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Posts tagged ‘Review’

Restaurant Review: K & B Pho

Location: 806 Centre St NE

We used to come to this location back when it was Happy Hill Restaurant for dim sum. Though it was often on the noisy side, this place was always packed and served some of the most delicious dim sum I have ever had. Unfortunately that closed down and became a sushi restaurant, which I never ended up visiting and now it’s a Vietnamese restaurant.

While scanning the menu, the Cambodian Noodle Soup caught my eye. The last time I had had this was at Giang Nam before it closed down. For those who have never had cambodian noodles, they’re very similar to sweet potato or tapioca noodles (also called crystal or glass noodles), but they’re not nearly as chewy. So of course, I had to order this. Little did I know I was about to be sorely disappointed. My sister had her usual: Bun Bo Hue and my dad ordered his usual Beef Stew with rice or egg noodle (only he said the wrong number and ended up with a Seafood Noodle Soup). My mom went for a rice dish, the BBQ Pork Chop on Broken Rice.

Lately, my dad has a thing with ordering a starter when we go for Vietnamese food and it’s always spring rolls. The spring rolls here were actually quite decent and filled with meat rather than fillers (cellophane noodles, vegetables, oil).

For those who have had pho, Cambodian noodles, or Chinese rice noodles, you would know from the second you put it your mouth that something wasn’t right. There was something off about the texture. It wasn’t exactly mushy, but it was soft. And though it didn’t “bleed” into the soup, it was starchy. They didn’t do too badly on the soup. It both smelled and tasted exactly as I had remembered them. There was a fairly good meat to noodle ratio (but of course I prefer more noodles to meat so there was too much meat for my liking). Unlike most places that serve Cambodian noodles soups, they chose to use kidney rather than liver and slice it thinner than I’m used to. I think the choice to do that is because kidney has a much milder taste than liver and is a lot smoother. Valerie’s Bun Bo Hue wasn’t at all like the one we usually have a Pho Huong Viet (I haven’t done a food review on this place because I usually forget or so packed that we just want to eat and get gone so I don’t have time to take pictures, but it is a really good restaurant like my favourite Vietnamese restaurant of all time). It wasn’t spicy like it should be and the noodles were too soft. My dad’s dish was ordinary, so I have nothing really to say. It’s honestly just noodles and seafood, which everyone knows the taste of. The broth was just the same as the staple in all Chinese noodle houses, so it was decent. My mom’s dish was the highlight of the evening. It was huge for our/her standards. In fact, she was unable to finish it all. The rice came with a “salad” on the side and I’d have to say that it’s one of the healthier feeling options on the menu.

Having said all that (or complained about it), I would return to this restaurant to try the vermicelli and woven vermicelli dishes. Since it’s days as Happy Hill Restaurant, it’s remodeled the dining area and now looks very sleek. However, the bathroom has not been remodeled and remains the dirty, dingy, dungeon it was before. From this experience, I’d rate this place a 3/5.

spring rolls

Spring Rolls

bun bo hue

Bun Bo Hue

Broken Rice

BBQ Pork on Broken Rice

Cambodian noodles

Cambodian Noodle Soup

 

Restaurant Review: Goro+Gun

Location: 225 7 Ave SW (Scotia Centre in the Core)
Website: http://goroandgun.ca/

These last few weeks have been hell for me. Though I’ve taken some time off of work, it’s far from relaxing. These two months off are meant for me to study for the LSAT. I promised myself this would be the last time I take this damn test. It’s becoming incredibly stressful to continually have to endure the four hour exam and besides all that, it’s costing me a fortune just to try and get in. Today I took a much need break and went shopping downtown at The Core with my sister. I’ve passed Goro+Gun several times on my visits there and was initially informed of it’s existence by my cousin, Yulin.

