Sunday, November 28, 2010

Heartwarming dim sum, anyone?

In the Howard Johnson hotel on Stony Plain Road.
 It's been a while since I last went to dim sum. My parents usually go more often than me and they usually bring me leftovers. It's always so good! I happened to have Saturday off from my weekend job (yes, I'm a workoholic and I admit it too) so my parents and I decided to go for some good ol' hearthwarming dimmie.

A new place had just opened, perhaps just shy of 6 months, on 15540 Stony Plain Road. It's currently the Howard Johnson hotel chain (previously the Saxony Hotel). There's an Albert's Family Restaurant in the hotel and this is also the site of the new Chinese restaurant restaurant offering dim sum all day, appropriately called Delicious Delicious. Based on what my mom told me, the owner of the hotel also runs the restaurant. The owner's wife also used to work in the same building as my mine, so they know eachother.

The interior of the restaurant is nothing spectacular; to say the least, it's what one would expect from a Chinese restaurant.  Not a whole lot of fancy decorations, perhaps a little run down with dim lighting. But that doesn't (or shouldn't)  interfere with the quality of food-it's usually very tasty. That being said,  I can agree with the latter statement. Even though it's an odd concept to mingle Albert's family restaurant customers with Delicious Delicious restaurant customers, the dim sum here is awesome. My mom has a tendency to order too much food, but that's usually never a problem because it eventually gets eaten, and not always by me (wink, wink).

  To order dim sum here is different than most of the other dim sum restaurants in town. The most common way to order dim sum (for those of you who aren't familiar with it) is through carts. Waitresses push around carts, steaming hot with yummy dim sum items such as sui mai (minced pork and shrimp wrapped in a wonton wrapper)
or cha sui bao (BBQ pork buns).  At this restaurant, you preorder your items. I wasn't able to see the menu because I arrived later than my parents (I was backed up in traffic because of the Grey Cup parade, should you need to know). But after you hand in your order, they give you a print out of what you ordered, along with the quantity and price. Once your order has arrived at your table, the waiter/waitress checks off the item. Very efficient, I think.

Even though the layout of the restaurant is a bit peculiar as it is shared with another restaurant, this actually might be a clever idea so you can offer customers a wider variety of foods. For example, the table in front of us ordered Western breakfasts offered on the Albert's menu, then ordered steamed rice rolls and cha sui bao. What an interesting combination! For all you loyal dimmies out there, you got to give this place a try-their sui mei's are scrumptious!

Verdict: scrumptious

Directions: Delicious Delicious is located directly in the Howard Johnson hotel on 155 street & Stony Plain Road.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sanpachi, a new Japanese/ramen noodle restaurant coming to town

I hope they'll open soon!
The area of South Park on 38 avenue and Calgary Trail seems to be popping up with cute, new restaurants. With IHOP opening soon, I also noticed while I was at Twisted Yogurt, a new joint set to open soon. Sanpachi, which I believe has a location in Vancouver (I searched on the internet and that's all I could find and they don't have a website yet) is "opening soon" according to the signs posted. It's located next door to Twisted Yogurt. I am looking forward to trying this place. I love ramen noodles and Japanese food. I could probably eat it everyday.

Also, on the other side of Sanpachi is a new joint called Wingman. I checked out their menu posted on their window and it looks like they are serving the regular wings, hamburger and fries joint. I'll have to try it here someday as well.

Twisted yogurt: an interesting experience

I am an avid SONiC Glee Club Member- I've accumulated enough points over time to purchase a Twisted Yogurt gift certificate. It's been pretty darn cold here the past little while so I wasn't really in the mood for something cold. Given that today was much warmer than the -25 we were experiencing, I decided I was in the mood for frozen yogurt (with my boyfriend in tow).

Twisted Yogurt has several new locations with new ones popping up soon. I went to the South Park location, on #650-3803 Calgary Trail (where the old Danier factory outlet used to be). Bright green, orange, and yellow walls make this place very vibrant. With silver wired balls as their light fixtures, multi-coloured tiles as one of their backsplashes, you already feel happy to be here. Not to mention the wide varieties of frozen yogurt flavours and numerous toppings. 

So, this is how it works: you go to the back area and you choose what size you want, 12oz or 16 oz paper cups. You then proceed to the self-serve frozen yogurt area. There are 8 different flavours; one lever for each flavour, or the middle lever is the mixed flavour of the two. Their current flavours are listed on the website. When I went, they had chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, green tea, apricot mango, raspberry pomegranate, cola and blue cotton candy. Being the random, sporadic person that I am... I mixed all the flavours except the first two (next time I'll focus on one flavour). You then proceed to your toppings. They've got candies, gummies and crushed chocolate bars, nuts, and even fresh fruit!What a great little place.

Verdict: scrumptious

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Duchess Bake Shop reigns supreme, yet again.

The Duchess before it was eaten...

Duchess Bake Shop. I can't say how much I love it enough. Every time I bring up the name, even my boyfriend knows that I'm in love with it. The other day, I had an appointment nearby on 124st and decided to stop at Duchess for a quick snack. Looking at the showcase like a kid in a candy store, I finally settled on the new macaron flavour, olive oil and vanilla. Very good as usual, but the olive oil flavour wasn't as pungent as I thought it would be. I got one coconut and almond meringue, along with two macarons to go for my co-worker to try. I also decided to get their namesake cake, The Duchess. I've seen it in the showcase several times, but never bothered to try it...until that day. I took it home and shared it with my parents. (My boyfriend got the meringues ;-). They loved it! It wasn't too sweet. Inside was a chiffon cake with a hint of lemon, layered with vanilla bean cream and raspberry, cased in a light green marzipan shell. The flavours went very well together and none of them were too overpowering.
...and after it was eaten. Note the layers. So much effort in this little dessert.
Verdict: sooooooo scrumptious!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Secret Weekend Getaway...

Banff, Alberta

My boyfriend and his roommate made "secret plans"this past weekend for me and his wife. We weren't exactly sure where we were going, but was asked to pack up a swim suit and a dress (hint, hint).

We arrived at our destination about 4.5 hours later, to find out we were staying at the gorgeous Rimrock Hotel and Resort.

Banff is a very popular weekend getaway for Calgarians. It's a close drive and it's nice to escape. This weekend was particularly busy, probably because of the mid-week vacation day for Remembrance Day and many people took off the Friday to make it an extra long weekend.  With no kitchenette in the hotel, one is always stuck with the idea of "where should we eat?" I had thought the guesswork would of been taken out for where we would be eating for dinner that night, but I found out that no one had made plans (or reservations) for that night. This shouldn't be a problem in Banff because it's commercialized enough that we have alot of choices for dinner. There was the option of eating at the two restaurants in the hotel, but one restaurant's entrees were between $100-$300 and the other restaurant was full. Saltlik, a popular steakhouse in Banff, didn't have openings until 8:30pm, as well as another popular joint, The Bison. Rather than calling up the restaurants, we all thought it would just be a clever idea to hit town and just wing it. So we did!

Walking up and down the streets in Banff on a chilly November day, I must say has a nice wintery feel. It's been a while since I have done this...(ok, I'll stop reminiscing). We walked down Caribou Street in Banff and I glanced to my left. I see a dark building with a wooden exterior with little lighting. The Magpie and Stump was apparently where my boyfriend's roommate's wife and aunt dined years ago.

What an interesting little restaurant-wood interior and exterior. Very dim lights inside with interesting souvenirs hanging off the wall. This place is squishy inside, with people backing up right into your chair. I wasn't quite sure what kind of food they served here with a name like that. Sure enough, it was authentic Tex-Mex fare.

I ordered the special that night: tostadas with chili meat, beans, sour cream and guacamole on the side. My boyfriend ordered the enchiladas. For starters, my boyfriend and I both opted for the mushroom and onion soup, which was delicious. 
The yummy soup.

It had a little bit of a kick to it. It was topped with crispy fried strips of tortilla with two white flour tortillas on the side. All of our orders came rather quickly. We only waited about ten minutes, which was great because I was hungry!

My meal was very filling; the tostadas consisted of a lightly-fried tortilla on the bottom, topped with chilli meat, shredded lettuce, and topped with salsa. On the side was guacamole, sour cream and of course, refried beans. My boyfriend's meal looked yummy as well. The enchiladas were filled with beef, rolled in tortillas and drenched in salsa and baked in the oven with cheese on top. My boyfriend's roommate also ordered the same special as me. His wife ordered the chimichangas, which is a lightly fried burrito. That looked good as well.

