Brunch · Happy Hour · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Harbour Oyster + Bar – Vancouver

L wanted to go out for oysters for our last meal in Vancouver. I suggested Harbour Oyster + Bar on Commercial Drive because I read favourable reviews about the oysters and service. I really enjoyed their playlist. The music put me in the mood for a boozy seafood lunch. For this post, let’s listen to a song I heard playing – “Super Freak” by Rick James.

Harbour is a popular bar, and it was entirely booked by noon. The space itself isn’t large. There’s enough room for about 12 people at the bar and maybe six tables for around 16 customers.

I noticed Chris – the master shucker – worked hard to keep customers happy. When he wasn’t shucking all the oysters, he would also greet each person who came in the door, pour drinks, take food orders, answer the phone, and chat with us about Alberta’s seafood scene. Chris had only good things to say about Rodney’s Oyster House in Calgary’s Beltline district.

Harbour offers a wicked happy hour, served daily from noon to 5:00 p.m. I tried the Sumac Ridge Sauvignon Blanc and the Sumac Ridge Merlot (HH $6.50). I preferred the red over the white wine. Like Rodney’s in Yaletown, I noticed Harbour fills up the wine right up to the rim. L opted for a beer and chose the Harbour Lager (HH $6). L mentioned his beer was nice and cold.

For our lunch, I ordered the Mussels (HH $13), Lobster Poutine (HH $12) and two dozen Lighthouse Oysters (HH $1.50 each). First up were the mussels. Our order comes with 10 plump mussels and a slice of grilled bread. We opted for the white wine sauce, which I liked because the broth didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the shellfish. Each mussel was soft and sweet. Some of the mussels were the size of an oyster.

The Lighthouse oysters were salty and tasted like the sea. The flesh was crisp with a texture that reminded me of watermelon. Each oyster was large, with an enjoyable meatiness to it.

Our poutine arrived piping hot, with chunks of lobster claw meat visible in every crevice. Each fry was battered and extra crunchy, covered in globs of warm, gooey cheese. The lobster meat was plump and juicy, generously distributed throughout the dish. The buttery white sauce was sweet, with just enough creaminess to bind all the ingredients together but not so overpowering that it masked the lobster’s texture and flavour.

The oysters were excellent, but the highlight of our meal was the lobster poutine. L and I agreed this was one of the most delicious things we’ve eaten all year. I would love to return to try more of the menu. Thanks for the excellent service and food, Harbour Oyster and Bar. See you again when we return in 2022.

Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants · Wings

Bottlescrew Bill’s – Bingo

On Wednesday, I met up with some people for half-price wings and bingo at Bottlescrew Bill’s. Whoever created the playlist that night has excellent taste – I enjoyed listening to the nostalgic tunes. So for this post, let’s listen to “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.

I started with a pint of Banded Peak Mount Crushmore Pilsner ($7.62). A, B, and C ordered the daily special – Boiling Oar Kolsh ($5). D is really into her beers, so she took longer than everyone else to select a beverage. Finally, she settled on Strawberry Ice Cream Pale Ale from Spectrum Beer Company. She left me some in the can to try. I thought it was yummy, the fun flavour reminded me of the beer at Fuggles and Warlock

D was hemming and hawing over whether to order wings. At first, I thought she was a vegetarian, so I told her Bottlescrew Bill’s makes Cauliflower Wings ($8.47) too. However, it turns out she’s just ethical. C encouraged her to ask the server her pressing question. Are the wings free-range? It was her lucky night! Indeed, not only were the wings free-range, but it was also half price!

I’m trying to eat healthier, but I indulged in Salt and Pepper Wings ($8.47) when I heard the chickens grew up well-loved. The crunchy coating on the wings reminded me of Shake and Bake. The meat was plump, white and unbruised. I told D I’d eaten a lot of unethical wings in my day, and I could taste the happy lives these chickens lived.

I tried one of D’s hot wings. I loved the tangy smell of the vinegar. The spice level was mild and not too hot. I preferred the flavour of the hot sauce over the salt and pepper seasoning.

