Beer · Fusion · Korean · Restaurants

Best of Kin

L came home early and asked if I wanted to start the long weekend on the right foot. Before he even finished his sentence, I rattled off a list: Best of Kin, The Greek Corner Calgary, or Hanbo. We decided on Best of Kin, as the roads were still icy, and the brewery was closest to us. Let’s listen to “Inner City Pressure” by Flight of the Conchords.

We each ordered a flight of beers ($12 for 4 x 4oz pours). As we sampled each other’s selection, I noticed the crowd reminded me of the professor emeritus at the University of Calgary. L and I were the only ones not wearing North Face jackets. I kept waiting for Dr. B, my master’s supervisor, to jump out and ask me how my stats class was going. The volume of the music was audibly quiet, which suited the clientele.

Barley Pop was our favourite beer, as we found it light with pleasant notes. I thought Dad’s Beer was clean and easy to drink. Summer Crush was sweet and reminded me a little of Kool-Aid. L enjoyed the IPA, which I found bitter with less carbonation than the other beers.

I liked the Sailor’s Delight – it was a tasty coffee stout. Mom Perm was another standout – fun, light and a little sour. I appreciated the beer’s subtle flavours, almost wine-like and quaffable.

L and I were blown away by the food, particularly the Smoked Korean BBQ Chicken Sandwich ($17). The fragrance and taste of the smoke were unreal. The Kewpie mayo added another layer of richness. The chicken thigh meat was satiny smooth. The jalapenos and kimchi slaw mingled with spicy heat and a pickled, tart crunch. This chicken is the best BBQ I have ever tasted. Personally, I think the prices are too low for the quality they are serving up. Cost-wise, this place charges less than your average pub on 17th Avenue.

The Fish and Chips ($19) was wickedly decadent. Our server, when asked, told us the seasonal day boat fish was blue cod. I loved the flaky, buttery filet and the crispy, melt-in-your-mouth batter.

The tartar sauce was thick and herby, similar in freshness to the homemade tzatziki we would eat in Greece. Even the coleslaw rocked – the vegetables were crunchy, and you could taste the freshness of the ingredients.

The fries were fresh-cut, thick cut and mealy on the inside. The golden brown fries were so good we didn’t need any dip. The portion of fries that came with the fish was more than generous. I could feel myself puffing up from all the salt and deep-fried goodness.

I noticed the chefs put great care into prepping the plates. You can taste that same attention to detail in the flavour and quality in the food. Days later, we were still raving about the smoked BBQ chicken. I’m dying to try the beef brisket on my next visit. The BBQ chicken is so mind-blowing that Best of Kin is on Hitting the Sauce’s list of best eats in Calgary.

Fusion · Special Occasion · Vietnamese

Foreign Concept

Jacuzzi is in town! For his first night in, I took him to Foreign Concept and then to the Comedy Cave. For this post, let’s listen to “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” by Elton John.

We sat in the back, near the bar section. I peeked through the screen and saw Duncan Ly, the owner and chef of Foreign Concept. Even if he weren’t in the restaurant, we would be in good hands, as I hear he trains his chefs exceptionally well.

We ordered the Fish Sauce Caramel Brussels Sprouts ($15), Pork Belly & Foie Gras Steamed Buns ($32), Lemongrass Glazed Duck Breast ($37), and the Squid Ink Spaghetti ($29). Three entrees and one appetizer were the perfect amount of food for the three of us.

When the tantalizing aroma of the brussels sprouts hit our table, I knew this appetizer would be a winner. The Brussels sprouts were crispy, saturated with the hot juices of fish sauce, caramelized sugar and sausage. The layer upon layer of flavour was fabulous. This dish isn’t something I could make at home. I would order this again.

The squid ink spaghetti arrived next, nestled with chili prawns, clams, and charred octopus. The black noodles were el dente, coated with a subtle Panang curry emulsion, and spicy from the crunchy jalapeño slices. I enjoyed the scent of dill and the sweetness of the peas. The prawns were plump, with a texture that made me think the prawns were fresh and not previously frozen.

Jacuzzi and L raved about the pork belly steam buns. We were impressed with the super thick, tender slabs of pork belly. The soft meat melted in our mouths. Jacuzzi commented that the white buns were pillowy and warm. The pate added umami, while the pickled cabbage added a crunchy acidity to each bite. I enjoyed the noticeable fragrance of the basil leaves.

The yuzu cucumbers were nicely pickled and tasted like Hendricks gin. The Asian pear added some sweetness and softness. L said the Ssamjang aioli gave this dish a nice kick. What I loved is the condiments aren’t just an afterthought. You can tell a lot of preparation ensures every component of the dish is top-notch. L said this was his favourite dish of the night.

