a line formed behind up, ending up with people pressed up against the door. Though we had already eaten, we decided to get ourselves some sandwiches and a tart, while Yulin ordered a flatbread.

The duck sandwich from Al Forno is pretty much exactly the same as the Duck Confit from Vendome, which makes sense since that’s what Vendome has become known for and is one of the best things they have on their menu. Unfortunately, unlike Vendome, Al Forno’s duck sandwich was drenched in enough oil to save Alberta’s economy from disaster. The porchetta sandwich I ordered was something that wasn’t something available at Vendome. It consisted of roast porchetta (of course), hazelnut gremolata, some kind of greens (I’m thinking arugula, but I’m not completely sure), and a lemon aioli. Despite this sandwich being very oily, it definitely was not as oily as the duck sandwich. The lemon aioli was a refreshing addition to the panini instead of the typical garlic or truffle aioli which can be quite heavy. The lemon is a good contrast to the richness of the porchetta. This was my first time having a gremolata, so I didn’t know what to expect, but really, I didn’t taste much of it and I’m still wondering what it’s supposed to taste like. My only other complaint was that there was a thick layer of fat that could have been removed from the porchetta. And I’m not sure if this is expecting too much of them, but the skin could have been crisped up like the Chinese do with their roast pork (which is pretty much the same). Yulin’s veggie flatbread wasn’t all that special. I liked that it was full-bodied in its flavour because so many healthy options just don’t get enough seasoning. I also like the combination of herbs used in the flatbread that helped to provide more complexity to the dish.

The chocolate ganache tart was the featured tart of the day. At first I was concerned that it would be too rich and from the moment I cut into it I knew there was something wrong. The ganache stuck terribly to my fork, which I expected, but the entire crust fell away and crumbled everywhere. It was admittedly a delicious crust containing oats and coconut flakes, but awfully inconvenient to eat. The ganache wasn’t as sweet and overwhelming as I expected, but it was about $5 for a slice (look below to see how small it was).

Though this cafe is brighter, more modern, quieter, more spacious, less noisy, and slightly cheaper than Vendome in some aspects, the amount of oil in the sandwiches is a bit off putting. However, I’d like to try out some of their other food (pizzas and pastas and small stuff) before I make a final decision about my return. For today’s visit I’d rate it 3.75/5.

al forno.jpg

Top: Duck Sandwich; Bottom: Porchetta Sandwich Right: Chocolate Ganache

al forno 2.jpg

Veggie Flatbread

al forno interior 2

Al Forno Interior

al forno interior

Al Forno Interior

Happy Valentine’s Day?

When I was a kid celebrating Valentine’s Day for the first time, I didn’t really understand the point of this day. What kind of holiday involved buying expensive gifts you couldn’t afford for people and eating mountains of chocolate?

As I grew up, I felt as though Valentine’s Day was more about the commercialism and less about love. Valentine’s Day promoted values I didn’t believe in: buying people’s affection. I can understand how effective that might be in the short term, but in the long term…ehn…not so much. This day was supposed to be about the loved ones in our lives, the people who mean the most to us. There was a time when Valentine’s  Day would make me feel absolutely worthless because I’d look around at all the couples, all the people who had someone else to love in their lives and think that I’d never be one of them. And sometimes I still look at people like this and think that I’ll be forever alone, but I no longer look at this as being a curse or something terrible. In time I’ve grown and learned to love myself and build my self-esteem, I’ve learned that dependency on others isn’t the way I want to live my life. I can be happy without someone. But of course that means the opposite as well, just because there’s someone in my life doesn’t mean I’m gonna be unhappy about it. Life isn’t black and white.

So what I’m saying is today is not the only day you should be expressing your love for those around you. And showing your love isn’t just about buying them expensive trinket. Sometimes all someone wants or needs is your time. It’s the memories you make that cannot be captured, but will be forever remembered that make all the difference. So next Valentine’s Day, just think about the people you love and spend some time with them, listen to the stories they have, or just do something you all enjoy.

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New Foods at Calgary Stampede This Year

New Foods at Calgary Stampede This Year

OMG!!! I want to go to the Stampede this year…for reasons (read FOOD)!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

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