The hostess has excellent hearing and would mock the audience for being a poor sport. B and D are competitive, so they took on three cards each play. I went with one card and neglected the game halfway through to enjoy my wings.

I would come again – bingo, half-price free-range wings, cheap beer and Thunderstruck – could the night be any more perfect? Based on the group’s feedback, I’m going to propose our next event be held at Ducky’s, Rodney’s Oyster House, or the Tea House Comedy

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.

Carribean · Comfort food · Happy Hour · Patio · Restaurants

Simply Irie – No Man’s Dinner

No Man’s Dinner is back in action! Loaf2go, T, Hangryinyyc, Sofresh and I met at Simply Irie for our bi-monthly supper club. Loaftogo and I picked Simply Irie because we wanted to support the owner after her restaurant was hit by five break-in in just two months. Also, the food is soul satisfying. For this post, let’s listen to “Spirits” by The Strumbellas.

I wanted to try the Jerk Wings ($15.95) but I learned from our server that I needed to preorder, as the wings takes 45 minutes to prepare. Instead, I ordered a large Chicken Soup ($12.95) and a large Jerk Shrimp ($29.95). Loaf2go chose the Jerk Tofu Medley ($22.95), and her spouse T picked the Ackee & Saltfish  ($24.95). He was intrigued after I told him this is the only dish Ashdoesfood eats when she dines at Simply Irie. Hangryinyyc and Sofresh shared Doubles ($7.95), a Spicy Beef Patty ($4.95), and a large Oxtail Stew ($29.95).

The chicken soup is a winner. My go-to for chicken pho soup is Pure Kitchen and Bar, but Simply Irie gives Chef Lam some friendly competition. The broth is thick and hearty. I enjoyed the generous chunks of tender chicken and the soft pieces of pumpkin, yam, and potatoes. The dumpling is simple and toothsome – a boiled dough that takes on the full flavour of the broth. The corn on the cob is sweet and crunchy. Loaf2go thought she could taste cloves in the broth. I found this soup nurturing and wholesome.

Dianathefoodie told me to try the jerk shrimp. She has excellent taste. The shrimp is sweet and meaty, unlike the flavourless frozen shrimp I buy at Safeway and Costco. The texture is soft and succulent, similar to BC spotted prawns. The red, orange, green and yellow bell peppers were firm and juicy, sautéed in a spicy jerk sauce.

Hangryinyyc helped me set up the picture by adding her ginger beer to the background.

I tried a piece of Loaf2go’s jerk tofu. She said she was impressed that the tofu was properly fried and seasoned. Simply Irie doesn’t skimp on the sides. I’m not normally a coleslaw fan, but this version is fresh, crunchy, and creamy. The rice and beans taste mellow and earthy. I noticed the water served to us was infused with lemon. I appreciate these little details because I think it shows the chef is thinking about the whole experience of eating a meal.

Since L wasn’t at the dinner, I asked Loaf2go to take the pictures for me. She refused and told me she’d rather teach me. She said it was all about angles and showed me that I wasn’t tilting the camera to capture the best shot. I’d rather she just take the damn photo, but I think she comes from the school of “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

I took a bite of Hangryinyyc’s oxtail and it was even better than I remembered from my last visit. The meat fell off the bone, and each bite offered that perfect gelatinous texture. I found the sauce sweet and buttery. I tried T’s saltfish and it was tasty and unlike anything I’ve tried before. The saltiness of the fish was balanced by the mild flavour of the ackee.

T offered me two of his rum balls as no one else at the table likes the taste of alcohol. Holy moly – this is good stuff! The chocolate rum ball was warm and gooey, similar to chocolate lava cake. The vanilla rum ball was served cold, which I thought made the flavour of the rum and vanilla stand out. Out of the two, the vanilla dessert was my favourite.

