Seafood · Vegetarian

Yemeni Village Restaurant

I haven’t seen Jennntle since Yelp Elite stopped hosting parties. Say what you want about Yelp, but back in the day, that company could throw down a party like no other. Cactus Club, Charbar, Telus Spark, and Modern Jelly were some of the most fun, entertaining and well-organized events I’ve been to in Calgary. Last week, Jennntle and I met to reminisce at Yemeni Village, a newish Middle Eastern restaurant in the downtown core. For this post, let’s listen to “What About Your Friends” by TLC.

I saw Miss Foodie’s post on Yemeni Village, so I asked for her recommendations. She suggested the Yemeni Bread ($3.80), Lime Drink ($4.75), Moofa Fish ($28.50) and the Charred AAA Beef ($15). Our server informed us that the restaurant was out of the charred AAA Beef. Jennntle wanted to get Beef Kabsah ($24.99) but I informed her that Miss Foodie never recommended the other beef dish and maybe it was for a reason. After not heeding Miss Foodie’s advice in the past, I’m reluctant to deviate from her teachings. Instead, I requested the Chicken Mandi ($19.90) and Salta ($15) because Dianathefoodie recommended those dishes.

Photo credit: Olivefoodyyc

The Moofa fish is butterflied, grilled in a clay oven, and topped with red onions and a lemon wedge. The menu describes the fish as “sea golden”, whatever that means. The fish itself is flat, and the flesh is moist, flaky and delicate. The spices were so subtle that Jennntle said the strongest flavour came from the fresh lemon juice. I found this dish fresh and light. I would order this again.

The salta arrived in a hot lava stone pot. The mix of potatoes, carrots, zucchini, onion and tomato were firm to start and then boiled away until it became more of a soupy stew. The sauce is salty and pungent, and the spices remind me of an Indian vegetable curry.

Photo credit: Olivefoodyyc

Both the fish and salta come with freshly made Yemeni bread. Oh my goodness. This bread is something special. The size of each piece is as big as a frying pan. The bread is baked in a tandoor (clay oven). The high temperature produces an ultra-light bread. I love the slightly stretchy, thin and chewy texture and the beautifully charred blisters. Besides the taste, the best thing is the crackling sound the bread makes as we tore off pieces to eat with the fish and salta.

Jennntle said the bread reminded her of the crispy layers in a Chinese green onion pancake. While the flavouring is different, the stretchy texture of Yemeni bread made me think of Azzurri, Savino and Rocket Pizza. I think it’s because of the technique involved to produce a magical bread like this. This bread is so good that no one, unless they have health restrictions (e.g. Celiac), should live without trying this.

Photo credit: Olivefoodyyc

The chicken Mandi is pressured cooked, which creates a tender, succulent meat. Jennntle took a spoon and when she pressed it against the chicken, the meat literally fell off the bones. The long grains of the basmati rice was soft and fluffy, fragrant with spices that reminded me of oranges and cloves.

The restaurant was packed on a Tuesday night. The phone was ringing off the hook, customers were lining up at the door, and dishes were flying out of the kitchen. I appreciate that despite the chaos, the staff was still genuinely interested in how we found the food. Hitting the Sauce gives Yemeni Village two phat thumbs up.

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Vegetarian

Lulu Bar

Aga came to visit me. Since she lives in Lethbridge now, I told her to pick the restaurant. She wanted to check out Lulu Bar, a popular chef-driven restaurant on 17th Ave. I noticed the restaurant was full of tables with young, pretty ladies. Pro tip – if you are single and on the Happn app, you might want to start dining at Lulu Bar. You’re welcome. For this post, let’s listen to “Where Them Girls At” by David Guetta.

The staff at Lulu Bar are friendly and inviting. Our server Jason helped me pick the right wine to cool down in the sweltering heat – Castelo de Medina (Verdejo, Rueda, Spain $55). This was just what I wanted – the wine was light, soft and aromatic. I was impressed Jason and another staff member knew so much about the menu. With the lifting of restrictions, I heard restaurants had to scramble to find staff to work again. There was no outward sign of any stumbling blocks for Lulu Bar.

