Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Comfort food · Curry · Restaurants

Calgary Court Restaurant – COVID-19 dine-in

The thing about Chinese restaurants is that you have to know what to order. Perhaps because of the super long menu, not all the dishes are winners. I rely on my friend Ms. Biz to guide me to the best food. For our lunch date with Karplop, Ms. Biz picked Calgary Court Restaurant. For this post, let’s listen to “Heart is Cold” by The Damn Truth.

Ms. Biz recommends the HK style dishes at Calgary Court. She picked the Spam and Egg Sandwich ($6.25); Sliced Fried Fish Cake Noodle Soup ($10.50); Shrimp Dumpling Soup (sui kow, $10.95); and Hainan Style Curry Tender Beef Combo ($16.50). Karplop thought Ms. Biz ordered too much food. Ms. Biz tossed her sleek ponytail and stated that when she treats, she likes to ensure her guests have plenty to eat. In that aspect, Ms. Biz reminds me of my mother.

The beef curry combo includes a soup of the day, steamed rice and a coffee or tea. For an extra dollar, you can upgrade to a cold milk tea. Ms. Biz asserted that the only restaurants that make an authentic Chinese milk tea belong to Taste of Asia Restaurants. She pointed out that even the complimentary tea we were drinking was Yellow Label Lipton tea. When I asked why Lipton tea is considered a positive, she answered it is the standard for HK style milk tea.

Ms. Biz asked me if I was familiar with this style of soup, as it is a herbal broth that Paw Paws (Chinese word for grandmother) make for their family. I was surprised to see so much soft meat on the soup bones. The broth was sweet and hot. The pieces of carrots and melons were firm and not overcooked to mush. The broth was infused with tangerine peels and dates, which according to Ms. Biz is conducive for cooling down your body temperature in the summer months.

One of Ms. Biz favourite dishes at Calgary Court is a quintessential HK staple – the luncheon meat egg sandwich. The mountain of pale yellow eggs is almost custard-like. The crispy golden brown slice of spam gives the sandwich a pop of saltiness. The softness of the fluffy bread melded against the eggs and spam and perfectly cradled the two ingredients together.

Ms. Biz believes Calgary Court makes the best sui kow (shrimp and wood ear mushroom soup dumpling) in Calgary. I gasped in disbelief, “Even better than Lucky Place?” Ms. Biz doesn’t jest. One order of sui kow comes with six dumplings and each dumpling contains two large pieces of whole shrimp. What makes this dumpling irresistible is the delicate crunchy filling of shrimp, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Karplop mentioned the flavour of the broth was tasty and encouraged me to drink more. I love eating with Karplop and Ms. Biz. They are so giving, I always feel cared for when I eat with them.

Ms. Biz mentioned that though the ho fan noodles aren’t made in house, the noodles are still homemade. She pointed out how generous Calgary Court is with the black seaweed and sour pickles. The fish cake was sliced thin and silky soft. Ms. Biz said what makes this soup sing with umami is the addition of ground dried flounder and pepper flakes.

My favourite dish was of course the most fattening one – curry tender beef. The beef was marbled with juicy bits of fat. The potato was so soft, it disintegrated when I bit it. Ms. Biz said the sauce is made with condensed milk and coconut milk. I could tell because the curry was ultra rich and creamy.

The week prior, I ordered takeout from Calgary Court. I ordered a dish FoodKarma recommends – the Shrimp & Egg Fried Ho Fan ($16.99). I was impressed with the large pieces of pink, crunchy shrimp. The wok hei was subtle. The portion of egg sauce and noodles was so generous, it spilled in my takeout container. Make sure you get some of Calgary Court’s chili oil – it added the necessary heat that cuts into the thick, eggy sauce.

I told Ms. Biz I didn’t care for the Pan Fried Turnip Cake ($6.50) because I found the texture too hard and oily. Ms. Biz said to never order dim sum at a HK style restaurant. Around this time, Ms. Biz saw a friend from across the room. He came over to chat with her. I overheard him say he ordered the salt and pepper squid and tofu and shrimp dish. I fought the urge to tell him not to order dishes like salt and pepper squid at a HK style restaurant because no one likes a know-it-all.

