Chain Restaurants · Cheap Eats · Pizza · Restaurants

Red Swan Pizza

L was too busy this weekend to indulge my banh mi fantasies. Instead, we picked up a pizza from Red Swan in Bowness. For this post, let’s listen to “Crimson and Clover” by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts.

Veggie Girl and Uncle B raved about the pizza at Red Swan, specifically the Three Cheese Pizza (Large $19.95, thin crust option). L wanted a meat pizza but I insisted we try the pizza Veggie Girl recommended. He eventually agreed, which surprised me. Whenever I try to get him to eat something meatless, he looks at me like I’m trying to poison him.

Pro tip – if you don’t eat the pizza immediately, reheat it in the oven. Some pizzas tasted as good or even better when cold. This is not one of them.

One of the best things about this pizza is the crust. I love the light and crunchy texture of the bread. The toasted sesame seeds on the crust added a buttery nuttiness.

The tomato sauce was tangy, and it tasted like there was coriander or some other fragrant spice or herb. The toppings aren’t heavy-handed like a Spiros or Hanni’s pizza. The amount of tomato sauce, feta, cheddar and mozzarella to crust was about 1:1. Personally, I enjoyed the simplicity of the three cheese pizza. This was a nice change from the Greek style pizza I normally eat.

We each ate three slices and we were full. The next day, L microwaved the last two slices of pizza and mentioned it reheated well. If I lived in the neighbourhood, I would definitely order again.

Pro tip – Red Swan offers free local delivery (some conditions apply), pick up specials and combo deals. They even make vegan, cauliflower and gluten friendly pizzas. Give them a try – for the price, you can’t go wrong.

Pizza · Restaurants

Yum Yum BBQ & Pizza 3000 – Lovegastrogirl does it again!

Lovegastrogirl did it again! She out sauced the Sauce. I haven’t met my match. I met my mentor. In honour of Lovesgastrogirl, let’s play “Oops! I Did It Again” by Britney Spears.

Lovegastrogirl texted me and said she had lunch for me and L. After a brief, masked exchange at my doorstep, Lovegastrogirl told me to go inside and eat while I repetitively exclaimed, “Omigod. Oh wow! This is too much!”

I felt giddy as I opened up my presents. Everything was wrapped and sparkled with gold glitter. There was champagne, pizza, fried chicken, bath bombs, and soaps! I reluctantly put the champagne in the fridge, because as tempted as I was, I can’t drink and work. When I drink alcohol, I have the attention span of a fruit fly. I think that’s funny because when I’m sober, I have the memory of an elephant.

Lovegastrogirl brought us shallot and chili fried chicken from her favourite spot – Yum Yum BBQ. Each glorious box contained around five large pieces of chicken.

The sauce on the chili chicken was sticky and sweet. The thick, crunchy batter was well coated and crackled when you bit into it. This was my favourite of the two flavours.

L preferred the shallot over the chili flavour because the former showcased the freshness of the chicken. The glaze on the shallot chicken was subtly sweet. Neither versions were greasy or overly salty, and both tasted almost as good the next day.

I noticed the wings and drumsticks were larger and meatier than what you get at similar joints, like Wow Chicken and Olive Chicken. The meat was juicy and tender, white and unblemished. The quality of the meat reminded me of Cluck and Cleaver, but the texture was not as dense. To date, this one of the best fried Korean style chickens I’ve tried. The side of pickled daikon was nice because it helped cut into the ‘friedness’ of the food. 

L asked why Lovegastrogirl brought us pizza when she already gave us so much chicken. I responded that she’s just like that. She’s like my mother that way – she goes all out. For Pomp’s sake, I hope he has deep pockets.

Lovegastrogirl brought us a donair pizza from Pizza 3000. Iatehere, who is a bit of rebel, anti-influencer, raved about this pizza. He likes that you can get two donair pizzas for $25, and according to him, it is a far tastier option than other more expensive pizza shops. The exception is Annah Island pizza from Spiros. I know way too much about Iatehere’s pizza preferences.

The toppings were proportional to the dough, which was neither thick nor thin. The dominant ingredient was the sweet, creamy donair sauce. The flavour of the tomato and donair slices were secondary to the crust and white sauce. I enjoyed the crunch of the white onions.