Jacuzzi was impressed with the quality of the braised duck leg confit and the breast. He pointed out that the colour of the duck was a perfect hue, and it wasn’t greasy or overcooked like the Peking duck in Vancouver. I noticed the crepes were thin, smooth, and light. Jacuzzi noted the wrappers held the ingredients together and didn’t have the gummy texture of the wraps in his hometown. We topped our duck with zingy strands of cucumber, scallions, pickled carrot and papaya. Jacuzzi doesn’t generally like duck, but even he said this was the night’s best dish.


The food was so yummy, L and I wondered why we don’t eat here more often. After last night’s experience, Foreign Concept will be on our regular roster.

Fusion · Japanese · Vegas

Cafe Sanuki – Las Vegas

After our big meal at Lefty’s, Jacuzzi and I decided to walk around to burn up all those extra calories. He stopped by for a coffee at Starbucks and asked me if I wanted anything. I said no. Let’s listen to “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” by The Offspring for this post.

He returned with a Perrier for me and said this was a long time coming, but it was his apology. Fourteen years ago, I spent a month with my brother in Toronto. On a scorching hot day, I asked him to bring me a Perrier when he returned from his class. He refused because he said he didn’t feel like it. It’s been an ongoing joke between us ever since, and whenever he asks for a favour, I always tell him he should have brought me my damn bubble water. Half an hour later, Jacuzzi ruined this special moment by drinking my sparkling water because he was thirsty and too lazy to line up again for a drink. He even had the nerve to balk at me when I refused to carry his half-drank bottle in my purse. I reminded him that he mocked my bag earlier, stating it was too bulky for travelling.

We left for an early dinner at Cafe Sanuki. Unfortunately, the restaurant was short-staffed and was closed for the next hour and a half. Our Uber driver warned us when he dropped us off that it would be near impossible to get a taxi or Uber in the next two hours due to the BTS concert. Jacuzzi and I decided to grab a beer to kill time. He vetoed the nearby pub, stating it looked too sketchy. Instead, we popped into a family-friendly Vietnamese restaurant. At the stroke of 5:30 p.m., we entered Cafe Sanuki.

I have wanted to hit this restaurant ever since I saw Mikey Chen’s Strictly Dumpling Youtube video. He liked the udon so much that Mikey filmed here twice. Cafe Sanuki makes their fresh-made udon using their Yamato udon noodle making machine. The owner even brings in two udon masters from Japan to ensure the quality is up to par with what you expect.

I ordered the dish Mikey recommended – Seafood in Mentai Cream Udon ($12.90). The mentai cream sauce was surprisingly light, and the fresh sea flavour from the egg roe was subtle. My bowl contained ample amounts of white fish, shrimp and calamari. I enjoyed the taste of lemon, garlic and green onions mingled in the sauce. The noodles were fantastic – so soft, slippery and fat. I’ve eaten udon numerous times in Tokyo, and I prefer Cafe Sanuki’s version.

Jacuzzi ordered the Cheesy Carbonara ($9.50). We had both never eaten anything like this before. The super cheesy sauce created almost a pool-like surrounding around the udon noodles. The sauce was so thick and heavy that you could see the long strands of cheese stretch apart when you pulled the noodles up.

What made this dish unique was the torching of the cheese on the top, combined with the smoky bacon pieces. Jacuzzi said this was so much cheese that one person couldn’t possibly finish a bowl. He exclaimed that you’d only love this dish if you dig a lot of cheese and bacon.

We agreed that the udon at Cafe Sanuki was incredible and worth returning to if we came back to Vegas. Simply Dumpling, you did it again! Hitting the Sauce gives Cafe Sanuki two fat thumbs up.

Fusion · Vietnamese

Pure Street Food – Part Two

On Sunday, Bex.oxo invited me to National Geographic Live. Before the presentation, we planned to dine at Maven, but the 1.5-hour wait deterred us. So instead, I suggested First Street Hall & Bar, as I knew Bex.oxo would find something she liked. Let’s listen to “Delicate” by Taylor Swift for this post.

We stopped by for a coffee at Alforno. As we sipped our cappuccinos, I showed Bex.oxo around the market. She noticed all the vendors are notable restauranteurs in Calgary’s food scene. I had the best intention of checking out Actually Pretty Good and La Mano, but I remembered seeing Foodkarma’s post on the dry noodles at Pure Street Food. I’m a sucker for a good recommendation, so I ordered the Hu Tieu Mi Kho Noodles ($15) and Spicy Bo Kho Brisket Sesame Donut ($6).

