Japanese · Fusion · 17th Ave · Sushi

Sushi In – Revisit

Another boring Saturday in what I consider the worst month of the year. January is generally cold, dull, and downright depressing. The only thing keeping my mood up is my latest obsession with Joan Jett. Now, that’s a chick who knows how to rock and roll. Let’s listen to “Do You Wanna Touch Me” for this post.

I told L I was taking him out for dinner at Sushi In, a Japanese restaurant in our neighbourhood. We ate there once when it first opened, but I gathered we went on an off night based on recent reviews on Instagram.

Our sushi and sashimi were the first dishes to come out. L enjoyed the Dynamite Roll ($8). This roll was simple – filled with a small piece of tempura shrimp and a smidge of avocado. He also tried the Salmon ($2.50), Tuna ($2.50) and Tako Nigiri ($3). He said the portion of fish to rice was proportional, and the seafood tasted fresh.

The Salmon Aburi ($12) is worth ordering again. Most places that serve aburi make it overly sweet. At Sushi In, the salmon had that perfect amount of char, just faint enough so that the flame-seared flavour wasn’t overpowering. The squeeze of lemon added an excellent brightness to the fish. The fatty flesh of the salmon was tender and warm.

The Assorted Sashimi ($25) was also a winner. Except for the surf clam, each piece was large and plump. The scallops were large and lightly seared. The hamachi (yellowtail) and salmon belly were rich and buttery. The tuna was creamy and smooth. The surf clam was sliced into segments, the texture was crisp and chewy. Our only qualm was the sashimi was served too cold. After letting the dish sit for about 10 minutes, the temperature was optimal. L and I both agreed the sashimi is worthing ordering again.

I noticed other customers raving about the Best Ever Roll ($9). However, this style of sushi was not for us. The roll was drenched in a sweet, crunchy coating. I could taste the garlic and seasoning that reminded me of spicy bbq potato chips. I know Sushi In is popular with customers for its specialty rolls, bedazzled with sauces and crunchy adornments. However, L and I prefer the traditional dishes, like the sashimi and nigiri.

The Vegetable Tempura ($10) was toothsome. All the vegetables were served still sizzling from the fryer, coated in a crunchy batter. I particularly enjoyed the rich, creamy texture of the pumpkin and avocado. I was also a fan of the zucchini, which melted in my mouth.

L wanted to try the Spicy Chicken Karrage ($10.95). This boneless chicken was spicy, saucy, and a little sweet. I enjoyed it, but I still prefer the crispness and flavour of Sukiyaki House’s chicken karrage.

I’m glad we gave Sushi In another try. We found the sashimi and sushi fresh and affordable. If you are looking for some neighbourhood sushi joint – traditional or fusion, I would recommend checking out Sushi In. Hitting the Sauce gives Sushi In two phat thumbs up.

17th Ave · Mediteranean

Kreta Souvlaki and Pizza

On Monday evening, L suggested we pick something up for dinner. He requested we try Kreta Souvlaki, a Greek eatery located inside a gas station. I agreed as I recalled my friend Québécois informed me the moussaka at Kreta is particularly good. To get into the Christmas spirit, let’s listen to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Dean Martin.

I called ahead and ordered Moussaka ($15.99) and a Chicken Wrap with Fries ($12.99). The employee on the phone told me the order would be ready in 15 minutes. As per usual, L and I were exactly on time.

You pay at the front counter and then meander over to the far right of the store to pick up your order. Based on what I saw, Kreta looks like a friendly, family-owned operation.

My moussaka was pretty darn tasty! I enjoyed the soft layers of eggplant and the creamy pureed potatoes. The potatoes had a custard-like consistency – smooth and rich.

I took a bite of L’s chicken wrap. The pita was soft and pillowy. I found the chicken juicy and lightly seasoned. The fries were thick-cut and reminded me of Red Robin’s. The fries were lukewarm and, as a result, not as crispy as I would have liked. The tzatziki sauce is fantastic – garlicky with a nice bite to it. L said he enjoyed the gyro a little more than the chicken wrap.