We didn’t have much of an appetite because it was so hot, so we shared two salads. My nemesis Noom suggests that when I go to a restaurant, I should request the salad dressing on the side. I felt that to do so would be an insult to the chef and Aga because it would prevent us from eating the food as it was intended. I’m glad I didn’t alter the dishes because the salads blew me away.

The Sichuan Noodle Salad ($14) was shockingly delicious. I say that because there was cilantro in the salad but it was still incredible. The noodles were toothsome and lightly sauced in a chili sesame dressing. The bean sprouts were so fresh tasting, I thought they must have been plucked that day. Aga loved the crunch and tartness from the pickled beans, cucumber, onions and cauliflower. The chili in the sauce was pleasantly mouth numbing. This is one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten. That is the ultimate compliment because I am not a salad person.

All the foodies on Instagram have been posting pictures of their fresh spotted prawns, so when I saw the BC Spot Prawn Salad ($24) on the menu, I had to try it. Another winner. The prawns were sweet and meaty. The sesame yogurt ginger dressing was buttery and rich. Aga enjoyed the mint because she thought it added some freshness and helped to balance the salt in the dressing.

If Lulu Bar can make salads taste so good, I wonder what they can do to meat. I’m going to bring L so we can try more of the dishes, like the wood grilled branzino and coal roasted halibut, and of course, more salads. Hitting the Sauce gives Lulu Bar to phat thumbs up.

Banh Mi · Cheap Eats · Deli · Vegetarian

Saigon Deli – Assorted Meat Sub

Jacuzzi asked me why all my reviews are positive in Calgary and more negative in Vancouver. I prefer focusing on what I like about a restaurant over what I didn’t enjoy. As for the difference in tone between the two cities, let me just say your company does influence the overall experience.

There’s one spot in Calgary that I wasn’t initially keen on, but after my second visit, I’m happy I gave it a second chance. For this post, let’s listen to “All The Time” by the Bahamas.

Saigon Deli is one of the most popular banh mi shops in Calgary. The foodies that really know their Vietnamese cuisine swear by it. Three years ago, I tried the chicken and beef sate sub at Saigon Deli. I wasn’t impressed. However, after seeing Foodkarma, MissFoodie, and JustaYYCFoodie post their pictures on Instagram, I realized I ordered the wrong thing. The banh mi to order at Saigon Deli is the Assorted Meat Sub ($6).

When I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, three staffers were furiously filling orders. Service is efficient and considerate. I don’t know how the staff can keep track of all the orders, as each request is verbally called out. One customer wanted only half a sub with pate. I wanted three assorted, two toasted with one without cilantro and the other with no cucumber, and the last one untoasted with no cilantro. Though there was clearly an overwhelming number of orders, the staff made sure my order was right. For example, when I mentioned I wanted one sub not toasted, I was asked if I wanted the vegetables on the side.

The pate has a rougher texture and a stronger, richer flavour than Thi Thi, Trung Nguyen and Kim Anh. The meats were thickly cut and flavourful. The toasted bread was crunchy, but not so hard it cuts into the roof of your mouth. With the smear of yellow butter and the smell of the pungent white onions, I found this sandwich rustic and satisfying.

In my books, Saigon Deli assorted sub ties with Thi Thi, even though the sandwiches are different from each other. Thi Thi uses pickled vegetables, and their pate is whipped and melts in your mouth. The cold cuts in Thi Thi’s sub are also thinner and more subtle in flavour. I also find Thi Thi is heavier on the mayonnaise and with the addition of melted white cheese, makes for a decadent treat. Saigon Deli’s cold cut is more meat focused – the amount provided in each sub is more generous than all its competitors.

Here’s a pro tip for both places. Ask for your sub untoasted and for the vegetables on the side. That way when you get home, the sub won’t get soggy and you get extra vegetables. Just look at the picture above of the first sub I ate immediately after ordering at Saigon Deli and the version below of the sub I reheated the next day at home.

This Wednesday is L’s and my first date anniversary. I’m planning on ordering banh mi from Thi Thi to celebrate. While I’m a big fan of Saigon Deli, Thi Thi is closer to us and L loves the sate beef sub. Hopefully Thi Thi won’t sell out by the time we finish work.

