Fusion · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Pure Kitchen and Bar

I organized a dinner for L’s 15 colleagues. I worked on the menu with the owner and chef at Pure Kitchen and Bar – Lam Pham. For only $45 a person, he created a spectacular feast for us. For this post, let us listen to “Pure Comedy by Father John Misty.

To start our meal, Pham sent out a complimentary amuse bouche – Roasted Duck Crostini. I loved the combination of the rich, warm chicken pate with the sweet orange jam and watercress salad. This crostini had it all – crunchy, soft, sweet and savoury.

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The Tenderloin Tataki was an appropriate introduction to Pham’s cuisine. The beef was thinly sliced and cool on the tongue. The sauce was lively – a spicy blend of tamarind nuoc cham and chili oil. The ruby red beef was layered with bean sprouts, herbs, crispy shallots and peanuts. Refreshing and light, I liked the contrast of the crunchy sprouts against the tenderness of the beef.

beef tataki

Each couple shared a Char Siu Sesame Donut. The sous vide pork shoulder was soft and sweet from the sauce. The donut was stuffed with cucumber, cilantro and pickled carrots. I could taste some lingering spice from the sriracha aioli.

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The fruit from the Papaya and Mango Sate Grilled Shrimp Salad had a gentle, mellow sweetness. Our group liked the addition of the crunchy taro chips. Normally I find bean sprouts don’t taste like anything. These bean sprouts must have just been plucked, because the flavour profile was clean and watery.

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L’s favourite dish was the Roasted Duck Spring Rolls with Crepes. The roll itself was piping hot, filled with creamy duck meat and orange jam. I thought the spring rolls would taste more like a traditional Chinese Peking duck crepe, but with the addition of the watercress and sour green apple, it was more lively. L said it was a wrap of awesomeness.

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The Salted Duck Yolk Crusted Shrimp Tempura was the highlight of my meal. The shrimp was large and sweet, encased in a crunchy batter with a creamy sauce of 5 Spice chili, tobiko mayo and nori. Even though I was full, I ate three pieces. Pham’s version reminded me of ebi mayo, but supersized, more decadent and intensely flavoured.

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My second favourite dish was the Claypot Lemongrass Tofu. The tofu was still crunchy, despite the thick pool of lemony, caramelized gravy.

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I’ve tried the Seafood Fried Rice several times before, and as always, the fried rice did not disappoint. I liked the generous ratio of shrimp, crab, egg and tobiko to rice.

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I heard a lot about the Pan Seared Master Chicken. I liked the master stock jus and the mushrooms.

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The Gai Lan was excellent. I don’t know where Lam buys his produce from, because I can’t get gai lan this fresh. The greens were sweet and perfectly cooked – tender but there was still a bite to it. The ginger scallion jus, garlic chips and sate oil elevated the greens and then some.

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By this time, I was too full to enjoy the Wok Tossed Shaken Beef. I did ravish the watercress salad. So good, I would request to order the watercress as a side in the future.

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For dessert, we ate Crispy Banana & Yam Spring Rolls. The soft filling was warm and sweet. Our server told us to swirl the spring roll around the coconut taro sauce. Yummy, though I was too full to finish my dessert.

Pham knocked it out of the park. The food exceeded L’s expectations, and we have eaten at Pure several times before. This feast reminded me of the Chinese banquets and weekly multi-course dinners my mother use to organize. I’ve been trying to eat smaller portions, but surrounded by so much tantalizing food, my inner fat kid came out and I would not stop eating. I could see from across the table that the other shared platters were still piled high with food, but the plates near me shone clean. In 2019, Pure was voted by Avenue Magazine as best Vietnamese restaurant in Calgary. I can see why. Hitting the Sauce gives Pure Contemporary Vietnamese two fat thumbs up.

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

Chinatown · Chinese · Dim Sum

Regency Palace – Dim Sum

Office Dad took AC, Gee and myself out for lunch at Regency Palace. I have to say on this second visit, the dim sum was much better than my first experience. The food was hot, fresh and the seafood dishes were really good.