I’d come back for the chicken wrap and fries. I’m curious to see if the pizza and calamari are any good. If you’re in the hood and looking for something unique, check out Kreta.

17th Ave · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Hawthorn Dining Room

My sister-in-law turned 40! We spent the afternoon at RnR Wellness Spa and the evening at the Hawthorn Dining Room. For this post, let’s listen to “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore.

To start the night, Turned ordered a round of bubbly (Maschio Prossecco, $54). As we looked through the menu, I mentioned that I heard the Scallops ($39) were particularly good. I consider myself an anti-influencer, so I was surprised when most of my dining companions ordered scallops, just based on my comment.

For wine, I let the birthday girl pick. Turned chose the Sea Sun ($80) because she loves pinot noir. Personally, I was not too fond of this wine because of the oaky notes. But, that’s okay because it wasn’t my birthday.

The moment I saw my entree, I knew it was a winner. Each plump scallop was caramelized, the flesh was sweet, soft and springy. I enjoyed the other flavourful components of the dish – the tart artichokes, roasted tomatoes, fresh spring peas, chorizo and salty capers. The person sitting across from me is originally from Newfoundland, and she approved of the scallops. I thought the scallops at Hawthorn were even better than the version I tried at Cassis Bistro, the difference being the former uses meatier scallops. I would order this again.

After dinner, we took a limo around 17th Ave. I watched, fascinated as Turned’s friends sang in unison to song after song. Though I missed out on prom in high school, I lived the experience decades later. Except instead of taking Polaroid pictures, everyone was taking a selfie.

When we arrived at our destination – Sub Rosa – one of the guests was denied access because the bouncer said she was intoxicated. When someone questioned his judgment, he explained that the guest in question was slurring her words, and she could not even pull her ID out of her purse. He said that clearly, she was already over-served. The bouncer said I was acceptable and welcome to come inside. My mother would be so proud.

I suggested heading over to Cactus Club because it was only two blocks away. Marta wanted to go to the Ship and Anchor, but no one wanted to walk that far, and since it was Halloween, we likely would not get in. Turned suggested Murrietta’s, as it was across the street and there was a dance floor.

No one was denied entry at Murrietta’s Bar & Grill, but there was still drama. Our party was supposed to be seated in the dining room. However, on the way to the dining room, most of our group disappeared to the lounge side. I was informed by the staff that our group could not enter the lounge as there was a private party.

When I finally found the birthday girl and her crew, a member of our circle was already dancing with a happy-looking man. I told our group that we either had to leave Murrietta’s or sit in the dining room. They decided to leave the premises. Once outside, there was another debate about going to the Ship and Anchor or another venue. When I realized I was the most responsible person in the gang, I decided to leave and get a Vietnamese sub. I didn’t want to be accountable for their shenanigans. You can imagine how heartbroken I was to find out my sandwich shop was closed for the night. At least I didn’t get denied entry. That would have been tragic.

17th Ave · Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Vietnamese

Thai Tai – Date night 8 of 19

I met Pedals at National on 17th Ave for half price wine. I picked National because I wanted to get a banh mi at Thai Tai after our night out. I’m always thinking ahead. For this post, let’s listen to “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna.

I haven’t eaten at Thai Tai before because I heard the food is westernized. However, I stumbled on a post on Instagram and the cold cut sub looked good enough for me.

I ordered a Cold Cut ($7.99) on toasted white bread with carrots, cucumber, onions, and chili peppers. When my sandwich was ready, I sat outside to eat. When I took the first bite, I grunted in appreciation. The guy sitting across from me that shot me a weird look, like I was ruining his late night meal.

The combination of the warm crusty sub and the coolness of the meat and pickled vegetables was so overwhelmingly delicious, my eyes rolled to the back of my head.  It’s incredible how much joy a banh mi can give me. The ratio of meat to vegetable and bread was spot on. The thick layers of meat are double that of Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi. The pate is so subtle that I didn’t really notice it. However, I found the special sauce of garlic, chili soy sauce and sriracha bright and savoury.

