$20 for $40 worth of food?

Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki

I had a coupon to use up at Fuji Yama’s on 17th Avenue and 8th Avenue before it expired at the end of February. You know the type, pay $20 to get $40 worth of food. With this coupon, I had to give it to the hostess when I checked in. You also had to make reservations but I figured it was a good idea for a Friday night.

I have to admit that I’m always wary about giving up the coupon before ordering my food. How can I trust the restaurant? With a coupon at hand, would they cut back on my dish?

I ordered my usual which was the chicken teriyaki entree and a soft shell crab roll. My wife chose the salmon teriyaki and a sashimi salad. In my opinion, the teriyaki’s were worth the $13 – $15 price they charged. They were both tasty and satisfying.

The dinner  bill came out to a little over $50 for the two of us. With the $40 coupon, we paid $20 and walked out happy and stuffed. If you’re in the neighbourhood, call first and ask if they have any $20 for $40 gift cards left. If so, I would highly recommend that you buy them.
Fuji Yama on 17th on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Home Buying Watchdog Service

Unobstructed View

Unobstructed View

One thing I’ve noticed is that more and more people in YYC are buying homes to tear down and rebuild. One area that seems to be popular is the Altadore neighbourhood. To get there from downtown, head up on 14th Street[south] until 33rd Avenue. Turn right and head towards Marda Loop. Turn left on 17th or 18th street and you’re there…in the middle of Altadore.

I visited several Open Houses last weekend and noticed that all of them were brand new homes. Most of the older homes in the neighbourhoods are one level, bungalow styled homes. The new rebuilts are at least two levels and some stretch as high as 4 levels.

The one particular open house that caught my eye was the one at 3907 – 16a Street SW. This home has a nice view of the city from the second or third level window. The view is what I call ‘unobstructed’ because to see the cityscape, you look at the park situated kitty corner from this home. The view will never change as long as the city maintains the park.

I ran into some folks that were rating the home. They assigned a move-in score of 3.9* to it and I was curious to why it was rated so low. They told me the home had a few issues and the builder (Hazkar Homes) has to correct them before a higher score can be assigned. I like that. A home buyer watchdog service that is keeping builders and realtors honest. If you’re interested in finding out more about them, check out their website at RateOpenHouses.com

Burger Week

Little Hamburger

Little Hamburger

If you’re craving for a burger then this is the week to have one because it’s ‘Burger Week’ in Calgary. From May 3 – 10, 16 restaurants have prepared their best burger for you to test out. After eating it, go to YYC Burger Week and submit your vote. Most of the participants are downtown with a few on the outskirts such as one on 37th Street at Murdoch’s Bar & Grill, in Bowness at NOtable – The Restaurant, in Inglewood at The Fine Diner and in Ogden at Naina’s Kitchen.

Unfortunately, none of the fast food joints like McDonald’s, A&W, Harvey’s or Five Guys are in the race for the best burger.

My first encounter with Five Guys when I was in Thousand Oaks, California. At its Grand Opening, they had a line-up that wrapped around the block. There was so much hype in the papers, on the radio, word of mouth – everywhere. When I finally tried it, I found it nice and juicy. The first thing that impressed me was the amount of free toppings that you can get with your burger. Aside from the typical condiments, you can get jalapeno peppers, green peppers, mushrooms, grilled onions, tomato and lettuce.

Compared to the one on Macleod Trail SW, they could be more generous with the fries. In the states when you order the ‘little fries’, you get a heaping mound of fries that they have to bag for you to walk away with. Here, you’re lucky to find 10 more sticks in the bag. The burgers are freshly grilled but not as juicy as I remembered them to be. And the prices? What can I say, more money here as always.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Cora’s for Fruity Magic

Fruity Breakfast at Cora's

Fruity Breakfast at Cora’s

Many of us don’t have enough fruits and veggies a day, including myself. And maybe that is why our friends, Bruce and Lise insisted that we meet at Cora’s for breakfast.

After a year, I can now thank them for introducing Cora’s to us. Before then, I was not a huge fruit lover but now, I enjoy having fruit with my bacon and eggs.

That’s the trick here at Cora’s. You can still have your traditional bacon and eggs, waffle or crepe type breakfasts but you will also get a good serving of fruits too.

Cora's Breakfast & Lunch on Urbanspoon

It’s a popular place for breakfast and lunch. If you don’t get there early, prepare to wait in line for about an hour. Most Cora’s can accomodate big families and the turnaround is pretty good. They will have people turn around pretty fast and have you seated in no time.

