Saturday, April 28, 2012

Breakfast for Lunch: Little Italy at Santo's

Little Italy Breakfast by raise my voice
Little Italy Breakfast, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

One of the major changes at Santo's Resto-Lounge is the addition of a breakfast menu. Breakfast is served all day.

Today, I had the "Little Italy": two eggs any style with hash browns and toast. For only $5, this is the least expensive item on the menu, but what a portion! My two eggs cooked over easy were large, served with so many hash browns I was still eating them long after the eggs were gone.

Not pictured here are the two pieces of thick toast, as they were delayed getting to my table. I slathered them with marmalade and peanut butter.

I rounded out my meal with a latte. My entire bill came to less than $10. This is one of the least expensive breakfasts in the area and definitely a reason to visit Santo's again.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Pho Files: Pho Tai at Ho Vietnamese Noodle House

Pho Tai by raise my voice
Pho Tai, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

For the longest time, this address housed the one noodle house in Chinatown I had yet to try. The reason? The outside of the building looked so run down, that I feared what was going on in the kitchen. At the advice of my fellow pho-loving friends on Twitter, who told me the food was no better or worse than anywhere else, I decided to give it a try. However, by this time the restaurant had been sold and was closed.

Ho Vietnamese Noodle House is the new restaurant that has opened in the space at 9656 107A Avenue. The menu is quite large, and includes everything from pho soup and vermicelli noodle bowls to stir fried and sizzling dishes.

I went with a regular sized bowl of Pho Tai. For a regular bowl, it was huge, and had more noodles than average. The beef was sliced thin and was tender, although it was already cooked through when it reached the table.

And how did the soup taste? I could smell the aromatics in the broth as soon as the bowls were placed before us, which was a very good sign. Broth really makes or breaks pho. It should have several layers of flavour, without being overly salty or sweet. This broth was light coloured, not too greasy, and had a wonderful combination of seasonings. It was delicious.

Don't judge a book by its cover - or in this case, a restaurant by its former appearance. Ho Vietnamese Noodle House is poised to add more flavour to Chinatown.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Signature French Fries

French Fry Duet by raise my voice
French Fry Duet, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

Molly's Eats was one of the local food trucks feeding hungry people at the Edmonton Earth Day Festival on Sunday.

I decided to try their signature French fry duet - a large portion of both russet and sweet potatoes. The portion was great - I ended up sharing - and the sweet potatoes were perfectly sweet and not too starchy. That is one reason that, while I like sweet potatoes, I don't usually care for them in French fry form. They often don't taste much different than their non-sweet counterparts. But these were definitely distinctive.

The russets too, were tasty and the fries were all well-seasoned. I like my fries a little crispier than these, but it wasn't a huge deal. I would likely try these again at another time when there aren't dozens of people waiting for their food. I think the staff was a little overwhelmed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Pho Files: Pho Tai at Maki Maki

Maki Maki by raise my voice
Maki Maki, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I absolutely had to try the pho at Maki Maki. I was extremely curious to discover how good the pho was, at a restaurant that also serves Japanese food in addition to Vietnamese.

My pho was choice was pho tai, rare steak in beef broth. I was presented with a huge bowl filled with noodles and slices of steak, just turning brown from the heat of the broth. The meat was tender while the broth had a good depth of flavour to it - excellent seasonings.

At around $10 a bowl, the pho on Maki Maki's menu is amongst the most affordable choices there, and in line with the cost of pho elsewhere. If you are on Whyte Avenue, Maki Maki is definitely a great place to go for pho.

Avocado Roll at Maki Maki

Maki Maki by raise my voice
Maki Maki, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I went to Maki Maki for the first time today. Since the restaurant has both Japanese and Vietnamese food on the menu, I decided to start my meal with an avocado roll.

Large chunks of avocado were nested in the centre of the roll, along with crispy bits of tempura batter. It was light, yet with substance, and plenty of avocado goodness.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chicken Fingers at Santo's

Chicken Fingers by raise my voice
Chicken Fingers, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

It was a dreary, snowy, mid-April day, and I was in Little Italy on business. Not wanting to walk any further than I had to, I lunched at Santo's.

Santo's has draught beer and appetizer specials every day of the week. A small (12 ounce) glass of beer is served with one of the restaurant's appetizers, for one low price of $9.95. Today's special happened to be what I wanted to eat anyways: chicken fingers.

Chicken fingers is my favourite bar comfort food. The three fingers were thick and juicy, served with a heap of crispy fries. What really made the meal was the honey mustard sauce - it was creamy and had grains in it. I found myself dipping my fries in it and ran out before I was finished my meal (note to self: next time, ask for more). The addition of pickled hot peppers on lettuce was an interesting way to liven up the plate a little.

My small glass of Stella was refreshing, and just enough beer for me at this time of the day (yes, there are jokes that can be told here by those who know me, but we'll just ignore those for now).

A full listing of Santo's' appetizer specials are on a board inside the main lobby, and also listed on their website.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ribeye Steak Dinner at Santo's

Ribeye Steak Dinner by raise my voice
Ribeye Steak Dinner, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I stopped by the newly renovated Santo's Resto-Lounge a couple of evenings ago for supper. The new owners are working wonders with the place.

I had one of the evening's specials, which was a ribeye steak coated with sauteed mushrooms, and served with a choice of side and garlic toast. I had to hold the garlic toast (I'm bread-free this week for Passover), and I think the kitchen made up for that by piling the french fries high! And they were crispy, nicely seasoned, and delicious.

My ribeye was juicy and flavourful. I ordered it well-done, and although it was served to me more like medium-well, I still found it nicely cooked. I was quite happy that the flavour permeated throughout the juicy meat. I had a steak upon occasion in the past, and found them to be rather bland and chewy. I am glad the new owners and kitchen staff know how to cook a steak. And at only $10, this was a steak dinner that was definitely affordable.

My next adventure at Santo's will be trying the pizza. I am incredibly curious to see how it compares to the past.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Grilled Chicken Vermicelli

I have been wanting to go back to Ngu Binh (15620 95 Ave.) ever since I had an excellent bowl of pho there some weeks back.

Opting to deviate from my standard bowl of pho with medium-well beef, I had the grilled chicken vermicelli. The chicken was among the most flavourful I have had in such a dish, with undertones of lemongrass and other seasonings. The portion size was excellent as well. At $10, the price was slightly higher than a Chinatown counterpart, but not by much.