Today we finally had a chance to stop in and give this place a try. The entrance was not exactly as I expected. There wasn’t really a podium/counter where the host or hostess could stand and the doors opened up into what looked like the middle of the restaurant. My sister and I approached cautiously and were immediately greeted. As it was nearly three in the afternoon, the place was pretty empty and we were promptly seated and served. My sister, Valerie remarked that the place had the feel of a tapas bar. With the open kitchen and a lot of bar seating, it certainly seemed that way.

We started with drinks: the elderflower power and yuzu soda. Both brought me back to Mexico when we had the alcohol free margaritas. In short, way too sweet. The other thing was that I expected the yuzu soda to be less…washed out in colour. It looked almost exactly the same as the Elderflower Power and tasted almost the same. I expected that the blood orange would have brought a vibrant redish orange to the drink, but that wasn’t what happened. We quickly worked through the menu, deciding to go with a calamari, a tuna poke, the Paitan Ramen, the chef’s selection of sashimi, a rainbow roll, and the special yuzu scallop.

The calamari were so perfectly fried that at first I was shocked. Most of the restaurants I’ve been to in the past have vastly over-fried the calamari so that it’s hard and rubbery. This was not the case for these calamaris. They were soft and succulent, leaving me wanting more. It served with a yuzu and spicy mayo sauce, which tasted a little different than most spicy mayo sauces I’ve had. One obvious reason was that there was yuzu in the sauce giving it a unique taste, but the other was that the mayo was actually spicy. The only complain was that it was a bit on the salty side, but other than that, best calamari I’ve had to date. The second appetizer we ordered, the tuna poke, is equally fantastic. Though, also on the salty side, they had large chunks of tender tuna and smooth, creamy avocado on a bed of fresh greens, dressed with a sweet sesame dressing and served with fried wonton crisps. I feel that my ability to handle raw fish has grown substantially. I remember a time when the idea of putting a raw piece of fish into my mouth made my stomach turn. But now, I can appreciate it as well as the skillful seasoning of the chef.

We had just finished with our appetizers when the rainbow roll arrived. It certainly was rainbow. The roll consisted avocado and cucumber topped with tuna, salmon, prawn, scallop, and ikura served atop two sauces: a spicy mayo and a garlic aioli. I didn’t have a chance to have much of the spicy mayo, but it was essentially the same as the one served with the calamari except no yuzu. The garlic aioli was surprisingly good with the roll, the slight saltiness was perfect so that I didn’t have to use any soy sauce. As we worked on that, the sashimi came. Now, I can handle raw in small quantities. I still can’t handle eating a slab of sashimi so this one was all for Val. When we were ordering, the waitress informed us that the Chef’s Selection would have two more pieces of sashimi than if we ordered any of the other types of sashimi on the menu. Unfortunately, it was short one piece. Though this is not a huge deal, considering the price, I’d really have wanted that piece, although it wasn’t like we could say, hey, we’re missing a piece because by the time we realized it, it was at the point where she could have just said, you ate it and no one could prove anything. We let it go, but it’s something I’m going to soon forget. After that was the Paitan Ramen. Apparently, Goro+Gun is known for its ramen, so this was a must for us. I don’t particularly like miso based soups simply because they have a tendency to be very salty. And while tonkotsu broths have a richer pork flavour that is creamier in consistency, sometimes the porkiness can be a bit overwhelming for me. So today we decided to go with a chicken broth based ramen. The Ramen had pork belly, bamboo shoots, boiled bean sprouts, and heaps of green onions and seaweed. The broth was phenomenal especially since they don’t use any MSG in any of their food. The noodles, when I first had them were slightly chewy, just the way I like them. The only sad thing was that there was very little of much else. The heap of bean sprouts was so small I could have eaten them in one bite and there were only about four slices of bamboo shoots, but the worst was that they only gave two small slices of pork belly. I get that pork belly can be expensive, but come on. For a dish of comparable size and price, Anju gave us four large slices of pork belly. I was unimpressed to say the least. The last dish was the special yuzu scallops. The menu doesn’t ever indicate how many pieces are in a roll or how many pieces of sashimi per order, which I wish it had. At first, we thought that the price was for one piece and we were completely appalled. It turns out that it was for two pieces. I mean, that’s not much better, but I’d have to admit, it was pretty good. It’s similar to the creamy scallop dish that most sushi restaurants have, but it’s funny how a touch of citrus can elevate the dish.

