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 · 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.

Beer · Fast Food · Restaurants

Marda Loop Brewery and Flirty Bird

On Friday evening, I tried to get a table at Paper Lantern so L and I could go on banh mi date #12. Unfortunately, I waited too long to make a reservation, and the speakeasy was booked. L suggested we grab a drink and then a chicken sandwich in Marda Loop. In light of rising gas prices, let’s listen to “Gasoline” by Britney Spears.

Our first stop was at Marda Loop Brewery. The patio is more spacious than the brewery itself. I appreciated how the deck was covered overhead and heated.  We picked a Jenkins Grapefruit Ale (HH $5, Regular $7.25) and Casablanca Blond (HH $5, Regular $7) for drinks. L enjoyed his ale and said it was similar to a radler but not as sweet. I thought the ale was crisp with a strong grapefruit-forward flavour.

We shared an order of Street Car Fries (HH $5, Regular $8.50). The only place I know who makes fries this good is Bitter Sisters. The potatoes are hand-cut and fried to a crunchy golden state of perfection. Each order comes with two homemade sauces. We picked garlic aioli and spicy cajun aioli. Both sauces were yummy. The cajun dip reminded me of a creamy McDonald’s bbq sauce. 

We were enjoying ourselves so much that we stayed for another pint. I pondered out loud if I should order a glass of wine. L said not to do it. He asked me why do I always order wine at a pub because I just end up complaining about how bad it is. I disagreed with him and pointed out I enjoy the wine at Dandy Brewery.

I did want a glass of wine, but I didn’t want L to say I told you so if it was only drinkable. I chose a Peach Wheat ($7.25), and L tried the SoCal Raspberry Citrus Wheat Ale ($7.50), which reminded me a little of KoolAid. 

By the time we made it to Flirty Bird, I wasn’t starving, so we just ordered a chicken sandwich. We both ordered the Mild Flirt Sando ($14). If Flirty Bird considers this only mildly spicy, I won’t be trying any of the higher spice levels. L mentioned there were three more levels above what we tried. 

I read somewhere the buns are from Glamorgan Bakery. The bun was soft and buttery, making it easier to squish against the massive slab of boneless chicken breast. Some chicken sandwiches are all about the batter or the sauce. Flirty Bird is all about the meat. The chicken itself was freshly fried and steaming hot. I prefer dark meat, but I noticed the breast wasn’t dry. The batter was thin and light. 

The sando is messy to eat. I used all five napkins as the creamy sauce, hot sauce, and coleslaw dribbled all over my hands. When I tried to compare Flirty Bird to Alumni Sandwiches, L said it irks him that there is always a need to say one restaurant is better than another in the foodie community. He said there is no need to compare, and why not just agree Alumni and Flirty Bird both make good chicken sandwiches? I wish L was this passionate about Vietnamese subs. I’m tempted to start a mission to try all the hot chicken sandwiches in the city, but I have to finish what I started with our 19 banh mi date goal before taking on any more challenges.

Burgers · Fast Food · Restaurants · Vegas

Bobby’s Burgers – Las Vegas

For our sibling getaway, Jacuzzi picked Las Vegas. I thought this was an odd choice because he refuses to dress up and doesn’t drink alcohol. I won’t gamble, and I hate buffets. The one thing we have in common is our love for food. For this review and the following Vegas posts, I’ll be playing The Offspring, as it was likely the only band Jacuzzi and I would have both listened to when we were teenagers.

I had planned to take Jacuzzi to a seafood joint off the strip the first night. However, we hit a slight snag in our travels and missed our reservation. Since we were famished and wanted to make it to the LA Comedy Club in time, we ordered burgers from Bobby’s Burgers at Caesar’s Palace.

I wasn’t expecting much, but the Bacon Crunch Burger ($14.99) was delicious. Jacuzzi was excited because the center of the patty was cooked to a beautiful pink. The beef was thick and hot, generously wrapped with crunchy bacon slices and potato chips. The cheese and sauce mingled in with the juices of the patty. Jacuzzi said this was a far better burger than Gordon Ramsey Burger.

I preferred his Bacon Crunch over my Palace Classic burger ($13.99) because the latter had too much iceberg lettuce and tomatoes, which chilled and watered down the flavour of the beef. Proportionally, the meat and cheese to produce were off. I would come again but stick to the Bacon Crunch burger.

