Sunday, September 30, 2012

Green Onion Cake at P&L Chinese Restaurant

Green Onion Cake by raise my voice
Green Onion Cake, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

My appetizer actually came after my main course at P&L (9441 Jasper Avenue) yesterday. The onion cake in and of itself was not remarkable, except for the sauce. It was a sesame oil and soy delight. Very unique, and I kept dipping my chopsticks in it just to get more of its flavour.

Homemade Tofu at P&L Chinese Restaurant

Homemade Tofu by raise my voice
Homemade Tofu, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I attended a special event at P&L (9441 Jasper Avenue) yesterday, which was the first time I had ever been there. A Chinese friend of mine absolutely raves about the food, which I tend to take as a good sign.

I have lately been in a vegetarian state of mind and so decided to go with a green onion cake and the home made tofu. The tofu was simple but one of the best I have ever had: chunks of deep-fried tofu with a dry rub of bell peppers, salt, and spicy pepper. It was flavourful but not overbearing.

Lemongrass Tofu on Vermicelli

On Thursday, after a long day of distributing newspapers, a meal of Chinese food was requested of me. As we had business to attend to in the west end, we went to Pho Rice Pot (18485 Stony Plain Road).

Pho Rice Pot offers Vietnamese as well as Chinese cuisine, so I went for a vermicelli rice noodle bowl. The lemongrass tofu was spicy and refreshing at the same time, with lots of bold flavour.

Steak Sandwich at Next Act

Steak Sandwich by raise my voice
Steak Sandwich, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

This was my last beefy adventure until I decided to go off beef during the current e coli debacle. The steak sandwich at Next Act is lean and tender. Being a skirt steak, it is very heavily marinated to make it so tender. I love the huge amount of sauteed onions and mushrooms, and the fries are crispy and seasoned well.

Frozen Yogurt at Tutti Frutti

Frozen Yogurt by raise my voice
Frozen Yogurt, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I can't get enough of Tutti Frutti, and the fact the chain opened another Edmonton franchise this weekend in West Edmonton Mall means I may actually have to spend more time in that bastion of consumerism.

However, this tasty treat was purchased yet again at the original Whyte Avenue location. I decided to ass some fresh fruit to the original tart and blueberry flavoured yogurt - double blueberry intensity! I also added my usual round of cereal, plus some almonds, just to be different.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Soup and Panini at Three Bananas

Soup and Panini by raise my voice
Soup and Panini, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I needed a quick, light lunch before heading to a rally on Sunday afternoon. Three Bananas is located conveniently on Churchill Square and a favourite place of mine to go downtown for coffee.

I had a bowl of one of the Soups of the Day, which was chicken noodle. It was good enough - hot, good chicken flavour, a little light on the meat, and the noodles had a texture of being made from scratch. I thought the portion was a little light for $5 though.

My grilled panini sandwich was the disappointment of the meal though. It was the smoked turkey featured sandwich, and had maybe one or two slices of processed turkey throughout, topped with sliced tomatoes. The dijon mustard, while delicious, dominated the flavour. The multigrain bread was very good, but basically all I could taste was bread and mustard. And why was the bread upside-down, other than to give the nice grill marks? With sandwiches in the $10 range, if this is any indication they are overpriced.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Balkan Burger at Kafana

Balkan Burger by raise my voice
Balkan Burger, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

Kafana (10803 95 Street), since its transformation to Balkan eatery from dodgy sports bar, still seems to make its living primarily from the bar section in the front - which still attracts an "interesting" clientele.

The dining section in the back has a better vibe, but fewer patrons. Although the menu only has four main items (besides a few appetizers, salads, and soups), what Kafana does, it does very well.

I had the Balkan Burger, which was, as promised HUGE. I could have had it either on a bun with roasted vegetables on top and no side, or as a dinner on top of rice with the veggies to the side. Being a lover of Salisbury steak, I had the knife and fork variety.

I almost could not finish the grilled, seasoned, thick hunk of ground beef. It was delicious, although could have been a bit more well-done in the centre. The rice pilaf is great, as are the vegetables, and I still had some grilled bread on the side (which tasted perfectly charred - like the burger).

Although I wish I did not have to, the meal was worth walking through the alcohol-soaked front area.

Bento Box - Chicken, Beef, Tempura

Bento boxes are perfect for someone like me, who likes to eat a lot of different things at the same meal.

I had a different lunch bento at Ichiban (87 Avenue and 149 Street) than I usually have. Instead of the vegetarian one I had one with crispy teriyaki chicken, moise ginger beef, and crunchy tempura (I asked for only vegetables).

The result was quite satisfying.

Sushi - Avocado and Smoked Salmon

I love sushi of the non-raw fish variety, and when I have a craving it is usually to Ichiban (87 Avenue and 149 Street) where I head.

Avocado is my favourite, and I decided to expand my horizons with a couple of pieces of smoked salmon as well.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bountiful Bulgogi at Won Jung Gak

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

While we were carefully avoiding recreating the spaghetti scene from the animated film Lady and the Tramp with our noodles at Won Jung Gak, our bulgogi was brought to our table. Such bulgogi I have never seen before - and I know my bulgogi. Please don't judge me for how weird that sounds. The pieces of beef were huge, thick, soft, cooked thoroughly, and absolutely delicious. It was accompanied with more white rice. The chow mein was great, but the bulgogi stole the show. And, it was a lot easier to share!

Chow Mein with Beef and Vegetables

Our meal at Won Jung Gak continued with our first shared main: the show mein with beef and vegetables.

The noodles were piled high with beef and veggies - and very long noodles at that! Dividing the dish between us proved to be a bit awkward and a bonding experience in an awkward way. We thought that perhaps a knife would make getting the noodles from the main plate to our mini-plates easier, until our server informed us that there were no knives for the tables. Instead, she brought us scissors. Yes, scissors. She explained that in Korean dining, food is cut with scissors instead of knives. I had a hard time picturing scissors going through the dishwasher, but was thankful for the assistance nonetheless.

Korean Appetizers at Won Jung Gak

Korean Appetizers by raise my voice
Korean Appetizers, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I lament the closure of Basil Leaf, a really great Vietnamese restaurant. Today, I visited the restaurant that has taken its place, the second location of Korean eatery Won Jung Gak (10023 107 Avenue).

Our meal began with a surprise. A short while after we placed our order, our server brought numerous small dishes to our table filled with a number of small appetizers: pickled daikon (like a yellow radish) with soy dipping sauce; a potato salad with peas and carrots; marinated broccoli; some kind of sauteed seaweed; kimchi (a Korean spicy delight of picked vegetables); a mixed green salad with a thick dressing that tasted like strawberry yoghurt; and plain, white rice. The potato salad was quite unique with a sweet taste to it. I loved the dressing on the salad a lot and was thankful my dining partner is not big on greens so I could enjoy it alone. The kimchi was not too spicy and went well with the rice. We were both amazed the the variety of food brought to us, and even though there were only a few bites' worth of each, it was fun trying all of the different flavours.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ice Cream Float at Wild Earth

Ice Cream Float by raise my voice
Ice Cream Float, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

After a day of riding my bike around town, I was thirsty but also craving ice cream. How fortunate that one of my favourite neighbourhood coffee spots also sells ice cream floats.

The floats at Wild Earth Cafe (142 Street and 85 Avenue) are quite sophisticated. First, you pick which flavour of Italian soda you want. I opted for vanilla. Then, you pick your ice cream from the four flavours available. I chose chocolate.

The results were sweet and very refreshing. The chocolate ice cream blended perfectly with the vanilla syrup. The key here are quality ingredients, and making the right choice for flavour combination. My barrista said that sometimes kids come in and pick mango syrup with coffee ice cream - well, maybe that would work for some people, but sticking with basics like vanilla and chocolate tends to work best for me.

Lentil Curry Soup at Two Rooms

Lentil Curry Soup by raise my voice
Lentil Curry Soup, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

A warm Saturday afternoon in Edmonton is the perfect time to sit on a cafe patio with beer and people watch.

I met a friend for a late lunch and that is exactly what we did at Two Rooms Cafe (10324 Whyte Avenue). In addition to our beers - of which Two Rooms has quite a selection - we each had a bowl of lentil curry soup.

The portion was quite generous, and as a light lunch, it fit the bill. It was absolutely packed with lentils. I just wish I could have tasted more of the curry. While there was some heat, the flavour was not that distinctive.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup - Almost a Meal

Chicken Noodle Soup by raise my voice
Chicken Noodle Soup, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I often have meetings at Spinelli's Bar Italia at the north side location of the Italian Centre on 95 Street and 109 Avenue. Now that Spinelli's also serves food in addition to great coffee and treats, I try to get there early to have lunch.

I had a piece of tomato and olive focaccia as I often do, but cycling had made me even more hungry so I ordered a bowl of soup as well. The soups change daily, and today one of my favourites was available.

I love chicken noodle soup, even the generic stuff out of the can. Spinelli's took it to another level. The soup was so thick with pasta and chicken, it was almost a stew. The portion was also quite generous for $5. If the other soups here are similarly delicious, I think I may have to start trying them.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Pho Files: Brisket and Steak at Pho Huong

Brisket and Steak Pho by raise my voice
Brisket and Steak Pho, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

Pho Huong (10531 107 Avenue) is one of my favourite pho restaurants, even though it is slightly out of my way. Yesterday, I made the effort to go here for lunch and had a large steak and brisket pho.

I was not disappointed. While "large" typically just means more brother, here it was the full deal of extra meat and noodles too. The steak was soft and rare, while the brisket was well-done. Brisket in pho can be very fatty and full if gristle, but here it simply melted in my mouth.

As usual, the broth was perfectly seasoned. And the service is great!

Brisket Sandwich at Montana's

Brisket Sandwich by raise my voice
Brisket Sandwich, a photo by raise my voice on Flickr.

I owed someone a volunteer appreciation meal, and we headed to the Calgary Trail location of Montana's.

I had a brisket sandwich, which featured either a half or full pound of thinly sliced meat in barbecue sauce, between a light and fluffy bun. I was quite hungry, and my companion wanted to have some also, so I went for the full pound. Wow. It reminded me of some of those sandwiches the hosts dig their faces into on the Food TV Network. The meat was lean and soft, the barbecue sauce was tangy and had a slight kick to it, and if I was not sharing I would never have been able to finish. This is a sandwich for when someone wants some serious meat.