17th Ave · Cheap Eats · Fast Food · Sandwiches

Nim’s Fried Chicken

I’ve noticed Facebook posts about Nim’s Fried Chicken on Calgary Food – FoodYYC. So on Sunday, after L and I finished a couple of beers at Tailgunner Brewery, I picked up an early supper from Nim’s Fried Chicken. For this post, let’s listen to “Mutha Uckers” by Flight of the Conchords.

Nim’s Fried Chicken only offers takeout, as it shares Universe Restaurant‘s kitchen but not the space in the dining room. Based on the comments on Facebook, L and I shared the Classic Sandwich Combo ($14.90) and a Tender Box ($9.50). For the combo, I requested mac and cheese wedges.

When we got home and unpacked our food, I was shocked by the size of the tenders and the sandwich. Never have I ever seen a tender so big! The tender looks like it is a whole chicken breast. If I bought these two chicken breasts at Safeway, it would cost me more than $9.50! I ordered medium heat, and L said it was just the right amount of spice.

I cut our sandwich in half. The batter was reddish brown, spicy and smelled predominantly like cayenne or paprika. Between bites of chicken, the sweet pickles and coleslaw drippings would intermingle with the bread and crunchy, battered chicken thigh. Both the thigh and breast meat was juicy and tender.


The mac and cheese tasted like KD but covered in a thin crispy batter and still creamy despite being deep-fried. The waffle fries were standard and not overly salty. I would probably skip the sides next time, as sharing one burger and two tenders was enough food for the two of us.

I liked that the meat had that natural texture as most fast food joints’ chicken products have a squishy texture. While we ate, I didn’t find the food salty, but I must have chugged a litre of water later that night. Of course, the afternoon beers would have been a contributing factor. In any case, I recommend trying the chicken burger and tenders. Nim’s doesn’t cluck around!

Cheap Eats · Japanese · Sushi

Ki Sushi

L was craving sushi, but his beloved Sukiyaki House is closed on Sundays. I suggested Ki Sushi as an alternative as it is located minutes away from us. Ki Sushi replaced Katsuten, one of the OGs of katsu in Calgary. Since I’m on a Flight of the Conchords bender, let’s listen to “Rejected.”

We ordered a Salmon Maki ($5), Tuna Maki ($5), Salmon Nigiri ($2), Tuna Nigiri ($2), Tako ($2.70), Scallop Nigiri ($3), Chicken Karaage ($9), and Loin Katsu ($15). I enjoyed sipping on the miso soup, which was steaming hot, filled with tiny cubes of tofu and seaweed.


The first appetizer to arrive was our chicken karaage. The light, crumbly batter and the dry, KFC-like seasoning reminded me of Tawainese-style chicken popcorn. The reddish-orange dipping condiment reminded me of plum sauce.

We were fans of the tuna and salmon maki. Both rolls contained more fish than rice, and the nori was still crisp. The tuna filling was creamy and smooth. I could taste a touch of sweetness in the sushi rice. I found the wasabi particularly delicious, as it was creamy and extra spicy. I would get the maki rolls again.

The raw scallop was silky in texture and chubby. The size of the tuna and salmon nigiri was generous, though the temperature of the tuna and tako was a little too cold for us.

Our katsu came with steamed rice and a small side salad. The feathery bread crumbs were buttery and fluffy. The pork itself was thick and soft. I could detect a little cinnamon in the katsu sauce, which tasted homemade. This dish was a winner, but be warned, it is heavy.

If you visit, I would suggest making reservations and being as patient as possible, as Ki Sushi is a popular spot. When we were eating, there was a constant stream of customers dining in and picking up takeout. I’m glad Ki Sushi is located in our neighbourhood. It’s a solid choice for inexpensive and tasty eats.

Cheap Eats · Fast Food · Korean

Chicken Omnibus

L and I visited our adorable nephew in Bowness. After a successful playdate, we decided to order dinner from Chicken Omnibus. I’m glad we checked it out, as this is our new favourite place for Korean-style fried chicken. For this post, let’s listen to “Do You Believe in Magic” by The Loving’ Spoonful.

