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.

Chinese · Restaurants · Seafood

Emerald Garden Restaurant

I had to cancel our trip to Vancouver due to L’s work schedule. I was disappointed as my family had planned a feast at Ludwig’s favourite restaurant – Fisherman’s Terrace. My brother Narc sent photos of my father’s 79th birthday dinner – Peking duck carved at the table, fresh lobster in green onion and ginger sauce, duck lettuce wraps, fried stuffed taro, almond chicken, pea tips, fresh whole fish, deep-fried pumpkin, e-fu noodles, beef chow fun, green beans, and a bunch of other dishes I didn’t recognize. As I gazed at the photos, a small moan escaped from my mouth. For a moment, I missed my former life as a glutton. My younger brother Jacuzzi would always say to me whenever we got out of hand that it tastes good to be a pig. I concur.

Since I was missing the action back home, I told L we had to try out Emerald Garden for the more traditional Chinese dishes. I didn’t want ginger beef, salt and pepper squid, or chicken balls. He was game, even though he prefers westernized Chinese food. For this post, let’s listen to “If” by Janet Jackson.

When we arrived at Emerald Garden, we were surprised to see the constant stream of customers dining in, as well as the takeout orders flying out of the kitchen. Based on my friend Fung Ling’s recommendation, I ordered: Fried Stuffed Treasures ($19.95, 煎釀三寶 Eggplant, Green Peppers and Crispy Tofu Stuffed with Shrimp); Beef Tendon Casserole ($17.95, 牛筋腩煲 Beef Shank, Tendon and Tofu); Cod Fillets ($24.99, Fried Cod with Tofu and Chinese Mushrooms); Dried Scallop and Egg White Fried Rice ($14.95 瑤柱蛋白炒飯 Tobiko, Green Onions, Egg Whites and Dried Scallops); and Fried Dumplings ($13.95).

The scallops and fluffy egg whites in the fried rice tasted subtle and fresh, which accentuated the pops of flavour from the tobiko, green onions and crunchy onion garnish. The portion of fried rice is generous. I found Emerald Garden’s seafood fried rice better than Sun’s BBQ version.

I was looking forward to the beef tendon and I wasn’t disappointed. Each piece of tendon was soft and chewy. The beef shank was tender and tasty, marbled with a thin layer of fat. The daikon was juicy and delicate in flavour. I could tell the gravy in the casserole was fattening because the flavour was so rich and smooth.

The highlight of the night was the fish casserole. The pot arrived bubbling and sizzling, filled with battered fish fillets, fried tofu puffs, Chinese mushrooms and tofu skin. The cod tasted fresh and the texture of the fillet was thick and fluffy. I would order this again, though next time, I want to try the fish steamed or pan fried.

The shrimp stuffed eggplant, peppers and tofu came with a special sauce. We found the shrimp filling a little dry. However, I enjoyed the silky texture of the eggplant and the soft innards of the fried tofu.

The dumplings are deep fried and chewy. The wrapper on the dumplings was thick, puffy and gummy. Proportionally, the wrapping was about double the filling. For the dipping sauce, I added soy sauce, chili oil and vinegar.

The portions are generous and the prices are affordable. Our feast cost $100 and there was more than enough food for four people. I noticed later on in the evening and the next day, I didn’t feel dehydrated, which I think indicates Emerald Palace isn’t heavy handed when it comes to the salt and seasoning of the dishes.

I noticed the clientele at Emerald Palace are split into three camps. I saw customers who spoke fluent Cantonese order the more traditional dishes for a banquet style dinner. There is also an obviously loyal clientele of English-speaking customers who ordered the more westernized dishes, like salt and pepper squid and hot and sour soup. Then there’s me – someone who has the Chinese vocabulary of a two-year old.

Part of the charm of Emerald Garden is watching how all the customers interact with the staff. There was a young teenage employee who spoke fluent Cantonese and English. He was clearly working hard answering the phone, taking orders, bringing dishes out, serving drinks, and packing up food. An older man got up to leave and as he passed the reception area, he bellowed to the kid, “Bye Brian!” Another table of two women questioned what vegetable was in a certain dish. There was some confusion and back and forth with the customers and the server. The customer said, “Hey, I don’t mean to be a bitch. I’m just curious, so don’t worry about it.” The server confirmed with the chef and it turned out the vegetable was indeed zucchini. A Chinese speaking customer looked like another regular. He seemed right at home, cutting directly through the staff only section to his table. No one even blinked an eye.

The atmosphere reminds me of the past Chinese banquets I’ve attended. The background noise consists of a blended murmur of a screaming baby, laughter, and the happy clink of dishes. L wants to return to Emerald Garden try the westernized dishes, like the sizzling beef and sweet and sour pork. I’m fine with that as long as I can order the chef’s specials and signature dishes. I have my eye on the deep-fried egg yolk bitter melon and shredded chicken with jellyfish. Hitting the Sauce gives Emerald Garden two fat thumbs up.

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.

Chinese · Restaurants

Toi Shan – Chinese takeout

L’s parents wanted to treat us out for dinner. G-Mah had a hankering for Chinese food. I picked Toi Shan because of Iatehere‘s Instagram posts. He’s eaten at Toi Shan since the 80s, and he informed me that the food hasn’t changed. For this post, let’s listen to “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” by Baccara.

Toi Shan offers free local delivery AND free food for orders over $35. Bobbino ordered a feast, so we met the requirement and received complimentary Grilled Pork Dumplings ($12.50).

Bobbino requested Salt and Pepper Fried Squid ($16.95) and Cantonese Chow Mein ($13.95). L wanted Ginger Fried Shredded Beef ($15.25). G-Mah asked for the Buddha Delight ($13.95) and the House Special Fried Rice ($10.25). Our food was delivered within 25 minutes, and everything arrived hot and fresh.

Photo credit: Iatehere

Toi Shan serves westernized Chinese food. Their style of cooking reminds me of my childhood restaurant in Vancouver – Ridge Garden. On the weekends, my parents would order the same dishes: almond chicken, ginger garlic ribs, assorted crispy chow mein, fried rice, a cashew vegetable dish and sweet and sour pork.

G-Mah raved about the ginger beef. She said the beef was soft and not gristly like some restaurants. I liked that the batter was still crisp despite swimming in a light, sweet sauce.

L and Bobbino loved the squid. Each piece was tender and crispy. Bobbino reminded me of my mother when I saw him nibbling on the spicy garnish of green onions, carrots, and onions. Boss Lady says all the flavour is in the little crispy remnants.

I liked the spicy notes in the mixed vegetable dish, but I noticed the smell of the bamboo shoots was overpowering. It was almost like the shoots were taken straight from the can, sauce and all. At home, I always rinse the shoots and then soak it for at least 20 minutes. The chef was generous with the more expensive ingredients, like the cashews and broccoli. I would order this dish again, but I would ask for no bamboo shoots.

Surprisingly, my favourite dish was the fried rice. I wasn’t expecting to like it because I find that most Chinese restaurants in Calgary make a mediocre fried rice. Toi Shan’s version is full of flavour, and filled with tasty bits of eggs, peas, chicken, pork and shrimp.

The dumplings looked homemade and the pork filling tasted clean and wholesome. The wrapper was smooth and glossy. I enjoyed the smoky, salty flavour of the toasted chili oil. I was also impressed that Toi Shan gives out white vinegar for the dumplings because you don’t see that at westernized Chinese restaurants.

The Cantonese chow mein was awesome. L’s liked how the noodles were extra crunchy. It looked like the entire block of chow mein was deep fried, then covered in a Chinese style “gravy”. I thought it worked – the noodles retained its crunch throughout and the gravy was so saucy.

The portions are big. We had two containers full of food for the next day. I’d say six dishes would easily feed six people.

I like to open fortune cookies but I never eat them. I think I accidentally opened up Bobbino’s because I’ve never been successful in talking my way out of trouble. My second fortune cookie was more accurate, but I wonder if the saying applied to me or L. Overthinking is so unproductive.

G-Mah gave her enthusiastic approval – she enjoyed every dish and she liked how the takeout dishes were environmentally friendly. I’m happy I found a local Chinese restaurant that will accommodate my friends and family who prefer westernized Chinese food over the authentic stuff I like, such as beef tendon, chili oil fish and shrimp stuffed vegetables. Hitting the Sauce gives Toi Shan two fat thumbs up.

Chinese · Fusion

Respect the Technique – Lunar New Year

I wanted to order something special for Lunar New Year. On Instagram, I was immediately taken by Respect the Technique’s (RTT) “Ox Hound” special ($100 per couple). In celebration of Justin Timberlake’s apology to Ms. Britney Spears, let’s listen to her song, “Toxic”.

As it was a 15-minute car ride to get our takeout, I reheated the soup, noodles and pork belly. I didn’t microwave the fish because it was still warm and I wanted to preserve the integrity of the batter.

I was too impatient to eat, so I ignored L’s request to choose a playlist to listen to during dinner. I also didn’t know what music would jive with Chinese New Year. Back when I lived at home with my family, sweet silence was music to our ears.

In the soup, there was an earthiness from the assorted mushrooms and a saltiness from the lobster. The texture reminded me a little of hot and sour soup, cloudy and chock full of ingredients.

The Taiwanese pork belly was delicious. RTT buys their pork from Bear and The Flower Farm. I enjoyed the tasty flavour of the soft skin and the tender pork belly. The chicharron taste a bit like bacon, but with a dry, airy consistency. The bok choy was sweet and crunchy.

The lobster lo mein is a bougie Chinese version of spaghetti carbonara. Our individual servings contained big, firm chunks of sweet lobster. It took no effort to jiggle the meat out of the shells.

The house made noodles were chewy and coated in a spicy, creamy sauce. The combination of XO sauce, fresh green onions and tobiko worked well with the noodles. L loved the texture and flavour from the guanciale, a cured pork jowl from VDG Salumi. I would order this again.

The lobster dish was fantastic but it was the karrage fried fish that stole the show. The fish was fluffy and flaky. I took a spoon to the fillet and it parted easily from the bones. The crispy skin was delicate and lightly salted. The fish looked flat and thin but there was a lot of flesh on it. I’m curious as to what type of fish this was because I didn’t find it muddy tasting.

This was a proper feast to bring in the Lunar Year. The food was on point. L was impressed that the meal consisted of both Japanese and Chinese influenced dishes. I appreciated the quality of ingredients and big portions. This meal could have easily feed a party of four. I’d recommend keeping an eye on RTT’s weekly features for something special. Hitting the Sauce gives RTT two fat thumbs up.

Chinese · Restaurants · Seafood

Sun’s BBQ – COVID-19 dine-in edition

L’s friend Grohl is visiting from Texas. His wife informed us that their ten year old daughter Hepburn wants to be a food critic. After they finished their 14 day self isolation, L and I took Hepburn out for dinner. For this post, let’s listen to “Exhile” by Taylor Swift and Bon Iver.

Hepburn’s favourite cuisine is Chinese and she wanted to dine in. With Hepburn in our care, I wanted to pick the safest place. I know Sun’s BBQ was professionally disinfected before reopening. All employees wear gloves and face masks and guests have their body temperature measured and hands sanitized before entering the restaurant.

SUn's

I stuck with hot tea while Hepburn drank a can of Sprite ($3) and L sipped on his Tsing Tao beer ($6.50). Prior to our visit, I consulted with Miss Foodie and Ms. Biz. Miss Foodie recommended any of the hot plates or casseroles. Ms. Biz approved of the deep-fried chicken knees and vegetable stir fry.

Hepburn looked at the menu and pointed to the deep-fried chicken knees. When I told her what it was, she and L vetoed the dish, despite my assurance that deep-fried knees are delicious. Hepburn wanted crab and L wanted anything but the chicken knees, a casserole or a hot plate.

great pic crab

The Stir Fried Crab with Ginger and Onion ($54) was superior to the crab I tried at Kam Han. The crab tasted like it was fresh and not previously frozen. At Kam Han, the texture of crab meat was like canned crab and the meat stuck to the shells.

crab 2

Our crab arrived so hot, my hands burned from the heat of the shells. The crab meat was flaky and sweet.  I even ate the crab fat inside the body’s cavity. When the soft innards are fried, it has a creamy richness similar to deep-fried oysters. I would order the crab again.

crab leg

The Scallop and Tobiko Fried Rice ($16.99) was light in flavour. I was hoping for more wok hei in the rice. Hepburn enjoyed this dish, though I thought it was only average.

rice

I ordered Thai Style Grilled Chicken ($18.99) because I’ve seen it featured on Taste of Asia’s Instagram account. Hepburn didn’t care for it and L said it was okay. This is a dish I could cook at home, though I would have seasoned the chicken more and ensured the skin was crispy and not served soft.

chicken

I’m pleased with Sun’s BBQ safety standards but if I go for dinner again, I’d heed Miss Foodie’s advice and order a hot plate or casserole. From what I sampled,  Sun’s BBQ is best for lunch when they offer their BBQ meats on rice or noodles. Perhaps this experience will serve as a cautionary tale as to what happens when you fail to follow the cardinal rule of Chinese restaurants – order what is recommended by trusted sources. Miss Foodie and Ms Biz, I’ll never disregard your advice again.

Sun Chiu Kee BBQ Restaurant 新釗記 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

 

 

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Restaurants

Lucky Place – COVID-19 dine-in edition

 

Ms Biz and I met up in Chinatown for lunch. Though my go-to restaurant Chong Fat just opened up again, I took this opportunity to dine at Lucky Place. I still fantasize about the dishes Ms Biz ordered back in June 2017. For this post, let’s listen to “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey.

I notice when my mother, Office Dad or Ms Biz order off the menu, there’s a series of follow-up questions, suggestions and recommendations. With my severely limited vocabulary, I can’t do the necessary dialogue. I wish my parents pushed me harder in Chinese school.

menu 2

The dish I dream about is the Beef Shank and Tendon with Gai Lan and Double-Fried HK Style Chow Mein ($15). I’m not joking. Below is a picture I keep at my desk in case my boss wants to have a team lunch in Chinatown. That way, I can easily show the server at Lucky Place the dish I want to order.

Screen Shot 2020-06-13 at 4.15.43 PM

Once in a blue moon, I take the picture out and stare at the glistening pieces of tendon and beef shank. Sometimes I wonder if my love for dining out is a problem, bordering on obsession. I can’t stress about it. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

eef

As I said before, beef shank and tendon chow mein isn’t on the regular menu. Ms Biz requests that the chow mein is pan-fried on both sides and gai lan is substituted for bok choy.

Hot and smooth, the tendon was soft and almost jelly-like. Lucky Place’s tendon reminds me of bone marrow, rich and full of fatty beefy flavour. I thought the portion of beef shank and tendon was very generous for the price.

Chowmein

The double pan frying of the noodles results in a brittle texture that soaks up all that rich brown gravy. The dark emerald green leaves were slightly bitter while the slender stalks were sweet and crisp.

Small Bowl noo

Ms Biz ordered a combo set – Minced Pork and Century Old Egg Congee and Thai Style Salted Fish How Fun ($9.99). The moment this dish hit our table, I could smell the fish. I loved the pungency of the fish and pork floss. Ms. Biz mentioned salted fish is expensive to purchase at a store.

fish noods

The rice noodles were marvelously chewy and caramelized from the wok. The fragrance of the wok hei always gets me weak in the knees. Most home cooks can’t achieve the coveted wok hei because you need a commercial stove to cook at a high temperature.

noods two

A lot of Chinese restaurants serve congee that is smooth and liquidy. I prefer Lucky Place’s version because the soup is thick and fluffy. The soup was loaded with goodies like slippery chunks of century old egg, shards of fresh ginger, ground pork and green onions. This is my ultimate comfort food.

congee

If you aren’t fluent in Chinese, show the owner the pictures on this blog or pick up a version of their new English menu. Ask for the Beef Brisket & Chinese Greens on Rice ($11.95), then request a substitution of fried chow mein ($1.50) and gai lan ($1.99). If there’s any confusion as to what type of noodles you are requesting, point to my picture.

menu 3

Please be patient when dining at this restaurant. The owners are doing the best they can while doing the work of four, so service is slower. English is not their first language, so be open to communicating by pointing at pictures or showing images from this post.