What blew me away was the sesame donut. The shell was thin, light and crackled when I bit into it. The brisket was so tender; I barely had to chew. The crowning glory in this donut was the layers of fresh basil, chilled cucumber and crunchy carrots. I noticed as the donut chilled, the flavours became even more pronounced. For me, this was like a banh mi but intensified. We both didn’t use the dip. We felt the donut was flavourful enough and didn’t need anything else. 

The Hu Ties Mi consisted of wok-tossed egg noodles, char sui, ground pork, spring greens, slices of fish cake, and a side of rib bone soup. The portions are so generous. I made Bex.oxo eat some of my lunch. I was instructed to sip the soup independently rather than mixing it into the bowl. I loved the broth’s flavour, which was so vibrant and lively. The big piece of rib meat was soft and meaty. I would order the soup again.

The sauce on the noodles had a robust spicy kick to it. The noodles were chewy, soft and sticky. There was so much char sui, ground pork, and noodles, the portion was big enough for two meals. 

The spring roll was killer – thick and densely packed with a savoury filling. I thought this was one of the better Vietnamese spring rolls in town. You can tell there was no scrimping of ingredients or love. 

I’ll have to come back and try another vendor other than Pure Street Food. Old habits die hard. But if I died that afternoon, I would have passed away happily. The sesame beef donut was one of the best things I’ve eaten in 2022.

Bars/Lounges · Fusion · Seafood · Special Occasion

Orchard Restaurant

Kournikova, Betty, and Québecois dropped by my house before our dinner at Orchard Restaurant. Betty is the latest addition to our monthly dinner club, referred by her best friend, Kournikova. We started off with champagne and then a bottle of my favourite red wine from Burrowing Owl.

L dropped us off and encouraged us to take our time, as he planned to watch a big match on PPV. I knew that was code for “be quiet when you guys come back home. I paid to watch this fight.” Unfortunately for him, we came home and partied on well past his bedtime. For this post, let’s listen to “Material Girl”.

Orchard is a gorgeous restaurant, resplendent with high ceilings, cascading plants and a variety of chandeliers. In terms of impressive digs, I’d say Orchard and Major Tom lead the pack in Calgary.

We each started off with a cocktail. Kournikova, Betty and I ordered From Shelter with Love ($15). Kournikova mentioned the passion fruit in the cocktail reminded her of the guava mimosas in Hawaii.

Our server told us about a bin end sale of French Sauvignon Blanc ($40). What a steal! I enjoyed this bottle as I found the wine smooth and not tart like I find to be the case for many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.

Betty informed me that her favourite food is Beef Tartare ($18), so of course, we had to order it. The lighting in the restaurant is dark, so when I mistakenly scooped up all the cranberry mustard, I mentioned the beef tasted oddly sweet. Betty laughed and pointed out what I was eating was beets and not beef.

Kournikova and I both loved the Grilled Humboldt Squid ($16). The squid was toothsome and so expertly cooked; it made me think of Chef James Water version at Klein and Harris. The salad was delicious, bright with citrusy orange notes. I thought each unique ingredient in this dish worked – the salsa verde, green olives, and lemon. I would order this again.

Québecois and I enjoyed the Beet and Burrata ($15). The Italian burrata was fresh and creamy. I liked the sweet, savoury and fragrant combination of the beets, hazelnuts, and orange. Québecois enjoyed the crunchy burst of hazelnuts, and Kournikova mentioned she liked the smoky pesto.

My favourite appetizer was the Eggplant and Maitake ($15). I thought the mix of the soy glaze, mushrooms, and eggplant was insanely delicious. I would order the eggplant again as well.

We wanted to try the Miso Maple Cured Sablefish ($38). However, on this night, Icelandic cod was used instead of sablefish. The fish was soft and covered in a delicate, buttery sauce. Kournikova and Québecois raved about the juicy bok choy.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Ocean Cioppino ($36), as I’m generally not impressed with this dish at other restaurants. The scallops were so fat and sweet, I thought it was just as good or even better than the scallops at Hawthorn Dining Room. The prawns were large with a delectable crunchy texture. The mussels and clams tasted fresh and were perfectly cooked. I also loved the rich flavour of the marinara sauce. I would order the cioppino again.

Kournikova loves a good duck, so we shared the Bougie Duck Breast ($35). The duck meat was flavourful but a little chewy. Everyone was a fan of the Israeli couscous. The sauce and couscous were creamy and silky smooth.

Betty picked out two desserts for us to share – the White Chocolate Tiramisu ($11) and Rocher Chocolate Cake ($11). The chocolate shell was hard and then quickly melted in your mouth. The tiramisu was soft and creamy, with a texture similar to semi-melted ice cream. Wowee – both were so good; I was scraping the sides of the dish to get every last drop.

