Los Mariachis Found

IMG_6284Summer is coming and it is almost time to sit out on the patio with a Corona and have good Mexican food. Too bad Los Mariachis don’t have a patio but then, who wants to sit out on the parking lot facing busy Macleod Trail? Instead come inside to a rustic cantina and explore the menu that have a bit of everything Mexican. There is fajita, tacos, enchiladas, burritos and even horchata on the drink menu. And if you have room afterwards, there is the caramel flan for dessert. (We never got that far but that would be my choice).

I had the El Trio which had a chile relleno, enchilada and chimichanga. I never stopped to ask but the chimichanga tasted a lot like the enchilada. Both had beef in it and both were wrapped with a soft tortilla. The only different was the sauce on top. For some reason, I thought the chimichanga was fried but then, I could have been mistaken. The chili relleno was tender and tasty.

My wife had the snapper and it came with green peppers and olives topped. The fish was firm and hard to tell whether it was previously frozen or not. (We should have asked but we didn’t). Both dishes came with some rice and refried beans.

When the bill came, we were surprised to find that the chips and salsa wasn’t complimentary like it is at many Mexican restaurants. After taking our order, the waiter thanked us then asked if we wanted chips and salsa to start and we (foolishly) said ‘Of course’. The chips and salsa is an appetizer here and sells for $10. As an appetizer, it comes with chips, salsa, guacamole and some pickled vegetables.

Would we return? Probably not right away but when we do, we have to be careful to not say ‘Of course’.

 

 

Shanghai Morning Surprise

Dumplings with Chives

Dumplings with Chives

There are so many restaurants in Richmond and so little time to try them all. Today we tried a new Shanghai restaurant on Alexander Road in Richmond for breakfast and dim sum called Shanghai Morning. Like all Shanghai restaurants, they serve the famous Shanghai dumplings. When it was served, it was a steaming tower of not one but two containers of dumplings. The trick in eating it is to delicately pick it up with your chopsticks without puncturing the dumpling. If you do, the soup inside the dumpling will leak out and destroy the eating experience. If you have master the chopstick control, you can pick up the dumpling with the soup intact.

Now to eat it, you place it on a spoon and nibble at it. You bite a bit of the skin off and you sip the soup through the opening. If it is made right, the soup will be delicious. Once the soup is sipped out, put the whole dumpling into your mouth and chew. The dumpling has pork in it and the skin is a little thicker than the won ton wrapper.

Next came a steamer with green dumplings in it. These were made with chives and hence, gave the dumplings a nice green colour (pictured). These dumplings could be my next favourite because they were light and scrumptious. I have never had these but I will definitely order them again.

Lastly came the deep fried slice buns that are served with condensed milk. These are nice dessert items to round off the meal.

Top Disappointment Shanghai Restaurant

Chicken Balls in Spicy Sauce

Chicken Balls in Spicy Sauce

After an enjoyable round at Green Acres Golf Course in Richmond, BC, we asked our playing partners for their restaurant picks. The first restaurant they recommended to us was the Top Shanghai Restaurant on No. 3 Road in Richmond. I couldn’t help but to ask Sylvia Wong for her favourite dishes. I told her we have tried many Shanghai restaurants in Vancouver but we always order the same old thing. The dumplings of course, is standard Shanghai but they are almost the same wherever we go. Sylvia insisted that we order that if we were to go to that restaurant. Along with that, she recommended us to order a roasted duck or whatever duck was on the menu. I asked about a fish dish and she didn’t advise anything special.

When we arrived at the restaurant, it was jam packed. Everyone in Richmond was there. I found the atmosphere almost deafening. There was laughing and loud conversations going on several tables by the wall. When the menu landed on our table, I was impressed. Did I tell you that I love restaurants with huge menus? The menu was like a large coffee table book with pictures. Oh, I love menus with pictures, especially when I don’t read Chinese.

We went through the menu and decided to find the duck that Sylvia had recommended. Instead of a crispy chicken dish, we found a crispy duck dish. We ordered it. Then came the chicken. The name intrigued me. It was something like Chicken balls in spicy sauce.

Out of tradition, we ordered the Shanghai dumplings, even though they were dim sum items. When the food came, no rice was served so we ordered two bowls of it. The chicken balls was a disappointment. First of all, they weren’t ball shaped. I don’t know where we went wrong. The crispy duck was a disappointment too. It was salty, very salty and it reminded me of wax duck that I had when I was a kid. FYI, wax duck is preserved in salt and smoked.

