A little Cajun in Elbow Valley

Cajun Burger

Cajun Burger

If you want to burn your mouth off then you have to try the new Cajun burger at the Elbow Springs Golf Clubhouse. Actually, it wasn’t that hot but I have to admit, it was scary when they served it to me. The first thing to see is all the jalapeno pepper slices on top and very little of anything else.

The menu at the clubhouse has changed for the better. There are more items on the menu and there is a clear distinction between lunch items and dinner items. Gone is the steak sandwich served over garlic bread and replaced with 3 new steak dinners in the $25 to $30 range.

From the new menu, the Cajun burger is worth trying. It is 100% Alberta beef and is served with a good dose of homemade chili and topped with fresh jalapeno peppers (as pictured). Instead of the usual relish, they use guacamole on the bottom side of the bun. This makes it really messy to eat but then, that’s what you expect from a burger of this size.

With the burger, you get a choice of sides that range from soup of the day to yam fries. I recommend the soup, salad or regular fries but for the yam fries, I think they slice it too thin. I felt like chewing into cardboard for some reason.

I hope you get a chance to play here and try out the new menu. Even if you don’t play golf, come out and try this burger. If you like spicy then it is worth the drive here.

 

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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

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.

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

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.

Mt Snow

Mountain of Snow

Mountain of Snow

It was the perfect setting for a Himalayan restaurant, a mountain of snow, the size of Mt. Everest. Lucky for the sign, we would have easily drove past it.

Don’t be like us and arrive without reservations. We were lucky to beat the rush and was seated next to tables and tables with ‘Reserve’ signs on them. Ok, it’s a popular place on Friday nights and everyone who eats here is a regular.

We started off with the traditional appetizer, the Vegetarian Momo.

Vegetarian Momo

Vegetarian Momo

They came shaped as leaves with a curry-like dipping sauce. The contents reminded my wife,  of Taiwanese buns with strands of vermicelli and slices of vegetables. The mozarella cheese also made the momo’s less doughy.

Next came the house special, pappadums served with a yogurt mixture with mint and a sweet chutney.

We decided to order two dishes and share them among us. My wife wanted to try the lamb but was worried that it would be too gamey. The waiter assured us that they grill the lamb first before cooking it in the tomato based sauce. I wanted something to ward off vampires so I ordered the Himalayan Garlic dish with chicken.

Lamb on the Left,Chicken on the Right

Lamb on the Left,Chicken on the Right

When the entrees were served, they came on individual serving dishes with a scoop of saffron rice and a small salad. The saffron rice was slightly yellow and the salad was tossed with a light yogurt dressing. Both entrees came with a thick sauce with a few chunks of meat in them. Imo, the entrees were too small to be shared. With 5-6 pieces of lamb and the same for the chicken, it was barely enough for one.

Because we shared the dishes, we were tempted to order another entree but decided against it. Somehow after eating the rice and flatbread that is served with the entrees, the food started expanding in our stomachs and we found ourselves quite full.

The Himalayan on Urbanspoon

To top off the night, we ordered the Himalayan Cake which topped off a great evening. It was made with cassava root and coconut. It was served warm and was quite dense. We both enjoyed it very much along with our choice of entrees and appetizer. It’s a definite thumbs up for us.

Himalayan Cake

Himalayan Cake

Cafe Momoko

Beef Yakisoba

Beef Yakisoba

With the leaves turning yellow, you know winter is around the corner for us. On my endless quest for good food in Calgary, we decided it was time to try Cafe Momoko, a neighbourhood eatery on Weston Drive, just across the street from West Springs. Walking in, we were delighted with its decor. It is cozy and comfortable with soft plushy seats, glass tables and wrought iron furniture.

We had a craving for Japanese food but the menu also had Korean dishes too. The lunchtime menu caught our eye because of the prices but it was well into dinner so these dishes were unavailable. Shucks!

Cafe Momoko on Urbanspoon

We ordered a number of rolls and the Beef Yakisoba. We found it a tad sweet for our liking. The rolls were nicely presented and the fish seem fresh which is a mandatory for us. Sushi and sashimi needs to be fresh and not fishy in any way. We noticed something different with the rolls here. They used lettuce and a green tobiko instead of the red or orange types that we are used to seeing. The green tobiko reminded me of the fresh wasabi that were served to us at Ken of Japan in Simi Valley.

The service is awesome. The owner/ waiter/ chef is genuinely friendly and seems to want to know their customers’ response to the menu, taste and presentation. After serving us, dried peas in a package from Taiwan, he mentioned that he tried buying it in bulk but decided against serving it because he didn’t want his customers to think that he was reusing the peas. We told him the dried peas were tasty and he should continue serving them this way.

For those of you who are interested in these packaged dry peas, they are available at the Canadian Superstore in World aisle.

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

Best Wonton House

Wonton Noodle

Wonton Noodle

If there’s one thing Calgary needs more of and that is, more wonton houses in the neighbourhoods. The difference between a good wonton house from a great wonton house is the soup base. A great wonton house will serve a bowl of wonton with noodle in a nice tasting soup. It’s rich with flavour and without the use of msg.

My favourite wonton house in Vancouver used to be Hon’s Wonton House but I heard that Mr. Hon held a bad poker hand and lost his restaurant in a bet. I don’t know if that’s purely urban legend or not , so don’t quote me. I personally think he expanded too quickly. From his little restaurant on Main Street in Chinatown, he went to opening another one up the block on Keefer then one in Richmond and so on and so forth.

Kwong Chow Congee & Noodle House 廣州粥面小厨 on Urbanspoon

My loyalty then had to move up to Main Street and King Edward where Kwong Chow is located. The soup base is delicious and the wonton are huge. I do wish the Chinese would go back to making wonton with pork instead of shrimp. Now, it’s all competition and every wonton house is trying to go up on each other with the size of their wonton. At Kwong Chow, the wonton is a good golf ball size and it contains two or more shrimps.

Egg noodle usually accompanies the wonton along with a few strands of Gai Lan, a Chinese vegetable. I like having tendon with my wonton but others enjoy it with sliced fish or barbeque pork. To me, it’s the best wonton house in Vancouver.

Why Not (this) Italian Ristorante

Why Not Italian

Why Not Italian

To be perfectly honest, I have been going to Why Not Italian Ristorante in the Strathcona Square for a number of years. I’ve seen different waiters come and go, so the service is definitely sporatic at best. The pasta is delicious and the calamari is so-so. The brushetta is nice and so are the dinner rolls (if the waiter decides to give you some). They are thrifty when it comes to feeding you bread so if you’re like me, they will be annoyed with you before the night is out. The veal is good no matter which dish you choose. The salads and soups can be improved but so can the service.

The cook makes delicious pastas such as the Linguini alla Vongole (or clams), both red and white sauce,  Spaghetti Bolognese, Linguini Diavola and Linguini Pescatore as my favourites. Their veal dishes are awesome too such as Vitello alla Pizzaiola and Piccata al Limon.

I would still recommend eating here. The food is delicious, atmosphere is typical Italian and the after dinner drinks are fair. If you don’t like the service, just give a smaller tip but don’t blame the cook – she’s the best!

Why Not Italian on Urbanspoon