Fusion · Restaurants · Vegetarian · Vietnamese

Pure Kitchen & Bar – COVID-19 takeout edition

L and I dropped by Uncle Ben’s house for dinner. Since Veggie Girl is having pregnancy cravings for bún (vermicelli bowl), we ordered Vietnamese takeout.  I picked Pure Kitchen and Bar because their vegetarian dishes offer a more varied selection than its competitors. For this post, let’s listen to “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige.

My photos are particularly bad as I didn’t feel like even putting in my usual half-ass effort. Pandemics make me unmotivated for self-improvement. Hopefully Pure Kitchen and Bar doesn’t mind me using some of their Instagram photos.

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Photo credit: Pure Modern Asian

I’m a big fan of the Papaya, Mango & Shrimp Salad ($13).  I thought there was a lot of shrimp in this dish, particularly for the price. The fresh basil was aromatic and plentiful. The shredded papaya and mango was pleasingly chewy. The chilli lime sauce was really spicy. I liked all the crunchy elements in the salad –  peanuts, fried taro and crispy onions. I couldn’t finish this salad in one sitting and the next day, it tasted just as good.

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Photo credit: Pure Modern Asian

L and I shared the Salted Duck Yolk Shrimp Tempura ($15). This dish illustrates how Chef Lam has mastered the art of takeout. I want to know how the shrimp remained so crunchy almost forty minutes after picking up our order. The dipping sauce of nori and tobiko mayo stood up beautifully against the crusty battered shrimp. He needs to charge more for this dish.

Veg

I ordered Veggie Girl the Vegetarian Vermicelli ($15).  She raved about the texture of the fried tofu and noted that other Vietnamese restaurants often skimp out when it comes to the vegetarian dishes. Veggie Girl mentioned the vegetarian spring roll tasted similar to a Chinese style egg roll.

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Photo credit: Pure Modern Asian

I ordered Uncle Ben the Lemongrass Ultimeat Feast Vermicelli ($17) because he doesn’t often get the chance to eat meat. The ultimeat feast includes chicken, beef, shrimp and a pork spring roll. Uncle Ben mentioned the shrimp was large and not like the peanut sized ones that other Vietnamese restaurants use. He said that all the meats were generous in size and not overcooked. When Veggie Girl mentioned she was digging her spring roll, Uncle Ben chimed in that he enjoyed his spring roll as well. When I pressed him to describe the flavour he said, “It tastes like a good spring roll”. Uncle Ben, for the love of my blog, you got to work with me.

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Photo credit: Pure Modern Asian

I ordered L the Caramelized Chilli Lemongrass Chicken ($17) but I substituted vermicelli noodles for the rice. When I handed L his food, he asked me what I got him. I reminded him that in March, he wanted to try the lemongrass chicken but with noodles instead of rice. I tried a bite and I can confirm that I prefer the original rice version. The rice soaks up the rich flavour of the lemongrass better than the noodles.

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Photo credit: Pure Modern Asian

I ordered the Crispy Chicken Noodle Soup ($17) to eat the next day. The broth contained strong notes of garlic and something sweet. I opted for the spicy broth version and by the end of my breakfast, my whole face was perspiring. Yes, this is definitely a pho to eat at home alone, and in the dark. The portion was so generous I was able to make the soup last for two meals.

pho

With the rising number of COVID cases in Calgary, L and I are being extra careful where we dine. Currently, Pure is only accepting takeout or delivery orders. If you are ordering pickup, you have to call the restaurant once you get there and an employee will bring out your order to the door. I’ve ordered twice now from Pure Kitchen and I’m satisfied with their safety precautions.

salad

Pure Contemporary Vietnamese Kitchen + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Burgers · Dessert · Fusion · Restaurants · Vegetarian

Donna Mac – COVID-19 edition

Restaurant owners in Calgary and Brooks are dealing with excess food after the Alberta Government delayed Phase 1 of the province’s relaunch strategy. Despite the fact restaurants were already stocked, staffed and ready to go, these businesses can’t open until May 25th. Some owners are requesting reimbursement for the last minute reversal date of the opening date.

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Municipal politicians are encouraging residents to purchase takeout from these restaurants to help use up produce that would otherwise go to waste.  For a list of restaurants that were ready to open, visit Savour Calgary’s list.