L said the donair pizza was a step up from the pizzas we ate when we were students. I beg your pardon L. We still eat Delissio Deluxe Pizzeria, and only when it’s on sale. If you want a basic pie, you can’t go wrong with Pizza 3000.

Thank you Lovegastrogirl for brightening up my week. I can’t wait to drink the champs this weekend. I’m also looking forward to bringing you and Pomp dinner. I’m leaning to order something I haven’t tried before as well as some tried and true favourites. To be continued.

Comfort food · Pizza

Hanni’s Pizza – S.M.O.G

There’s so much bad news out there that I’ve been seeking things of a lighter nature to counter the negativity. My newest source is Calgary Food – FoodYYC, a Facebook group that discusses customers’ experiences at restaurants. For this post, let’s listen to “You’re so Vain” by Carly Simon.

Even in this group, you can’t get away from heated debate. As you can see below, there’s some dispute about what constitutes a real pizza. Jason Lepla is the type of person I would gladly invite over for a dinner party.

There is no shortage of pizza joints in Killarney: Bow Tie Pizza, Spiros, Sauce Italian Market, Grecos, Jeanne’s Pizza Pantry, Hannis Restaurant, Village Flatbread and Newcastle Pub. Most of my friends and family each have a personal preference, depending on how they like their pizza.

L’s favourite is Hanni’s, perhaps in part due to nostalgia. The night we moved into our first house, we ordered takeout from Hanni’s. Nine years later, we can vouch that the pizza has remained consistently delicious. The pizza is always good and every now and then, spectacular.

We only order the S.M.O.G (12 inch, $24.99), a pizza densely laden with Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions and green peppers. The tomato sauce is tangy, with aromatic notes of rosemary. The cheese comes in hot and heavy. The crust is thick and crunchy enough to stand up to the toppings. The sausage is abundant and generously sliced, so each piece is fat and juicy. This is a stick to your ribs style of pizza that is so comforting and satisfying on a cold winter’s night.

The price is right too. A large specialty pizza will feed three to four people. L and I usually eat two slices each, and then we eat the remaining four slices for breakfast and lunch. Note that if you order delivery and live within 6 km, the delivery fee is only $3.

Burgers · Pizza · Restaurants

Iron Goat Pub and Grill – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Karplop, H and I went for a hike on a looped trail at Ptarmigan Cirque. On the hike, I walked ahead of Karplop but I think the next time I’ll follow from the rear. Every photo she took of me included a clear view of my behind. I’ve never seen so many pictures of my butt.

For this post, I wanted to play “Back That Azz Up” by Juvenile or “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot. However, after the second stern message from my father regarding the use of profanity in my blog, I’ll just play “Nameless, Faceless” by Courtney Barnett.

Ptarmigan Cirque is described as a moderate trail but I recommend wearing hiking shoes. I slid a couple of times and each time I let out an embarrassing loud scream. I could hear hikers around me call out to see if anyone was hurt.

We stopped by a peaceful meadow area to rest and saw goats feeding on top of the mountain. The views of the mountains and little waterfalls were so beautiful, I vowed to start exploring more of the area in the future. 

Photo credit: Karplop

After our hike, we stopped by the nearby lakes. When I took Karplop’s photo, she told me that Linda Olsen, the news anchor for Global, taught her group how to pose. Hand on right hip to stabilize, put weight on the right leg, put left leg forward, chin out and smile. I tried Olsen’s tips and I did look better than usual.

Photo Credit: Karplop

By the time 3:00 p.m. rolled around, we were ready for a bite. I suggested Iron Goat Pub and Grill as neither of us have been before. I was impressed with the safety standards and service. Before we were allowed to enter, the hostess asked us a series of questions regarding our health. My temperature was taken and lastly, my name and phone number were recorded. Once at our table, I saw staff constantly sanitize the tables, which were generously spaced apart.

Service was excellent. Lucy was personable and her genuinely friendly demeanour instantly put us in a celebratory mood. I was happy with Lucy’s wine recommendation. I asked for a white wine that was neither sweet nor oaky. Lucy recommended Sacchetto Pinot Grigio (6 ounce $9, 9 ounce $14). With the sun shining down on our table, I found my wine light and fresh. As H is only 11 years old, he stuck to a Grizzly Paw Pop Cream Soda ($4).

