Italian Cafeteria

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

To all Via Cibo fans, sorry about the title of my post but I mean it in a good way because I think the owners of it has it right. The pasta is delicious and fast. Who says good food has to take a long time to prepare?

At Via Cibo, join the line at the front door and choose from a menu up high. There are pasta dishes, sandwiches, pizza, salads, drinks and gelato.

I wanted something extra spicy so I ordered the Broccolini and Sausage pasta. There is a milder version but if you want some heat, make sure you ask for ‘extra spice’. You get a choice of penne or linguini so I chose the linguini. The broccolini was chopped up into small pieces, almost unrecognizable small. I forgot for a moment what the green stuff was and thought they were green onions. The sausage was firm and was told it was homemade.

The pizza looked good and authentic. It is like Wolfgang Puck’s pizza, flat and crusty. There’s also a kid’s menu which are smaller versions of the big adult’s menu. The kid sized pizza is a little larger than a DVD and the adult size is more like a frisbee.

Pasta is served with a slice of bread and if you ask, they will accompany your meal with a free glass of iced water. They also serve still and mineral water if you wish.
Via Cibo on Urbanspoon

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

Where’s Bobby?

Beef Chunks

Beef Chunks

The best dish in the house is clearly, Beef Chunks with Bobby Chao’s Special Sauce. The restaurant is Bobby Chao Pho House and it is located on 53rd Street in Edgemont. The food is tasty and the prices are reasonable but their service sucks!

This was our second visit in two weeks and we were disappointed with the service or lack of. On our first visit, we ordered bubble tea and dinner for four. After a half an hour, half of our bubble tea order came but no food. After 45 minutes, the first dish arrived and it was the BBQ Pork. Not knowing when the other dishes were going to arrive, we asked for some white rice. After another 15 minutes, the other bubble teas came but we told them we were still waiting for the rice. Another 10 minutes passed and finally, the waitress almost threw the rice container at us. She was in a hurry to get to another table. When every table around us were fully into their meal, the second dish we ordered was served. It would take over two hours to have our dinner.

Our second visit wasn’t much better. We decided to go for an early supper and sat down at 4:30pm. The restaurant was empty at the time as we put in an order for bubble tea and about three dishes including the Beef Chunks with the special sauce. Again, the bubble teas took about half an hour. Another couple sat down behind us and ordered. Twenty minutes later, their order was served as we sat disgusted. We inquired about our order and they said it was coming. After another twenty minutes, the couple who came in after us had finished their meal and left the restaurant. We flagged the waitress down and inquired about our dishes. She kept saying it was coming but there was sign of any food coming out of the kitchen. “Where’s Bobby?”, we asked. She just shrugged her shoulders.
Bobby Chao's on Urbanspoon

Wonderful Broth at Muku Ramen

Tonkatsu, Spicy Ramen

Tonkatsu, Spicy Ramen

You can tell a lot about a restaurant from the broth they make and at Muku Japanese Ramen, the broth is delicious. If you want to get out of the rain and into a warm, cozy hangout on the 14 Street corridor then come in to Muku. It is very popular hangout for people who live in the area and there’s plenty of parking there too. They actually share the parking lot with Globefish, the sushi restaurant.

Muku does not serve sushi whatsoever. They even post a sign on the door that no sushi is served. Muku serves noodles and appetizers. Don’t expect to see teriyaki chicken or katsu don or sashimi because there’s nothing like that here.

The menu is simple to navigate. Basically they have a map of Japan on it to highlight three main broth styles. I chose the Tonkatsu ramen with a large scoop of hot sauce served in my broth. Once stirred, the broth is rich and flavourful. For those of you that cannot take the heat, take your spoon and scoop out some of the red stuff. The broth is made from cooking pork bones in high heat for a long time. The bone marrow is released into the broth and gives it the richness.

Garnished with my broth are green onions, baby corn and slices of lean pork. The other two broth styles are from northern Japan and central Japan. They are both equally tasty but I wanted something different this time around.

After the ramen, I was still a little hungry and needed something from their appetizer menu to round off my meal. I chose their deep fried baby octopus. For $6.50, you get about 6 battered baby octopus fried and served with a nice mayo mixture.

Muku Japanese Ramen on Urbanspoon

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

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.

Great Taste awaits you in Chinatown

Duck

Roast Duck

Is anyone else disappointed in our Chinatown? I’ve been here for over 25 years and I swear there were more Chinese vendors before than now. Please show your support by ‘liking’ my post if you agree. It used to be the central place to go for Chinese food and to buy Chinese ingredients for my cooking. Now it’s hard to find anyone who speaks Chinese in Chinatown. The energy is just not there anymore.

When Chinese New Year came about, I went down to celebrate it at the Cultural Centre. I hope you did too. Gung Yee Fat Choy to you too! Before getting into the crowded centre, we went for lunch on 2nd Ave. at a place called Great Taste Chinese Restaurant. My sister-in-law read the name to me in Chinese but it didn’t sound like anything close to Great Taste.

Was it great tasting food? You can say it was. We ordered what adjacent tables ordered and were pleased. We had two rice cake dishes, one in soup and one fried. I like the fried one better because I heard the one in soup was mushy. The duck was delicious. It came served with bread dumplings, the kind that you order at Shanghai restaurants. The duck was crispy and was nicely marinated. Skip the dipping salt if you’re on a low-sodium diet because it is quite salty. The duck is good with the dumplings or with rice.
Great Taste Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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.

Shanghai Wonderful

Taro Buns

Taro Buns

When in Vancouver, one of the most popular restaurants in Richmond is Shanghai Wonderful located across the street from the Lansdowne mall.

It’s an adventure having dim sum at Shanghai Wonderful when no one from your group grew up in Shanghai. There’s no chicken feet, shrimp dumplings or duck tongue but a whole new array of dishes like taro buns, deep fried sliced buns with condensed milk, green onion pancakes and famous Shanghai dumplings. Also, try fried rice cakes with pork and without pork. Both are delicious and are must try’s.

Rice Cakes

Rice Cakes