I called an Uber after I ate, but I still craving something. I spoke to an employee and told him my predicament. He said he had some spring rolls I could take from another order. He just made a friend for life. The vegetable spring rolls were awesome. When I arrived home, the shell was crunchy and the filling was still super-hot. I liked that I was given fish sauce, hot sauce and plum sauce.

Colour is really weird because I took this picture in my Uber.

L said when I came upstairs, I ranted for a good twenty minutes about how much I enjoyed my sub and spring rolls before falling into a deep sleep. The two glasses of wine I consumed earlier may have intensified my enthusiasm for Thai Tai. In any case, I plan to return and try the cold cut again, so my next review won’t be influenced by outside factors.

My next stop is Bake Chef at the University of Calgary. L and I are going to the advance vote so we can support mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek. While I’m there, I’m going to pick up a banh mi for date night nine out of 19.

17th Ave · Burgers

Clive Burger

I haven’t seen Loaf2go and T since No Man’s Lover’s Feast at Moon Korean BBQ in February 2020. That was the last event we held before the pandemic. Last Friday, we met up at Clive Burger on 17th Ave to catch up and to discuss the next No Man’s Dinner. For this post, let’s listen to “I Do It For The Money” by Charlie Major.

Loaf2go and T both ordered the Double Burger ($11.99, +$1.00 cheddar cheese) and I ordered the Single Burger ($8.99, +$1.00 cheddar cheese) and a Poutine ($11.50). Loaf2go and T wanted milkshakes, but unfortunately, the machines weren’t working that day.

For my burger, I added Clive sauce, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. I didn’t find my burger saucy at all, but I appreciated tasting the rich flavour of the beef patty and the freshness of the chilled vegetables. The lettuce was so crisp and green, it looked like it came out of my garden. The brioche bun was golden brown, puffy, soft and large enough it melded against the generous volume of vegetables.

Photo credit: Loaf2go

When I saw the juices dripping out of Loaf2go and L’s burger, I immediately had buyer’s remorse. I should have ordered a double patty because there is so much bun and vegetables, it could have used more meat to balance out the proportions.

Photo credit: Loaf2go

The poutine is big enough for three people to share. I love the soft, warm globs of cheese in the poutine. However, the gravy was so salty, my whole face would pucker up each time I took a bite. I don’t think the gravy is normally so salty. Jennntle informed me when she ordered the poutine last year, the gravy was delicious. Loaf2go recommends the regular fries with the Clive sauce.

Photo credit: Loaf2go

I’m looking forward to the next No Man’s Dinner. Loaf2go suggested that I can pick the venue and she’ll do the usual enforcing club rules and social media posting. With so much responsibility on my shoulders, I can’t loaf around. Got any suggestions?

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Vegetarian

Lulu Bar

Aga came to visit me. Since she lives in Lethbridge now, I told her to pick the restaurant. She wanted to check out Lulu Bar, a popular chef-driven restaurant on 17th Ave. I noticed the restaurant was full of tables with young, pretty ladies. Pro tip – if you are single and on the Happn app, you might want to start dining at Lulu Bar. You’re welcome. For this post, let’s listen to “Where Them Girls At” by David Guetta.

The staff at Lulu Bar are friendly and inviting. Our server Jason helped me pick the right wine to cool down in the sweltering heat – Castelo de Medina (Verdejo, Rueda, Spain $55). This was just what I wanted – the wine was light, soft and aromatic. I was impressed Jason and another staff member knew so much about the menu. With the lifting of restrictions, I heard restaurants had to scramble to find staff to work again. There was no outward sign of any stumbling blocks for Lulu Bar.

We didn’t have much of an appetite because it was so hot, so we shared two salads. My nemesis Noom suggests that when I go to a restaurant, I should request the salad dressing on the side. I felt that to do so would be an insult to the chef and Aga because it would prevent us from eating the food as it was intended. I’m glad I didn’t alter the dishes because the salads blew me away.