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L announced that this long weekend, we were going to eat out at least twice. As I’m always eager to play the role of best supporting wife, I suggested several restaurants I wanted to try. For this post, let’s listen to “I Will Follow Him” by Little Peggy March.

One restaurant that’s been long on my wish list is Donna Mac. I called and requested curbside pickup. Customers can also order delivery available via DoorDash, though keep in mind when a delivery app is used, that company receives a hefty commission from the restaurant.

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The Mac Burger ($11) reminded me of L’s go-to spot in the city – Clive Burger. The patties oozed with the juices of the meat. The patty tasted like it was cooked over charcoal.  I enjoyed the thick, sticky layer of American cheese so much I scraped the leftover remnants stuck on the foil wrapper with my fries.

half big mac

I recommend adding the fries to the burger, as it adds a crunchy contrast to the softness of the patties and squishy bun. I preferred the smoked dijon aioli to McDonald’s Big Mac sauce. My favourite part of the burger was the smoky flavour of the beef and heavy handedness of the cheese.

chicken

Despite the ten minute drive home, the batter on the Fried Chicken Sandwich ($11) was still crunchy. I liked the sweet tang and heat of the gochujang mayonnaise sauce. The slightly acidic pickles added a little taste of summer to the sandwich. I could taste and see the quality of the white chicken meat.

half chicken

I thought both burgers were a gourmet take on fast food, but with better ingredients and sauces. I don’t think I can eat at McDonald’s anymore, knowing what I know now.

burger

The fries ($4) were well-seasoned, skinny and crispy. The mouth feel of the potatoes reminded me of McDonald’s fries. Next time I order burgers from Donna Mac, I will request a side of the chicken burger sauce for my fries.

doughnut

For dessert, we ordered the daily made Donut ($5). The doughnut was soft and fluffy, rolled in a thin, crunchy layer of cinnamon and sugar. The lemon curd filling was bright and lemony, smooth and creamy. The next time I go to a party, I’m going to order half a dozen of these babies. I’m not a doughnut person, but Donna Mac’s version is so superb, I predict it’s going to win a future award in Avenue Magazine’s “best of” category.

side doughnut

I’m excited for this weekend. I can knock off a couple more restaurants off my wish list. Have any suggestions? Send me a message.

Donna Mac Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dessert · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion · Vegetarian

Ten Foot Henry – Birthday Dinner

Beep Beep insisted on treating L and I out for my birthday dinner. I’ve been wanting to check out Ten Foot Henry ever since Zoomhahaa recommended it to me. L has been twice for work-related events. I always threaten to tag along and get my own table close enough to annoy him. For this post, let’s listen to Divinyls “I Touch Myself”.

Before we left for dinner, L surprised us with a bottle of Pol Roger Vintage 2009. Our neighbour Mr. Sirsky had brought a bottle of Pol Roger (non-vintage) to share with us on New Year’s Eve. Mr. Sirsky told us to try the vintage version. I have to try both back to back for a proper comparison. What’s the difference between vintage and non-vintage? Vintage is made with grapes of one year’s harvest. Non-vintage champagne is a blend of different years’ harvest. Another interesting fact – Pol Rogers is one of the few family owned luxury champagne firms.

The crowd at Ten Foot Henry is young, thin and attractive. The room is dimly lit, filled with plants and cool cartoon wall drawings. The noise level is loud, not so much from the music but from the customers.

Our server Stephanie was lovely. This is an odd comment but she has a very positive vibe. She also provided good food and wine recommendations. I noticed that the excellent service we received was a team effort. Whenever I or Beep Beep would get up, our napkin would be refolded and our drinks attentively topped off. It has been a while since I experienced service at this level.

to

L ordered a Last Best beer and Beep Beep and I shared half a bottle of Vinho Verde ($37). The first dish to arrive were the Tomatoes ($15). We were instructed to mash-up the tomatoes, fresh feta, and herb together and then spoon it on top of the grilled bread. That herb in the dish turned out to be cilantro, my arch nemesis. The feta melted with the tomatoes and reminded me of cream cheese.

tomatoes.JPG

Zoomhaha told me to get the Marinated Beets ($13). I liked the combination of avocado and the crunchy, buttery pistachios. The beets were firm but still tender. L loved the taste of citrus and heat. The grapefruit added a refreshing twist to this dish. Again, there was cilantro, but it was easy enough to pick out.

beets

The Jerk Spice Cauliflower ($16) was my favourite of the three vegetable dishes. The cauliflower was roasted and had that charbroiled taste. The root chips were crunchy and sweet. L thought he could taste a bit of miso in the pineapple mayonnaise.