I noticed K-Pop music playing in the background when we entered the restaurant. The interior is bright and colourful. While we waited to order, we looked at the pictures on the menu, which described each item in detail. We ordered the Dak Gang Jeong Combo ($12.99), Chicken Combo ($12.99), and Onion Rings ($5.50).

Our combos came with a pop and a sauce. We each asked for the sauce on the side because we planned on eating our food at home and didn’t want the chicken to become soggy. But after seeing some of the food come out of the kitchen, I told L we would eat at the restaurant.

This small mom-and-pop operation cooks everything fresh. Our food arrived at our table within ten minutes, so hot I burned the roof of my mouth.

The portions are generous. The double-battered fries were piled high on our basket. The coating on the potatoes reminded me of Costco fries. The onion rings looked like it was the frozen type, but it was still good. The batter was thin and melted in your mouth. We dipped our onion rings in the spicy aioli, ranch, and a sweet, spicy sauce.

The star of the show is the chicken. My pieces were juicy and meaty. The chicken tasted real, unlike the congealed stuff KFC sells and superior to the texture and flavour of Popeye’s. The batter was light, crusty, and so well seasoned that I didn’t need any of the sauces. The plumpness of Omnibus’s chicken reminds me of Church’s and LA Chicken in Richmond, BC, but with a crunchier, tastier batter.

L liked my chicken over his Dak Gang Jeong (sweet, crispy boneless chicken). I tried his nugget-like meat, and I also preferred my order of regular bone-in chicken.

L said the food tasted authentic, and Omnibus reminded him of the local places he would frequent in Korea. Omnibus isn’t a chain, and the chef was so genuinely friendly it made me want to return. I heard two customers exclaim this was the best chicken they ever ate. I saw another customer digging into a plate overflowing with katsu (breaded chicken cutlet) that looked delicious.

The next time I have a cheat meal, I’m getting the fried chicken again or perhaps a chicken burger. Hitting the Sauce gives Omnibus two phat thumbs up.

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Vietnamese

Banh Mi Date #11 – Secret Vietnamese Cafe

I’ve wanted to try Secret Vietnamese Cafe ever since I watched Jeff’s Channel on Youtube. Now that I work in the Beltline, I have the perfect opportunity to further my goal of eating at 19 different banh mi shops. Eleven down and eight more to go! Let’s listen to “Nothing’s Going To Stop Us Now” by Starship.

Secret Cafe has a cozy coffee house vibe, unlike the more utilitarian banh mi shops in Calgary. I noticed several extensive menus posted on the walls when I walked in, showcasing pictures of sandwiches, pho, noodles, curries, appetizers, and Vietnamese subs. When I told the female owner I wanted a banh mi, she recommended the Special Combo Sub ($8.99). She asked me if I wanted my sub spicy. I responded in the affirmative. Pro tip – unless you can handle the heat, don’t ask for spice. My tongue was on fire for hours. 

The cafe was busy with regulars who knew the owners. Two customers ordered the lemongrass pork vermicelli when I was there, and another person ordered pho. Several people came in to pick up their order. 

I asked for no cilantro but still got it anyway. No biggie, as it was easy to remove. I enjoyed the crushed peanuts and the rich flavour of coconut milk in the beef. I also liked how the whole sub was warm – from the toasted bread, melted cheddar cheese to the hot, tender pieces of pork, chicken and beef. The thick slices of carrots tasted lightly pickled. The cucumber and onions were thinner in width. 

How does Secret Vietnamese Cafe compare to the other banh mi heavy hitters in Calgary? The vegetables come in coarser chunks. I prefer the delicate crunchy layers that Thi Thi has mastered with cucumber ribbons, razor-thin onions and julienned carrots. I like the freshness of Secret Cafe’s meats, which I found better quality than To Me Subs. I prefer the lightness and crumb of Banh Mi Nhu Y and Trung Nguyen subs over the heavier bread at Secret Cafe. Price-wise, I thought Secret Vietnamese Cafe offered better value than Kim Anh Sub but had less of a flavour bomb.