The Sichuan Noodle Salad ($14) was shockingly delicious. I say that because there was cilantro in the salad but it was still incredible. The noodles were toothsome and lightly sauced in a chili sesame dressing. The bean sprouts were so fresh tasting, I thought they must have been plucked that day. Aga loved the crunch and tartness from the pickled beans, cucumber, onions and cauliflower. The chili in the sauce was pleasantly mouth numbing. This is one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten. That is the ultimate compliment because I am not a salad person.

All the foodies on Instagram have been posting pictures of their fresh spotted prawns, so when I saw the BC Spot Prawn Salad ($24) on the menu, I had to try it. Another winner. The prawns were sweet and meaty. The sesame yogurt ginger dressing was buttery and rich. Aga enjoyed the mint because she thought it added some freshness and helped to balance the salt in the dressing.

If Lulu Bar can make salads taste so good, I wonder what they can do to meat. I’m going to bring L so we can try more of the dishes, like the wood grilled branzino and coal roasted halibut, and of course, more salads. Hitting the Sauce gives Lulu Bar to phat thumbs up.

17th Ave · Curry · Restaurants

Simply Irie Cafe – Caribbean Cuisine

I’ve only tried Caribbean cuisine in Toronto. Toronto is such a great city for eating out, just due to the sheer number of restaurants and variety of cuisines. In Calgary, I’m unfamiliar with the Caribbean food scene, so I rely on the expertise of @Dianathefoodie and @foodiegyal7. For this post, let’s listen to “S&M” by Rihanna.

Dianethefoodie recommended Simply Irie Cafe for the oxtail stew and spicy shrimp. She said as a first-timer, I had to try the oxtail because it is the gateway for Caribbean food. She also mentioned that the beef patty is delicious but the goat patty is even better. She didn’t find a big difference in taste between the two patties and the beef version was a dollar cheaper. Pro tip – if you order online, first time customers receive a 10 percent discount.

Photo credit: @dianethefoodie

I ordered a Spicy Beef Patty ($5.25), a Goat Patty ($6.25), Jerk Chicken (16.95) and Oxtail Stew ($23.95). I had a minor issue with ordering, and for my troubles, the owner gave me a complimentary Ackee & Saltfish patty ($7.95). Completely unnecessary but I’m glad she did, because it is one of the best things I’ve eaten in 2021. I don’t think I would have tried ackee and saltfish unless someone recommended it to me.

When I left the restaurant, I noticed the heaviness of the bag. There was enough food for three people. When I got into our car, L commented on how good the food smelled.

The pastry in the patties is phenomenal. The patties look thin but when you bite into it, you can taste a million light, crisp layers. Each patty was still warm. The beef patty was the most mild in flavour whereas the goat had a noticeably stronger flavour and aroma. I loved the subtle saltiness of the fish. Out of the three, my favourite was the saltfish, followed by the goat and then the beef.

Our food was still piping hot. L liked how much meat was on the chicken. Judging from the size, Simply Irie uses big birds. The sauce was lovely, though I couldn’t pick out the seasoning and spices. Simply Irie version taste nothing like the jerk chicken I make at home. I’m a big fan of the peas and rice. I expected green peas but it turns out, “peas” is a Caribbean term to describe kidney beans or black eyed peas. The beans infused the rice with a homey earthiness.

Photo Credit: L

This was my first time trying oxtail stew. Stems of thyme were entangled among the glistening pieces of oxtail and potatoes. My container was filled with meaty chunks of tender meat. To me, oxtail taste like a hybrid between a beef rib and tendon. I liked nibbling around the bone to get to the gelatinous bits. The gravy was saucy, a little sweet, with a buttery aftertaste.

Photo credit: L

I thought the prices were very reasonable given the portions, quality, and location. I actually think the entrees at Simply Irie offer more value than some of their neighbouring restaurants on 17th Ave. When life gets back to normal, I would love to dine inside or out on their patio.

Give this restaurant a try. I’m already planning on order takeout again. I want to get the Spicy Shrimp ($23.95), Jerk Chicken Wings ($15.95), Chicken Soup ($9.99), and of course, more Jamaican patties. Hitting the Sauce gives Simply Irie two thumbs up.