L was surprised he enjoyed the vegetable dishes as much as he did. I was impressed with the range of flavours and textures. I enjoyed the unusual combination of ingredients. I thought the vegetable dishes were well-thought out and interesting.

cauliflower

I enjoyed the Spaghetti ($18). The noodles were covered in a bright lemony pesto. I could taste little crunchy bits in the sauce. As the pasta is rich,  I’d recommend sharing it.

pasta

The star of the show was the Seared Pickerel ($25). The fish was fluffy, light and tender. The skin was crispy and crackly. The lovely white sauce paired well with the brussel sprout leaves. The addition of pickled grapes added an element of dryness. I’d go as far to say this is one of the best fish dishes I’ve eaten.

I mentioned to Beep Beep that all the vegetable dishes were good, but nothing could hold a candle to the pickerel. She responded that there is only so far you can go with vegetables.

fish

Ten Foot desserts should not be missed. We shared the Coconut Cake and Butterscotch Pudding.  Beep Beep asked Stephanie to put a candle in the cake for me.

birthday

The coconut cake was light – similar to Angel food cake. I liked the sweet, creamy frosting with toasted coconut flakes. The cake was delicious, but it wasn’t nearly as spectacular as the butterscotch pudding. The taste of butterscotch was like an intensely flavoured creme brulee. The pudding was cool and custardy, topped with sponge toffee. I liked the flakes of salt, which balanced the sweetness of the dessert.

butterscotch

Thank you Beep Beep for a wonderful birthday dinner. I’m looking forward to my next visit. Even L is on board. I give Ten Foot Henry two fat thumbs up and it makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

Cabos San Lucas · Mexican · Restaurants · Vegetarian

Los Cabos 2018 – Part 1

Every year, L and I try to go somewhere hot to get away from the cold. I like Cabos because it is convenient, cheap and clean. If the winds are in your favour, it’s less than a four hour flight. I also like the restaurants in Cabos more than in Playa del Carmen or Puerta Vallarta. In Cabos, there seems to be more of a variety and I think the seafood is superior. The only negative is the water is really rough and not ideal for swimming due to the strong undertow.

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L complained that the Airbnb place I rented in Cabos in 2016 was utilitarian. This time around, I rented a luxury condo. With service and cleaning fees, the apartment averaged around $250 (CAN) a night. I was pleased to see security was tight – we had to be buzzed whenever we left the complex. Drivers weren’t allowed in unless they had permission. Since we had an extra bedroom and bathroom, I invited my friend N.

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The apartment is situated three minutes away from the beach and a 12 minute walk to town. The pool was immaculate. We never took a cab because we preferred to walk everywhere. For this post, let’s set the mood with La Bamba by Ritchie Valens.

Tourism was down, perhaps because of the negative news of the six bodies found hanged in Baja California Sur or reports of tainted alcohol at Mexican resorts and bars. Whatever the reason(s), there were noticeable changes since we visited in 2016.

I could get into any restaurant I wanted that day, and this was the week before Christmas!  Massages by the beach decreased from $30 an hour to $20 for an hour and a half. Two years ago, I used pesos without any issue. This year, some vendors insisted on American cash, such as our transportation company. When I said I wanted to use pesos instead, they would recalculate and tack on an extra $3-7 American dollars. I ended up going to the bank to get US cash. In the future, I’d bring US cash for larger purchases and pesos as backup.

The first thing L and I did was get a massage on the beach. We found a newish looking tent with all white curtains and beds. Every massage tent offered 90 minute massage for $20 US. When L paid in pesos, they increased the cost to an equivalent of $46 US.