In the end, we decided to round out the meal with a dessert, something we hadn’t tried before: a green tea white chocolate brownie. It was unlike any dessert I had ever had. The “brownie” looked more like slices of cake topped with chilled and sweetened red beans, a berry compote and spun sugar. I’ve never had spun sugar in my life; it something I’ve only ever seen on TV. It’s even more beautiful up close. Eating it was like eating needles, but in a good way. The green tea was very light and the chocolate undetectable. I preferred the compote to the red bean, but the red bean was still pretty good.

Though expensive, the meal was pretty good. It seems as though there is a touch of yuzu in everything and at this time I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. In most of the dishes we ordered, it was undetectable. Even in the drink I could barely taste anything but the overbearing sweetness of the other ingredients in the drink. All things considered, I would definitely recommend this restaurant for their ramen and appetizers. Next time I’d like to try out their bentos and teppenyaki. That’s another thing for another day though. Based on today’s experience, I’d rate them 4.25/5.

Panorama of Restaurant Interior

Panorama of Restaurant Interior

Calamari

Calamari

Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke

Rainbow Roll

Rainbow Roll

Chef's Selection of Sashimi

Chef’s Selection of Sashimi

Special Yuzu Scallop Sushi

Special Yuzu Scallop Sushi

Paitan Ramen

Paitan Ramen

Green Tea White Chocolate Brownie

Green Tea White Chocolate Brownie

Restaurant Review: Julio’s Barrio

Location: 1110 Memorial Dr. NW Calgary, Alberta

Website: http://juliosbarrio.com/

This is my second time coming here, The first time I went was for dinner with my family. I can tell you that this restaurant is not meant for family dinners. For dinner with friends? Yes. For a couple of drinks? Yes. For a loud and possibly good time? Yes. Family dinner? Not really. I can’t even remember what I had had the first time I went; I think the noise erased most of my memories of the place. All I remember are the tables, which look like they used bathroom tiles. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, except that it isn’t really my style. Colourful and fun, but still not my style.

This time I had lunch with a friend. It was different coming here with a friend instead of my family and for lunch instead of dinner. It was tranquil and hard to believe that my first experience had been as bad as it was. We were seated in a sunny spot and it was really nice, except that the table wobbled a little. Our waitress started us off with some tortilla chips and salsa in a flower shaped tortilla bowl. Both my friend and I ordered tacos. I had the shrimp tacos while she had the baja fish tacos, both of which made it to the table in record time. I hardly felt like I had waited ten minutes when the food appeared. My shrimp tacos were advertised to be seasoned and diced with avocado dressing and a fresh mango salsa and my friend’s baja fish tacos were corona battered and lightly fried red snapper fillets topped with chipotle aioli. Of course they were also topped with some fresh vegetables like red cabbage, lettuce and so on and instead of fries they came with refried beans, corn salad and rice. I found this to be a nice change since fries aren’t that healthy and this gives it a more Mexican flare. The rice and corn salad were delicious, but I found the refried beans to be a little on the salty side. That’s not to say they didn’t taste good, just a little less salt would have made them that much better. Unfortunately my taco wasn’t as nice as the sides. The shrimp completely lacked seasoning and the avocado dressing was more like a deflated avocado foam. It didn’t help that the salsa released so much water that it mixed with the avocado foam and ran out the back of the taco all over my hand and plate. My friend’s baja fish taco looked much more appetizing and hopefully if I ever return there, I will give those a try.

All in all, great service, okay food, and a fun atmosphere. I would rate this restaurant 3.5/5

Baja Fish Taco

Baja Fish Taco*

Image

Shrimp Taco in the foreground. Baja Fish Taco in the background. Really bright and obscured basket to the side: tortilla chips with salsa

*Picture credit goes to Rhiannon

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