I noticed the owners like to banter with each other while they work. If you know of or have grandparents who emigrated from China, you’ll know what I mean. I don’t get homesick anymore, but if I needed a dose of old-school love, I’d come here to soak up the memories.  

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Restaurants

Ami Tea and Sub – Date night 10 of 19

After my appointment at Good Salon, I was famished. I debated getting a Vietnamese sub next door from Ami Tea and Sub or fried chicken across the street from the Blue Store. It was a tough decision, but in the end, banh mi won. For this post, let’s listen to “Sweet Dreams” by Beyoncé.

I ordered a Warm Kitchen Pate Sausage ($8). I noticed the owner put a lot of care into making my sandwich. The sub was jam-packed with generous amounts of pate and simmered pork meat slices. The carrots were minced so it lacked that crunch I crave. The texture of the cucumber was soft.

The bread is light and crusty. I didn’t find the baguette dry, but there were a million little crumbs on the table after I finished eating. The flavour of the pate and sausage was delicate and fresh. I thought my sub was heavy on the sauce – the soy and mayonnaise intermingled and dripped down all over my napkin. I noticed the mayonnaise was painfully sweet – so much that I wished I omitted it.

How does Ami Sub compare to the banh mi heavy hitters in Calgary? Taste-wise, this sub was similar to My My Sub‘s homestyle cold cut. Ami’s sub is even more filling than My Tho BBQ’s cold cut and nearly matches To Me in quantity. I have a hearty appetite, and after demolishing this sub, I was uncomfortably full for hours. The flavour combination of the pate, vegetables and sausage was subtle – there isn’t that rustic pungency that you get at Saigon Deli or flavour bomb that you get at Thi Thi. I also prefer my pate with a richness to it, like Xich Lo, Obanhmi or Banh Mi Nhu Y.

I’ve reached a milestone today! As Ami Sub was date #10/19, I’ve only got nine more to go to complete my goal! For banh mi date #11, I want to check out Paper Lantern or Rau Bistro.

Cheap Eats · Pubs · Restaurants

Ship and Anchor

On Saturday, Zeta-Jones celebrated her 40th birthday party at the Ship and Anchor. I know Zeta-Jones through her partner Fougui, whom I’ve been friends with for eight years. For this post, let’s listen to “Baby, Baby” by Amy Grant.

Fougui ordered two massive platters of nachos ($22, + $3 guacamole) for the table to share. Damn – this was a good plate of nachos! Each chip was fresh, light and thin. One of my pet peeves is stale nachos. I liked how there was an even distribution of cheese, diced tomatoes, pickled jalapeños and green onions throughout the platter.

With the exception of Zeta-Jones and Fougui, I didn’t know anyone else at the table. But, lucky for me, Claudia befriended me, and throughout the night, she took the time to translate the group’s conversation. I noticed Claudia was drinking red wine (La Bite Merlot, $9), so I asked if she liked the wine. She said there was only one wine by the glass, but it was good, especially for the price. Claudia and I got along so well that night that I invited her to be a No Man’s Dinner member, and she asked me to attend her birthday party next week. We also have plans to try the charred liver at Yemini Village.

Claudia ordered the Two-Piece Fish ($15) with Yam Fries (+$3). She said wasn’t expecting much, so she was pleasantly surprised by the fish and chips. She noted the velvety texture of the fillet reminded her of the fresh fish in Mexico City. She liked that fries and fish were crispy because she thinks there’s nothing worse than soggy fish. She mentioned she ordered two pieces of fish because she expected the portion to be small. Instead, she said the fish was plump and large and could only eat one piece. I thought it was interesting the batter was so pale, but perhaps that’s just because of the lighting.

Her friend Daphne said she enjoyed her fish but found the regular fries too dry. Claudia didn’t like the tartar sauce, but Daphne enjoyed it so much, she ate her friend’s portion. Daphne noted that she could taste the vinegar in the tartar sauce, which she said paired well with the fish.


I wasn’t hungry yet, but that didn’t stop me from rudely staring across the table at the plate of Chicken Wings ($15) and Humboldt Calamari ($9). When I come back, I would order both the wings and calamari.


Though I didn’t eat, with Claudia’s riveting descriptions, I felt like I did. This experience renewed my interest in the Ship and Anchor. I’ll have to bring L for a date night so I can try some of the deep-fried delights. I also hear the lamb shank is particularly good. To be continued.

Bakery · Bars/Lounges · Cheap Eats · Curry · Fast Food · Happy Hour · Italian · Mexican · Patio · Pizza

First Street Market – Pure Street Food, Saffron Street, Moose and Poncho

On Sunday, L and I checked First Street Market. I’ve heard favourable things about all the vendors – particularly the places I’ve never tried such as Actually Pretty Good, La Mano, and Friends with Benedicts. However, on this visit, I came specifically for Pure Street Food and Moose and Poncho, two restaurants I’ve frequented in the past. For this review, let’s listen to “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers.

We grabbed a spot at the First Street Bar, just in time for the tail end of happy hour (4:00-6:00 p.m.). I ordered a glass of the Vinho Verde (HH $5, Regular $7, HH Bottle $25, Regular $35) and L chose the Snake Lake Pilsner (HH $5, Regular $7).

The Portuguese white wine was served ice cold. I found this wine bright with strong tropical notes. Other than First Street Market Bar, I don’t know anywhere else in the city where you can get a drinkable bottle of wine for only $35. Where was this place when I was in school?

At Pure Street Food I ordered the Bun Bo Sate ($12) and a Fire Chicken w/ Melted Cheese Sesame Donut ($6) for L. The broth was thick, rich and beefy. The slices of beef shank, brisket and beef rib were flavourful and tender. The noodles had a nice bounce to them.

I took a bite of the sesame donut. The flavour of the crispy sesame shell was prominent. L thought the fire chicken was delicious and not painfully spicy like he experienced in Korea.

L ordered four tacos ($6 each): Carnitas (confit pork) and Suadero (lime-marinated confit beef). Both the pork and beef tacos were tasty. I found the seasoning and quality of the meats delectable. I also liked how the flavour of the cilantro wasn’t overpowering. I mentioned to L that I wish he ordered some salsas ($3.50 each) to go with the tacos, as Moose and Poncho make some wicked dips. He said he didn’t see that option when he ordered and the staff never mentioned there were additional sauces he could have purchased. L thought the tacos didn’t need any more sauce than the one he was provided.

I was still hungry, so I ordered a Masala Dosa ($13) from Saffron Street. I remembered seeing Miss Foodie rave about this vendor. As always, she is correct. The crepe was light and delicate, fragrant with the smell of coconut. The potato filling was soft and creamy. I enjoyed alternating each crispy bite into the lentil stew, tomato and coconut chutney. I would order this again.


First Street Market reminds me of the food halls in Toronto, but more intimate and modern. I appreciate the concept – chef-driven, high-quality fast food paired with a bar offering inexpensive drinks. I look forward to my next visit! Hitting the Sauce gives First Street Market two phat thumbs up.

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Vietnamese

Bake Chef – Date night 9 out of 19

On Monday, I met L at the University of Calgary to vote for Calgary’s new mayor – Jyoti Gondek. After we voted, we went on date 9 out of 19 at Bake Chef. For this post, let’s listen to “The Times They Are A-Changin” by Bob Dylan.

I wanted to order a cold cut sub because one of my favourite things about a banh mi is the contrast of the warm toasted baguette and the refreshing chill of the vegetables and meat. However, the last time I tried a cold cut at Bake Chef I was not impressed, so I ordered what L recommended. 