17th Ave · French · Seafood

Pigeonhole

I met up with my friend K-Pop. She lives alone, and since I’m one of her non-household contacts, she asked me to check out Pigeonhole with her. K-Pop was eager to try Pigeonhole because their menu offers her two most favourite dishes – beef tartare and foie gras. For this post, let’s listen to “In The Air” by Allah Las.

After consulting with our server, I ordered a gaymay/pinot blend (Pierre Goigoux, Chanturgue, France $66). He suggested this particular bottle because I wanted something dry, light and soft. K-Pop enjoyed this red as much as I did. She liked how the wine didn’t overpower any of the dishes we ordered.

Since I picked the wine, K-Pop ordered all the food. She chose the Atlantic Scallop Crudo ($15), Wagyu Beef Tartare ($16), Foie Gras Mousse ($17), Smoked Ham Croquettes ($10) and Honey Glazed Brioche ($8). I noticed each plate was gorgeously plated.

The scallop crudo was so fantastic, I would order this again. The scallops were silky smooth, the flavour was so clean and pure. I loved the combination of crunchy almonds, spicy chili-citrus oil, fresh basil and slivered celery. Each bite was bright and lovely, and with a lingering heat. This dish made me think of Chef Koji Kobayan because he’s known for his stunning carpaccio and tataki creations at Sukiyaki House. I’m sure Chef Koji would appreciate Pigeonhole’s version as well.

Photo credit: K-Pop

K-Pop is a beef tartare fanatic. She liked that it wasn’t salty, which allowed her to appreciate the flavours of the fried shallots and buttery smooth wagyu beef. She liked the use of traditional ingredients, such as the gherkins. I enjoyed the sharpness from the green peppercorns.

Photo credit: K-Pop

K-Pop is also a fan of foie gras. What she loved about Pigeonhole’s version was that she couldn’t taste the liver. The mousse was cool, light and creamy. The tiny bits of pink lady apples added a touch of sweetness. There was so much foie gras, K-Pop ordered extra lembas bread, a honey glazed brioche with whipped honey butter.

The croquettes were a winner. The creamy, cheese sauce was so addicting, I scraped every bit off the plate. The croquette reminded me a super crunchy tater tot, but a million times better. I loved the freshness the basil added to this dish. I would order this again too.

I was also impressed with the attentive service we received. Throughout our evening, we had different servers checking in with our wine, waters and food. It seemed like the staff were working together to provide the best experience for their guests.

Sometimes I get so stuck in my routine that I forget what it is like to eat something that is beyond my cooking skills. I’m glad K-Pop picked Pigeonhole for our dinner date. The dishes here are a gastronomical delight. If you haven’t been yet, this is a spot you need to check out. Hitting the Sauce gives Pigeonhole two thumbs up.

17th Ave · Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Restaurants · Sandwiches · Vietnamese

Kim Anh Vietnamese Submarines

L and I were out running errands when he suggested we pick up something for dinner. I suggested either banh mi or a shawarma. Since we were already on 17th Ave, we stopped by Kim Anh Vietnamese Submarines. For this post, let’s play “Cool” by Gwen Stefani.

I’ve eaten here at least six times and each time I find the service fast and friendly. Kim Anh sells a variety of Vietnamese dishes, such as vermicelli, spring rolls and salad rolls. I would recommend sticking to what their are known for – banh mi.

I’ve tried the Lemongrass Chili Chicken, Lemongrass Chili Beef, Cold Cut, Korean BBQ Pork, and Satay Chicken. My favourite is the Lemongrass Chili Beef ($8.75, + .50 cheese). However, I ordered the Assorted Cold Cuts ($7.45, +.50 cheese) for myself in order to do a proper comparison to Saigon Deli and Banh Mi Nhu Y. Pate and cheese are an extra charge.

When we arrived home, I cut up our subs in half and took my obligatory pictures. As I finished squeezing L’s sub together for a shot, I looked up and caught his expression. He looked patient, but it was so practiced, like he was resigned to never eating a sandwich without a production. I felt bad for him and then I comforted myself knowing that this time, I paid for dinner.