Karplop and I shared the Ahi Tuna and Wonton Nachos ($19) and the Coconut Shrimp Salad ($20). Lucy was kind enough to offer to split the salad for us since we were sharing. Unlike most non-Asian restaurants, I could actually taste the ponzu in the ahi tuna. I enjoyed the process of putting the charred pineapple salsa and greens onto the crisp wonton wrappers. Karplop liked how there was enough ahi tuna for each bite.

The coconut shrimp salad was tasty. There was a sweetness in the coconut batter and a pleasant crunch to the jumbo shrimp. There was a tad too much dressing on the greens, so next time, I would ask for it on the side. The avocado and charred corn and bean salsa went well with the fresh corn chips.

H didn’t know what he wanted to eat so Karplop ordered him a Kids Pasta with an order of steamed broccoli ($12). I noticed the big chunks of parmesan cheese shavings and thought it was pretty gourmet for a kid. H liked his creamy pasta so much, he wanted another serving. Karlpop told him to eat his steamed vegetables first and if he was still hungry, she would order him another dish. After he ate his broccoli he wasn’t hungry anymore. Mom knows best.

Near the end of the meal, H dumped his soda into his mom’s drink. She chided him and then sniffed her glass. “H, did you backwash?” He smiled and nodded. Alarmed, I leaned over and said slowly, “If anyone ever wasted my wine, I would be very angry.” Sometimes you need to establish boundaries early to prevent the potential for future miscommunication. Karplop confirmed that H poured his soda into her empty wine glass. Smart kid.

Photo credit: Karplop

I would go back to Iron Goat Bar and Grill. The view is scenic and the safety standards is one of the best I’ve seen during COVID-19. What really made the meal was the service. You know how a beautiful outdoor setting can make wine taste better than it actually is? Courteous service can make a nice meal into a very enjoyable experience. Hitting the Sauce gives Lucy two fat thumbs up.

Beer · Burgers · Happy Hour · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants · Seafood

Roof Top Bar @ Simmons – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Lovegastrogirl and I met up for girls’ night. Finding a restaurant for her is tricky. Based on her Instagram photos, the emerging themes are: a) spectacular view b) photogenic cocktails c) pretty plates of food. I picked the Roof Top Bar at Simmons for the view and because I wanted to try Connie and John’s pizza. For this post, let’s listen to “7 rings” by Ariana Grande.

Getting to the Roof Top Bar was a trial. I walked from my house, which is 7 km away. I’ve walked much further before without any issue, but this time I wore shoes without stockings. By the time I reached Chinatown, my ankles and the arch of my foot were raw and bloody. I limped into Chuen May and cried out, “Theresa, I’m not here for dim sum. I’m bleeding. Could I buy some band-aids from you?”

Theresa told me I was silly for offering to pay her. She and her sisters brought out a first aid kit and offered me five different types of band-aids, a disinfectant wipe and Polysporin. She even offered me extra ones to take with me. I thanked her profusely and told her I’d be back for my dim sum refill. Patched up, I was ready to go and made it just in time for my reservation.

Lovegastrogirl started off with a cocktail and I ordered a glass of white wine. She likes to snack and try a lot of dishes. I am not listing all the prices because Lovegastrogirl treated me out and some of the dishes she ordered were not on the website menu.

I am a fan of the nachos. The chips arrived blistering hot. Lovegastrogirl noted that the cheese was layered throughout the nachos and just not on the top. I liked the unique dipping sauce of dill and the hot heat from the hot peppers.

For my second beverage, I tried Connie and John’s pilsner ($10). I thought this was a sweet and easy to drinking beer. I knew I would like this beer since it’s from my favourite brewery – The Dandy Brewing Company.

Lovegastrogirl was craving oysters. The fresh oysters we received were thin and salty. If I had to guess, I would say these were an east coast variety. The oysters were accompanied with lime slices and hot sauce.

Lovegastrogirl likes her spuds and wanted to try the Greek Spiced Roasted Potato Wedges ($9). She enjoyed how the fries were poofy on the inside and crisp on the outside. Again, we got more of that lovely creamy dill sauce.