We all enjoyed our experience at Orchard. The food, service and ambience were top-notch. Hitting the Sauce gives Orchard two phat thumbs up.

17th Ave · Fusion · Japanese · Sushi

Sushi In – Revisit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fusion · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Foreign Concept

My new Instagram friend – 4jki – is even more passionate about Vietnamese food than I am. Two of her favourite restaurants are Foreign Concept and Pure Modern Asian Kitchen. After seeing her numerous posts of takeout from Foreign Concept, I got “influenced”. For this post, let’s listen to “Where Is My Mind” by Pixies.

I ordered Bun Bo Hue (Beef & Pork Noodle Soup, $20), which came with two imperial rolls and an order of Banh Cuon (Vietnamese Steamed Crepes, $15). On the way back to our house, L stopped off to buy some Churros Bites ($9) from a food truck.

4jki loves Foreign Concept’s pork and shrimp imperial rolls so much, she eats them cold the next day for lunch. Each roll was still crispy, accompanied with big pieces of lettuce leaf, pickled vegetables, and fresh basil and mint.

I’m a fan of the Bun Bo Hue. I found the flavours in the broth fragrant and light. The white noodles were slippery and bouncy. The slices of beef were thick and tender to the tooth. I enjoyed the simple, clean flavours that stemmed from the raw onions and basil. The portion is big enough for two to share as an appetizer. Below is a picture of slightly more than the half portion. L is a light eater and I always take advantage of that fact.

I was surprised the beef balls were so juicy and springy. I found out that Foreign Concept blends pork and air into the meat mixture, which gives the beef balls its lighter texture. The bun bo hue is something special, I would order this again.

The Banh Cuon is a must order. The rice rolls were soft, filled with a savoury mixture of pork, shrimp, and wood ear mushrooms. The rolls are garnished with pork floss, Thai basil, bean sprouts and pickled carrots. I love the contrast between the crunchy sour vegetables, the sweetness from the sauce, and squishiness of the rice rolls. The Vietnamese sausage was yummy – the texture was nice and firm. This was my favourite dish of the three I tried.

I was really impressed with the subtle yet lively flavours in the bun bo hue and rice rolls. Foodkarma noted that Chef Duncan Ly’s food is well-balanced and the flavours are not in your face because of his fine dining background and culinary training.

I’m looking forward to ordering from Foreign Concept again. I’m excited I can get my banh cuon fix so close to home. Keep on eye on their Instagram page for new upcoming features.

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.

Fusion · Seafood · Special Occasion

Von Der Fels – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Quebecoise’s parents are in town, which meant she and her husband Sirski could get away for a double date. Both haven’t been to Von Der Fels, which in my opinion is the place to get mind-blowing food, with zero pretension. For this post, let’s listen to “Strawberry Letter 23” by Shuggie Otis.

Québécoise and I ordered a glass of bubbles to start – Aubusieres Vouvray France Chenin Blanc (5 oz, $16). L and Sirski chose a Kinabik pilsner from Sylvan Lake ($8). I enjoyed my bubbles – it was dry and smooth. I thought it was better than the bottle of champagne we had just consumed at our place. Québécoise disagreed and said nothing is better than champagne.

The restaurant is small to begin with, but with COVID-19 restrictions and the implementation of large plastic dividers between tables, there are even fewer tables available. We were lucky to snag the best seat in the house – the round table by the front window, complete with a view of the Calgary Tower.

Quebecoise and Sirski know more about wine than I do, so I deferred to them. Quebecoise asked for a white wine that wasn’t oaky. When she noticed our server also spoke French, she switched to her native tongue. He recommend a textured white wine- La Collière, Côtes-du-Rhône (2017, $60). Quebecoise was happy and exclaimed the wine was “bon”. She found the wine aromatic, bright and not acidic – a good choice because it wouldn’t overpower the food.

I knew Quebecoise would enjoy the Smoked Castlevetrano Olives ($8). These little olives are incredibly juicy with a subtle smoky aftertaste. My buddy Jaime goes crazy over these olives, so much she wanted to get an extra order to bring home in Kamloops.

The Korean Fried Oyster ($4) tasted of the sea. The plump oyster morsel was soft and creamy as a poached egg. The batter was light and delicate. The crunch of the cucumber garnish was refreshing.

Each couple shared a Green Tomato and Mortadella Tempura Sandwich ($8). I could hear the crunch of the thinly battered tomato as I bit into it. The tomato itself was firm, smeared with a sauce that reminded me of Thousand Island dressing.

