Cheap Eats · Restaurants · Vietnamese

The Submarine

Divine Offering informed me that after work she was heading over to Red Shoes’ parents restaurant – The Submarine – for a bánh mì. She said their subs were yummy. Divine Offering and I have similar taste so on Saturday, I asked L if he wanted to drive to Highland Park for lunch. For this post, let’s listen to Business by Eminem.

I hemmed and hawed when I saw the menu.  I had a hankering for pho but I read that the subs here reign supreme. One of the owners – Sue –  told me that everything on the menu is good as she picked and designed the recipe for each dish.

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L ordered a Sate Chicken sub ($9.25) and I picked the Sate Beef sub ($9.25). Sue asked us if we liked spice. We responded in the affirmative. While we waited for our subs I could hear the something sizzling in the kitchen. The meat is cooked fresh off the grill as you order, unlike other places where the protein sits all day in a warming container.

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Sue is outgoing and chatty. When she found out we know her daughter, she brought out complimentary teas and four pork spring rolls to our table. I find at some Asian restaurants, spring rolls are mostly wrapper with little filling. It’s the opposite here. The spring roll was packed with a juicy, meaty filling. Very good.

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L noted that the white chicken breast meat was of good quality. He could taste the freshness of the cilantro and vegetables. The spiciness of the sub was pleasant – enough to feel the heat but not hot enough to overpower the other ingredients.

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The beef in my sub was also of good quality. The warm toasted bread offered a nice crunch. The bread was light and not too soft or hard enough to scrape the roof of my mouth. That sate sauce is killer – a heady mixture of sweet, salty and garlic. I liked how the sate sauce and homemade mayonnaise intermingled and drip down onto my napkin.

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How good were these subs? He said The Submarine destroys all the other places I’ve taken him to and he would be happy to drive me here again. L was pissed off the last time I made him drive across town for an underwhelming banh mi. He still complains about that sub. He believes that other sub shops use low quality meats and gristle.

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The subs are a dollar or so more than competitors but what you get in return is more than worth it. L said he would gladly pay for The Submarine’s banh mi all day long. The subs are filling. I was full all day, which is unusual for me.

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The location is not close to my house or place of work, but since L is so keen to return, I know we’ll be back often. Hitting the Sauce gives The Submarine two fat thumbs up and this gem makes it on my list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

The Submarine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Saigon Deli

I’ve been meaning to check out Saigon Deli for ages. Asian Persuasion told me she’s been eating here since high school. She recommended the beef or chicken bahn mi (Vietnamese sub). Asian Persuasion and I both love cold cut subs, but she told me to not order it at Saigon Deli because they put too much pate in their subs and the metallic flavour is strong. For this post, let’s listen to Yellow Submarine by the Beatles.

Saigon Deli is a tiny store in a strip mall. Cash only. This place is busy! There was a constant stream of customers. We only had to wait about five minutes.  Three employees assembled subs in the front while two employees prepped vegetables in the back of the store. L was surprised to see the butter jiggled like jello. I informed him it wasn’t butter, it was mayonnaise.

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The flavour of L’s chicken was cold and it tasted off. The texture of the chicken was hard and dry. We thought the mayonnaise didn’t really add much flavour to the sub. The meats in both our subs were minced up. He gave his sub 2.5 out of 5.

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The cucumber, carrots, and onions tasted fresh but they weren’t pickled like Thi Thi (Chinatown location). The jalapeños added a juicy, non-spicy crunch. The nuttiness and dryness from the crushed peanuts contrasted with the sweet, sauciness of the beef. I would give my beef sub 3.5 out of 5.

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The baguette was light and chewy. I prefer the toastier and airier bread at Trung Nguyen. I also prefer the mayonnaise from Thi Thi and Trung Nguyen over Saigon Deli. The vegetables at Saigon Deli taste fresher and crunchier than its competitors – possibly because the vegetables aren’t pickled? Saigon Deli wins in the price department – six bucks for a meat sub is cheap. Plus, the portions of vegetables and meat are generous.