My favourite snack of the night was the featured Meaty Pizza By the Slice ($6.95). I loved the thick, melty layer of cheese. The crust was thin, crunchy and flavourful. Lovegastrogirl thought extra cheese was added to our slice because of the lacy cheese bubbles over the edges.

The view up here is something else and not something you can find easily in Calgary. Lovegastrogirl thought the vibe was very Vancouver. I would return for the view and the pizza in a heartbeat.

Thanks Lovegastrogirl for treating me out. I have a couple of ideas of where I can take you on our next date. There will be a clear view of me, and I promise the food, cocktails and ambience will deliver.

 

Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Azzurri Pizzeria – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Karplop and I met up for pizza night at her place. As she lives near all the Italian stores, we stopped by the Italian Super Market so I could stock up on some staples. For this post, let’s listen to “And She Was” by Talking Heads.

As we were shopping, Karplop pointed out Rio Mare tuna is the only canned tuna Miss Foodie will eat. Dammit Karplop, why did you have to go and say that? Now I had to buy it. Seriously, Miss Foodie should create her own stamp and start labeling restaurants and food products so customers know it was Miss Food approved.

When we went to order our pizzas to go, Karplop informed me that Miss Foodie only orders the Cotto e Funghi ($24) at Azzurri Pizzeria. Again Karplop? You know how impressionable I am. Of course I changed my order from my beloved Ten Pizza ($25) to the mushroom pizza. Karplop ordered the Italia ($26) and said we could share both pizzas.

While we waited outside on the patio, Karplop mentioned several times that it would be best to eat the pizzas straightaway because the crust is crispier. However, we decided to take our pizzas to go because we had wine at her place. When we got back, Karplop rushed to lift the lids up and fanned the pizzas to help with the condensation.

I thought the mixed mushroom pizza was a subtle combination of delicate flavours and textures. The prosciutto was so light and clean it reminded me of the deli sliced ham my parents would buy for our sandwiches. The goat cheese was smooth and soft with a little tartness to it. The mushrooms were earthy and with a prominent aroma.

Karplop’s sausage pizza was the opposite of the mushroom pizza.  The homemade Innis and Gunn Italian sausage was juicy and spicy. The zesty tang of the San Marzano tomato sauce was dominant. I enjoyed the crunch of the red caramelized onions and the strong flavours of the Genoa sausage, which rounded out this hearty pie. Between the two pies, I have to say I preferred the robustness of the sausage pizza over the refined flavours of the mushroom pie.

I can see why Karplop was so focused on preserving the integrity of the crust. I appreciate the thinness of the dough and the big air pockets within the crust. I particularly liked the charred bits and the chewy texture of the bread. Azzurri only used “00” flour and the dough is hand stretched, tossed, then baked in a 900 degree Marra Forni brick oven.

I told Karplop that I read a Google review by a customer who complained the crust was burnt and she had to pick off the black pieces. Karplop laughed and said that is the way its supposed to be and the charred bits doesn’t taste burnt. She wondered why the customer wasn’t aware that this was a specific style of pizza making. I was tempted to quote Biggie Smalls in the Google review and add, ” … and if you don’t know, now you know.”

If you are a pizza lover and enjoy quality over quantity, check out Azzurri Pizzeria. This place is something special. And if you got a beef with the style of pizza they make, think twice before posting a negative review because you are going to get burned. Hitting the Sauce gives Azzurri two fat thumbs up.

 

Italian · Patio · Pizza · Restaurants

Annabelle’s Kitchen

On Friday, L received good news. To celebrate, we went out for dinner. I couldn’t get reservations to my top picks: Shokunin, Bar Von Der Fels or Carino. L suggested three restaurants. None of his options offered a wine list that appealed to me. I countered with Tavernetta, but L didn’t want to drive that far. I scrolled through Instagram and saw a photo from Annabelle’s Kitchen, a modern Italian restaurant in Marda Loop.

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L was indifferent but I was insistent. I stressed that Annabelle’s Kitchen is only five minutes away, and we could go to Village Ice Cream for dessert. For this post, let’s listen to “Compromise” by Molly Kate Kestner.