What’s my favourite? Hmmm, it’s hard to say. Their menu is huge and there are a lot of choices. Just look to the next table and see what your neighbours are having. That’s the only way you can see what the popular dishes are. If you are looking for something light, try the Fruit Magic or the Samira Wake-up. Both of these are a light serving of fruit. Something interesting would be to try their crepe omelette combination. I’ve not had this yet but it looks pretty filling.

In YYC, I know there are 3 Cora’s. If I’m wrong, please add a comment and tell me where there is more. The downtown one is in the Bow Valley Square. The NW location is in Northlands Mall and the SE location is on 130 Ave.

Rich Italian Food

Seafood PescatoreFriends of ours took us to Villa Firenze for dinner a few weeks back then they headed out to Maui the next day. Lucky dogs! But I’ll be heading to the Big Island very soon too. Parking at the villa is great. They have ample parking in the rear and there is parking after hours in the lot adjacent to the restaurant. Walking into Villa Firenze is like walking into a house. I was told by our friends that it is a typical house in Bridgeland. Converted to a restaurant, it is cozy yet roomy inside. I like how the foyer of the house is the reception and the living spaces converted to dining areas. Stairs leading downstairs from the foyer takes you to the washrooms.

They have coat check but it was cold out so we held on to our coats. Everyone was dressed business casual so I can only guess that a lot of business lunches and dinners are held here. The owner came and greeted us at our table which was situated near the front of the restaurant. Where I sat, I had a commanding look at their wine selection. Instead of a wine cellar, they have all their wine bottles in the restaurant. My guess is that there were ample red wine in the house because these bottles were not chilled.

Our host decided to order the signature appetizer for us to try. The Portabello mushroom, oven baked with lots of garlic, bits of bacon and parmesan cheese(?) was delicious. A meal in itself. Next came our entrees. I chose to go with a simple spaghetti with marinara and it was delicious. My wife chose the Seafood Pescatore pasta. It looked great but I’m sensitive to mussels. I prefer the green mussels from Australia rather than the sea mussels that grow under piers. These were definitely sea mussels as you can still taste the sea in them. The rest of the dishes looked scrumptious. The veal dishes were nicely presented but I’m used to paying a few euros for them in Italy, rather than $20+ here in Calgary.

Overall food quality was excellent. I’ll give them awesome ratings on the Portabello and the pasta sauce. I didn’t pay for dinner but from the way the owner treated us, it must have cost a mint. We’ll be back for good Italian cooking when we’re downtown and feeling a bit rich.

Wonder What?

Wonderland

Wonderland

If you drive by the Bow, you are likely going to see a work of art but what is it?

From the streets, it looks like a wireframe object like something out of the Tron movie or the Wizard of Oz.

I’m told by a passerby that the artist is Jaume Plensa and he is world famous. The artist is from Barcelona, Spain and you might be familiar with some of his work but unfortunately, I’m not. The steel mesh in front of the Bow will be 12-metre tall and that of a little girl. It’s called Wonderland. I wonder why he called it that? If I heard the name, I would have looked out for a globe or something that depicts what the name suggests.

I’m not sure why the city chose this to be in front of Encana’s Bow building. But someone had an idea, but who? I was expecting something more Oil and Gas like a oil derrick or a huge Bellagio style fountain. Now that would have been a sight. In the summer, they could blast the water as high as the building and in the winter, it can be one giant icicle. We could have called it ‘Wonder of Water.’

I’m not knocking Plensa’s work. I’m sure it’s going to look spectacular here in YYC. Other works of art that Plensa has created include the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millenium Park. Maybe I shared a thought with Plensa…hmmm.

Chinese Festival

Lion Dance

Lion Dance

After attending the Chinese Festival on Saturday in Chinatown, I have to admit that it was better organized than the first year. My day started at the James Short parking structure with a nice surprise – free parking. That was very nice of the City to provide that to alleviate parking woes in Chinatown.

We were greeted by the dragon or at least the kung fu master who was holding the dragon’s head. He said we had some time before they started the dragon dance so we decided to wonder and browse the kiosks selling knick knacks.

There were the usual stalls that were selling iPod cases for $5, $10 and $15 for the premium cases. One stall sold Angry Birds slippers, Angry Birds pillows and Angry Birds keychains. There was even t-shirts that read Save the Birds – not sure if that was a play on the Angry Birds franchise.

Our friends from Asia Snacks were setup, but not selling our favourite egg puffs. They were too busy with taking orders for their Vietnamese sandwiches, to fire up the waffle-like maker so they kept telling us to come back later. We ran out of patience and ended up at the Dessert House for the egg puffs which were excellent. The mini doughnuts van was out and so was the Noodle Truck, both were very popular. TD Canada Trust were giving out personalized zodiac pins, ZipCar was promoting their new hourly car rental service in downtown Calgary and GlobalFest was selling tickets at their booth. There was something for everyone that attended the festival. Too bad it was only for one day, August 11th but I’m glad they ran it from 10am to 8pm.

 

Joe’s Crab Shack in Old Sacramento

Bucket of Seafood at Joe's Crab Shack

Bucket of Seafood at Joe’s Crab Shack

After waiting for our friends from Reno to arrive at the car rental facility south of the airport in Sacramento, we took both cars and navigated down down to Old Sacramento for some cajun / creole seafood. Located right on the river was Joe’s Crab Shack. The menus weren’t thick but there were a lot of choices. When our drinks arrived, we had made up our mind.

My wife and decided to order a bucket each. Our friends from Reno ordered a larger bucket to share. My wife ordered Joe’s Classic Steampot and it came with tasty dungeness crab, snow crab, boiled shrimp and smoked sausage. My taste buds were up for some crawfish so I ordered the Orleans which came with a pound of crawfish, 12 shrimps and an Andouille sausage.

The waitress came by to put a bib on each of us. It’s hilarious wearing this bib but I can tell you, it helps when you’re trying to get the meat out of the claws. Too bad they don’t give you gloves because I had to visit the little boy’s room to wash my hands. Eating crawfish is not for the squeamish. You need to grab the tail with one hand and the body with the other hand then you twist in opposite directions. The shell falls off the tail portion and that’s the part you eat.
Joe's Crab Shack on Urbanspoon

For the best deals in travel, be sure to visit Squidoo.

Hyatt Mercedes Service – Kudos to Cody

Hyatt Mercedes Service Center

Hyatt Mercedes Service Center

First impressions count but I usually give multiple chances before writing anyone off. With just two Mercedes-Benz dealers in Calgary, I had to call one of them about installing a block heater cord (I know I had plenty of time before winter but in Calgary, you can never be safe. And I rather be safe than sorry.)

Both service departments answered my questions about the cord, lying to me that it only costs $40. I was ready to buy one and send it back to Kelowna for refund because I had paid $107 for it.

I asked whether someone like me could install it. Lone Star said it was easy. Hyatt Mercedes said it was a little tricky and if I dropped by, they would help me with it. I took them up on this after asking for directions to their new service centre. They said it was under the Crowchild bridge and they were right. To get there, drive west on 10th Avenue on the rightmost lane. Go past the two turnoffs, one to Bow Trail and the other to Crowchild Trail. Stay right and when you see Mercedes-Benz, go down the road to your right and you’re there.

Cody greeted me at the Hyatt Mercedes-Benz service bay, took my car to the back as I waited in the waiting area for about 15 minutes. When my car appeared, Cody popped my hood and showed me where it was installed and told me they installed it free of charge. For that, I am rating Hyatt Mercedes – AWESOME. Kudos to Cody for AWESOME customer service.

 

Bow to the King of Buildings

Petro Canada Tower and the Bow

Petro Canada Tower and the Bow

The Calgary Tower used to be the tallest structure in Calgary. Then Petro Canada built its tower a little taller and gave way to taller and bigger buildings such as the Bow which is now the tallest building in Calgary.

Employees of Encana Corporation and Cenovus Energy have been moving into the Bow since February of this year, but not all employees got new digs. Our friends in the Information Technology department ended up in the building next to the Husky Tower on 8th Avenue. It must suck every time they have meetings at the Bow. All they can do is to envy those who work out of there.

The Bow cost an incredible 1.4 billion dollars to build. It has 58 floors in total but only 53 floors are used for offices. Two floors are reserved for retail and four floors for mechanical. One green innovation is that the Bow has 3 sky gardens which are embedded in the buildings and allow office workers to stroll through or to sit down for coffee and meditate.

If you ‘like’ the Bow and think it’s not an eye sore in Calgary’s skyscape then be sure to ‘like’ this post. Or if you work in it, let us know what you think or how you like it by posting a comment here.