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The reviews on Saigon Deli are high, so I think we might have come on an off day. L and I agreed that we wouldn’t come out of our way to get subs from here again. There are too many other restaurants I want to hit in Forest Lawn. Next on my list – La Cay Subs, Noodle World, Noodle King and Pho Dau Bo.

Saigon Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bakery · Restaurants · Vietnamese

The Bake Chef Co

I visited the U of C recently to see my optometrist. It’s weird to go back to my old university. I forgot how slowly students walk, unhurried and without any gumption. For this post, let’s listen to something that puts more pep into my step.

When I studied and worked at the U, I would frequent Noodle and Grill Express, Opa and The Bake Chef. The Bake Chef was my go to spot for hot dog buns and Vietnamese subs. For around $5.00 I would get a vegetarian sub that was way tastier than Subway. I remembered how light and crusty the bread was, slathered with butter and other sauces, heavy with carrots, cucumbers and shredded lettuce. I had a hankering for a sub so I stopped by after my appointment.

The selection of subs have expanded. Before you could choose between sate beef, sate chicken, and vegetarian subs. Now you can get tuna, pizza, traditional cold cut combo and some other types too. I ordered the cold cut combo. The price was $7+.

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I thought the sub was doughy and yeasty. The vegetables were tired and sparse. There was only one layer of meat. My cold cut combo lacked the flavour explosion I get at my new go to sub spots – Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi – in Chinatown. Trung Nguyen and Thi Thi charge $5.50 for their assorted sub.

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I posted my disappointment on my Instagram account. As you can see, several people defended Bake Chef. Lol – I love the love that the Bake Chef gets from its fans. Based on the comments, I must have gone on an off day. That or perhaps my taste buds have changed over time. I’ll  suspend judgement until I get another chance to try it again.

The Bake Chef Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fusion · Restaurants · Vietnamese

Rau Bistro

It was Richie Rich’s last day at our office. To celebrate his new job, Office Dad, Richie Rich and I planned to visit Ho Won for their famous salt and pepper squid. Asian Persuasion said she didn’t want Chinese and she’d rather go to Charcut. Office Dad suggested that Asian Persuasion and What’s up Hamsup do their thing and we continue to have our lunch at Ho Won. Richie Rich, the diplomatic foodie in our office, asked if we could compromise. I suggested Rau Bistro. For this post, let’s listen to Mary J. Blige – Family Affair.

Unlike some Vietnamese restaurants, the food at Rau Bistro doesn’t come minutes after ordering. We were the first in the restaurant and it took about 15 minutes for our dishes to arrive. Rau Bistro is popular. By the time we left, the entire restaurant was filled with regulars.

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What’s Up Hamsup and Richie Rich went for the traditional A Lot Beef ($9.99) with spring rolls. They didn’t say much other than that it tasted good. A Lot Beef is served as a Monday special.

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Office Dad ordered the Combo ($12.75), which came with large shrimp, grilled beef and chicken. To his disappointment, no spring rolls were included in his entrée. Office Dad enjoyed his dish so much that he complimented the taste of the meat and seafood several times throughout our meal.

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Asian Persuasion ordered the Beef Vermicelli while I ordered the chicken. My chicken was tough and dry. Personally, I would have preferred if the carrots in my bowl were pickled or if basil leaves were added. The beef was delicious, with a hint of char from the grill and wet from a sauce. The spring rolls were made from rice paper and had a chew to it.

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The beef and pineapple banh mi was yummy. The homemade bread was soft. The sauces, pickled vegetables and beef were jam-packed with flavour. The combination of ingredients was not the standard stuff I get in Chinatown.

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We will miss you Richie Rich. I’m not sure how future lunches will happen without your tactful diplomacy. All the best for your future endeavours, including the success of your product Lam Jam.

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Rau Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Japanese · Restaurants · Sandwiches · Vietnamese

Green Cilantro- Banh Mi

I purchase my wine and beer at the Highlander at Richmond Place. One of the staffers there told me that she’s addicted to Green Cilantro, a Vietnamese take-out shop a few doors away. I’ve been before and I wasn’t impressed, but after being informed that new management took over, I gave Green Cilantro another chance.

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The new manager is a real sweetheart and he likes my dog, so big bonus points right there. He took over Green Cilantro since January 5, 2017. Business has been growing too. He had to open up later that day because of a large catering order. I learned that if you order a certain amount, you get 10% off the bill and Green Cilantro will deliver too.

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I ordered a chicken sate sub ($7.50) with cucumber, onions, peanuts and carrots. The bread was airy and fluffy. While it was toasted, it didn’t scratch the top part of my mouth. The vegetables aren’t pickled like at Thi Thi in Chinatown. Also, I don’t think Green Cilantro offers pate mayo.

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I appreciated the care that went into making my sub. The result was a tasty and light sandwich, still warm after a 10 minute walk in the freezing cold. The sate sauce and mayo soaked nicely into the bread.

If you live in the hood, check out Green Cilantro. This is one business that deserves our support. Besides subs, pho and vermecelli dishes are offered here as well.

 

Green Cilantro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Comfort food · Vietnamese

Trung Nguyen – Vietnamese Subs

I love the subs and the owners at the  Thi Thi (Chinatown location), but I also really like Trung Nguyen. The line-up is also shorter than Thi Thi and the service is just as nice. I usually get the Assorted Sub ($5.50) but the Sate Chicken ($7.50) is also an excellent choice.

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The baggette is soft with a crusty exterior. The ratio of meat and veggie to bread is perfect. The assorted sub comes with cold cut meat, mayo, pickled carrots, onions, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro. I’ve added extra vegetables before but it just throws off that balance of bread vegetables and meat.

The sate chicken is good, with its spicy peanuty sauce. However, there’s just something classic and comforting about the assorted sub. Whichever filling you pick, you can’t go wrong. The prices are great and the flavour unmatched. I noticed a duck sub ($7.00) which I’m interested in trying if I can manage to pry myself away front my beloved assorted sub.

The female owner told me to call ahead of time and she’ll come out to hand me the sub, so that I won’t get a parking ticket. Apparently, Calgary Parking is lurking out often enough that it’s not worth the risk of parking illegally. I don’t drive but I appreciate the gesture.

Trung Nguyen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Cheap Eats · Sandwiches · Vietnamese

Five Spice – Vietnamese Subs

My brother-in-law Uncle Ben and his partner, Veggie Girl really like Five Spice. Uncle Ben reports that the owners are meticulous in the sub preparation, making sure that the toppings are arranged just so. They often pick up Vietnamese subs or eat in for pho. Veggie Girl can never finish her sub, but she eats like a bird.

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For Uncle Ben’s birthday, the family met at his house. Bobbino ordered 11 subs and some homemade dumplings. If you ask, Five Spice will deliver too. Uncle Ben got a kick out of the fact Five Spice prints the labels for their subs, for example, Tofu Sub or Pork Sub. He’s really into the details, and Five Spice delivers on that front.

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You can tell by the filling that it wasn’t made in a factory. The vegetarian version had corn and bits of tofu in it. The pork dumplings were more substantial. Both versions looked deep-fried or cooked in a lot of oil. I would pass on the dumplings and try another appetizer, but perhaps I’m just spoiled by Chuen May. FYI – I LOVE CHUEN MAY!

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I tried the vegetarian sub, the chicken sub and the beef sub. My favourite was the beef sub because the beef was the most flavourful, saucy and juicy. The chicken was a little dry and I thought the meat was skimpier than the beef. The vegetarian sub has marinated tofu in it. I liked the combination of vegetables and the noticeable kick from the jalapeños. The bread was crusty with a good chew to it. This is one of the most filling subs I’ve consumed, even bigger than Thi Thi , which I adore (as does Mayor Nenshi, based on the number of pictures of him at Thi Thi). The price is awesome too for the quantity and quality.

Funny story. My boss is promoting businesses in Montgomery and Bowness for free, as a way to help out local businesses. No strings attached. I called Five Spice a week earlier to ask them if they wanted to be advertised at no cost. The owner responded he was fine for now and didn’t need it. The food is dang good and cheap. I guess they have enough business from word of mouth. In any case, give this place a try. When I return, I want to try the pho, pad thai, the take-away frozen food and of course, more of the subs.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Five Spice Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato