Mangosteens at 60,000 VND

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

On the topic of fruit, I tend to like ‘exotic’ fruits more than our local varieties. If given a choice, I would prefer pineapples over oranges, mangosteens over plums, purple passion fruit over apricots and lychees over cherries. Unfortunately, shopping for exotic fruits can get expensive in YYC.

On my recent trip to Vietnam, I had the opportunity to shop at a few farmers’ markets. In Ha Long Bay for example, I had 20 minutes to shop at a huge local market. Vendors inside sold everything from stove elements to nuts and bolts, souvenirs and dried food, silk embroidery and wood carvings. Vendors on the outside sold fresh meats, fruits and vegetables.

 

When I came upon this stand, I was interested in one particular fruit. I had promised myself to look for this fruit in Thailand but there was no opportunity to stop and shop. Mangosteens are sold at the T&T Chinese , market in Calgary but at $5.99 per pound. For that price, you can buy about 4 of them. At this market in Vietnam, I pointed at the mangosteens and she spoke something in Vietnamese that I could not understand. I took out my wad of money and she picked out 60,000 dongs. She took a shopping bag and started filling it up with mangosteens. There was more than a dozen of fruit in the bag and it weighed about 5 pounds. Using a Dong to CDN converter, that came out to $3.18 Canadian.

Next time I have a craving for mangosteens, you know where I will be flying off to.

iDevice popular on cruise ships

iPad Class

iPad Class

It was standing room only at the ‘iPad, iPhone and iTouch’ orientation class on Celebrity Cruises’ Millenium ship, SE Asia Northbound trip. I couldn’t believe how popular this class was but a lot of people travel with their Apple devices, including me.

The instructor was Apple certified and he knew his stuff pretty well. I have been using iTouch, iPad and iPhone for a number of years but I managed to learn a few new tricks in this class.

They taught us how to “print screen” and why do it. They also showed us how to conserve battery power, how to use our device as a hotspot and share our internet connection and on the newer iPads and iPhone 5, “air drop” was demonstrated. Over 3 days at sea, they had a session at least once every sea day and every session was full house.

As long as I own Apple (AAPL) shares, I’m happy to see how popular Apple products are.

I’m Tongue Thai’d

Basil Chicken

Basil Chicken

I’m just 14 days away from getting on a plane and visiting Thailand for the first time. Last year when I when booked the trip, I promised myself I was going to visit countries that I enjoy the cuisine from. And so, I feel like sharing another restaurant with you that I really like. At Juree’s Thai Place, I like every dish they serve there. My favourite dish is the Fried Fish with special sauce but the Basil Chicken is exceptional too. The food is usually delicious with just the right amount of spice.

Unlike a lot of Thai restaurants in YYC that seem to bring a small bowl of the Tom Yum soup, Juree’s serves it to you in a large bowl that can be shared among the 2, 3 or 4 of you. I’m yet to find a Thai restaurant in town that still serves soup in the traditional slow cooker with a propane flame at the bottom. Please share a comment if you know of a Thai place in YYC that gives you an abundance of soup.

The one thing I really enjoy at Juree’s is the waitresses. They wear traditional Thai dresses that seem to make me feel like I was in Thailand already. They seem to speak Thai which is a good indication that the cook is Thai. Don’t you hate it when you hear Mexican in a Thai kitchen or Chinese in a Japanese sushi bar?
Juree's Thai Place on Urbanspoon

Heaven Fish

Fish with Tamarind Sauce

Fish with Tamarind Sauce

Sometimes you find a dish around town that you absolutely fall in love with. On a late night after golf, we decided to try Juree’s Thai Place on 16th Avenue, just west of the North Hill Shopping Mall. We were worried that they wouldn’t sit us because it was close to closing time but they were happy to accommodate us, along with three other parties after us.

The place is incredibly cozy. I thought I was in Bangkok, sitting in an eatery with waitresses in beautiful and authentic Thai dresses. The menu has everything including soup, salad, entrees and dessert.

We started our meal with Tom Yum Soup which is a clear broth. We were pleasantly surprised that it was served in a large bowl. There were plenty of soup to go around, even if it was just the two of us. The next dish was the fish with special sauce. There were three large filets of Basa fish that was fried to perfection. The coating on it was like panko but it was the sauce that blew us away. This dish is so incredible and tasty that next time, all we are going to order is the soup and this fish. No need for other dishes.

Along with the meal, we ordered coconut rice which adds to any Thai meal. It’s only a hint of coconut but enough to make white rice enjoyable. We made the bad mistake by ordering too much and ended up packing away the Pad Thai which looked good. We ended up eating it the next day for lunch.
Juree's Thai Place on Urbanspoon

Set your target to Target

Target Store

Target Store

I’ve been waiting patiently for a Target store to open near me and finally, the wait is over. The Target at Westhills opened its doors this week and I had the chance to check it out. A lot of Target locations in Calgary had opened weeks and months ago but for some reason, this location took forever. Interesting enough, I was just at a Target store in Palm Desert, CA a few days ago and so I had a lot to compare with.

First of, everything looks good. All the shelves are stocked full of goods and there are plenty of Target employees around in case you’re looking for something and can’t find it. Second, I think the prices are pretty good and comparable to our neighbours in the south.

Here’s some comparisons:

  • Nitro golf balls – case in CA sold for $6.99, here it’s slightly more at $7.99
  • Polysporin – tube sold for $8.99, here it’s the same.
  • Aveeno body wash – bottle in CA sold for $5.94, here it’s the same.
  • Basa fillets – bag sold at Superstore for $9.99, here it’s the same.

Third, the Target stores are packed with people in CA which does not compare with us. There were less than 10 of us in the store all morning. Perhaps everyone in the surrounding area were unaware of the opening and I think by the weekend, there will be more people checking it out. I hope you do.

Best Muffler Service

Calgary Mufflers

Calgary Muffler

If you need an honest opinion about something underneath your car or truck, head over to Calgary Muffler at 58th Ave and Macleod Trail. Like a medical clinic, you don’t need an appointment. You simply show up with your vehicle and they will jack it up and assess your situation. 

These guys are honest and are AMA approved. Before dropping by, I called Canadian Tire and asked them about replacing my muffler. They couldn’t help me. They said they were not familiar with a Land Rover and if they could find the part, it would be well over $500. I sure didn’t feel assured.

I called Calgary Muffler next and asked the same questions. They said they would replace it for about $250 but they had to see the vehicle. With a loose muffler, I took care in driving down to Chinook where Calgary Muffler is. 

Once they had an empty slot, they motioned me and I drove into the bay. They hoisted my Land Rover up in the air and they went underneath it. They pointed out that my muffler was completely rusted and it was about to fall off. They said they would put a brand new tailpipe in for under $258.

I told them to go ahead. After an hour, my truck was ready to go. These guys rock!

Crab Envy

Ginger and Green Onion Crab

Ginger and Green Onion Crab

When in Vancouver, you have to eat Asian food and ordering crab is a must-do. But be forewarned – it is one messy meal and you can’t eat it on the sidelines neither, meaning that you have to get in with both hands.

You can ask for a finger bowl but good luck on someone understanding what you want. Instead, make yourself one by taking your rice bowl and pouring some hot tea in it. If you can get yourself a slice of lemon, squeeze some juice into the tea and you have yourself a ‘finger bowl’.

Now get your fingers dirty by grabbing a piece of crab and tasting the sauce by sucking the juices off it. Let me recommend the Ginger and Green Onion sauce because it’s the tastiest and most popular.

Where to go? In Burnaby, you have to go to Rose Garden Seafood Restaurant on Kingsway, just east of Joyce Street. Order the special meal for 4 or 6 or 8 people and you’ll get the crab dish for free.

There will be plenty of food because their servings are very generous. And everything is so delicious there.
Rose Garden Seafood Restaurant 嘉好海鮮美食之家 on Urbanspoon

Best Bakery in Bowness

Apple Ring

Apple Ring

We are coming to an end of era, 22 years to be exact. The owners of Dell’s Cafe in Bowness are selling their cafe and retiring. Their friends say “Finally, it is well deserved.”, but their customers disagree because they have served the community with great food for so long. It will be hard to say good bye and so long. People who know them personally have been dropping by at Dell’s Cafe to have their last favourite meal before they close shop on May 11th. Some of their favourites include the dry ribs, the chicken chow mein or the burgers and fries. Everything is good!

Next to Dell’s is the Sweet Home Bakery that I enjoy very much. I think I have written a post before but here it goes again. The one and only bakery I know in YYC that bakes an apple ring is here. If you haven’t had one then I urge you to go down early and get one. It’s in very limited supply because they go as fast as they can make it.

The apple ring sells for $9.95 and is large enough to share. When we have it, we eat it for breakfast and dessert and it lasts over a week for the two of us. With ice cream, it’s decadent. But on its own, it’s delicious with coffee or tea. It is like an apple pie but without the pastry shell. It is like an apple streudel but without the sprinkled sugar on it. It’s almost a sweet roll with apple pieces.

Take Sarcee Trail north, pass the turn-off to Banff then at the three-way stop, turn left. Follow the road until you’re in Bowness. Take a left turn at the gas station and a quick right into the parking lot. The bakery is right next to Dell Cafe.

Sweet Home Bakery 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.

What’s Up? Wasabi

Lunch Box

Lunch Box

On our way to pick up snorkel gear, we stopped by Wasabi’s on 16th Avenue for lunch. We’ve been there for dinner a few times and liked the sushi and dinner specials but we really haven’t tried the lunch until now. They have about 6-7 items in the lunch box category ranging from $11.95 to $13.95, some had sushi and sashimi, others did not. The ones that did not have raw fish had teriyaki beef or chicken instead. All lunch boxes had tempura, salad and miso soup.

When my lunch box was served, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of food and variety in their lunch boxes. For $12.95, there were 2 tempura shrimps, 2 pieces of veggies, 3 nigiri sushi, 3 california roll pieces, 5 dark pieces of teriyaki chicken on a bed of rice, salad and miso soup. The lunch was more enough for someone with a small appetite but it was perfectly sized for me. Everything tasted good. The sushi was fresh and the california rolls were made with real crab meat instead of the imitation crab that a lot of restaurants uses. If I had to say a bad thing to average out my review, I would say that I am more accustomed to a lighter batter on the tempura. But it’s all good and filling too.

And if you are looking for a great snorkel and scuba shop north of the Caribbean, drop in next door and see John at Caribbean Dream.

Wasabi Japanese Restaurant Ltd on Urbanspoon