L and I both ordered the Beef Sate Sub ($8.10). We went to his office to eat our lunch. I was relieved because I know I would have embarrassed L with my banh mi photo shoot. However, even in the privacy of his office, I could sense L was nervous. His eyes darted around as the crumbs and carrots started to fall on the table. L is sensitive to food smells, so I think he was worried I’d drop the subs on the floor, which would definitely leave an odour behind. Personally, I would love to work in an environment that smelled like my most favourite food in the world. Lucky for him, no sub was injured in the making of this blog post and I left his office stink free. 

The baguette was soft and squishy, significantly lighter than Saigon Deli and Trung Nguyen. The generous amount of beef was hot, saucy and sweet. I enjoyed the gooeyness of the melted white cheese and the texture of the ribbon-like cucumbers. The carrots, red onions and jalapeño provided a crunch that help to balance out the soft texture of the beef. 

How does this sub compare to all the other banh mi heavy hitters? The vegetables were fresh, but the carrots weren’t pickled. Size-wise, this sub is packed with more meat than even My Tho, To Me Sub and MyMy Sub. L prefers the texture and taste of the beef at Bake Chef over Saigon Deli, which he finds too dry. Bake Chef’s sub is also the most filling – I was stuffed for the next five hours. The bread is light and dry, so the sub gets soggy rather quickly. The addition of the lettuce and cheese makes Bake Chef’s sate beef sub the least authentic, but that doesn’t matter to me, as the overall flavour is great. 

If you can, get out for the advanced vote. The ballot process this year is more complicated than previous elections. There are two ballots – a municipal and a provincial ballot. As well, voters will be asked to  vote on adding fluoride to our water, select nominees for the Senate of Canada and vote on referendums about equalization payments and Daylight-Saving Time.

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.

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Thai Thien – Date 7 of 19

I met up with Reeves at Cactus Club. Before I left my house to meet her, I looked up restaurants that would be open after our girls’ night. I spotted Thai Thien (formerly Thai Tai Sub) on 811 1 ST SW. I figured it was the perfect opportunity to have banh mi date night #7 out of 19. For this post, let’s listen to “You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel.

Cactus Club has half price wine on Tuesday and Wednesday. We drank some wine and Reeves ordered calamari. I nibbled on some of the hot peppers, but I was saving my appetite for the main course – a banh mi. I read the Google and Yelp reviews of Thai Thien beforehand so I didn’t have the highest expectation. I incorrectly assumed that a place like Thai Thien, one that caters to the downtown work crowd and tourists, wouldn’t have pate in their assorted sub ($4.99). I was happy to find out I was wrong.

I requested a white baguette as I read in the reviews that the brown version is too doughy. I found the interior of the bread soft and light. The cucumber was quartered and each piece was noticeably crisp and fresh. The carrots are pickled and crunchy. The sliced onions gave off a pleasing pungency. I counted two layers of cold cuts. Next time I would request extra meat to balance out the heavy ratio of cucumber. I appreciate the generous layers of pate, mayonnaise and butter, which I think is Thai Thien’s strong suit.

How does this cold cut compare to the other banh mi heavy hitters? Size-wise, the sub is similar to Trung Nguyen and Kim Anh. The flavour of Thai Thien’s pate tasted like Freybe’s pork pate, which gave the sub a westernized twist. I much prefer Xích Lô, Banh Mi Nhu Y, and My Tho BBQ’s pate. Thai Thien gives the least amount of meat but considering the rock bottom prices and the high rent location, I’m fine with paying a little extra to get some more meat. In terms of taste, Saigon Deli, Banh Mi Nhu Y, Xích Lô, Trung Nguyen, and Thi Thi offer a more traditional sub, which I prefer. Price-wise, this sub is an awesome deal, especially considering Thai Thien convenient hours and prime location in the downtown core.

The next week, I tried the Charbroiled Pork Sub ($6.25). Damn, this one is even better than the cold cut. The meat was seared on the outside and juicy on the inside. The ratio of meat to vegetable was perfect. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy. Every single bite contained that delicious balance of savoury, sweet and spicy.

For an inner city sub, you can’t get a better deal. I was stuffed and blissfully happy for only six bucks. Hitting the Sauce gives That Thien two phat thumbs up. Thai Thien is open from Monday to Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.