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

Koreans Serving Pho

Spicy Squid on Rice

Spicy Squid on Rice

I haven’t seen Huong for a long, long time. He used to visit our table on a frequent basis when we dined at the ‘Pho Huong Viet’ restaurant on Bow Trail but when he moved to 17th Avenue, we no longer ran into him. I think his family is running it for him so if you see him, tell him I said ‘Hi’.

His brother used to run the second location, next to the 7-11 on 37th Street between 16th and 17th Ave where I would see him in the kitchen sometimes.

But there was a time last year when they ran out of the soup stock. That went on for a number of weeks and I couldn’t really understand that. They were serving everything else but the bread and butter which for a Vietnamese restaurant, was the PHO.

Now in 2014, it is under new management. The first thing you will notice when you walk in, is the new expanded menu. The same noodle dishes and subs are available on the right side of the menu but now, there are Korean dishes. We ordered two dishes, Spicy Squid on Rice (pictured) and Sate Beef Noodle in Soup. The Spicy Squid was delicious and very Korean. However, I was disappointed with the Sate Beef Noodle in Soup. I found it to be more Korean than Vietnamese because it lacked the cardamon/ cinammon flavoured beef soup that usually comes with Pho. Also, the pho was replaced with very thin vermicelli instead of the flat thin noodles that I have grown accustom to liking.

Lemon Garden, next to OK

Cantonese Chow Mein

Cantonese Chow Mein

When the leaves begin to turn and the winds start to blow, it is time to bring your vehicle in for a winter changeover. I have been bringing my tires to OK Tires on Richmond Road for a few years and continue to like their service. They are honest and upfront with you which is very important in my opinion.

On this occasion, I was getting my rear brakes done so it was going to take a few hours.  I decided to walk out and have an early lunch. To my right and across the street was an interesting place called Teaspoon. I yelped it and found that it served Persian food. That would had been my first choice but unfortunately, they weren’t open yet. Something told me to come back and try again.

To my left and down the block slightly is Lemon Garden, a Chinese and Western restaurant. Their menu was extensive with both Chinese dishes and Western dishes. They open at 10:00am for breakfast or early lunch. I wanted to try their Chow Mein to see if it was any good. Scanning the menu, I noticed they have Singapore Fried Noodles and Shanghai style thick noodles which is a good sign for a noodle house. They also have won ton and wor won ton which is something to try next time I visit.

I ordered the Cantonese Chow Mein because it has tidbits of everything ranging from BBQ Pork to shrimp. It’s usually the safe bet when it comes to ordering chow mein. After a short wait, the waitress brought it over along with hot sauce and chili oil. The dish was quite large (for one) and I think it was meant to be shared.

On taste, I would give it a rating of 3.5 out of 5. I was expecting the noodles to be crispy rather than soggy but it was reasonably cooked well. Would I return? Probably in the spring when I change over my tires.

Lemon Garden on Urbanspoon

Happy Hours at Pizzetta

Brushetta

Succulent Tomato Brushetta

One of my favorite pastimes is to check out happy hours at select locations on earth. Today, I found a place where you can order a slice of pizza for just $2. If you look at the curvature of the crust, you will find that the slice is actually a quarter of the whole pizza and whole pizzas go for nothing less than $15 each.

The place is called Pizzetta and it is located on Koloa Road in Old Town Koloa. Where the heck is that, you may ask? It’s on the island of Kauai and Koloa is just down the road from Poipu. If you’ve been to Kauai and stayed on the south shore then you’re familiar with Poipu beach and Poipu bay. They will tell you that it is the sunniest location on Kauai.

Renovations are going on at Pizzetta. The main part of the restaurant is being renovated along with the bar but there’s plenty of tables for happy hour patrons or dinner go-ers.

We ordered one of each, cheese and pepperoni pizza slices for $2. To top it off, we also order Caprese and Bruschetta. Between these two dishes and the pizza, we were full. The bill was outrageously cheap at $13 but we had iced water instead of Italian soda.

Service was only so-so with the waiter being miffed about something. The Caprese was not real buffala but ok, the Brushetta was not warm enough but the pizza was good.

