Chinatown · Vietnamese

Pho City

Sunday was freaking chilly! After I finished running my errands, I felt like eating something hot and satiating. I remembered Foodkarmablog’s post on the pho dac biet at Pho City. Even though it was well past lunch, this spot was still busy. For this post, let’s listen to “Waiting” by Nora Jones.

The restaurant is modern and ideally set up for the downtown office lunch rush. Near the front of the room is a long communal table for solo diners. Service is fast and friendly. Within ten seconds, I was promptly greeted and given a menu and a glass of water.

Based on Foodkarma’s recommendation, I ordered a regular-sized Pho City Special Noodle ($14.50). Ah – now this is a good bowl of pho. Pho City nailed the temperature and the flavour of the broth. The soup was so hot that even after dumping all the chilled bean sprouts and basil into the bowl, the broth was still warm enough to cook the vegetables. The soup itself tasted slightly sweet and nurturing.

The noodles were bouncy and al dente. I loved how the chewy pieces of tripe would get tangled into the noodles. I took longer than usual to eat, and the noodles got a little too soft for me at the very end of the meal. So next time, I’ll eat more of the noodles first and then save the meats and vegetables till the end.

The generous amount of noodles was proportional to the amount of sliced beef, tendon, brisket, tripe and beef balls. What I loved about this bowl was that every single ingredient tasted fresh. I enjoyed each meat’s individual texture and flavour, though I found the meatball a little salty.

I felt cozy and warm after finishing my meal. Pho must have some medicinal powers on my eyesight. The trees and sky looked more animated in colour when I left the restaurant. Hitting the Sauce gives Pho City two phat thumbs up.

Chinatown · Chinese · Seafood

Chinese Culture Centre Cuisine – Surf and Turf

Before Fougui left for Mexico, we went out to reminisce about the old days when we used to work together. I also invited Office Dad to our dinner at the Chinese Cultural Centre Cuisine (CCCC) because it wouldn’t be a party without him. For this post, let’s listen to “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett.

I didn’t tell Fougui that Office Dad was coming, because I wanted it to be a surprise. Office Dad wore sunglasses and hid behind a newspaper at an adjacent table. After we sat down, he walked behind Fougui and called him on his phone. I didn’t have the heart to tell Office Dad that we recognized him a mile away and he wasn’t tricking anyone. After we finished feigning an appropriate amount of awe and shock, I ordered Peking duck (three courses, $48) and Steamed Crab on Sticky Rice ($40). Instead of the standard first course of duck soup, I requested noodles.

First to arrive was the Peking duck with crepes. The skin was dry and toasty. When I bite into the crepe, you could hear the crackling snap of the skin. The duck meat was flavourful and not overly fatty. I liked how the crepe was papery thin and steaming hot. CCCC is not skimpy with the portions. I noticed a generous amount of duck, cucumber, green onion and crepes.

The temperature of the ground duck mixture was still blistering when I scooped some into a lettuce cup. I enjoyed the wraps, but I focused more of my appetite on the duck chow mein. I mentioned to Office Dad that the food was so good, I plan to blog about this meal. He nodded in agreement and asked if I would change his name to “Cool Office Dad”.

Most restaurants give you a thick Shanghai noodle dish with the Peking duck course. I was excited to see CCCC uses the thin Cantonese chow mein noodles. This is a simple dish, but so comforting. The wok hei in the sauce was on point. Each bite was a saucy mess of smoking hot gravy, brittle noodles and crunchy bean sprouts.

I saw Lovegastrogirl raving about the steamed crab before on Instagram, so I knew I had to order it. The crab is a winner. The meat was flaky and sweet. The rice was fresh and soft, seasoned from the pops of tobiko, egg and fluffy crab meat.

When we left the restaurant, we each took turns complaining about how full we were. Cool Office Dad let out a big burp to show how satisfied he was with the feast. Not so cool, Daddio! Good thing he still had his mask on.

If you are looking for a place that isn’t teeming with customers, I’d recommend eating at the CCCC. The restaurant was quiet. There were only four parties scattered throughout the spacious room. The service was friendly and attentive. You won’t go wrong ordering the fresh steamed crab and Peking duck.

Chinatown · Chinese · Dim Sum · Restaurants

Silver Dragon – Dim Sum

My friends have their favourite restaurant for dim sum, such as Central Grand, U & Me, Chinese Cultural Centre, Forbidden City, T Pot, and Silver Dragon. I like to frequent all the above but for different reasons. In the past month, I’ve dined at Silver Dragon twice for dim sum. For this post, let’s listen to “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses.

There are two things that make Silver Dragon stand out from their competitors. First, the service is professional, organized and attentive.  On each of my visits, the restaurant was well-staffed. You never have to wait long for help. I also like how you don’t even have to ask for things like water, hot sauce, tea refills, or a fork.

This level of service is important to me if I’m hosting a lunch because it makes the whole experience much more pleasant. There’s even a semi private room you can access if you need a quieter space.

Silver Dragon is also the only restaurant I know of that still uses trolley carts. In my past visits, all the food was served steaming hot, despite the fact the food is circulated around the room. The selection of dim sum was also impressive considering I went on a Monday and a Tuesday afternoon.

Pro tip – the servers come around often with food, so don’t order everything at once. If you plan to sit and linger, order strategically. Dim sum doesn’t taste good when it’s cold.

I was able to get all my usual dishes and a couple new ones: Shrimp Dumpling ($7.50); Chicken Feet ($6.95); Bean Curd Meat Roll in Oyster Sauce ($6.95); Pan Fried Pork and Vegetable Dumplings ($6.95); Pan Fried Shrimp and Corn Balls ($7.50); Crispy Spring Rolls ($6.95); Beef in Rice Crepe ($6.95); Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce ($6.95); Pan Fried Parsnip Cake ($6.50); Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf ($7.95); and Baked Egg Tarts ($6.95).

The shrimp dumpling is average in size and tasty. The shrimp mixture offered a good clean crunch and the sticky white wrapper isn’t too dry or moist.

I tried chicken feet for the second time in my life. I nibbled on the skin but couldn’t get myself to suck on the bone. I think I would like chicken feet more if it was fried and crispy like a hot wing.

The bean curd meat roll is packed with meat and shrimp. I liked how the sauce saturates the delicate layers of bean curd. I would get this again.

I enjoyed the pork and vegetable dumplings. The filling inside the dumplings is fat and juicy. The pork mixture is so flavourful, you don’t need to use the accompanying sauce.

I am a fan of the shrimp and corn balls. The balls are sweet from the corn niblets and filled with crispy, shrimpy goodness. I didn’t take a picture because at this point, I was in full on eat mode.

I was surprised I liked the spring rolls so much. I find most dim sum restaurants make an average spring roll. These rolls are extra crunchy, filled with a saucy meat and vegetable mixture. I would order this again.

The beef rice crepe is another winner. Most dim sum restaurants put in cilantro in beef rice crepes, so I was happy to see Silver Dragon omits that herb. The rice crepe is soft and slippery. The hot beef filling is generous and creamy.

I noticed the black bean spareribs came in nice meaty chunks, which made it easier to eat. My pet peeve are spareribs that are more fat than meat.

The parsnip cake is one of the better ones in the city. The texture is soft, fluffy and smooth. I hate it when other restaurants under cook parsnip so the texture is hard and it falls apart.

The sticky rice is different from the norm. Normally when I get sticky rice, I get two portions, filled with Chinese sausage, mushrooms, ground pork, and chicken. Silver Dragon’s version comes in one large lotus leaf, and the meat and rice is more integrated. Also, the chicken is drier and shredded.

The prices at Silver Dragon are a little more than its competitors, but when you factor in how laborious it is to do the cart system and the extra staff on hand, price is moot. I also prefer the spacious, calm environment over how hectic it can get at Forbidden City. Hitting the Sauce gives the dim sum and service two phat thumbs up.