FoodKarma and Josiahhh saw my Instagram posts of all the food and recommended the next time I come, I try the Baked Portuguese Pork Chop on Rice ($16.99). I also want to try the Hainan style steamed chicken with rice ($15.99), which appears to be a featured specialty dish. I know L would enjoy the food at Calgary Court.

Photo credit: Taste of Asia

One of many things that impress me about a Chinese restaurant is the wide selection of dishes you can get and how common it is for diners to customize their dishes. I think it’s impressive that a chef can make so many dishes and improvise based on a customer’s preference. I also want to mention that during my past two visits, how good the service has been at Calgary Court. As I don’t speak Chinese, I really appreciate the extra dose of courtesy I received from staff.

 

 

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Restaurants

Lucky Place – COVID-19 dine-in edition

 

Ms. Biz and I met up in Chinatown for lunch. Though my go-to restaurant Chong Fat just opened up again, I took this opportunity to dine at Lucky Place. I still fantasize about the dishes Ms. Biz ordered back in June 2017. For this post, let’s listen to “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey.

I notice when my mother, Office Dad or Ms. Biz order off the menu, there’s a series of follow-up questions, suggestions and recommendations. With my severely limited vocabulary, I can’t do the necessary dialogue. I wish my parents pushed me harder in Chinese school.

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The dish I dream about is the Beef Shank and Tendon with Gai Lan and Double-Fried HK Style Chow Mein ($15). I’m not joking. Below is a picture I keep at my desk in case my boss wants to have a team lunch in Chinatown. That way, I can easily show the server at Lucky Place the dish I want to order.

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Once in a blue moon, I take the picture out and stare at the glistening pieces of tendon and beef shank. Sometimes I wonder if my love for dining out is a problem, bordering on obsession. I can’t stress about it. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

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As I said before, beef shank and tendon chow mein isn’t on the regular menu. Ms. Biz requests that the chow mein is pan-fried on both sides and gai lan is substituted for bok choy.

Hot and smooth, the tendon was soft and almost jelly-like. Lucky Place’s tendon reminds me of bone marrow, rich and full of fatty beefy flavour. I thought the portion of beef shank and tendon was very generous for the price.

Chowmein

The double pan frying of the noodles results in a brittle texture that soaks up all that rich brown gravy. The dark emerald green leaves were slightly bitter while the slender stalks were sweet and crisp.

Small Bowl noo

Ms. Biz ordered a combo set – Minced Pork and Century Old Egg Congee and Thai Style Salted Fish How Fun ($9.99). The moment this dish hit our table, I could smell the fish. I loved the pungency of the fish and pork floss. Ms. Biz mentioned salted fish is expensive to purchase at a store.

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The rice noodles were marvelously chewy and caramelized from the wok. The fragrance of the wok hei always gets me weak in the knees. Most home cooks can’t achieve the coveted wok hei because you need a commercial stove to cook at a high temperature.

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A lot of Chinese restaurants serve congee that is smooth and liquidy. I prefer Lucky Place’s version because the soup is thick and fluffy. The soup was loaded with goodies like slippery chunks of century old egg, shards of fresh ginger, ground pork and green onions. This is my ultimate comfort food.

congee

If you aren’t fluent in Chinese, show the owner the pictures on this blog or pick up a version of their new English menu. Ask for the Beef Brisket & Chinese Greens on Rice ($11.95), then request a substitution of fried chow mein ($1.50) and gai lan ($1.99). If there’s any confusion as to what type of noodles you are requesting, point to my picture.

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Please be patient when dining at this restaurant. The owners are doing the best they can while doing the work of four, so service is slower. English is not their first language, so be open to communicating by pointing at pictures or showing images from this post.

Trust me. The food is worth the effort and the prices are a steal. This feast was only $25 and I had leftovers for L. To date, I haven’t found any other Chinese restaurant in Calgary that makes tendon this good. Hitting the Sauce gives Lucky Place two fat thumbs up.

Lucky Place Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Cheap Eats · Japanese · Restaurants · Seafood

Takumi Sushi – COVID-19 edition

My friend Aga just told me that she’s moving to Lethbridge. Dammit! That’s bad news for me as she’s been my number one pandemic buddy. I keep losing my friends to different cities. For this post, let’s listen to “Real Friends” by Camila Cabello.