Jacuzzi enjoyed his dark chocolate milkshake, which he thought tasted like vanilla. I took a sip and it tasted like a Wendy’s chocolate malt, but quadruple the price. He closed his eyes and exclaimed the shake was thick with the right amount of creaminess. I thought it was fine, but nothing special. The whipped cream tasted like it was canned.

The cashier recommended the onion rings over the fries. She said their onion rings were unique, in that the onions were sliced into nice, big pieces. However, the temperature of the rings was lukewarm, and the batter was borderline limp. In addition, I thought the onion rings were under-seasoned. Even the side of the ranch couldn’t save this side.

The important thing was we made it to the comedy club in time. Jacuzzi and I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of all the stand-up comedians. I told him the next day would be better foodwise, as we were checking out Strictly Dumpling’s picks.

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.

Fast Food · Korean

Yum Yum BBQ – Southwood Corner

I invited Lovegastrogirl over for dinner. She agreed on the condition that she would pick up food. We did the whole Chinese etiquette hospitality battle until she ferociously threatened not to come. I meekly backed down and thanked her. I want Lovegastrogirl to meet my mom one day. She’d meet her match.  For this post, and in honour of Stampede, let’s listen to “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash.

Fried chicken is my kryptonite. Lovegastrogirl brought over Yum Yum BBQ from Southwood Corner, her favourite location. I asked her not to bring so much food because the last time she did a fried chicken drop off, I spent the next day hovering over my sink, munching on cold chicken. She laughed and said that was smart move, as the crumbs would go directly into the sink and not my floor.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

Lovegastrogirl has a listening problem. She brought over enough food for four hungry people. She ordered L’s favourite chicken – the Shallot Bone-In (12 pieces, $27.99), Beef Japchae ($14.99), BBQ Beef Poutine ($14.49), and Pickled Radish ($1). I reheated the chicken and poutine in the oven and microwaved the noodles. I asked Lovegastrogirl to take a picture for my blog. She floofed up the shallots and stood on a chair to angle her shots while I looked on with amazement at the effort she puts in.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

The chicken was succulent and gleaming white. After rebaking the chicken, the teriyaki glaze created a brittle, sweet tasting shell. Some of the shallots were wilted from the reheating, which I prefer because the greens reminded me more of watercress. I like that the batter on Yum Yum chicken isn’t as oily as Popeyes or Wow Chicken.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

Despite being saturated with melted cheese and dark, salty gravy, the fries held up. The barbecued beef was sliced thin and tasty. The ridges in the crinkle fries helps to load up on the toppings.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

The sweet potato noodles were sticky and spicy. The noodles stuck together with the vegetables and beef bulgogi, so with each bite, you get a little bit of everything in one mouthful. In both the poutine and japchae, the flavour of the beef stood out.

I insisted Lovegastrogirl take the leftover chicken to Pomp. I did take out one drumstick to eat for later. Some habits are hard to break. Thank you Lovegastrogirl for a delicious dinner. Next time I’ll have you over for dinner and I’ll order fried chicken from Jin Bar or Gorilla Whale.

Cheap Eats · Fast Food · Restaurants

Shawarma Knight – Beef Donair

I celebrate everything. I think that’s why when L proposed, he did it on Christmas Day. He knew I couldn’t rope him into a dinner. March 10th is our first date anniversary. I planned on subs from Thi Thi, but by the time we were finished work, my favourite Vietnamese sandwich shop was closed. Instead, and for nostalgic reasons, we opted for Shawarma Knight. For this post, let’s listen to “Feel It Still” by Portugal the Man.

Before L met me, he would frequent Shawarma Knight after hitting the pubs. When we lived in the hood, we would drop by after a night out on 17th Ave. Before the pandemic, Shawarma Knight was open until the wee hours. Now, you have to get there before 10:00 p.m.

I saw Skip the Dishes picking up orders, and the portions were very generous. L ordered the large Chicken Shawarma Wrap ($10.99) and I opted for the large Beef Donair Wrap ($10.99). Both wraps were enormous and filled with meat.

Service was genuinely friendly and methodical. One pita is placed on the counter underneath a larger, thinner piece of flatbread. The vegetables are carefully layered, then the meats and finally, the sauces. I like that the meat is carved off the spit and grilled for every order.

The beef was tasty and tender. In comparison, the chicken was more delicate in flavour and subtly seasoned. L liked how his wrap contained big chunks of chicken. I prefer the beef over the chicken because it’s more of a flavour bomb. The vegetables tasted extra good to me. I could taste the freshness of the parsley and the sweetness of the turnips. The red onions added a nice crunch to the wrap. Even the tomatoes were juicy.