Chinatown · Korean

Sso Yummy

 
After my appointment in Inglewood, I planned to order lunch from Xich Lo in Eau Claire. However, I remembered L was craving kimbap (Korean sushi) all week. I heard good things about the food at Sso Yummy in Chinatown, so I selflessly forwent my banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) for his kimbap. For this post, let’s listen to “Butter” by BTS.

I ordered the Yummy Combo ($11) and Spam Kimbap ($7.50). The combo comes with a soup, tteokbokki (spicy stir-fried rice cakes) and two mini boong uh bbang (Korean fish shaped pastry). There was so much food in the combo that next time I pick up lunch, I’ll just order two kimbaps for us to share.

Sso Yummy does an excellent job packing up takeout orders – each dish was neatly wrapped. The soup was basic – clear, hot and salty. I like the flavouring from the fish cakes and the simplicity of the broth because the soup help to cleanse my palate in between bites of kimbap and tteokbokki.

This was my first time trying tteokbokki. The texture of the rice cake was chewy, squishy and a little gummy. The red gochujang sauce was spicy. I enjoyed the addition of the greens and bits of fish cake in the sauce.

The kimbap is delicious. The spam and crab added a savoury saltiness to each bite. The rice, fluffy egg omelette and tofu were soft and so tasty. The rice was still warm and perfectly cooked. The daikon and pickled carrots added a pleasant sweet and tart crunch. Even the seaweed tasted extra fresh. Of the two kimbaps, I prefer the stronger flavour in the spam roll over the ham version. On our next visit, L wants to try the spicy pork kimbap.

The boong uh bbang was a nice finish to our meal. I enjoyed the subtle flavour in the creamy custard filling. The pastry reminded me of a waffle – spongy and sweet.

We found the food fresh, inexpensive and a healthier alternative than some of our usual takeout choices. Our meal was cheaper than any fast food restaurant and infinitely better quality. Hitting the Sauce gives Sso Yummy two phat thumbs up.

Cheap Eats · Chinatown

Lucky Place

Ms Biz and I met up for lunch at Lucky Place in Chinatown. I love going out with Ms Biz. Her extensive knowledge of Chinese cuisine and history is amazing. Every foodie needs a friend like her. For this post, let’s listen to “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake.

Ms Biz brought her own jasmine tea to the restaurant. She buys all her tea from a tea distributor in Richmond, BC. She gifted me a premium jar of tea to enjoy at home.

Ms Biz asked me if I wanted my usual – beef shank and tendon on double fried chow mein, shrimp dumpling with wood ear mushrooms, pork and preserved egg congee, and Thai style fried rice noodles. I asked her if we could try something different, so I could write about something new. She ordered Green Beans with Fried Rice Cakes in XO Sauce ($12.95) and a special order of Squid, Fermented Shrimp Paste & Chinese Greens ($16.95).

There are three things you need to know about Lucky Place. First, if you can’t speak Cantonese, it’s better to come to the restaurant and point at the English menu. Second, you have to be patient. Usually it is just the owners doing everything, from taking orders, serving, clearing dishes and cooking. Third, the food is about substance, not style. You don’t get off on the appearance but the taste of the food. The wok hei (breath of fire) is on point, and this is the sole reason you should visit Lucky Place.

The squid is scored, resulting in a bouncy but not chewy texture. The shrimp paste gives off umami, similar to the effect anchovy provides in proper Caesar salad. We noticed lots of fresh ginger in the sauce, which Ms Biz says help to tame the salty pungency in the shrimp paste. The stems of the choy sum was juicy and sweet.

When the rice cake dish arrived, the steam was still rising from the plate. The rice cakes were warm and chewy, soft and glutinous. We enjoyed the flavour off the deep caramelization on the rice cakes and the charred flavour on the beans. The beans were sweet and crunchy, sprinkled with ground pork. Ms Biz says when she comes to Lucky Place, she will always order the stir fry so she can enjoy the flavour of the wok. I agree. No one can cook vegetables better than a wok hei master.