On Monday evening, the restaurant was packed with a large party and it was kept bustling with a constant stream of takeout orders. Kudos to the chef who managed to pump out so many dishes, without sacrificing the quality. The temperature and freshness of all the dishes I tried was spot on. For the next No Man’s Dinner, we might check out a Chinese restaurant that offers offal and westernized Chinese food. Hangryyyc said it is just the two ends of the spectrum and none of the dishes in between! I’m game, we just need to find the right spot. If you have any suggestions, shoot me an email.

Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Patio

King Eddy – Wubbalubbadubdub!

On Friday, L and I stopped by the King Eddy for Stampede happy hour with Matt Masters. It felt so good to listen to live music again! If it wasn’t for the masks and the social distancing practices exhibited by the staff and clientele, I could have sworn I was back in Nashville.

From now until the end of Stampede, I’m spinning country music on my blog. For this post, let’s listen to “Change the Locks” by Lucinda Williams.

We ordered some drinks to enjoy while we watched the performance. I ordered a glass of Domaine Houchart rosé (5 oz, $11) and L chose a pint of Village Roadie ($7.25 HH). For food, we shared the Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Fries (half a bird, $32).

The batter on the skin was extra crunchy and slipped easily off the meat. The spices in the chicken are unique – I found the seasoning a little sweet, spicy and salty. I got a whiff of paprika or chili, which hit me in the back of the throat. The chicken itself was so tender and smooth, I could easily peel away the layers of white meat right off the bone.

We both agreed that the chef nailed every single item on this dish. These are some of the better fries in the city. The shell was golden brown and oily, so that the exterior shattered when I bit into it. The interior of the fry was still soft and mealy. The cabbage and carrot slaw was fresh tasting and vibrant. I was relieved as my pet peeve is eating slaw that tastes like it’s about to expire. This happens to me more often than not.

The gravy even tasted homemade. There was none of the artificial flavour you get from the powder mixes. Like the spices in the chicken, the gravy was well-seasoned, creamy and most importantly, served boiling hot. Since gravy is pretty much fat and flour, I think it has to be warm enough to only leave a thin coat over the fries when you dip the fries into the gravy.

King Eddy fried chicken is better than Hattie B’s in Nashville, and it has pretty much ruined Popeyes or any other fast-food joint for me. If you want to do some safe Stampeding this summer, drop by the King Eddy from July 9-17th. Check the website for hours of operation and the live music schedule.

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Burgers · Cheap Eats · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Eat Crow Snack Bar

My brother Jacuzzi and I text each other when we are in a bad mood. He never takes my advice and he often ridicules my answers, but we usually end the conversation on good terms. My solution to him is to go out. I can’t think of a better place than Eat Crow Snack Bar to bring some cheer into your life.

Eat Crow has changed since my last visit. There’s now a handful of local beers, alongside their beers on tap – Lucky Lager and Lone Star. The music is at the optimal volume. The sound is loud enough to enjoy the beats but low enough to carry on a conversation. For this post, let’s listen to a song that was playing last night – “Get Money” by Junior M.A.F.I.A.

Unlike this song, you don’t need to get a lot of money to dine at Eat Crow, particularly so for happy hour. From opening until 5:30 p.m., wines are five dollars and snacks will set you back four bucks. Beers and cocktails are also on special. The regular menu is wallet-friendly, most dishes are six dollars and the most expensive item is twelve dollars.

I asked my server for a recommendation for the driest red wine. He suggested the grenache ($5), a choice I didn’t see on the online menu. I really liked this wine – it was a good, solid red that I would drink at home.

L enjoyed his Microburst Hazy IPA from Banded Peak (473ml, $9). I took a sip and found the IPA light, sweet and juicy.

The Chick Pea Fingers ($4) were delicious. The interior was soft and fluffy. The pesto sauce was bright with some nice spices and what I thought was garlic. I would order this again.

We each ordered a fun-size Crow Burger ($4). What the burger lacks in size it makes up for in flavour. The patty is seared on the outside so that it had this beautiful crunch to it. The beef is cooked to a medium, and the texture is so soft it caresses your tongue. The combination of the pickled zucchini and melted American cheese creates the ultimate flavour bomb. The flavour was so intense that as I ate, I wanted to suck back the juices.