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Before N arrived, L and I planned to eat at the places that I thought N wouldn’t like. I convinced L to try Taco Gus again. On our last trip, I liked the tacos but he did not. The tortillas are thin and the meats are grilled to a pleasing crispness. As with any open air eatery, you have issues with flies landing on food. Tacos range from 25-45 pesos. There’s a large carousel of toppings and vegetables that I have a feeling are probably reused for the next customer. No proof – just speculation on my part.

At Tacos Gus, we met two Americans. They both complained about how much more Americans work compared to Canadians and particularly, Europeans. They both have jobs at good companies, but only get two weeks of vacation. They said it’s an expectation to work that much in the States. We also discussed how skimpy the shot pours are in Canada compared to the States, as Americans free pour. I told them I think it is due to taxation and likely, regulations. 5.3.8 a) from Alberta Liquor License says the standard amount of spirits and liqueurs is 28.5 ml (1 oz).

L thought the tacos were tasty but he missed having pineapple with his al pastor. The next day, I suggested we check out El Pasia , an open air restaurant that is popular with the locals.

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I saw several people who just got off their shift stop by for a light meal. I liked how El Paisa’s condiment bar was sealed up in the middle of the room, preventing flies from landing on the food.

The combination of the sweetness of the pineapple and spit-roasted pork can’t be beat. At Taco’s Guss, each taco is about $2 US. At El Paisa, it’s a little more than $3 US but the portion of meat was double that of Taco Gus and you can taste the difference in meat quality. Our lunch came up to about $25 US. L said he was happy to pay that for these tacos.

Highlights so far include massages on the beach, tasty tacos, and our apartment. The location was perfect and it was one of the nicer Airbnb’s I’ve stayed at. Lowlight was getting dinged when I tried to pay with the local currency.

 

 

Burgers · Cheap Eats · Fast Food · Restaurants · Vegetarian

A&W – Beyond Burger

Bottlenick told L that he recently tried the Beyond Burger at A&W. He mentioned that people often wonder why vegetarians want to try mock meat. Bottlenick said it was because flesh cooking on a BBQ has an appetizing smell. My stomach churned at that description. I pictured my detached arm, pale side up, sizzling on the grill. For this post, let’s listen to The Breeders – Cann-ibal.

L and I were grocery shopping when I started to get hangry. He suggested we go to A&W. I said no, because I didn’t have my coupons with me. L hates using coupons. He said coupons never work for him. He gets something he never wanted in the first place and ends up paying even more for it. L and I don’t ever really fight, but when we do disagree, it’s usually about fast food coupons.

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We ordered one Beyond Burger, onion rings and one root beer. When the employee told us that the bill would be $13 dollars, I said in shock, “Wow! That’s expensive!” L hushed me and said the employee could hear me. I didn’t care, she should also know how expensive the food is for us common folk. L was impressed with how easy the transaction was – he said this was the first time he could hear the employee speak clearly over the intercom. It took about a minute to receive our order.

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Usually at McDonald’s, the burger looks small, sad and pathetic. At A&W, the burger actually resembled its picture on its advertisement. The burger was stacked with fresh produce. Two layers of chilled crisp iceberg lettuce, pickles, a whole slice of tomato and red onion. The bun was fluffy and toasted. The size of the whole burger was quite substantial, double the size of a McChicken or Quarter Pounder.

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The cheese was melted all over the patty. The patty didn’t quite taste like meat, the seasoning was mild and lacked that taste of animal fat. The texture was soft and crumbly and the exterior wasn’t crispy.  However, it was a very tasty burger, particularly so because of the abundant amount of produce, cheese and sauce in each bite.

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The onion rings were hot and still sizzling from the fryer. I liked the crunch of the batter and it was tasty enough that you didn’t need anything like condiments like ketchup. By the way, if you want ketchup, you got to ask.

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Would I get this burger again? Yes. Was it worth $8? Yes. A&W taste more like something you get from an American diner. I plan to use my coupon book to return and taste test the Beyond Burger against my old favourite – the Mozza Burger.

.A & W Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Mediteranean · Restaurants · Vegetarian

Beirut Street Food

L and I did our usual run to Crossroads Market. He was hungry and wanted to get a bite to eat for lunch. I suggested Beirut Street Food, as it was seven minutes away from Crossroads Market. I read on Yelp that the meats are cooked over charcoal and the pita is made fresh to order. For this post, let’s listen to Light my Fire by The Doors.