For our next lunch, Ms Biz wants to check out South Block Barbecue and Brewing. I said yes, but I had to hide my disappointment. Whenever I see her, I always want to go to a Chinese restaurant because she seems to knows every owner and server in the community, and therefore can special order dishes I can’t get otherwise. However, for her, I’m willing to branch out and try something new.

Chinatown · Chinese

Han’s Restaurant – Some like it hot

I still remember the fiasco at South Silk Road like it was yesterday. Grohl ordered all the wrong dishes and then went on to complain about that meal for years. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I took Miss Foodie’s advice and ordered food from Han’s Restaurant. In light of Stampede, let’s listen to “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” by Loretta Lynn.

I ordered the Kung Pao Chicken ($14.50), Spicy Wontons ($11.50), Deep Fried Chicken with Dry Red Peppers ($14.50), Spicy Fish Hot Pot ($16.50), Fried Green Beans with Minced Pork ($13.95) and three bowls of Steamed Rice ($2). I make my own Szechuan food at home and after eating at Han’s Restaurant, I realize my food is a poor imitation of what it is supposed to be. The food at Han’s is expertly infused with intensely spicy, bold flavours.

The long green beans are blistered and wrinkly. The sauce on the beans is lip-smackingly good. The beans inside the pod had a bite and chew to it. The minced pork, onions, green peppers and chilies are tasty as hell. Flavour-wise, this is my favourite dish of the night.

The wontons are long and rectangular. The interior is soft, the wrapper silky, soaked in what tasted like a sweet, garlicky soy sauce. Grohl is a big fan of the wontons. I didn’t find the wontons spicy.

The deep fried chicken was perfect – crispy, spicy and salty. In terms of heat, the deep-fried chicken is the hottest dish we tried. The chili peppers were so spicy it burned my mouth. Even Grohl stopped eating the chili peppers and instead, focused his attention on just eating the chicken. I found out later from Miss Foodie that you are not supposed to eat the chilies, as it is only put in the dish to give it flavour.

The Kung Pao chicken is sticky and sweet. It is refreshing to have a dish at Han’s that wasn’t full on heat. I noticed the onions were still crunchy. Of the lot, this is the most western-friendly dish.

I enjoyed the fish hot pot. The fish was soft and meaty, contrasting with the thin, crunchy bean sprouts. The sauce smelled fragrant and made my mouth tingle with pleasure. Miss Foodie said this style of fish hotpot is more Taiwanese Szechuan, and that this recipe was passed down from the previous owners. She informed me that the owners have a classic Szechuan version that uses an oil-based chili broth.

The best part of the meal? There was consensus at our table that Han’s kicks some serious ass. Grohl thought all the dishes were delicious. Even L enjoyed the food and he’s not a spicy person. Miss Foodie, you did it again. Thank you for your pro tip on where to eat Szechuan food in Calgary.

Chinatown · Chinese · Restaurants

Regency Palace – Peking duck three-course special

Lately, all my takeout adventures have been inspired by people I follow on Instagram. Last week, Lovegastrogirl posted about Regency Palace’s three-course Peking duck special. After her glowing review of all three courses, a series of people I know followed suit and ordered takeout from Regency Palace. For this post, let’s listen to “Informer” by Snow.

So what’s the deal? For a limited time, Regency Palace is offering duck with crepes, duck and tofu soup or hot and sour or duck congee, and duck fried rice or duck chow mein for $32.99. This is so cheap! Normally, the duck crepes alone cost $32.99 or more, depending on where you go.

Lovegastrogirl heard about the duck special from @eattinwithmui.  A short time after Lovegastrogirl posted her meal, Justayycfoodie ordered the duck special. I wasn’t surprised – Justayycfoodie is a Peking duck aficionado.

I was debating on whether or not I should jump on the bandwagon when my friend 4jki sent me a message that she ordered the special too. She said it was one of the better Peking ducks she’s tried, and the portion was so huge she had leftovers for days. Her mother, who is super picky about food quality, enjoyed the duck as well. 4jki mentioned the staff at Regency were surprised she knew about the special as it was only promoted in a Chinese newspaper. I told L to start the car.

