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Posts tagged ‘stirfry’

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

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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.

restaurant-interior-2

Restaurant Interior

restaurant-interior-3

Restaurant Interior

drinks

Aladdin’s Passion and Strawberry Lemonade

pu-pu-plater

Pu Pu Platter

restaurant-interior

food-options-2

Asian Market

food-options

Asian Market

food-options-3

Asian Market

sauce-options-better-pic

Asian Market Sauces

sauce-options

before-stirfried

Beverly and Diana’s veggies for stir-fry

bevs

Beverly stir-fry

dianas

Diana’s Stir-fry

daves-stirfry

David’s Stir-fry

extra-sides

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

 

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