Shawarma Knight is heavy-handed with the sauces. The garlic sauce is my favourite, because it is whipped and creamy. The sweet sauce is very sweet, so next time, I’ll ask for less sweet sauce or none at all. The winning touch is the bread. The outer layer is crisp from the grill yet chewy from the sauces. The double wrapped donair also makes it less messy to eat because it holds in the sauces and juices.

L thought the shawarmas were just as good as he remembered. I concur – I would eat here again. Hitting the Sauce gives the customer service and donair two thumbs up.

Fast Food · Fusion · Hawaiian · poke · Restaurants · Seafood

Pacific Poke – COVID-19 edition

On Tuesday, I wanted a break from cooking. I was yearning for something different, like Ethiopian from Yegna Restaurant on International Avenue. However, a little voice inside my head asked me, “Is it wise to travel so far? What would Dr. Hinshaw say?” I pictured Dr. Hinshaw’s kind face and I could hear her soft-spoken voice telling me to order delivery or pick up food from a restaurant closer to home. I guess I’m feeling pretty lonely if I’m having imaginary conversations with my medical hero. For this post, let’s listen to “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

I was still craving something out of the ordinary, so I called Pacific Poke  for pick up. L and I both ordered a large build your own poke bowl ($16), which included three proteins and four toppings. When I carried the food back into the house, I was surprised by the weight of the bowls. Pacific Poke doesn’t skimp on the portions.

pacific poke

We both chose traditional sushi rice, ahi tuna, wild salmon and crab. L topped his bowl with a double order of seaweed salad, sesame miso hummus, ginger jicama, avocado nori (+$1.50) and masago (+$1.50). I picked a double order of seaweed salad, cucumber kimchi, ginger jicama, and masago (+$1.50).

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Posted without permission from Pacific Poke.

Pacific Poke serves sustainable seafood. The cubed salmon was a bright orange colour, richly flavoured and smooth in texture. The crab was creamy and when I poked at the mixture, it came apart in fluffy strands. The ahi tuna was firm and fresh. L and I were both impressed with the fish. The masago was worth the extra charge – the fish roe provided a salty pop of the sea.

Lieghotn

L and I thought we could detect a spicy heat in the house ponzu sauce. The amount of sauce was just enough to bind all the toppings to the seafood and rice. The white rice was firm, slightly warm, with a pronounced hint of vinegar. We were both surprised the rice was so good, considering Pacific Poke isn’t a traditional Japanese restaurant. I’m curious to see if the brown rice is as well-made as the sushi rice.

poke me

I liked all the toppings I picked. The seaweed was crunchy and tangy. The jicama tasted like a Korean pear and added a sweet, refreshing crunch. I took a bite of L’s avocado nori and hummus. The avocado was smooth and tart, the seasoning reminded me of guacamole. I think the hummus he chose would have paired well with the more non-traditional ingredients, like quinoa, corn salsa, chicken or vegetarian proteins. One issue with making your own bowl is that unless you know what you are doing, some of your choices may not pair as well as Pacific Poke’s chef inspired bowls.

poke mixed

I haven’t tried all the poke restaurants in Calgary, but so far Pacific Poke is my favourite. The quality is superb and the ratio of protein to rice to topping is proportional. When we return, I’d like to try a dish off the chef inspired menu, such as The Main or The Cali. Hitting the Sauce gives Pacific Poke two fat thumbs up.

Pacific Poke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fast Food · Japanese · Restaurants · Sushi · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Steamworks & The Cambie

L and I were suppose to meet up with N for dinner. Around 3:00 p.m., we walked over to Gastown to kill time. Since this post is going old school, let’s listen to “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus. L informed me that no one likes this song and it is hated by many.

We walked by The Lamplighter. I’ve only been here once before, when I brought L home to meet my family in 2010. He met my SFU buddy J. L, Moody and Cuz were so rowdy, they began purposely breaking glasses. I left early with Beep Beep, and after that night, J never hung out with me again. I asked L what he and his friends did to J. He said nothing and J seemed like he was having a good time.

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Since it was raining, we ducked into Steamworks.  There’s always fruit flies hanging around and the food isn’t good enough for me to eat, but there’s always seats and the location is convenient.