I picked up my food at 2 p.m., but we didn’t eat our food until 6:00 p.m. Regency does a thorough job packing the food. The crepes were wrapped in plastic so they wouldn’t dry out. The pieces of glossy brown roast duck sat on deep fried shrimp chips, which provided a better base to retain the crispness of the duck skin. I didn’t do the best job broiling my duck in the oven. I couldn’t achieve that crackly skin you get at the restaurant, but the duck was still tender and juicy. Each slice contained a balanced proportion of meat to skin. Wowzers! Peking duck makes life worth living.

The duck fried rice was packed to the brim of the container. My pet peeve is overcooked rice – so I was happy to see each grain was fluffy yet firm. I liked the tiny bits of egg and green beans in the rice.

For my soup option, I choose the duck broth soup with tofu. Each container contained meaty chunks of duck, cabbage and soft tofu. I found the simple, nourishing flavours in the broth comforting. The soup reminded me of the Chinese broth Calgary Court serves with their set meals.

I’m not sure how much longer Regency will be offering the Peking duck special. If you want to try it, give them a call. I found the staff helpful on the phone and in person, and I don’t speak Cantonese.

I heard there’s a Peking duck war in Calgary. Another place to check out is Central Grand Restaurant. Fung1ling informed me that Central Grand is offering a whole Peking duck with crepes, noodles or rice, dessert and soup for $39.99 (cash only). If you ask nicely, they may even give you the duck carcass so you can make duck congee at home. The promotional price is available only from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Vietnamese

Trung Nguyen – Banh Mi

I found out Banh Mi Girl’s aunt owns Trung Nguyen in Chinatown. I used to eat here all the time, but for some reason (Thi Thi), I had forgotten about it. On Sunday, L and I were picking up frozen dim sum from Chuen May, so I stopped by next door to pick up some banh mi. Since I’m feeling celebratory, let’s listen to “Party Up” by DMX.

Trung Nguyen is cash only. Trung Nguyen is on DoorDash and Skip the Dishes, but if you can, come by to pick it up. Better yet, call ahead of time so you don’t have to wait around.

Trung Nguyen offers non-traditional subs, such as the Buffalo Chicken ($8), Curry Chicken ($8), Pork Riblet ($9) and Ginger Beef ($9). L ordered the Beef Sate ($9) and I stuck with my usual – the Cold Cut Combo ($6.50).

When I unwrapped my sub, I immediately noticed the bread was different from other banh mi shops. Trung Nguyen’s bread actually tastes like a French baguette. The exterior of the baguette has a dark gloss to it and crackles when you bite into it. Out of all the banh mi shops, Trung Nguyen is my favourite for the bread.

The sate beef is a light brown colour. L noted the peanut flavour was prominent. He thought his sub was really good. When I took a bite of his sub, the flavour of cilantro overwhelmed my tastebuds.

I like the proportions in my cold cut. All the ingredients blended in to create the perfect explosion of flavour. There was no dominant ingredient that stood out. For me, pate in a banh mi a must. I’m a fan of Trung Nguyen’s pate – it was saucy with enough earthiness to satiate my tastebuds.

The vegetables are perfect. The cucumbers were so fresh. I loved the tang of the pickled carrots. The rawness of the onions and jalapeño peppers gave the sub texture and a pungent bite.

Size wise, Trung Nguyen subs are smaller than Thi Thi, Saigon Deli, Banh Mi Y and especially My Tho BBQ. However, the perfectly balanced flavours and proportions makes up for what it lacks in size. The portion is ideal for a light lunch or a heavy snack.

The female owner is a real sweetheart. When I asked if they still sold their duck banh mi, she gave me her business card and told me to call her beforehand. She makes the duck herself, but it takes considerable prep time for her to prepare. I’ve tried the duck banh mi before – it is delicious and worth requesting.

If you are a die-hard Thi Thi fan like me, you can get around being disloyal. It’s not cheating if you visit Trung Nguyen on a Sunday because Thi Thi is only open Monday to Saturday. If you haven’t been, check them out.

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Chinatown · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Paper Lantern – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Lovegastrogirl and I checked out Paper Lantern, a new underground tropical Vietnamese lounge in Chinatown. On Friday night, Paper Lantern was spinning some nostalgically old R&B tunes. So, for this post, let’s listen to “Try Again” by Aaliyah.

When we sat down, I immediately noticed two things. First, the staff take sanitation seriously. I saw tables being thoroughly cleaned in between parties. As this was Lovegastrogirl’s first time out in a restaurant since COVID-19, Paper Lantern’s safe practices put our minds at ease. Second, the music is played at an optimal level. For what my terrible eyesight lacks, my excellent hearing makes up for in spades. The music was loud enough to get into yet low enough to carry on a private conversation. A pet peeve of mine are restaurants that play music at a power level their speakers are unable to handle, resulting in fuzzy bass.

pina
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

The prices at Paper Lantern are easy on the wallet. Well-made and sizeable snacks range from $7-$12. Cocktails cost from $10-$18, wines from $9-15, and beers from $6.5 – $8. On the evening we visited, pina coladas were on special for $8 and a shot of premium rum sold at cost.

room
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

Lovegastrogirl and I had no problem sucking back our pina coladas. Our chilled glass stayed frosty until the last delicious drop. I liked that my drink wasn’t too sweet and I enjoyed the balance of rum to the flavours of the coconut and pineapple. A coconut flake lodged in my throat and I started self-consciously coughing. I looked around the packed room and thankfully, no one gave me stink eye.

Break even
Photo credit: Paper Lantern

Paper Lantern does a “break-even” special – a shot of premium liquor sold at cost. We tried Flor de Cana ($7.22), a 25-year slow aged 80 proof volcanic ash enriched rum from Nicaragua. I enjoyed the clean burn in my throat as it warmed me up.

shot
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

We shared an order of Beef Thịt Lụi Nướng ($8). We received three skewers of soy marinaded beef, topped with grilled and crispy onions and accompanied with a dipping sauce of coconut hoisin. We requested no peanuts due to Lovegastrogirl’s allergy.

skewers

I enjoyed the taste of the charbroil beef and the generous toppings on each skewer. Lovegastrogirl taught me a new trick. Get your friend to shed some light from their phone while you take a photo. Not only do you get a clearer and brighter picture, your flash doesn’t go off and blind other customers. L will be relieved.

skewer single
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

We tried the Thịt Ba Chỉ Ram Mặn ($10) – a stir fry of pork belly, shrimp and pineapple on top of steamed rice. I enjoyed the sweet and tart glaze on the caramelized pork and shrimp. The portion of protein and rice was generous. I would order this again.

pork bowl

I’m planning on bringing my work family in early August to check out more of the menu. Office Dad said he will come if he’s allowed to bring his wife Jay Low.  I like his wife, so I said sure. Office Dad told me that Jay Low used to have a little, but now she has a lot. He said don’t be fooled by the rocks that she got, she’s still Jay Low from the Block.

rice bowl better
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

For our third drink of the night, Lovegastrogirl ordered a Saturn cocktail ($10) and I ordered a glass of Reynolds Branco. This white wine was described as a tropical vacation in a glass.  I found this wine rich, creamy and smooth. I thought this was an unusual wine and I enjoyed the chance to try something different.

Saturn
Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

I’m thrilled that Calgary has a unique speakeasy in the heart of Chinatown. This is something the neighbourhood needs – an urban escape with tropical beverages and  yummy Vietnamese bites. Chinatown is changing and I’m loving it. For information about the entrepreneurs behind Paper Lantern, check out food writer Elizabeth Chorney-Booth’s detailed review.

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Comfort food · Curry · Restaurants

Calgary Court Restaurant – COVID-19 dine-in

The thing about Chinese restaurants is that you have to know what to order. Perhaps because of the super long menu, not all the dishes are winners. I rely on my friend Ms Biz to guide me to the best food. For our lunch date with Karplop, Ms Biz picked Calgary Court Restaurant. For this post, let’s listen to “Heart is Cold” by The Damn Truth.