Last Thursday, Aga treated me to a sushi feast from Takumi Sushi. We ordered: Miso Soup ($2.25); Tako Nigiri (raw octopus, $2.50); Aburi Salmon Sushi (grilled salmon, $2.95); Aburi Hotate Sushi (grilled scallop, $3.25); Tuna Maki ($4.95); Salmon Maki ($4.95); Dynamite Roll ($6.25); Mango California Roll ($9.95); and a Pink Lady Special Roll ($12.95). As you can tell, I didn’t fuss over plating the food because I wanted to eat right away.

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My friend Feedmeyyc recommended the aburi sushi. The smoky flavour in the aburi salmon and hotate came on strong. The scallops were a good size and silky smooth. The rice was cooked well but a touch sweet for me.

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The spicy heat in the jalapeno on top of the salmon wasn’t overpowering. I thought the rice ratio to salmon was proportional. I could eat each piece of aburi in two clean bites.

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Feedmeyyc also recommended the spicy salmon roll. This roll was a winner – the salmon and tempura mixture was sweet, spicy, soft and crunchy. I’d order this roll again.

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The Pink Lady Special Roll ($12.95) has a lot going on. Instead of nori, the roll is wrapped in soy paper, deep fried and drizzled with spicy mayo sauce. The filling consists of red tuna, asparagus, cream cheese, jalapeno, and cucumber. The dominant flavour was the cream cheese, which was heavy and thick.

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All the ingredients in the dynamite roll tasted fresh. The tempura shrimp was plump and still crunchy, accented by a deliciously unhealthy smear of Japanese mayonnaise, avocado and cucumber.

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I found the sauce on the Mango California Roll sweet. The mango was ripe and smooth. I could see this roll being popular with kids or people into non traditional sushi flavours.

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I read online that Takumi is operated by the same owners of Nami Sushi. I haven’t verified this rumour because it’s more fun to speculate than to confirm it as a fact. I noticed a similarity in the names and ingredients of specialty rolls, pricing and end product. Both restaurants serve up affordable maki rolls that are light on sushi rice and heavy on the fillings. Takumi offers a 15% discount if you pick up your order and pay by debit. Nami Sushi gives customers a 10% discount for pick up orders.

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Thanks Aga for treating us. I’m already planning our next feast. Perhaps I’ll order from Nami so we can do comparative analysis to Takumi Sushi.

Takumi Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Chinese · Restaurants · Vegas

Vegas 2020 – Shang Artisan Noodle House

Strictly Dumpling’s feature of Shang Artisan Noodle inspired me to get off the strip for hand-pulled noodles. I read on Yelp that the line-up begins even before the restaurant opens at 11:00 a.m. When Beep Beep and I arrived at 10:45 a.m., there was only one woman ahead of us. Budger was still in her car when we stepped out of our Uber. Though technically, we were first in line, she trotted up aggressively and cut in front of me. Whatever lady – we are all getting in at the same time.

For this post, let’s listen to “Shake it Up” by The Cars. In fact, for all my birthday posts, I’m only going to be spinning The Cars. Let’s go!

The stools at the counter looked uncomfortable, so we sat at a table facing the kitchen. I asked the noodle artist if I could take a picture of him in action. He didn’t look thrilled with my request. He nodded and I went to work. I was quick and only took three photos and three videos.

Rules

Beep Beep and I ordered Hot Tea ($1.95) and glasses of water. For food, I ordered everything Strictly Dumpling ate in his video – spicy wonton, beef noodle soup and dan dan noodles.

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I could taste the liberal amount of white pepper sprinkled on the top of the House-made Wonton with Spicy Soy Sauce ($5.99). I can always tell when green onions have been prepped too early – there is no oniony flavor left. Shang’s scallions were fragrant and noticeably pungent.