Annabelle’s Kitchen doesn’t take reservations. Another group that was initially behind me ran up ahead and got the last table. It wasn’t cold, so we opted to sit outside on the patio.

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Our server Taylor provided solid wine pairing recommendations for our meal. She recommended a white wine – ($10, Brigaldar, il Soave, Veneto Italy) to go with the Ravioli ($16). The wine was light and lively on the tongue. I preferred the wine with the pasta, rather than just own its own.

You could taste the individual ingredients in the pasta – the lemon, the smooth mildness of the ricotta and the subtle pop from the garden peas and basil pesto. I thought this dish tasted almost healthy – there wasn’t an over abundance of salt, olive oil, butter or cream.

For our Sausage Pizza ($20), Taylor recommended a red wine (Mati Barbera, Piedmont, Italy $11). L ordered a Sour Cherry from Banded Peak ($8.50).

The Italian sausage had a nice chew to it. L liked the creaminess of the goat cheese. I enjoyed the heat from the pepper flakes and chili oil. The crust was perfectly baked and it reminded me of Azzurri Pizzeria.  Crunchy on the bottom but not burnt.

For dessert, L wanted a salted caramel waffle cone from Village Ice Cream. I didn’t want any but L insisted I try some of his ice cream. He kept offering me tastes and I nibbled away until he complained that I ate half his cone. Here’s a pro tip for you. If you don’t want me to eat your ice cream, don’t ask me to.

We will be back – to Annabelle’s Kitchen for pizza and Village for ice cream. If you haven’t been to either businesses, I recommend checking them out.

Annabelle's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Pizza · Pubs · Restaurants

Blackbird Public Urban Bar

We met L’s colleague Tent and his wife Canoe for drinks in Auburn Bay. As we are traveling to Croatia together for a conference, Tent thought it would be a good idea to meet up before our trip. For this post, let’s listen to Blackbird by The Beatles.

I chose Blackbird Public Urban Bar because on Thursdays, wine is half-price. L and I were early, so I ordered a bottle of Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon ($48.50/HH $24.50). L ordered a pint of Goose Island IPA ($7.5). I learned after Canoe arrived that she drinks red but prefers white wine. I told Canoe that I heard Croatia has some nice white wines.  She suggested that we go to a winery while we are there. What an excellent idea!

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I could tell that I was going to enjoy traveling with Canoe because she makes good food choices. She ordered the Pig Fat Popcorn ($4). The seasoning was a blend of what tasted like hot chili powder and grana padano. The popcorn was warm and fresh, so addicting I couldn’t stop eating it.

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L and I shared a large Fried Chicken Pizza ($24). The crust was thick and doughy. The pizza had ample cheese, large slices of pineapple, small chunks of fried chicken and jalapenos. I didn’t care for the pineapple. L disagreed and said the combination was a good mix of savoury, sweet and spicy.

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Canoe ordered the Ahi Tuna Sushi Bowl ($18), similar to chirashi but with chunks of vegetables and a sauce that looked like honey mustard. Canoe enjoyed her bowl and said it was like eating a sushi roll. She thought the sushi rice was okay but not as good as Kinjo. She offered me a bite but since I just met her, I declined and instead ogled her food.

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Tent ordered a small Fried Chicken Pizza ($15). He ate about half of the pie and left the crust. Canoe mentioned she wanted to bring back lace from Croatia. Tent was very interested until he realized they were talking about different usages of lace. Canoe wanted the type you put on furniture, like a doily.

I’m getting excited for our upcoming trip. A few places I wanted to dine at include Konoba Bonaca, Barba, Buza Bar, Fish Bar El Pulpo and Pink Shrimp. Some of the excursions I’m interested include a day trip to Bosnia, island hopping, Lokrum Island, wineries and a Game of Throne tour. As Tent and Canoe are athletic, I’m going to suggest they check out chasing waterfalls, biking and kayaking.

Blackbird Public Urban Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Pizza · Pubs · Restaurants

Merchants

L’s colleague Enlightened and his partner The Good Wife met us for drinks in Marda Loop. L and I tried to get into Marda Loop Brewery, but we couldn’t get a table. We had a beer instead at Mad Rose Pub. However, the hockey game was on and it was killing my buzz, so we left for Merchants.