The beef curry combo includes a soup of the day, steamed rice and a coffee or tea. For an extra dollar, you can upgrade to a cold milk tea. Ms. Biz asserted that the only restaurants that make an authentic Chinese milk tea belong to Taste of Asia Restaurants. She pointed out that even the complimentary tea we were drinking was Yellow Label Lipton tea. When I asked why Lipton tea is considered a positive, she answered it is the standard for HK style milk tea.

Ms. Biz asked me if I was familiar with this style of soup, as it is a herbal broth that Paw Paws (Chinese word for grandmother) make for their family. I was surprised to see so much soft meat on the soup bones. The broth was sweet and hot. The pieces of carrots and melons were firm and not overcooked to mush. The broth was infused with tangerine peels and dates, which according to Ms. Biz is conducive for cooling down your body temperature in the summer months.

One of Ms. Biz favourite dishes at Calgary Court is a quintessential HK staple – the luncheon meat egg sandwich. The mountain of pale yellow eggs is almost custard-like. The crispy golden brown slice of spam gives the sandwich a pop of saltiness. The softness of the fluffy bread melded against the eggs and spam and perfectly cradled the two ingredients together.

Ms. Biz believes Calgary Court makes the best sui kow (shrimp and wood ear mushroom soup dumpling) in Calgary. I gasped in disbelief, “Even better than Lucky Place?” Ms. Biz doesn’t jest. One order of sui kow comes with six dumplings and each dumpling contains two large pieces of whole shrimp. What makes this dumpling irresistible is the delicate crunchy filling of shrimp, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Karplop mentioned the flavour of the broth was tasty and encouraged me to drink more. I love eating with Karplop and Ms. Biz. They are so giving, I always feel cared for when I eat with them.

Ms. Biz mentioned that though the ho fan noodles aren’t made in house, the noodles are still homemade. She pointed out how generous Calgary Court is with the black seaweed and sour pickles. The fish cake was sliced thin and silky soft. Ms. Biz said what makes this soup sing with umami is the addition of ground dried flounder and pepper flakes.

My favourite dish was of course the most fattening one – curry tender beef. The beef was marbled with juicy bits of fat. The potato was so soft, it disintegrated when I bit it. Ms. Biz said the sauce is made with condensed milk and coconut milk. I could tell because the curry was ultra rich and creamy.

The week prior, I ordered takeout from Calgary Court. I ordered a dish FoodKarma recommends – the Shrimp & Egg Fried Ho Fan ($16.99). I was impressed with the large pieces of pink, crunchy shrimp. The wok hei was subtle. The portion of egg sauce and noodles was so generous, it spilled in my takeout container. Make sure you get some of Calgary Court’s chili oil – it added the necessary heat that cuts into the thick, eggy sauce.

I told Ms. Biz I didn’t care for the Pan Fried Turnip Cake ($6.50) because I found the texture too hard and oily. Ms. Biz said to never order dim sum at a HK style restaurant. Around this time, Ms. Biz saw a friend from across the room. He came over to chat with her. I overheard him say he ordered the salt and pepper squid and tofu and shrimp dish. I fought the urge to tell him not to order dishes like salt and pepper squid at a HK style restaurant because no one likes a know-it-all.

FoodKarma and Josiahhh saw my Instagram posts of all the food and recommended the next time I come, I try the Baked Portuguese Pork Chop on Rice ($16.99). I also want to try the Hainan style steamed chicken with rice ($15.99), which appears to be a featured specialty dish. I know L would enjoy the food at Calgary Court.

One of many things that impress me about a Chinese restaurant is the wide selection of dishes you can get and how common it is for diners to customize their dishes. I think it’s impressive that a chef can make so many dishes and improvise based on a customer’s preference. I also want to mention that during my past two visits, how good the service has been at Calgary Court. As I don’t speak Chinese, I really appreciate the extra dose of courtesy I received from staff.