 

 

Peruvian Ceviche is Delicious

Peruvian Ceviche

Peruvian Ceviche

There’s always a debate going on between my two friends, Daniel and Pablo when it comes to ceviche. Daniel is from Mexico and he claims Mexican ceviche is the best. Pablo is from Peru and he claims Peruvian ceviche is the best.

I’ve tried both and think it’s a toss up. Two things missing in Peruvian ceviche is tomatoes and avocado but I find it lighter and tastier. I like how the fish is cooked in lime juice and seasoned with sea salt. Red onion slices and corn husks are served on a Peruvian ceviche instead of a slice of avocado.

Inti Restaurant - Peruvian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Where can you order this delicious appetizer? Try the Inti Restaurant in the NE behind the Husky station on the corner of 32nd Avenue and Barlow Trail. Head east on 32nd Avenue then turn right on 26th Street after passing Barlow Trail. The restaurant is to your left and there’s plenty of parking in the mall.

Aside from the delicious ceviche, you might find the menu is a little small for a Peruvian restaurant. There’s only a few entrees to choose from. We chose the Escabeche de Pollo and Lomo Saltado. Both entrees came with a scoop of white rice. My escabeche was delicious but was a little small for my appetite. (We ended up eating at Fat Kee next door to satisfy our hunger before heading home.) Inti has both drinks that are traditional Peruvian, the chicha morada and Inca. The chicha morada is made of purple corn and is homemade. Inca is a popular soft drink that tastes like cream soda but is golden in colour.

Seanachie Irish Pub

Chicken Leek Boxty

Chicken Leek Boxty

No signs of Fuddruckers here. Did you know Seanachie Irish Pub in Signal Hill used to be a Fuddruckers, the DIY burger joint? Anyways, I met my sister there for lunch yesterday.

We arrived early to get a seat in the patio. At 11am, they don’t know what to do with customers. We sat ourselves on the patio and practically had to get our own iced water and menus.

Their menu is extensive and had a good selection of lunch and dinner entrees. If you’re stopping by for lunch, be sure to ask for the lunch menu. They didn’t offer that to us and we had to be nosy to borrow the one from the table next to us. Perhaps if we ordered a beer, we would have got better service.

Seanachie Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

I chose the Chicken Leek Boxty. Does the wrap look like a potato pancake or a tortilla? Yep, I got fooled. The potato pancake was what sold me on the dish, not the contents. But then this is an Irish pub and not a Jewish deli. I was hoping for a really good latka but got this instead. The veggies on the side were plentiful but I found them too salty for my taste. Luckily my sister had a salt tongue so she ate it.

She chose the Prime Rib with mini Yorkshire puddings. When it came, we somehow visualized this dish differently. It came with about six yorkshire puddings the shape and size of a muffin. The prime rib looked like deli meat, thinly sliced beef shoved inside the yorkshire puddings. She was disappointed to say the least. Overall, it was just ok.

Saigon Bistro

Beef Dish at Saigon Bistro

Beef Dish at Saigon Bistro

I used to live in one of those towers near Southland Crossing when it was just a Safeway. Now there’s plenty of restaurants to choose from, ranging from Japanese to Chinese, to Vietnamese and Thai. One place that caught my eye was Saigon Bistro so we decided to give it a try. We walked in and was seated very quickly. It was dinner time but the restaurant was only a quarter full on a Saturday night.

Saigon Bistro on Urbanspoon

We ordered the Sweet and Sour Chicken wings as appetizers because the photo of it in the menu reminded me of the tamarind flavoured wings served at other Vietnamese restaurants. When it came, I thought they made a mistake because the wings were dry and not soaking in sauce. They were like Salt and Pepper wings, the kind that you order at Chinese restaurants.  I called the waiter over and said that it wasn’t the same as what we had ordered. He looked at it and said it was missing the sauce. The waitress brought a dish over with some Thai sweet chili sauce for us to dip the wings in.

For entrees, we decided to go with Crispy Fried Chicken and a Beef Cube dish. The Crispy Fried Chicken was served with the sauce on the side. It had a gingery taste to it and had green pepper and onions in it. It was fair. The Beef Cube dish was better but surprisingly, only one bowl of rice accompanied both dishes. Since there were two of us eating, we ordered an extra bowl for $1.50. The total bill came out to $34 without tip. (We did leave a tip but the service was so-so.) The food was nothing to write home about and we know we will not be eating here again.