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I like the wonton’s long ribbon-like tail. Each bite felt dainty in my mouth. I added black vinegar and chili sauce for more zip. Most of the flavour of the wonton came from the sweet soy sauce. The sauce was more sweet than spicy.

won ton

The Shàng Beef Noodle Soup ($9.95) was our favourite dish. This beef noodle soup is the quintessential hangover cure. The broth was nourishing and full of beef goodness. I drank this elixir down to the last drop. Beep Beep felt like the soup was giving her a big warm hug.

silky noodle

Our bowl contained several generous chunks of braised beef brisket. The layer of fat on some of the pieces was a little much, but it was easy enough to remove. The beef itself was tender and richly flavoured.

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The knife shaven noodles were chewy and retained its firm texture up to the last slurp. The noodles took on the flavour of the broth too. We were so full from sharing this bowl, we barely made a dent in the dan dan noodles.

nood pull beef soup

Beep Beep found the Dan-Dan Noodle ($8.95) too spicy. I thought the sauce was too mild. I wish I didn’t pick the knife shaved noodles because the taste of minced pork, preserved vegetables and spicy soy sauce didn’t come through to the noodles. Perhaps the knife shaved noodles are too thick for the sauce?

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I think if I picked a thinner noodle, the sauce wouldn’t be overpowered by the ratio of noodle to sauce. When I tried the noodles cold a few hours later, the flavour was greatly improved. However, when I microwaved the noodles at midnight, the noodles turn to mush.

dan dan

When I return to Vegas, I would most definitely return for the beef noodle soup. The broth alone was worth getting off the strip. The beef bowl was cheap, filling, delicious and most importantly, the quality was there. I’m not a big fan of Chinese noodle soups, but Shàng beef noodle soup is exceptional.

dan dan nood pul

Service was speedy and attentive. An employee informed me that Shang Artisan is opening up another location! Yay! That’s good news for us noodle lovers. Hitting the Sauce gives Shang Artisan Noodle two fat thumbs up.

Shang Artisan Noodle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Dim Sum · Restaurants

U & Me – Dim Sum Special

I’m planning a trip to Vegas and I wanted advice from Ms. Biz. She knows her restaurants and she travels to Vegas six times a year. She also dines at some of the best restaurants in the world. I was hoping for her toned-down list, as I’m no baller. For this post, let’s listen to “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton.

I wanted to eat at Chong Fat but the restaurant was closed. Lucky Place was too busy so Ms. Biz suggested U & Me for the dim sum set lunch. For only $42 bucks, we could pick two “A” dishes and five “B” dim sum items.

For our first “A” dish, we picked gai lan, which is similar to broccoli but firmer and sweeter. Ms. Biz gleefully noted that the greens were good looking and not over boiled. I never heard anyone call a vegetable attractive, but yeah, I’ll eat that. The smell of the garlic was intoxicating. The greens were hot temperature wise but still crisp.

Our second “A” dish was the XO Fried Turnip Cake. The turnip was lightly grilled, the exterior browned and crispy. Each piece was steaming hot and pillowy soft. The grilled red peppers and green onions were tossed in a spicy seasoning. The portion was generous.

I don’t normally eat Steamed Beef Beat Balls because there is cilantro in it. However, I indulged because there wasn’t an obvious abundance of the green herb. Ms. Biz said the balls were not over steamed and she liked the texture, which was bouncy and spongy. The flavour of the beef was mild. I would order this again.

The Baked BBQ Pork Buns tasted like it was right out of the oven. The pastry was warm and sweet. The pork filling was very warm. This was my least favourite dish because I didn’t like the sweetness of the pastry and filling.

One of the best dishes was the Shrimp in Rice Roll. The ample amount of shrimp was crunchy. The rice roll was slippery and soft. The light soy sauce was mildly salty, just enough to compliment the shrimp and noodle combination.

My mother would approve of the Meat and Peanut Dumplings. The wrapper wasn’t over steamed. I like the simplicity of the flavours and the clean pop of the boiled peanuts.

The Deep Fried Turnip Cake is a must order. It’s decadent and savoury, with a thousand layers of pastry. We only ate half a cake, because it’s that rich. I think the fried turnip cake is U & Me’s signature dim sum dish.

