Banh Mi · Bars/Lounges · Restaurants

Birthday Weekend – The Trop, Major Tom, Soc Trang (date night #12) and Aussie Rules

The plan on Friday was to host Beep Beep, Sunflower and Lovegastrogirl for dinner, then head to The Trop for the live music. However, as the evening crept on, our plans changed. Beep Beep rescheduled her flight due to childcare issues, and later, Lovegastrogirl declined due to work commitments. However, Sunflower was still up for some entertainment. For this post, let’s play “The Bad Touch” by Bloodhound Gang.

L had zero desire to come with us to The Trop, but he dropped us off and wished us fun. I was delighted to discover that we got the best table in the house – the large booth with a prime view of the dance floor. My friend Kournikova told me it is nearly impossible to get that table, even if you RSVP (which we did).

Despite having already eaten dinner, Sunflower insisted on treating me to snacks and Vizzy Seltzers ($6). The Tempura Green Beans ($11) and Potstickers ($13.75) were surprisingly good. The Trop is known for its live music, friendly staff, and Golden Girls clientele. Now I can add vegetarian appetizers to that list.

The green beans were plump and sweet, and the batter was so light it melted in my mouth. The spicy aioli gave these beans some spicy heat. I would get this again.

I was shocked that the potstickers were so good because 1) The Trop is not an Asian restaurant, and 2) the dumplings were vegetarian. Most veggie versions I’ve tried are bland, with no discernible flavour or texture. However, the Trop’s potstickers were clearly homemade. Fragrant with sesame oil, the combination of meaty mushrooms and water chestnuts made for good noshing.

The band playing on Friday was Red Mile High. Before they played their first song, each musician completed a mic check. I wasn’t paying attention until I heard a band member shout, “Syphiliiiissssss!” I asked Sunflower if I heard correctly, and she snickered and nodded. Then, the crowd below us began repeating the guitarist’s warning, creating an uneasy buzz around the room. I looked around and wondered if the musician was giving a public health announcement on behalf of Alberta Health. I took comfort in knowing that Sunflower and I would only have indigestion when we returned home.

The next day, Beep Beep arrived in Calgary. We shopped at a farmer’s market and, after, stopped by Major Tom for golden hour (3:00 – 5:00 pm). We ordered Cosmopolitan martinis ($16), Major Tots ($8), Oysters on the Half Shell ($21), and the MT Cheeseburger ($28).

I was curious about the cheeseburger because several food writers in Calgary have raved about it. Eating this burger was a sensual experience. The edges of the benchmark-aged patty were charbroiled and crusty, while the ruby-red middle remained warm and succulent.

Beep Beep said there were just enough condiments to compliment the beef, such as the crunchy burst of brine from the pickles and bite from the raw white onions. I enjoyed the stickiness of the layer of melted American cheese.

On our way home, I ordered banh mi from Soc Trang Vietnamese Submarines on Centre Street. As you may recall, I have an ongoing bet with L to have 19 banh mi dates, which makes Soc Trang date number 12. I called ahead to request two Beef Sate ($8.50), Sate Beef and Chicken ($8.50), Assorted Cold Cut ($7.75), Sate Chicken ($8.50), three Shrimp Salad Rolls ($6.50) and Pork and Shrimp Salad Rolls ($6.50). I asked for the vegetable toppings on the side and untoasted baguettes to prep the banh mis’ fresh at home.

L and Sirkski preferred the shrimp over the pork and shrimp salad rolls. However, I liked the addition of the pork, as the rough, dry texture gave some oomph to the roll. Soc Trang makes their salad rolls with fresh mint leaves instead of the standard iceberg lettuce. Even their hoisin dipping sauce was extra special, including strands of carrots, hot sauce, and peanuts.


I sampled the beef, chicken and assorted subs. I’m usually a cold-cut fan, but I prefer the beef and chicken subs. I relished the sauciness of the sate sauce, which mingled with the heavy layer of yellow mayonnaise. These are hefty subs. The chicken was plump and tender, and it tasted like it poached. Unlike Kim Anh’s grounded lemongrass beef sub, Soc Trang’s beef uses thickly sliced pieces and is generously layered.


Soc Trang’s pate has a rougher texture and more pungent flavour than Thi Thi, and reminded me of Saigon Deli’s cold cut. However, unlike Thai Tai’s homogenous cold cut, Soc Trang gives layers of various cold cuts that taste distinctively different. All the vegetable toppings tasted fresh. The carrots were pickled and slightly sweet. The quartered cucumbers were crunchy and refreshing. The other toppings include raw white onions, jalapenos, and cilantro.

After we ate, we headed to Aussie Rules ($13) for duelling pianos, which start at 8:00 pm and end at midnight. The hostess informed us we could dance on our chairs but not on tables.

Sirkski and L observed the drinks were cheap. For example, a Schooner (32 oz) of Wildrose beer is $15, $26 for a jug, and $7 for a pint. The highballs are more expensive – for a double vodka and soda, it’s $17 and $20 for three ounces.

Flowers from Lovegastrogirl.


We had a blast at Aussie Rules. The musicians are talented, and the crowd is even more entertaining. Forget The Trop and Merchants, Aussie Rules is the best place for people-watching. Thanks to all my friends and family for making my birthday one of the best ones to date.

Flowers from Sunflower and L.

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