Trust me. The food is worth the effort and the prices are a steal. This feast was only $25 and I had leftovers for L. To date, I haven’t found any other Chinese restaurant in Calgary that makes tendon this good. Hitting the Sauce gives Lucky Place two fat thumbs up.

Lucky Place Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Chinatown · Chinese · Dim Sum · Restaurants

Dim Sum at the Chinese Cultural Centre Cuisine – COVID-19 edition

My friend Karol is busy helping restaurants gain more exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, she worked with YYC Takeout Specials and helped to raise $3,000 for families and children in need.

Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 2.06.14 PM

Now that spring is finally here, let’s listen to something weather appropriate. For this post, I pick “Violin Sonata No. 5, Op. 24” by composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

When I saw Karol’s dim sum post from the Chinese Cultural Centre Cuisine (CCCC), I started to salivate. Look to the dish at the bottom left. Holler! What huge balls! I asked her if I called, would the staff be able to communicate with me in English? Karol said yes, but if I was worried, I could text my order to the manager. I took her up on the offer. My Chinese pronunciation is terrible as I can’t hit the right tones.

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Unfortunately, the day I called the restaurant was slammed hard. By the time the manager responded, L and I had already left Chinatown. Karol felt terrible and insisted on treating me to dim sum. I told her I would only accept her generous offer if in exchange, she tried some of the frozen dim sum I bought from Chuen May Food Product.

dim sum feast

I was impressed with the takeout dim sum. The Har Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) was fantastic. The shrimp was plump and had a nice snap to it. When it comes to the har gow “skin”, I am particular. Too often, restaurants serve over steamed har gow, resulting in a damp skin that splits apart when you pick it up with your chopsticks. I like it when the wrapper is a touch dry and has some resistance to it. The wrapper was perfect – firm and slightly sticky.

hagow

The Siu Mai (steamed pork, shrimp and roe dumplings) was enormous. I’ve never seen a meatier sui mai. The wrapper was firm yet silky, and thick enough to stand proportionally against the ginormous meatball.

siu mai

Good siu mai has a unique texture and flavour. The pork and shrimp mixture was pleasantly crunchy from the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. The shrimp and pork mixture was juicy and so flavouful. I’m going to ask Karol if the restaurant will sell me their dim sum frozen, so I can make it at home. Freaking fabulous. This is one of CCCC’s best dishes.

sui mai 2

The Green Peppers Stuffed with Shrimp Paste is a must order.  I counted three to five shrimps per pepper. The shrimp itself was crunchy with a bouncy texture to it.

green pepper 2

The green pepper was still firm, crisp and sweet. I could taste charred smoky flavour in the black bean sauce. Despite the cilantro, it was still a winning dish.

Green pepper

The Lo Bak Go (pan-fried turnip cake) was thickly sliced and soft. When I bit into the cake, the shreds of the moist pieces of turnip fell apart. The tiny bits of dried shrimp and pork gave a surprisingly amount of umami.

turnip

L said he wasn’t expecting the BBQ Pork Pastry to be so sweet.  I prefer eating this dish cold because the pastry becomes drier and more crumbly and the sweetness becomes less pronounced.

pastry

Dim sum is the ultimate comfort food for me. This feast reminded me of all the weekly get together my mother would organize for our family and friends. Boss Lady is notorious for over ordering at restaurants.  I have to say, she is the ultimate hostess. Generous and hospitable to the point of over the top, Roman-style gluttony.

inside pastry

I can’t wait to have dim sum again. I plan to order the sui mai, har gow, and green peppers with stuffed shrimp paste. I also want to try the lo mai gai (mini sticky rice), steamed shrimp pork and chive dumplings, shrimp rice roll, and the eggplant stuffed with shrimp paste. I’m also going to ask for a side of yellow and red Chinese mustard.

plaste

You know how Zoolander couldn’t turn left on a runway? I can’t plate food for the life of me. Despite my disability, you can still see how delicious the dim sum is at CCCC.  Give it a try. I know I’m going to order again. Hitting the Sauce gives The Chinese Culture Centre Cuisine two fat thumbs up.

The Cultural Centre Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato