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.

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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

Happy Hour · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Pure Contemporary Vietnamese – All-you-can-eat wings

In my office, I’m usually the one who organizes after work get-togethers. This time around, I picked Pure Contemporary Vietnamese for Wings Wednesday. Horatio made a joke that we should call our party “West Wings”. I’m not political. Left wing, right wing, I just like to wing it. For this post, let’s listen to The West Wing theme song.

Here’s the lowdown. Everyone at the table must order a drink from Pure’s speciality menu and choose one of two options: pay a) 35 cents per wing or b) $10 for all-you-can-eat wings. If you have leftovers at the end of the meal, you’ll be charged $1 per wing. You are also limited to two hours from time of order.

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There’s something for everyone here: cocktails, draft beer, bottled beer, wines and non-alcoholic drinks.  I tried a glass of the 50th Parallel Gewurztraminer ($9.50), which was a bit too sweet for my taste. I preferred the Casa Petrone Pinot Grigio ($8.50). Disco Mary liked her Kimmy Caesar and Carol enjoyed her mojito. Zeplin was impressed with his showy, mint green milkshake topped with whipped cream. Everyone else at our table ordered draft beer.

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There are 15 different flavours to choose from. The most popular wings are: chili lime, nuoc cham, garlic butter, gochujiang, truffle parmesan, and chili tamarind. For the traditionalists, there’s Franks Hot, honey hot, teriyaki, honey garlic and salt and pepper.

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Pure’s version of salt and pepper reminds me of Chinese style salt and pepper squid. The wings were fried then dressed in chili flakes, wok fried peppers, onions and green onions. The wings were juicy, fat, crunchy morsels. The size of these babies are at least three times that of any other pub in Calgary.

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The taste of the freshly grated parmesan and black truffle salt was dominant. Delicious, but I couldn’t eat a whole plate on my own because the flavour and smell was pungent after a few.

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Everyone ordered a plate each and we all shared our wings. About my fifth wing in, I began to lose awareness of which flavour of wing I was devouring. I was so into mowing down that I lost tract.  I do remember our group’s favourite flavour was chili lime. The sauce was tangy and spicy.

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Andrew observed that our section of the table consumed more wings than the other side. I didn’t want to analyze how much we actually ate, but he was persistent and made me take the  photo below as evidence. Now I get to relive how much I over ate.

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Meets said these were the best wings she’s ever had and wants to come back.  I know my coworkers were surprised that I picked to have wings at a Vietnamese restaurant. After they ate here, they knew why. Pure serves up kick ass wings.

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My husband L enjoyed wing Wednesday so much, we returned on Saturday. L ordered the Open Face Beef Banh Mi ($13.75) on focaccia bread, with fries as the side. The wok tossed kalbi beef was tender and saucy. This is just a personal preference, but we would have preferred a plain baguette instead of the focaccia.  I felt like a simpler bread would have been a good foil to all the strong, flavourful sauces. I’m keen to try Pure’s traditional Vietnamese Baguette ($13.75), to see how it compares to my favourite banh mi spot – The Submarine.

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The Pot au Pho ($13.75) is big enough for two people. I was too full after devouring the entire bowl. The bowl is generously filled with slices of beef, flank, beef balls, crunchy bean sprouts, freshly sliced scallions and a few leaves of basil. The broth is rich and has more intense flavours than your typical pho joint. To date, Song Huong and Pure make my favourite pho in the city. I wanted to try Pho Da Bo for their sate beef with bone marrow.

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I’m keen to organize another wing event. Horatio wants to go to Leopold’s Tavern for cauliflower wings because he’s vegan. There’s a location in the Beltline and another location opening up in Bowness. I want to try Beagle 14 and Unicorn Pub, as I hear from @yycwings that the wings are stellar. Also, if you want to see some serious wing drama, check out the beef @betterthanyycwings has for @yycwings. Hopefully there won’t be any fowl play.

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