We both tried the Crow Dog ($4). How good can a hot dog be? The Crow hot dog is mind-blowingly good. The weiner is juicy and salty, topped with a creamy sauce, caramelized onions and cheese. This is the ultimate umami pleaser. My favourite part of this dish was the light, crusty bread. The crackling sound the bread made when I bit into it was as satisfying as how it tasted. Heaven.


L wanted to try the Popcorn Shrimp ($12). I’m all for a cream sauce but I love Eat Crow’s pick – a chili lime dipping sauce. The sauce was bright and lively, with flavours that reminded me of Thai food, like coconut oil, cilantro and lime. The lighter sauce also highlighted the quality of the shrimp – there was a good crunch to it and it tasted a little like the the crab claws I would get at a Chinese banquet. There was a nice heat to this dish, the type of hot that sears your taste buds. We would order this again.

Around this time, I wanted to try another wine. I picked the Four Star Pinot Noir ($11). I found this wine sweet with a hint of vanilla. Our server asked me if I liked it. I said the previous wine was more to my taste and this one reminded me of vanilla. She looked so disappointed in my response that I wished I liked vanilla notes in wine.

My last dish was the Chili Dry-Rubbed Chicken Wings ($7.50). This was as good as I remembered in my last visit. The batter melts in your mouth. The chicken arrived so hot, I burned my fingers. Every time I touched the wings, I would be punished for my impatience.

This experience brightened our mood. The music was fun, service was excellent and the food was some of the best I’ve eaten in a long time. Make sure you make a reservation, because the secret is out and you won’t want to get turned away. I’m not the only one who thinks this is an awesome bar. I could hear two other tables exclaiming how fantastic the food is. Eat Crow makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of best restaurants in Calgary.

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Beer · Happy Hour · Pubs · Wings

Newcastle Pub – Wing Night

L wants to be cautious on where we choose to dine out because of the new COVID-19 variant. We drove by Newcastle Pub and saw that it was quiet, perhaps because of the weather and time of day. In honour of the new documentary on Britney Spears, let’s listen to “I Wanna Go”.

Newcastle installed glass barriers between socially distanced tables. The room looked and smelled clean – even the walls and ceilings appeared freshly washed. When we sat down, we saw our favourite server Katarina going to each table to ask for a name and phone number. One of the new restrictions is that restaurants are expected to collect contact information from one person of the dining party.

L ordered an IPA ($7, 20 ounce) and I settled on a Wild Rose Velvet Fog ($7, 20 ounce). I still remember when I first came to Calgary, how much I liked Wild Rose beer. At that time, BC only had Granville Island beer, which tastes like what I imagine piss to be like. I can actually feel my mother cringing at that description. I’m not so worried because another restriction is that out-of-town visitors cannot stay in other people’s homes while these restrictions are in place, regardless of where they are coming from.

One thing we always order is the Truffle Fries ($9.75). The portion is huge and despite the fact the fries are piled high, there’s an even distribution of grated parmesan, truffle oil and fresh parsley. L likes that the amount of truffle isn’t overwhelming. I love the side of garlic aioli, even though this dish is decadent enough on its own.

I felt like wings and L said he would share it with me, just as long it wasn’t salt and pepper. I asked him why and he responded that it is the most boring flavour you can get. I questioned why he’s just telling me this now, as I’ve always ordered salt and pepper wings. L said how can you not know? It’s just salt and pepper, and now that he thinks about it, that’s not even a flavour. I think this pandemic is getting to us. I’ve never seen L so passionate about chicken. I was speechless.

I have to admit, hot wings ($3.50, $1.50 for a side of ranch) taste much better than the salt and pepper. The hot sauce had a nice heat to it and a pleasant vinegary tang. On this day, the wings were extra meaty.


Newcastle Pub is one of the best run pubs in the city. I think part of the reason is the manager Jay is always helping out and he previously worked as an executive chef. In the nine years we’ve been customers, we’ve never experienced a bad meal or poor service. Keep up the great work enforcing the mandatory restrictions.