This place was good. It wasn't spectacular or anything. The food was good and is probably what one would expect at a Tex-Mex restaurant. I think the atmosphere contributed to the whole experience of eating here, to almost feel like you are eating in a small, run-down wooden barn.

Verdict: scrumptious

Lunch break at mrkt

My co-worker and I went out for lunch today and I recommended a place nearby on 105th Street and Jasper. We wanted a simple lunch like a soup and sandwich kind of deal so I suggested going to mrkt, which opened just a few months ago.

It's located right across from the Attia-Reeves building on 105th Street and Jasper. Didn't catch the name of the building but the restaurant is located at the top of a staircase. Below is the night club, Red Star (the owner of Red Star is co-owner of mrkt, along with Soul Soup's Carla Alexander).

The interior of mrkt is unique. With wood as their main decal, the restaurant is shaped like a long, narrow log. The interior is pegged with small, interlocking pieces of dark wood. One of their light fixtures also mimics the interlocking pieces of dark wood on their walls. Their service counter even looks like a big cutting board with different coloured woods interlocked. Their menu is displayed on one side of the wall. When you first walk in, that is the first thing you see from afar (aside from the cool walls).

My soup and my co-worker's sandwich in the foreground.

Now, to the food-the most important part! To be honest, I was sort of disappointed with the food quantity. The quality of the food was there, for sure. My friend and I both shared a meal because I only wanted the soup and she just wanted the sandwich (soup and sandwich is $13; a sandwich on it's own is $9; and soup on it's own, depending on the size, was $4.74 for a small). We ordered the Alberta braised beef with caramelized onion and goat cheese on ciabatta bread, while I opted for the South Indian Rasam soup with salmon. The soup came with a whole wheat bun and the sandwich same with either chips or salad. The actual soup didn't really impress me at all. Although with lots of lentils , beans and other vegetables, I found only one small chunk of salmon in my soup. $4.75 for a small soup and only one chunk of salmon? What happened to quantity control for the price you pay? The sandwich, on the other hand was delicious. My co-worker, who is pint-sized, couldn't finish the whole sandwich so she handed me the other half. I gladly ate it. The sandwich could of been a bit bigger for the price we payed.

All in all, this was a interesting experience. I also ran into an old family friend while I was there whom I haven't seen for a while. This place has potential, but more tweaking needs to be done- like picking up your food orders and definitely monitoring the soup quantity, especially the person who was serving it owns her own soup company.

Verdict: pretty scrumptious

Monday, November 8, 2010

KFC Double Down

The Double Down...

Guest post by: my boyfriend.

"I believe the Double Down was designed by terrorists to specifically kill North Americans through cardiac arrests. It should be called the Double Bypass Down. After the first 3 bites my roommate and I were feeling chest pains and massive internal discomfort. Normally, I enjoy meals that shorten my life span, but this was not worth it. The chicken was nothing fantastic. It was greasy, more bland than expected, and massive. After the first half of the "sandwich," eating this thing became a chore. It was also over priced. The best part of the whole meal was the apple turnovers we were given for free to make up for the fact it took 15 minutes to get our food. This was a food failure."

Consists of two original recipe fried chicken breasts sandwiched between crisp bacon, processed pepper jack cheese and KFC's special Colonel sauce.

Verdict: not so scrumptious

IHOP coming to Edmonton!

My mom and I take the usual way to work which is down the good ol' Gateway Boulevard north. I took notice of the new JYSK that had just opened this past Saturday in the South Park shopping area. Unfortunately, I was still sick in bed that morning so I couldn't take advantage of the fantastic deals. What I also noticed was an "Opening Soon..." sign that caught my eye immediately. IHOP is coming to town! Our very first one. IHOP stands for International House of Pancakes. They are from the States and offer an extensive menu of pancakes and other unique breakfast items. The first IHOP I saw was when I was in Santa Monica 3 years ago. I never tried it though, but soon, i'll (we'll) have our chance to!

Urban Diner on 109 Street (previously Fiore) now open!

My apologies for not blogging for the longest time! I have come down with another less than a month! What a strong bug out there, I tell you. 

I was driving past the old Fiore location on 109st and just off of 87 avenue and noticed that the Urban Diner there is now open! My boyfriend lives a hop, skip, and a jump away from this so I just happened to drive by here. We will have to try it someday.