Ms. Biz gave me her list of go-to restaurants to try in Vegas: Joel Robuchon, Raku, Magul Korean BBQ, Monta Ramen, Bouchan, Wynn Buffet, and KJ Kitchen. I’m knocking off Joel Robuchon because there’s no way I’m paying that much to gain weight. I will hit Raku, Magul Korean BBQ, Monta Ramen and Ping Pang Pong for some late night eats and dim sum.

I kept the bill by my tea cup so I could pay after our meal. However, Cruising is sneaky and went up to the cashier to pay while Ms. Biz held me back. On the walk back to work, Ms. Biz told me Cruising’s birthday is coming up. I told them I was taking them to Caesar’s Steakhouse for lunch. This time, I was paying and there’s no fighting me. Ms. Biz said she would split it with me. I told her no way in hell would I let her. This Chinese etiquette thing is getting ridiculous and I’m no mooch.

I came back to the office and regaled my boss with my description of the food and prices at U & Me. He wants to know the details, so here it is. Every single blessed day, U and Me offers this set lunch from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm. If you dine before 11:00 a.m, there are rice and congee deals for only $2.99. There you have it – Calgary’s best dim sum deal.

U & Me Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fast Food · Japanese · Restaurants · Sushi · Vancouver/Richmond

Vancouver – Steamworks & The Cambie

L and I were suppose to meet up with N for dinner. Around 3:00 p.m., we walked over to Gastown to kill time. Since this post is going old school, let’s listen to “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus. L informed me that no one likes this song and it is hated by many.

We walked by The Lamplighter. I’ve only been here once before, when I brought L home to meet my family in 2010. He met my SFU buddy J. L, Moody and Cuz were so rowdy, they began purposely breaking glasses. I left early with Beep Beep, and after that night, J never hung out with me again. I asked L what he and his friends did to J. He said nothing and J seemed like he was having a good time.

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Since it was raining, we ducked into Steamworks.  There’s always fruit flies hanging around and the food isn’t good enough for me to eat, but there’s always seats and the location is convenient.

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I had one beer – Sanctuary – a collaboration between Blasted Church + Steamworks ($10, 500 ml, 7.5%). Blasted Church makes some decent BC white wines. The Gewürztraminer saison was light and peppery with citrus notes. It was so strong I felt intoxicated.

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I asked L if he wanted to walk the area I surveyed for my research project in 2008. He politely but firmly declined, and suggested instead we go for a drink in a nicer area. I mentioned the nearby watering hole, The Cambie, was closing for good this November.

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I’ve only hung out here a couple of times, at the request of work or school friends. The Cambie attracts a diverse, laid-back crowd. I was happy to see the conditions of the washrooms have improved. I recalled a poutine ($10) that I enjoyed 10 years ago and I wanted to try it again.

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The poutine was tasty, but there were fewer cheese curds than I remembered. The gravy was dark and salty. The fries were crispy and mealy. I’d order this again, but The Cambie won’t be open when I return.

At 6:00 p.m., N responded to my text, saying she would be ready around 7:00 p.m. However, that lone beer I drank from Steamworks made me dizzy, and not in a good way. My face was still red and I felt queasy. I told N that I would get something to eat to see if my condition would improve.

L and I popped into Kita no Donburi. I liked that all the dishes had the calories listed on the menu. I noticed most customers were eating tonkatsu curry (1,500 calories). The restaurant was busy, most likely due to the location and cheap prices.

L ordered Tendon ($9.95, 786 calories). His dish came with organic veggies, salad, two prawns, a purple yam, sweet potato, tofu crumbles, and kaki-age (mixed vegetables). He wasn’t impressed. He complained the tempura sauce was too small, and in Japan, tendon is served the sauce already poured over the tempura. I thought his dish was tastier than mine.

I ordered Chirashi ($12.50, 722 calories) even though I would have preferred the tendon. Dr. Quinn, my family doctor, has been after me to eat more fish. My bowl came with salmon, tuna, wild salmon, ebi, hokkigai, tamago, saba, ikura, spring mix lettuce and avocado. None of the ingredients tasted fresh or flavourful. Everyone thinks the food in Vancouver is so great. It can be amazing, but there’s a lot of mediocre restaurants here too. This was one of them.