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As with most lunches with AC and his friends, this was a work lunch. The last time I went out with AC friends, we talked taxes, customer service and finances. This group of friends were chatting about some private venture overseas. I occupied myself by eating and posting the photos on Instagram.

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One of the best dishes I tried was Beef Tendon. The tendon was soft and took on the flavour of the light sauce. The beef and tendon was served piping hot. I only like tendon when it’s served really hot, as I think it makes the texture smoother and richer.

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I really liked the Shrimp Rice Crepe. One prawn per half rice roll, the seafood was crunchy while the wrap was smooth and glossy in texture. The soy sauce was sweet and just enough to flavour the crepe.

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The Salt and Pepper Squid was tender but the batter was too soft and bland in flavour. The batter also had this sweetness to it that reminded me of plastic. I would skip this dish.

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I remember that the last time I wasn’t impressed with the How Gow. This time, the shrimp ball was full and plump. The rice wrapper was perfectly steamed so it wasn’t gummy or too soft.

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The Sui Mai was scarfalicious. These were big balls (that’s what she said). The flavour of the dumpling was really tasty. I particularly liked the big piece of shrimp and I thought it had a nice crunch to it.
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The sticky rice was a no-go this time. The rice was over-cooked and the meat tasted quite bland. I wouldn’t order this dish again.Overall, I was really pleased with the food. I would hit Regency Palace the next time I’m craving me some haw gow, sui mai, and beef tendon.

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Regency Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chinatown · Chinese

1 Pot – Hot Pot

Leighton soup

I added six more hours of exercise to my routine, totally about nine hours per week. This doesn’t leave much time to eat out anymore. However, I was feeling homesick on Saturday and I wanted to go out for Chinese hot pot. When my grandparents were alive, they would always make something warm to eat even if it was a humid summer day. Congee, wonton, herbal soups and deep-fried chicken were just some of the dishes I would have at their house.

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1 Pot was recommended to me by a restauranteur Heather Wigmore of Pigeonhole. I love getting recommendations from people in the industry as I figure they know the inside scoop. 1 Pot differs from other hot pot restaurants by the following: individual pot of soup; more condiments to make your own dipping sauce; and food is brought to your table. Personally, I really enjoyed having my own pot of broth and not having to get up to get my food.

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L ordered a sate broth and a beer. I made the mistake of ordering Szechuan broth and putting too many spicy condiments in my dipping sauce. In the middle of the meal, L noticed beads of perspiration dripping down my neck. Good thing I’m married to the guy and this was not our first date. Seriously, I felt like I was in hot yoga. Next time I’ll bring a towel and put it underneath me while I eat. I’m glad I brought my own homemade gatorade to drink. I know better than to bring my own beverage to a restaurant, but I wanted my electrolytes. I figured they wouldn’t care if my beverage was water (with freshly squeezed lemon and orange, sea salt and a pinch of brown sugar).

1 Pot offers a few cooked items. The two dishes L and I indulged in were the spring rolls and chicken wings. The spring rolls were very crunchy with a soft filling. The wings were sticky on the outside, made just like my gong gong (grandfather) use to make when we were kids. Both dishes came straight from the deep-fryer and arrived piping hot.

I ordered an assortment of dumplings: lobster, shrimp and beef balls, sui mai and wontons. My favourite was the wonton – I thought these were a step above the usual stuff you find at westernized Chinese restaurants. I liked the contrasting textures in the wonton and the filling was quite flavourful with a touch of sweetness.

The oysters were small but tasted fresh. We ordered a little of the beef, pork and chicken. I thought the pork and chicken tasted like it was a bit over tenderized. The texture tasted off.

L and I really enjoyed the fish pastes, which were much tastier than the fish balls. I also liked the non-meat items like Chinese mushrooms, taro, Korean cakes, and assorted vegetables.

I really enjoyed 1 Pot and I would happily return. We paid about $28 per person for the all-you-can eat hot pot experience, which I thought was very reasonable, considering the quality of the food was a step above some hot pot restaurants I visit in Richmond, BC that charge the same price or more. I plan to try Regency’s version of hot pot and revisit the Chinese Cultural Centre just to see how they compare to 1 Pot.

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