The lemongrass chili beef was spicy and saucy. The tang of the lemony herb was dominant in the beef. L liked the texture that the crunchy peanuts added to the sub. I noticed Kim Anh doesn’t overload the sub with cilantro. If I had ordered the beef sub for myself, I would request pate because it just adds another dimension of flavour.

The cold cut combo was packed with meats and carrots. The pickled carrots were sweet and wet. The flavour of the pate was much subtle than Saigon Deli and Banh Mi Nhu Y. My friend Asian Persuasion doesn’t like it when the pate is too strong because she complains it taste metallic. If you are like Asian Persuasion, you’ll like Kim Anh’s milder pate. Compared to Kim Anh, Saigon Deli’s cold cut sub is heavier on the meats.

The jalapeños were so hot, they burned a little on my tongue. The cheese is the type that sticks to the roof of your mouth. The taste of the white cheese reminded me a little of Laughing Cow cheese. I like the cheese in the lemongrass beef chili sub but not as much in the cold cut. In the beef sub, the cheese blends in but with the cold cut, the cheese sticks out.

The subs at Kim Anh cost more than their competitors in Forest Lawn, but that’s justifiable because of the higher rent on 17th Ave. I noticed that the bread at Kim Anh is shorter in length and more crumbly than Saigon Deli and Banh Mi Nhu Y. I like how Kim Anh pickles their carrots and the extra pizzazz in their lemongrass subs. These subs are smaller but there is no shortage in flavour or ingredients.

For an inner-city banh mi, Kim Anh does it right. I’ve noticed when I used a third-party food delivery, the price is within 29 cents to the in-store menu, and the portions are the same for pick up. It’s also the only Vietnamese sandwich shop I know of that is open until 12 a.m., and even later on a Saturday. Hitting the Sauce gives Kim Anh two fat thumbs up.

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Beer · Happy Hour · Pubs · Wings

Newcastle Pub – Wing Night

L wants to be cautious on where we choose to dine out because of the new COVID-19 variant. We drove by Newcastle Pub and saw that it was quiet, perhaps because of the weather and time of day. In honour of the new documentary on Britney Spears, let’s listen to “I Wanna Go”.

Newcastle installed glass barriers between socially distanced tables. The room looked and smelled clean – even the walls and ceilings appeared freshly washed. When we sat down, we saw our favourite server Katarina going to each table to ask for a name and phone number. One of the new restrictions is that restaurants are expected to collect contact information from one person of the dining party.

L ordered an IPA ($7, 20 ounce) and I settled on a Wild Rose Velvet Fog ($7, 20 ounce). I still remember when I first came to Calgary, how much I liked Wild Rose beer. At that time, BC only had Granville Island beer, which tastes like what I imagine piss to be like. I can actually feel my mother cringing at that description. I’m not so worried because another restriction is that out-of-town visitors cannot stay in other people’s homes while these restrictions are in place, regardless of where they are coming from.

One thing we always order is the Truffle Fries ($9.75). The portion is huge and despite the fact the fries are piled high, there’s an even distribution of grated parmesan, truffle oil and fresh parsley. L likes that the amount of truffle isn’t overwhelming. I love the side of garlic aioli, even though this dish is decadent enough on its own.

I felt like wings and L said he would share it with me, just as long it wasn’t salt and pepper. I asked him why and he responded that it is the most boring flavour you can get. I questioned why he’s just telling me this now, as I’ve always ordered salt and pepper wings. L said how can you not know? It’s just salt and pepper, and now that he thinks about it, that’s not even a flavour. I think this pandemic is getting to us. I’ve never seen L so passionate about chicken. I was speechless.

I have to admit, hot wings ($3.50, $1.50 for a side of ranch) taste much better than the salt and pepper. The hot sauce had a nice heat to it and a pleasant vinegary tang. On this day, the wings were extra meaty.


Newcastle Pub is one of the best run pubs in the city. I think part of the reason is the manager Jay is always helping out and he previously worked as an executive chef. In the nine years we’ve been customers, we’ve never experienced a bad meal or poor service. Keep up the great work enforcing the mandatory restrictions.