I still wasn’t feeling well, so I cancelled plans with N. L and I took the train back to Richmond and I called my mother to pick us up. L asked me if I thought it was weird that my parents still drive me around. “I can rent a car when we visit so your parents don’t have to do that. We are adults.” This is the third time L has brought this subject up to me. I didn’t respond until we were in my mother’s car because I wanted Boss Lady to give him a definitive answer. She did, and that was the end of that.

Kita No Donburi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Mexican · Restaurants

Moose and Poncho

Haskayne 1.0 invited me to join them for tacos. Gillian said my recent Instagram post inspired Divine Offering, Lasagna, Big Mac, Minnie and Zoomhahaa to check out Moose and Poncho. For this post, let’s listen to a song I heard playing that evening – “Havana by Camila Cabello.

This is my second time at Moose and Poncho. Here’s my advice. Ask for the best selling soft tacos and load up on the array of condiments. The first time I visited, I enjoyed my tacos. However, the second time I visited, I was more liberal with the sauces, which really kicked up the flavour.

taco sign

Soft tacos are $3.75 each. The feature taco of the day – tongue – was $4.50. Big Mac said he was glad he splurged for the tongue taco, as it was his favourite of the bunch. One of the owners, I’ll refer to him as Taco Guru,  recommended getting three tacos a person.

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Grab a fork to eat your food. The generous portion of meat is far too bountiful to wrap the tortilla around the filling. Plus that way, you can load up on all the yummy sauces. I added feta cheese, sour cream, pickled vegetables, and the green and red sauces. I avoided the cilantro salsa.

mine

My favourite taco was the chicharron prensado – crispy pork. Lasagna thought it was savoury and salty and reminded him of bacon.  Minnie said the skin crackled like Chinese roasted pork, but it was juicier with Mexican flavours.

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The chicken with pineapple and adobo was far better than L’s favourite places in Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. The chicken was tender and succulent. The use of pineapple was subtle. I can’t wait to take L to Moose and Poncho. So effing good. Excuse my language.

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The food was so yummy we didn’t talk until we finished eating. Zoomhahaa said she prefers Moose and Poncho over Native Tongues. I’ve only been to Native Tongues once, and all I can recall are the creamy mushroom tacos.

trio

Gillian ordered a tamale and shared it with us. She liked the texture of the masa. I enjoyed the smokey flavour of the meat. The garnish of pineapple and mole sauce jazzed up the tamale. I would order this in the future.

ting

I shared my churros ($5) with my table.  Lasagna said that there was just enough sugar so that the churro wasn’t overly sweet.  I liked the crumbly, almost cake-like texture. Big Mac liked how the outside of the churro wasn’t as hard as Stampede version. I’d order this again and I avoid desserts.

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Taco Guru come over and asked our group how we found out about Moose and Poncho. We responded we saw pictures on Instagram and that his little taco shop is famous in Calgary. Taco Guru laughed the compliment off and said he was happy we enjoyed our meal.
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Big Mac said he loves how busy and vibrant Moose and Poncho and thinks it gives Calgary more culture. Yes, having an awesome taco shop in a Chinese mall is pretty cool. I think it’s just what Chinatown needs. A small business bringing in long lineups of people that wouldn’t ordinarily visit Chinatown. Two fat thumbs up! Moose and Poncho makes it on my list of best restaurants in Calgary.

The Moose and Poncho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Burgers · Cheap Eats · Restaurants

El Furniture Warehouse

Loaf2go and I met up for lunch to discuss our upcoming No Man’s Dinner event. She wanted to check out El Furniture Warehouse for the $5.99 menu. For this post, let’s listen to Sia “Cheap Thrills“.

Before I eat anywhere, I always look up any information I can find. I check Instagram, Facebook, Google reviews, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Zomato, and of course, food reviews. I saw on Twitter that Crackmacs was wowed by the Cranberry Turkey Sandwich. Bill Kaufmann from the Calgary Sun praised the braised beef pasta and a salad.

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Loaf2go ordered the Braised Beef Spaghetti. She wanted to share an appetizer that wasn’t fried, so I suggested the Beet & Goat Salad. I picked the Roasted Turkey BLT. We didn’t wait long before our food arrived.