Overall, the dinner was ok. And for the menu, we found out most of the dishes are obsolete and they don’t serve it anymore.

Butcher’s Block in Chestermere

Butchers Block

Butchers Block

I like meals that you can share with a friend or with your spouse. On my last golf outing to Chestermere, we settled in for some dinner at the clubhouse at Lakeside Golf Course. It was a pleasant day for golf with some friends but after being rained on and bitten by mosquitos, it was time to chow down.

On tap, there’s always a nice selection of beer but I wanted Sapporo, a nice bodied beer from Japan. To complement it, I ordered the Butcher’s Block for $55. On Friday’s, the price comes down to under $50 and it is worth every penny of it. The meal comes with an ultra tender 8 oz steak, cut up in slices, a rack of ribs smothered with a bbq sauce and half a rotisserie chicken. You also have a pick of 2 sides which include a salad, sweet potato fries, regular fries, mushrooms or cooked vegetables.

I’ve ordered this meal twice this summer and both times, it was delicious. If you are in for an all-meat dinner then I would highly recommend it. The ribs are fall off tender and the chicken is nicely seasoned and cooked to perfection. My favourite is still the steak and I would eat that by itself if my wife didn’t beat me to it.

Tooloulou’s

Combo dish at Tooloulou's

Combo dish at Tooloulou’s

There aren’t any restaurants in Calgary that serve Louisiana cuisine like crawfish boil, etoufee, dirty rice, hush puppies and seafood gumbo. If you want that kind of meal then head west to Banff where you can find everything including alligator bites. The place is called Tooloulou’s and it is goooood.

My recommendation is to drive out in the morning, walk around Banff then around 2:00pm, sit down for a late lunch. They have 3 menus, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lunch menu is pretty much the same as the dinner menu except for a few dishes and is less money.

I had the combo dish that gave me a sampling of three dishes including gumbo, jambalaya and creole. I expected three separate dishes but they cram it all on one dish and add a piece of cornbread on the side. The gumbo was a bit on the dry side and the red jambalaya was tasty and it had a lot of shrimp but it needed more hot sauce which you can add to by visiting their ‘hot sauce shelf of pain’. There by the bar is a shelf full of hot sauce ranging from scotch bonnet to jalapeno sauce. Take your pick along with the jug of water to douse out any flame.

Next time I’m going to save room for the bread pudding dessert. Be sure to walk off the carb meal before driving back to Calgary.

 

 

 

Sushi BBQ – Cold Rice, Bad Service

Sushi BBQ

Sushi BBQ

I’m guilty of not trying new things out but after my experience last Monday, I see why. I had an eye appointment with Dr. F. Adatia in the SE and decided to give Sushi BBQ a try. What a mistake!

The All-U-Can-Eat lunch special is a decent $15 per person price. Nigiri sushi includes salmon, tuna, shrimp, masago and tamago (or egg). Kitchen dishes include chicken teriyaki, agedashi tofu, chicken karage, salmon teriyaki, etc. And they have pizza bites too. A slice of salmon on top of spicy shrimp on a fried rice ball. (It was not as good as it looked and it didn’t look so hot either)

Sad to say, the nigiri rice was cold. And the fried eel maki had a taste of moldy bread in it. When I complained to the waiter, he brought it in to the sushi chef for examination then he came back and told me it was fine. Did the chef try it himself? I doubt he did.

They also had a Korean cooktop and Korean meat for you to cook your own. If you decide to order that, make sure you give yourself plenty of time because you are allotted 1.5 hours to eat and get out.

The decor is run down and dirty. I was surprised not to see a cockroach here and there. The service was horrible and they wouldn’t serve you a free cup of hot water. Instead they gave us an excuse that they don’t have hot water on the premise. Interesting. They do serve hot tea, don’t they?

My advice: stay away.

A Burst of Flavour?

Steak and Sushi

Steak and Sushi

When you talk about steak houses in Calgary, you don’t normally think of Joey’s at Barlow. But we made a mistake of booking a dinner reservation there last week and hoping for something else.

I haven’t been to Joey’s for some time but I used to order their ‘Burst’, a nice refreshing concoction made up of 7-up or Sprite and a scoop of blended fruit. It used to contain more chunks of fruit in it but now, it’s thin out like a lemonade. They give a free refill but after that, you have to buy a new drink. Be careful with that one. It’s not written anywhere and they assume you know.

The menu had changed over the years and the jambalaya that we had grown to love is now gone. In place of some fantastic dishes is now sushi. I usually don’t order Japanese food in a non-Japanese cuisine restaurant but I made an exception. I ordered the Steak and Sushi entree for $25, hoping it would fill my empty stomach but I am sorry to say that I was still hungry after the meal. The sushi was ok but I was really disappointed when I saw the steak. It was small to begin with but they served it sliced up. Perhaps if they left it whole, it might have lasted longer. When it’s cut up for you, it’s easy to count the number of pieces with just one hand.

JOEY Barlow on Urbanspoon

Not a Milestone

Prime Rib

Prime Rib

Lobster Jambalaya

Lobster Jambalaya

After eating out three days in a roll, I am cooking dinner at home tonight. Last night, we ate at Milestone’s at Market Mall and was again, disappointed. As entrees, I had to try their new menu item, the ‘Lobster Jambalaya’ ($26) and the ‘Prime Rib’ dinner.

The jambalaya was dry and uninteresting. I found 2-3 shrimps in it and 1 piece of lobster, a small section of the claw. It was the size of two ice cream scoops with 4 slices of grilled pita bread. The rice was overcooked and dry. Definitely, not worth the money.

The prime rib was dry as well. The edges were very tasty from the seasoning but not on the inside. It was served on top of some veggies and came with a baked potato. There were fried onions alongside like you would see at Outback but nothing like their blooming onion.
Milestones Grill + Bar on Urbanspoon

 

 

Personal is Tiny, Small is Small

Small Pizza

Small Pizza

I drove a friend to the University of Calgary clinic last week in the NW and while waiting for his tests, I stopped at Gus’ Pizza for lunch. It was half full when I walked in at 11:30am. By noon, the kitchen was filling takeout orders from people who worked in the Professional Building but luckily, I had my meal in front of me.

I decided to try the Small Pepperoni and Mushroom pizza and a can of Coke. When the pizza came, I was a little shocked at the size of it. I felt like asking the waitress if she had mistakenly dropped off a personal size pizza instead of a small but when she served the table next to me, I realized the personal size was tiny compared to my small.

If you’re hungry then order the Medium or something else on the menu. The Small pizza was disappointing for $12 because it was the size of my iPad with 6 slices. For the price, I expected a larger size pizza that I could have shared with a friend.

One thing good about the pizza was the crust. I like pizzas with crispy crusts (like Pizza Bank in the SW) and cheese that is baked right in. The cheese here was thick and acted like a canopy. As soon as you bite into it, the cheese would fall off the pizza like a topping.

There were plenty of pepperoni and mushrooms which was nice and hearty. Aside from the size, it was a relatively good tasting pizza. Anything that tastes this good should be large enough for you to enjoy there in the restaurant and for you to take home. Too bad I couldn’t do the latter because I ate it up in one sitting.

Next time, if you’re in or near the Foothills Professional Building just off the Foothills Hospital, drop in for lunch or a light snack. It’s worth another visit and review but I’m going to try their pasta next.

Gus's Cafe & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Not Surf and Turf but Reef N Beef

Prime Rib and Pork Ribs Dinner

Prime Rib and Pork Ribs Dinner

I’m cutting back on red meat but I found myself ordering the Prime Rib and Port Rib dinner at the Reef N Beef restaurant in the NE. We wouldn’t have chosen this restaurant to go to but having a fantastic coupon from TeamBuy certainly helps.

From Monday to Thursday, there are a lot of locals that come in for a nice sit down dinner at this snazzy restaurant because of their Steak and Lobster special. At $29.95, the price can’t be beat.

Because we used a coupon, the daily special was not available to us so we had to order something from the menu. It’s a pretty decent menu with lots of good dishes to order. Being both a seafood and steak restaurant, you can expect to see a variety of dishes from the sea to the turf.

After serving drinks, the waitress brought a basket of garlic bread which helped calmed the hungry nerves. Next came our salads which had a fresh head of iceberg with tomato and cucumbers. Soup followed and we had both chose the French Onion soup. Surprisingly, it didn’t have the cheese baked on but instead, the waitress came and sprinkled it on.

My dinner arrived along with more garlic bread. The prime rib was good, not fatty like I’m used to but it was a little more cooked than medium rare. It was a nice generous serving and tender as expected. The pork ribs were good too, almost fall off the bone tender but I’m glad it didn’t. I chose a baked potato but there were also rice pilaf, stuffed potato or french fries. The carrots and broccoli were nicely steamed and seasoned.

Does it warrant a next time? Most definitely and the next time, we’ll try the Steak and Lobster special.

Reef 'n Beef on Urbanspoon