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Just as we were leaving, Enlightened saw a customer wearing a kippah. Enlightened walked over to say hi and to give his card. He said that whenever he sees someone in Calgary wearing a kippah, he introduces himself because that’s what people in his culture do.

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The music at Merchants always reminds me of an updated version of early 90’s club music. For this post, let’s listen to Robin S – Show me Love.

Enlightened suggested I do the ordering but specified he was very hungry and wanted to eat. Enlightened is forthright. You always know where you stand with him. If he’s wondering how much money you make, he’ll ask you. If you answer in a generality, he will ask why you aren’t being specific. When you try to establish personal boundaries, he seeks to enlighten you on your error.

Whenever I eat at Merchants, I always order the Truffle Mushroom Pizza ($22). I like the combination of pesto, prosciutto, mushrooms, arugula and truffle oil. I personally would have liked a bit more mozzarella because I found proportionally, there was too much crust. Enlightened noticed the bottom of the crust was burnt but he still ate it. I didn’t notice the crust was burnt.

Enlightened liked the Merchant Wings ($15) but said for the price, he would have liked a few more. The wings reminded me of Newcastle Pub’s version which are only 35 cents on Wednesdays.

Enlightened thought the Calamari ($15) was the best dish of the night. I didn’t like how the squid itself was wet and slippery underneath the batter. I prefer the calamari at Opa and Newcastle Pub.

Our server recommended the Black Truffle Fries ($10). I had already eaten dinner so nibbling on fries with truffle mayonnaise was the perfect treat for me.

I like Merchants. The service is always good and I like the energy. The Good Wife wants to meet up again, next time at Original Joe’s. I already looked up the menu and saw a wine I can drink, so I’m game.

Merchants Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Kyoto · Pizza · Restaurants

Kyoto – Colors and Kaya

Our first night in Kyoto! I wanted to visit L’s old stomping grounds. We hopped on a train and headed to Otsu, a sleepy little town just a few stops away from Kyoto Station. For this post, let’s listen to Journey – Don’t stop believin’ (Small Town Girl).

As we walked around, L pointed out everything that was either brand new or a place he use to frequent. He wanted to check out Colors – a hole in the wall bar on the main street. When L lived here, he use to hang out at Colors with his other foreigner buddy.

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He warned me not to use the washrooms, as it was a traditional one, a squat. There are a lot traditional washrooms in Japan. I have yet to use one. I’m just not there yet. Inside, a customer was smoking, but L was willing to tolerate this occasion because it was his idea.

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We were charged 400 Yen for some candies and wasabi potato chips. L said it’s common for a bar to drop off bar snacks for a small surcharge. L’s sleeve of beer was 600 Yen and my orange vodka was 800 Yen. My drink barely had any booze in it.

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L said customers often stay for hours and the ongoing conversation with the owner is part of the experience. Early in the morning, as in 6 or 7 a.m., L would see customers stagger out.

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L chatted with the owner and found out he just bought the bar. Another customer practiced his English with L and asked us if we were married.

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We only stayed for one drink. You could tell the owner and customer were surprised that we left so quickly. I informed L that I was taking him out for pizza and wine at Kaya Bar in Kyoto Station.

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I remember Kaya Bar being a lot better last year. I’m not sure if the quality went down or if my standards went up. I suspect it’s the latter. You can tell the employees are tired of tourists. This place attracts them in droves. Foreigners were excited to come in and order something familiar like pizza and pasta at inexpensive prices.

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The drinks are dirt cheap. 300 Yen for house red or white wine. 500 Yen for a small sleeve of beer. Pizzas start at 600 Yen. The pizza is fine for the price. The house wine was so bad, at one point I almost gagged. I just stopped drinking because I found it so unpleasant. I found it difficult to get a good quality glass of wine at a price I was use to paying for in Canada, which is about $16 a glass. The selection of wine is also not impressive at the department stores in Japan.

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The anchovy cabbage was vile. The texture of the cabbage was limp and soggy. The sauce just didn’t jive with my taste buds. The pizzas are thin and have a good ratio of cheese to dough. This place was a hit with our group. There’s nothing wrong with Kaya. Just avoid the house wine and you’ll do fine.