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The greens in my side salad and in the roasted beets were not fresh. There were some brown stems and wet, brown leaves. The beets were wrinkled. Also, there wasn’t any mint in the beet salad, as described on the menu. Our server Nicole came by twice to ask how we were doing. I could have told her that the salads were bad and I’m sure she would have fixed it, but I didn’t want to make a fuss over such a cheap dish.

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I tried a bite of Loaf2go’s pasta. Kaufmann described El Furniture’s spaghetti as “… a meaty, zesty pasta pile that, for $5.95, was a sweet deal.” What little beef there was I would not describe as meaty. The sauce tasted like it came from a can. But Kaufmann is right, for six bucks, it was a good deal.

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I liked Crackmac’s pick. The sandwich was tasty. The cranberry sourdough was crunchy and sweet, stacked with slices of turkey, tomato, stuffing and cheese. The sandwich wasn’t large but enough to satisfy me. The turkey sandwich was cheaper than the gross $7 sandwiches with processed cheese sold at Bow Valley College, plus you get a side.

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I like the music, service and vibe at El Furniture Warehouse. I’d return, but I would stick to the fried food and beers. This is the sort of place I would frequent when I was doing my undergraduate degree. You get the experience of eating out without going over your budget.

After our meal we checked out Bar Modern on Stephen Ave. When we walked in, I told the assistant GM that I wanted to look around to get an idea of the space for an upcoming party. She gave me a tour of the two floors and showed me the difference in the two menus. Loaf2go and I have decided to host our next No Man’s Dinner at Bar Modern. I can’t wait – I know the wines will be superb and I’m looking forward to trying the beef tartare and steak.

El Furniture Warehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chain Restaurants · Chinatown · Chinese · Restaurants

Dagu Rice Noodle

Dagu Rice Noodle replaced the old Y2K restaurant in Chinatown. I persuaded Ay Caramba, Office Dad and Asian Persuasion to check it out with me at lunch. For this post, let’s listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge.

The restaurant was packed when we showed up, but we were lucky enough to snag a table after waiting for only five minutes. We interacted with several servers, as there wasn’t a dedicated server for a section. I found the staff efficient and helpful.

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Here’s a pro tip. If you see a server delivering a bowl, do them a favour and get the hell out of their way. The bowls brought to the table arrive at 300F. Also, Instagramers be quick taking your photos or video. Customers are instructed to cook their meats immediately, or else it won’t be cooked at the proper temperature.

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Asian Persuasion thought it was funny that the soup spoons were gigantic. I found the spoons difficult to sip from. Instead, I used the spoon to scoop up the bits of goodness and then use my chopsticks to pick up the item.

All soups are made daily from pork bone, with the except of the tomato soup. No MSG is used. Apparently, every night, Dagu uses 100 pounds of pork bones for the broth, which makes it rich with collagen and nutrients.

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I ordered Crossing the Bridge Rice Noodle Soup ($11.49), which came with fresh wuchang rice noodles, and two beef slices. Toppings include a quail egg, fish cake, corn, crab sticks, root vegetables, lettuce, and two odd pieces of meat that looked like salami and ham. I can handle my spice but I got to say, Dagu was the spiciest I’ve ever tried.

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Asian Persuasion and I turned bright red and sweated profusely for an hour. Our mouths were burning. She had the sense to put some of the hot oil in a bowl, which helped to reduce the hot heat.  She asked our server if we could get some hot water or more broth in our bowls, but he shook his head. He said next time to ask for half the spice.

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Of all the toppings, I enjoyed the fish cake the most. The corn was chewy and sweet. The noodles were slippery and soft. I asked for a noodle refill because I couldn’t sip on the broth and I thought it would counteract the spiciness. I wish I didn’t order the extra noodles because I was uncomfortably full for hours after our lunch.

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Office Dad’s Pickled Cabbage Rice Noodle Soup with Fish Slices ($13.99) was the winning dish. I loved the white pepperiness of the broth and the sourness of the pickled cabbage. Office Dad likes the chunky pieces of white fish. Asian Persuasion, Office Dad and I both liked the fish soup the best.