The Pizza Fritta with black truffles and potatoes ($15) was lighter in flavour than I anticipated because I’m used to the pungent black truffle salt from Silk Road Spice Merchant. I enjoyed the contrast between the crackling of the batter to the softness of the slice of potato. I thought the simple sprinkling of salt was the perfect condiment for the combination of ingredients.

The seafood in the Scallop and Shrimp Crudo ($29) was so fresh. L thought the combination of the toasted pine nuts and the softness of the artichokes paired well with the silky scallops and sweet shrimp. I liked how the the artichokes weren’t acidic as I prefer a clean flavour over a strong herby marinade. We all wondered where Von Der Fels buys their seafood. I can’t remember when I tasted shrimp with such a soft delicate texture and clean flavours. This was L’s favourite dish.

One of my favourite dishes was the Wild Squid Haskap Berry Aguacile ($20). The batter was brittle and light, similar to the crispy skin on Sukiyaki House’s agadashi tofu. The non-fried squid was soft and tender, and again, with that pureness you can only get with super fresh seafood. The fresh basil and the brightness of the berry sauce was unique and made me think of Scandinavian cuisine.

My other favourite dish was the Charcoal Grilled Pork Toro Lettuce and Herb Wraps ($36). This dish reminded me of Peking duck wraps. I loved the combination of the sizzling, fatty meat with the fresh basil and lettuce. I actually prefer pork toro over Peking duck because of the intense smoky flavour of the pork.

At the end of the night, Quebecoise and I wanted one more drink. She asked for a cocktail that was fruity, herby and not sweet. What we received was pure heaven. If you want to get sauced, this is the drink for you. I asked our server what was in this magical elixir of life. The only information I could squeeze out of him was there was some champagne and strawberries in it. Quebecoise said she could tell it was really boozy. I could tell I was in love. If I could name this drink, I would call it the Cinderella because after consuming just one of these drinks, I can see why she lost her shoe after the ball. I’m glad L took me home immediately after, because I would have surely turned into a pumpkin.

Please Von Der Fels, put this drink on your regular menu. This cocktail is a masterpiece. The Cinderella cocktail ties with Klein/Harris’ D’Angelo martini for best cocktail in the city. Hitting the Sauce gives Von Der Fels two extra chubby thumbs up.

Fusion · Italian · Japanese · Restaurants

Carino – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Cheese Pull called and wanted to meet for dinner. She asked me to bring L but he declined as he dislikes being the only dude out with a group of chicks. For this post, let’s listen to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt.

Cheese Pull and I wanted to check out Carino, specifically for the gyozagna – a fusion blend of gyoza and lasagna. Carino has moved a couple of doors down the street into spacier, fancier digs. The room is filled with natural light and has a fresh, airy feel to it.

I asked our server for a glass of wine that would pair with the lasagna. He recommended the Barbera ($11). Cheese Pull doesn’t drink. I noticed that kids nowadays don’t consume alcohol, perhaps because they have better coping skills than my generation did.

For my appetizer, I choose Chicken Karaage ($8). Each piece of chicken was bite-sized and juicy, with a light, soft batter. The taste of basil in the mayonnaise was prominent. Cheese Pull commented the batter wasn’t as crunchy as Sukiyaki House‘s karaage.

The Gyozagna ($24) was so good that Cheese Pull let out a low growling sound as she ate. If that isn’t a compliment, I don’t know what is. Each dumpling was so plump, stuffed with a pork filling that burst with its hot juices. The wagyu meat sauce was so rich and heavy it just melded into the lava of melted mozzarella.

I enjoyed everything about this dish. From the delicate dumpling wrapper to the fresh flavour of the tomato sauce to the crunchy bits of caramelized cheese that crusted onto the top corners of the dish. The portion was also very filling.

Cheese Pull packed half her pasta away while I ate my entire serving. I was planning on bringing L half my pasta but it was so decadent I couldn’t stop eating. Cheese Pull said it was his fault for not coming. Our server was surprised I crushed my plate.

 

I was too full for dessert but Cheese Pull ordered the Hassun ($12) – a trio of sweets. Cheese Pull said the lemon flavouring in the shooter glass was subtle with a consistency like apple sauce. Her favourite of the trio was the creme brûlée. I could hear her tap on the sugar until it broke. She described her creme brûlée as a fancy pudding. The tiramisu was deconstructed – with the bottom layer tasting strongly of espresso.

I plan to return and get L to order the gyozagna so I can order the Alberta Beef Tenderloin with Seared Foie Gras Ravioli ($49.99). If you haven’t been, you have to check Carino out. The food is unique and delicious. Hitting the Sauce gives this Japanese Italian fusion gem two fat thumbs up.