Beer · Burgers · Comfort food · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Jane Bond BBQ & Urban Shack Fried Chicken

I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself a political junkie, but I do follow municipal politics. The post below made me smile because it shows how good food can bring people together – no matter where they fall on the spectrum. Below is a picture of Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra and Craig Chandler sharing a meal at Jane Bond BBQ.

As the election heats up, may I can suggest all candidates running in the 2021 race spend some quality time eating at our local restaurants. For this post, let’s listen to “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles.

I ordered the Brisket BBQ Plate ($20), which includes half a pound of brisket, a side and coconut cornbread. I upgraded my side for the macaroni cheese (+$1). Jane Bond is having a special for their new shack style chicken. I ordered the 8 Piece Bird Attack (Regular $45, Featured $22.50), which includes boneless fried chicken (choice of five flavours), two dipping sauces, large creamy slaw, large fries, two Cajun corn cobbs and two pieces of coconut corn bread.

Pro tip – if you want both BBQ and fried chicken, you have to order each separately online. I went to Jane Bond’s website to order the BBQ and for the fried chicken, I clicked onto a subcategory on the website. Not a big deal, but a little confusing if you aren’t aware that Urban Shack Fried Chicken falls under the Jane Bond website.

The restaurant was busy when I went to pick up my order. There were about five customers inside waiting and two people outside in their cars. When I arrived, the staff were busy pumping out orders, so I was left standing there unsure as what to do. Here’s another pro tip. Walk to the front counter, catch an employee’s attention and tell them your name and what method you used to place your order.

After a 15-minute ride home, I thought it would be best to reheat the fries and chicken in the oven. I also microwaved the brisket, corn, and macaroni and cheese. Our fries crisped up nicely in the oven.

The beef brisket was soft, coated in a tangy, smoky sauce. There were some pieces that were well marbled with fat. I enjoyed the caramelized top part of the macaroni and cheese. Underneath the crust, the noodles were soft and saucy. The slaw was light and crisp. I found this salad necessary in between the heavy, rich bites of brisket and macaroni and cheese.

L really enjoyed the fries. The batter on it reminded me of the bulgogi fries at Wow Chicken. I love the corn bread. The texture was crumbly. The flavour was sweet and buttery, with a hint of smoke. The chicken was crunchy and the meat was tender. My favourite dipping sauce was the jerk sauce – it tasted like there was cinnamon in it. I enjoyed the heat and spice in the sauce. The corn was sweet and wet with butter and Cajun spices.

We ordered way too much food and we had ample leftovers for the next day. Below is a picture of all the food we didn’t end up eating. The cornbread was just as tasty in the morning. In fact, everything tasted good the next day.

My last pro tip of the post. I ordered ice tea, mistakenly thinking there was booze in it. I ended up ordering the regular ice tea (4 pack, $12). Get it! It taste like a mix between peach Snapple and SoCIAL LITE spiked lemon ice tea, but sweeter. Jane’s ice tea was a nice complement to our meal.

It’s my birthday week and I am looking forward to writing about our next food adventure. It’s a bit harder to celebrate with takeout because you have to make some allowances, such as the time and distance it takes to get your food and how certain foods are best eaten fresh. If you have any favourite spots ideal for takeout, let me know.

Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Seafood · Special Occasion

Klein/Harris – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Lovegastrogirl knows how to make an entrance. I knew before I even looked up that she arrived at Klein/Harris. I could hear her heels lightly clicking on the wooden floors. With her flowing trench coat, oversized floppy hat and face mask, she looked like a modern day Carmen Sandiego. For no particular reason, she even brought flowers for me! L is right. I can’t top Lovegastrogirl’s flair for hospitality. I think she even beats my mother in that department. For this post, let’s listen to “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison.

I could have picked a new restaurant to try but I had a feeling Lovegastrogirl would love Klein/Harris. I thought she would appreciate the craftsmanship of the cocktails as well as the impressive cooking techniques deployed in the food. I could also count on the food and service as being excellent because the owners – Chef James Waters and Christina Mah –  can be found in their restaurant every single day. 

We started with the feature cocktail – a Classic Negroni ($10) crowned with pineapple foam. Christina informed us that our server Kaitlyn is in charge of their cocktail menu. As Christina herself is known as one of Calgary’s best mixologists, I knew we would be in good hands with Kaitlyn.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

We received an amuse bouche of pickled beet, crab apple purée, and crispy leeks. This bite was sweet, crunchy and tart. This was a nice introduction our meal.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

We started off with the Diver Scallops ($20). The three scallops were beautifully seared and silky smooth inside. There was plenty of smoky crispy bits of farmer’s bacon nestled with the braised peppers, Savoy cabbage and apple nosh. The broth was so good – it was sweet and salty. 

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

For my second beverage, Kaitlyn poured two wines for me to try. I picked one of her favourite wines – D’Angelo Miscela Tempranillo (9 ounce, $14.5). When she asked me if I would like a 5 or 9 ounce glass, I inquired if there was an option for a 20 ounce. I got a laugh from Kaitlyn and Lovegastrogirl but no definitive answer.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

One of the best things I have eaten this year is the Candied Pork Belly ($15). I could taste the smokey flavour of the grill on the sweet bread. Combined with the softness of the egg, the flavour and texture reminded me of French toast. The pork was tender and there was enough to go around for each bite of toast. The addition of the sautéed onions really made this dish. I would order the candied pork belly again. 

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

We shared the Friday Toast and Roast ($25) – sous vide pork shoulder with Swiss chard, quinoa, roasted acorn squash, apple and beet puree and mustard pork jus. The portion of meat was very generous – I counted four seared chunks.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

The flavour of the pork shoulder was very different from our pork belly appetizer. The pork was also soft but the sauce was tart and vibrant. I enjoyed the texture of the zucchini – it reminded me of a sweet potato. If this dish was a regular item on the menu, I would order it again.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

For dessert, we shared the Crusted Boursin Cheese ($21). I enjoyed the process of cutting into the pastry and smearing the cheese on top of the toast, then layering the house preserves and warm tomatoes. I know Chef Waters can work magic with meats and seafood, but he also does the same to something as simple as onions and tomatoes. The intensity of the flavour of the tomatoes made this dish pop, just like the onions in the candied pork belly appetizer.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

Lovegastrogirl seem to dig her Tanqueray Martini ($12) so I requested one too. I’m not normally a fan of cocktails but at Klein/Harris, it is a different story. Kaitlyn made me her favourite drink – the D’Angelo ($14.50, 7 ounce). The lemon peel provided a pleasant floral fragrance. The combination of the salty olive with the vodka and gin blend is something dreams are made out of. 

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

Lovegastrogirl was so impressed with the food, she wants to return with her fiancé Pomp. I know she loves a view, so I suggest she bring their in-laws and reserve the table by the window. That way, she can get her coveted cityscape of Stephen Avenue. She’s a sucker for a view.

Photo credit: Lovegastrogirl

Christina informed me that Klein/Harris is opening a lounge located in the basement of the restaurant. I’m keen to go, as I’ll use any excuse to drop by for a martini. I wonder if Kaitlyn will make me a 14 ounce D’Angelo. If she laughs again, thinking it is a joke, I’ll quote Walt Disney’s unidentified and most likely unappreciated employee – “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Cheap Eats · Happy Hour · Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood · Sushi

Ke Charcoal Grill- COVID-19 dine-in edition

I’ve been hearing good things about Ke Charcoal Grill, a restaurant specializing in yakitori. I convinced L to go, though I warned him that he needs to lower his expectations. L’s eaten his fair share of yakitori in Tokyo, so I knew he had preconceived notions on what it should taste like. Ke Charcoal is popular for its cheap and tasty food. For this post, let’s listen to “Joyride” by Roxette.

When we arrived, the hostess took our temperature. As with most restaurants, there is sanitizer at the entrance. For our safety, all our cutlery and sauces were individually packed. I liked how the tables were spaciously set apart. I also noticed that the staff were attentive and friendly, despite appearing understaffed.

L ordered a glass of Asahi ($6) and I stuck with tap water. I took a sip of his beer and found it flat. I heard from a reliable person with industry knowledge – Jude – that Ke Charcoal’s sake is inexpensive. I’ll have to try some on my next visit.

The Chicken Karaage ($8) is a winner. The chicken leg meat was juicy and the batter was nice and brittle. I would order this again.

To go with our skewers, I ordered two heaping bowls of rice ($5). The rice was fluffy and the fragrance reminded me more of Chinese rice than Japanese.

We started off with two skewers of Hatsu with teriyaki sauce ($4.60). I normally love chicken heart but these skewers were served cold and the texture was rubbery instead of tender.

Next up were two skewers of Mo Mo with teriyaki sauce ($4.80). The chicken thighs were tasty and served hot. The teriyaki sauce tasted heavy and sweet.

The cheese on the Yuki ($5.20) was sticky and stuck to the roof of my mouth. I preferred the plain chicken thighs without the cheese but that’s just a personal preference.

One of our favourite skewers was Negima ($4.80). So simple but so good. The green onion was deeply caramelized and it paired beautifully with the chicken thighs.

The Dunagimo ($2.40) arrived hot. I’ve never tried chicken gizzard before. The gizzard was addictingly chewy yet crunchy, and the flavour was surprisingly subtle. I would order this again.

My favourite skewer was Kawa (w/ sea salt $2.30). The chicken skin was super crispy. When I took a bite, the skin would flake apart and then melt in my mouth. I love eating chicken skin with rice, as the plainness of the steamed rice accents the texture and richness of the skin.

I didn’t know what to expect when I ordered Okra ($2.10). The okra was cooked perfectly – there was still a resistance when I bit into it. I loved the crunchy, juicy texture and I could taste the smoky flavour of the grill.

The Asparagus Maki ($4.80) skewers were yummy. The bacon was crispy on the edges but still soft on the inside, coating the asparagus with the flavour of hot pork fat. The texture of the grilled asparagus reminded me of green beans.

We tried both the Tsukkune with teriyaki sauce ($5.20) and with cheese ($5.20). These chicken meatballs were filling, but I found the temperature cool. I think if it was served fresh off the grill, I would have enjoyed it.

I thought that more than half the skewers we tried were awesome, particularly for the price. We ordered way too much food and the bill was half of what we would pay at Shokunin. However, you can’t expect the quality of Shokunin at Ke Charcoal’s prices. Ke Charcoal is an affordable, easy introduction to yakitori. The food reminded me a bit of Torikizoku – a popular and dirt cheap yakitori izakaya chain in Japan. I think the food at Ke Charcoal is far better than Torikizoku.

I told Jude that L wasn’t as impressed as I was with yakitori. She said that the food at Ke Charcoal is great when it’s hot. Sometimes when the yakitori is colder than she would like, she’ll inform the servers and they bring over a new set. I never even thought about complaining. Jude suggested the next time I go, I should ask the servers to ensure the skewers are hot.

Jude recommends the oyster special on Wednesdays, unagi, chicken meatball with shisho, scallop, miso sablefish, beef tongue with daikon and ponzu. She told me to request salt on the yakitori and togarashi on the side for L, so he can get that essence of Japanese yakitori he craves.

I was so excited after talking to Jude that I wanted to go to Ke Charcoal the next day. I told L that I would even pick up the tab. He looked at me sourly and responded, “Look, I know why you want me to go again. You want me to have a different experience. But I won’t. It’s not Japan.”

Wow L! Talk about being inflexible. In the circle of compromise, you aren’t meeting me halfway. I’m not going to pressure him again because I think I am too controlling over where and what we eat. Plus, I know Karplop will go with me. I’ll post an update on my second visit to Ke Charcoal shortly, because this is one izakaya I’ll be frequenting. Hitting Sauce gives Ke Charcoal two fat thumbs up.