The restaurant looks brand new. The interior design is modern and sparkling clean. At the front of the store, you can see the pita bubbling up on what looks like an inverted wok. Right after the pita is cooked, it’s brought over to be immediately used in customers’ orders.

pita bread

As I walked past the pita-making station I saw two meat spits – chicken and beef. Each spit slowly turned over charcoal. I could hear the hiss and sizzle when the juices splattered over on the burning coals.

spit

The selection of toppings are vast. There are a variety of sauces –hummus, garlic sauce, hot sauce, tahini and a sweet sauce. I was impressed with the vegetables. The colours were vibrant and you could tell everything was fresh and cut with care. There was lettuce, pickled vegetables, turnips, banana peppers, onions, tomatoes, olives, pickles, and parsley.

pita

You’ll need a few napkins because the juices of sauces and vegetables soaked down to the bottom of the plastic wrapper. Our regular size chicken shawarma ($11) was large. However, L and I both didn’t feel heavy or lethargic after eating such a big meal.

The chicken was tasty – I could tell it was marinated beforehand. The freshly made pita made all the difference – it was chewy and crunchy from its time on the grill. This was a standout shawarma. I want to return try beef platter so I can try the meat without any of the sauces.

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I’d rate this shawarma the best I’ve had in Canada. I bet the shawarmas in Israel are even better. Ever since I watched Somebody Feed Phil, I’ve wanted to travel to Tel Aviv. I do have mixed feelings about that show. I like Phil, I like the restaurants that are showcased, but I feel like the Somebody Feed Phil is marketed to seniors afraid to travel outside the United States.

Beirut Street Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Vancouver/Richmond · Vegetarian

Nightingale – Vancouver

I was back home for the weekend. I asked Naomi to pick the restaurant for Friday night’s festivities. She recommended Nightingale for the ambience and large selection of vegetarian dishes. When we arrived at the restaurant I informed the bubbly hostess that our party of four shrunk to three. She gleefully informed me that as a result, she could move me to a much better table.

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We sat on the second floor by the balcony, overlooking the bar and lounge. I love balcony seats! The music throughout the night was upbeat techno that reminded me of a modern version of “Rhythm is a Dancer” but without the lyrics.

Naomi, Beep Beep and I each started off with Nightingale martini ($15). Made with botanist gin, house green tea, white tea vermouth, elderflower, our drinks were smooth and pleasantly boozy. Naomi also ordered a glass of Orofino Syrah ($16).

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Our server Nataja was helpful with drink and food recommendations. Based on our appetite and Naomi’s food restrictions, Nataja guided us through the menu. Between the three of us, we shared five plates which ended up being the right amount of food.

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The first dish was the Apple Salad ($15). The apples won me over. Each piece of fruit was crunchy, sweet and juicy.  The walnuts, celery and cheddar added more of a savoury dimension. The Szechuan peppercorn dressing was subtle, I couldn’t really detect any notes of peppercorn.
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The Roasted Cauliflower ($12) was toasty, crunchy from the darkened florets and roasted sunflower seeds. The cilantro in the turmeric dressing was subtle. Quite tasty, I liked it.

The Grilled Broccolini ($12) was my least favourite dish – only because the flavour of cilantro in the seasame dressing was dominant.  The slender strands broccolini was cooked just way I like it – still with a noticeable crunch.

pizza

The Roasted Mushroom Pizza ($17) was a winner. That crust was charred, the dough was light, flaky and buttery. The layer of gooey fontina cheese covered the entire pie. The arugula pesto melded into the decadent goodness and helped to balanced out the flavour of roasted garlic. The next time I visit Nightingale, I would order another pizza.
pasta

The Butternut Squash Tortelloni ($17) was tasty. The pasta was stuffed with a smooth, hot and savoury filling. The sharpness of the goat gouda helped to balance the sweetness of the butternut squash. The addition of the pumpkin seeds and sage brown butter reminded me of Thanksgiving.

I was quite impressed with the level of service we received throughout the night. The whole restaurant hummed like a well-oiled machine. The venue looks like a special occasion place but the reasonable prices would make it a regular spot for me if I still lived here. Hitting the Sauce gives Nightingale two fat thumbs up.

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