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I had one beer – Sanctuary – a collaboration between Blasted Church + Steamworks ($10, 500 ml, 7.5%). Blasted Church makes some decent BC white wines. The Gewürztraminer saison was light and peppery with citrus notes. It was so strong I felt intoxicated.

sanctuary.jpg

I asked L if he wanted to walk the area I surveyed for my research project in 2008. He politely but firmly declined, and suggested instead we go for a drink in a nicer area. I mentioned the nearby watering hole, The Cambie, was closing for good this November.

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I’ve only hung out here a couple of times, at the request of work or school friends. The Cambie attracts a diverse, laid-back crowd. I was happy to see the conditions of the washrooms have improved. I recalled a poutine ($10) that I enjoyed 10 years ago and I wanted to try it again.

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The poutine was tasty, but there were fewer cheese curds than I remembered. The gravy was dark and salty. The fries were crispy and mealy. I’d order this again, but The Cambie won’t be open when I return.

At 6:00 p.m., N responded to my text, saying she would be ready around 7:00 p.m. However, that lone beer I drank from Steamworks made me dizzy, and not in a good way. My face was still red and I felt queasy. I told N that I would get something to eat to see if my condition would improve.

L and I popped into Kita no Donburi. I liked that all the dishes had the calories listed on the menu. I noticed most customers were eating tonkatsu curry (1,500 calories). The restaurant was busy, most likely due to the location and cheap prices.

L ordered Tendon ($9.95, 786 calories). His dish came with organic veggies, salad, two prawns, a purple yam, sweet potato, tofu crumbles, and kaki-age (mixed vegetables). He wasn’t impressed. He complained the tempura sauce was too small, and in Japan, tendon is served the sauce already poured over the tempura. I thought his dish was tastier than mine.

I ordered Chirashi ($12.50, 722 calories) even though I would have preferred the tendon. Dr. Quinn, my family doctor, has been after me to eat more fish. My bowl came with salmon, tuna, wild salmon, ebi, hokkigai, tamago, saba, ikura, spring mix lettuce and avocado. None of the ingredients tasted fresh or flavourful. Everyone thinks the food in Vancouver is so great. It can be amazing, but there’s a lot of mediocre restaurants here too. This was one of them.

I still wasn’t feeling well, so I cancelled plans with N. L and I took the train back to Richmond and I called my mother to pick us up. L asked me if I thought it was weird that my parents still drive me around. “I can rent a car when we visit so your parents don’t have to do that. We are adults.” This is the third time L has brought this subject up to me. I didn’t respond until we were in my mother’s car because I wanted Boss Lady to give him a definitive answer. She did, and that was the end of that.

Kita No Donburi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Chinese · Dim Sum · Fast Food · Kyoto · Restaurants

Kyoto – 551 Horai Umeda Hanshin

I noticed 551 Horai when we were about to exit Kyoto Station. 551 Horai is a takeout dim sum stall that is always lined-up. For this post, let’s listen to “Dim Sumby CouCou Disco.

Over the course of a nine days, I tried almost everything. Steamed pork buns (650 Yen/2 buns), pork dumplings (650 Yen/10 pieces), shrimp siu mai (600 Yen/12), gyoza (300 Yen/10), and sticky rice (380 Yen). All the food is freshly made in the back and served to you hot, in takeout boxes.

551

The best of the bunch were the pork buns. The bun itself is soft and fluffy. The meat mixture was incredibly juicy and flavourful. I kept burping up onion and garlic breath afterwards, so I’m guessing there’s a lot of it. I give the pork buns a perfect score – 5/5.

pork bun

551 Horai sells three types of sticky rice. I picked the option with pork. I liked the rice to meat and mushroom ratio. This is better than what I can get in Vancouver or Richmond. The little packets of spicy mustard kicked it up a notch. I thought it was little pricey for the portion, but I know how time consuming it is to make sticky rice, so I’ll give it a score of 4/5.

rice

The pork and shrimp siu mai dumplings were bland and greasy, even with the mustard. No discernable flavor or texture, just soft and squishy. I’d give them 2/5. I wouldn’t order this again.

sui mai
The gyoza was also not memorable. Like the other dumplings, the wrapper would stick together and had no discernible texture or flavor. 2.5/5. Don’t bother.

When I get back in 2019, L and I will just stick to the buns. Though small in size, these buns are densely packed and filling. One makes for a hearty snack. Two for a meal. Three to make ready and four to go.