Maruju Sushi – Reasonable Eatery

Maruju Sushi

Maruju Sushi

If you’re ok with Chinese sushi chefs and waitresses then you’ll be ok with Maruju Sushi on Centre Street, next to Starbucks. We’ve been coming here ever since and like their reasonable nigiri sushi prices, especially our favourites which includes salmon, sea stick, arctic surf clam and uni (when in season). Their rolls are a bit regular and not the flashy types that you find at some of the fusion restaurants in LA but sometimes, regular is ok and reasonable. We always order the Negi Toro roll because we enjoy tuna with green onions.

Maruju Sushi on Urbanspoon

Their hot dishes are generally good. I’ve had their BBQ Pork Ramen and the broth is really nice. This is the first ramen I’ve had with Chinese BBQ Pork but it’s a nice dish overall. I’ve had their curry dishes and they are good, but I wish they had more meat and potatoes in it. They have about five specials on their lunch menu, ranging from sushi to a lunch box. Look for the menu on a rolodex instead of on their menu.

The salmon pieces in the nigiri sushi are long and slender. It makes it hard to eat with the rice but I’m sure you can get creative eating it. I tend to eat the salmon by itself then chase it down with the rice.

There are a limited number of booths which are always occupied when we arrive. Make reservations if you want the privacy and experience inside the booth. I think there’s only three of them. There’s room at the sushi bar but their display of drinks take up all the counter space. Prices are reasonable making this place a favourable stop after work.

AllShots Driving Range

AllShots Driving Range

AllShots Driving Range

Someone had the right idea when they bought land west of the city and put a driving range on it. In the summer, the family runs the business at AllShots Driving Range, offering PGA lessons and selling buckets of balls for practice and in the winter, they fly south to Arizona for some R&R.

Take the Old Banff Coach Road west, past all the housing communities, When you reach 101 Street, take a left and the range will be on your left. It’s surrounded by a chain link fence and if they’re open, drive in and get a parking spot.

Grab your golf bag and follow the path to the back of the house. Most people go through the back door to purchase tokens. There you will find covered stalls as well as open stalls. The covered stalls are best for windy or rainy conditions. On the southern side of the range, you will find some sand bunkers for practice. Also there is a putting green but they don’t like people chipping on it. The putting green is artificial and doesn’t give you an accurate roll. AllShots is really just a driving range. The mats are average and they don’t offer grass tees. A medium bucket has about 50 balls and sells for $10. There is no night lights for evening practice so when the sun sets, that’s it for the range.

Weekends are the most busy. Weekdays have light traffic so if you’re bored at work, come out here and hit some balls.

Bargain Hunting

Liquidation World

Liquidation World

I’m a bargain hunter and I love to find deals. One of my favourite places to visit is Liquidation World. Unfortunately with the amount of money this city brings, a lot of these liquidation stores have been liquidated. When the oil boom was not quite booming, there were a few of these stores to visit. For instance, there was one near the Sheraton on 32nd Avenue, one on 17th Avenue, near Westbrook Mall and one near Chinook Centre. The only one remaining is the one near Chinook Centre.

It’s always interesting to see which company bellied up. As you go through the liquidated merchandise, you can sometimes catch the name of the store on the labels affixed to the boxes. Nowadays, the merchandise selling are marked with ‘Big Lots’. If you’re unfamiliar with this name, ‘Big Lots’ is a company in the US that has stores in all the major centres such as Los Angeles.

On the east side of the store, there are grocery items such as cookies, mustard, ketchup, water, juices and kitchen supplies. On the north side, there are gardening supplies and garden decorations. On the west side, there are some clothing, housewares and toys. There are kitchen appliances too which includes mixers, blenders, expresso machines, popcorn makers, etc. Downstairs, you will find furniture such as sofas, bedding, tables and chairs, etc.

Today, I found a Hamilton Beach popsicle maker for $22. This device works well, making popsicles as fast as 10 minutes. You simply put the unit into the freezer overnight then take it out when you’re ready to make popsicles. You pour in about half a cup of juice and let it freeze on the tabletop. After 5 minutes, you pour in the other half and wait 5 minutes again. When 10 minutes is up, you remove the popsicles and enjoy. The unit is 50% off the store price at $43 so it’s a bargain.