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Posts tagged ‘vermicelli’

Restaurant Review: Mina’s Vietnamese Soup

Website: https://www.minasvietnamesecalgary.com/
Location: 715-12100 Macleod Trail SE

The day after having Vietnamese food at Tamarind with Julia, I came here with Alex for lunch. As I understand, this was one of her favourite places to have Vietnamese food, and she was a little curious/apprehensive about what I’d have to say about this place.

We started with the Shrimp Salad Rolls which were served with a peanut sauce. Typically, I only order salad rolls and spring rolls when I’m having pho because the contents of a salad roll are pretty much identical to the vermicelli (bun), so it’s too much of the same for me, but Alex loves them so, naturally, I had to give them a try. I found them to be standard, which is a good thing. These are so easy that I’d be very unimpressed if they somehow messed it up. But again, I grew up eating and making these, so maybe they’re not as easy to make as I think they are.

Since I had pho the day before with Julia, I opted to order a vermicelli dish, as did Alex. I ordered the Mina’s Vermicelli Special and Alex had the Charbroiled Pork and Spring Roll on Rice Vermicelli. The Mina’s Vermicelli Special comes with bean curd skin with shrimp paste, spring rolls, charbroiled pork and shrimp. When I read or hear “bean curd skin with shrimp paste” I think of shrimp paste wrapped in bean curd and deep fried. Apparently it was either completely omitted or it’s not actually in the dish, which was disappointing because it’s one of my absolute favourite things to have in my vermicelli. Other than that, the flavours were quite nice.

Service was pretty quick and the restaurant was fairly clean in comparison to Tamarind. I would definitely come back and give this place a 3.25/5.

Salad Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Charbroiled Pork and Spring Rolls Vermicelli
Mina’s Vermicelli Special

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: 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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