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Ay Caramba ordered the Signature Rice Noodle Soup with Braised Bone-in Beef ($13.99) and added additional beef slices ($2.99). She raved about the broth and thought it was superior to the soup served at One Pot. Ay Caramba was so full from all the meat that she couldn’t finish her noodles or the fish cake.

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Funny coincidence – Foodly_yyc posted this photo on Instagram. Turns out he was at the restaurant the same time. I can see my coworker and the back of my navy blue blazer. I also took a picture and judging from the angle of Foodly_yyc’s photo, I might have captured him as well.

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My office mates are eager to return. Dagu is a welcome addition in Chinatown. Just a warning – if you have dietary restrictions or just particular in general, I would give this place a pass. The language barrier plus the hard coreness of this cuisine is not for everyone. Also, if you have young children, make sure they stay seated and don’t wander around the restaurant.

Dagu Noodle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Comfort food · Restaurants

Ho Won – Ho No!

I started eating at Ho Won since I was hired for my current position, back in November, 2013. I’m a fan of the salt and pepper squid, pork dumplings, ginger beef and pea tips. For this post, let’s listen to Gossip Folks by Missy Elliott.

Office Dad came back from the long weekend and told me Ho Won was shutting down. I was sad to hear this unfortunate news and immediately went to Reddit to voice my despair.

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Reddit is a powerful medium to spread information or in my case, misinformation. As you can see, the “news” spread fast.

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When I read that staff confirmed that the restaurant was not closing, I called Office Dad in a panic. Of course he didn’t pick up or text me back. The next day he came over to my pod, scratched his head and asked me why I posted the info on Reddit. I responded that Ho Won is an institution and customers would miss it and want to go back before it closed. I asked him to stop redirecting the conversation and to answer me. He exercised his right to remain silent.

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I rounded up the troop: Asian Persuasion, Lil Strawberry, Lam Jam, Legal and Aye Caramba. Office Dad couldn’t go. He acted all mysterious but I found out later it was because he wanted to leave early. Deeclan bailed after promising she would go. She said she forgot she had a coffee date with a friend.

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Initially, I ordered a medium bowl of Fish Maw Soup ($10), Chicken Chow Mein ($9.99), Ginger Beef ($12.99) and Salt and Pepper Squid ($13.99). Our server told me that I had to more one more dish. I said “What? But I ordered a total of four dishes.” She looked at me and shook her head. “You got six here. You need to order at least one more dish.” Okay boss! I added the Special Fried Rice ($9.99).

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The fish soup was served nice and hot. The bowl was filled with fish maw, egg whites, and little pieces of crab. Everyone at the table except for me added soy sauce.  This was a real Joy Luck Club moment. You know, the scene when the Rich puts soy sauce all over the Waverly mother’s famous steamed fish dish. Jesus Rich. You’ve got terrible manners. I thought the fish maw soup was great on its own, with just a little white pepper to accent the delicate flavours.

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The squid at Ho Won is legendary. This time around, I noticed the batter wasn’t as light and crispy. I could also taste a little uncooked batter. I’ve eaten squid here at least 15 times, and this was a first. Maybe the chef knew I was the person on Reddit that started the rumour. I’m paranoid.

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Asian Persuasian enjoyed the fried rice. I thought the rice was a tad overcooked, but  it was tasty. There was lots of chopped and whole shrimp, peas and egg whites. We wanted hot sauce to liven up the dish, but we couldn’t get the attention of our server. We gave up after ten minutes. If you haven’t already noticed, the portions are huge.

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The table’s favourite dish was the ginger beef. The platter was piled high with tender, generously sized pieces of beef. Aye Caramba and Legal mentioned that they could actually taste the ginger in it. Too often, ginger beef tastes like candied meat. The batter was light and retained it’s crunch up to the very end. The sweetness of the sauce reminded me of honey.

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The chicken chow mein was also a big portion of food. There was ample sauce to soften the noodles and a generous amount of chicken, sprouts and mushrooms. I would pass on the noodles in the future.

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For five dishes and a 20% tip, we paid $12.00 per person. I’m glad Ho Won is still around and the information I received was just gossip. Looking forward to organizing the next food adventure with my office mates.

Ho Won Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato