Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Pho Files: Chicken Pho at Phobulous

Veggie Spring Rolls

I had lunch at Phobulous this week before Passover began, and just as I was coming down with a cold that required some hot soup. But first, I had a craving for some vegetarian spring rolls. Phobulous has a flavourful take on them, with cellophane noodles and taro adding layers of texture.

Onion Cake

What is a meal at a Vietnamese restaurant without green onion cakes? This was the veggie version (as opposed to the one with minced chicken in it). Crispy and chewy, it satisfied.

Chicken Pho

Pho ga (chicken pho) was my soup of choice because of the link between chicken soup and being sick. Tender, fresh pieces of chicken were plentiful in the broth - which was beef based. However, the flavours were complementary. It was hot and delicious, and had lots of noodles. I was very happy after, although still sick.

Breakfast for Lunch: Smoked Salmon Benny at Blue Chair Cafe

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Around three years have passed since last I had brunch at Blue Chair Cafe. I had the opportunity to return this past weekend and enjoyed a smoked salmon eggs benedict. The eggs were like heaven: perfectly poached like two small clouds on the plate. The amount of smoked salmon was reasonble and of good quality. I found the Russian rye bread a little strong. The fruit was fresh, and added colour to the plate. I loved the hash browns and wish there were more of them. I counted maybe eight little cubes. At a price of close to $15, and with potatoes being so inexpensive, I thought this was way too small of a serving. That being said, I love the atmosphere of the place and hope to return soon.

Fiesta Chicken Soup at Zocalo

Fiesta Chicken Soup

I tried one of the homemade soups offered at Zocalo last week. It was chicken fiesta, which consisted of a thick tomato sauce, corn, and shredded chicken. There was a spicy kick, it was piping hot, and the portion was deceptively filling. I missed having some crackers or a piece of bread, but otherwise this was a perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nachos at Naanolicious

NaanOlicious Nacho

I was in the mood for a light, crunchy snack while at Naanolicious last week, and tried the NaanOlicious Nachos. Multi-coloured tortilla chips were warmed and tossed with onions, cilantro, and a host of seasonings, then served with salsa and sour cream. The dish was colourful and fun, although many of the chips were broken into very little pieces, making getting everything up off of the plate a bit awkward. Also, at a price point of $8 (cheese and/or meat could be added for an extra couple of bucks), for an extra $2 I think I would rather go for the Craisin Paapri for a light, crunchy, flavourful snack that is a bit more original.

Samosas at Spice Grill


Spice Grill (8205 108 Street) is a small restaurant on Whyte Avenue serving food with big flavour. I stopped in here this afternoon just for a chai tea and samosas, which were on special: $1.49 for one, or $3.99 for three. My summary? They. Were. Huge. And crispy. And filled with lots of potato, peas, and spices. I could see the red chili flakes. They were accompanied by two chutneys. I could not finish the last samosa. Did I mention that they were huge? If I stop in here again for a snack, one is definitely enough.

Vegging Out: Lentil Nut Loaf at Blue Plate Diner

Lentil Loaf

I don't think I have ever had supper at Blue Plate Diner - just brunch and lunch. So, I was glad to finally get the opportunity over the weekend prior to a function. I decided upon the vegan lentil nut loaf. I was surprised by how dense the loaf was. It almost had the consistency of a good meatloaf (something also on the dinner menu), with a thick wine and miso gravy to keep it moist. Besides the exture, I loved the taste: not too nutty, with accents of flax. Combined with roasted vegetables and potatoes, and I had a very full meal. I would recommend this dish to vegans of Edmonton, or anyone who would like to try a vegan dish that will leave you as satisfied as meat.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pot Roast at IHOP

French Onion Pot Roast

When at IHOP (3921 Calgary Trail), I usually order a breakfast dish. Not this past weekend, when I had supper there one evening. I opted for the French onion pot roast, which came with buttered corn and mashed potatoes. I liked the corn and potatoes (although I honestly could not tell if they came from a mix or were fresh), but the meat was disappointing. The amount of gelatinous gravy and pieces of onion outdid the amount of actual meat. This was a clear case of the photo on the menu looking better than the actual serving. I would definitely not order it again.

Riverside Bistro

Garlic Bread

I spent most of the weekend at a conference at the Shaw Conference Centre, and needed a break. So, I headed next door to the Courtyard at Marriott for an early even snack in the Riverside Bistro. I ordered a Thai chicken flatbread, which took a while to arrive. My extremely friendly and attentive server (I would go back again just on service alone) brought me a garlic bread stick to help me pass the time. It was tasty, but would have been better warm.

Thai Chicken Flat Bread

Finally, the main attractive arrived, and it was good. Lots of chicken, creamy bocconcini cheese, red Thai sauce, and red peppers. The bread was also much more flavourful than typical flatbread, which tends to be bland. It cost around $14 which is on the higher end, but not unreasonable, for a gourmet, personal-sized pizza.

Death by Chocolate Cake

I decided to have dessert, and had a piece of Death by Chocolate cake. Despite the beautiful presentation, it did not live up to its name. It was rather dry, did not strike me as being overly fresh, and overall did not justify the $8 price tag.

The Pho Files - Vegan Pho at Cafe Mosaics

Vegan Pho

I don't get to Cafe Mosaics as often as I would like, so when I treated a friend to a belated birthday lunch there a couple of weeks ago, I grabbed the opportunity to try the vegan pho. The pho is only available from October until March, and my server even jokingly tried to dissuade me from ordering it, fearing I would become addicted only to have to wait until the fall to have more. She was right. This was the only vegetarian pho I have ever had where the broth was almost as deep and rich as the beef-based version. The aromatic seasoning was there, as were lots of noodles and tofu and fungus meat replacements that almost replicated the textures of the kinds of cuts of meat found in pho.

Green Onion Cake

To enhance the experience, I tried for the first time the green onion cakes. At $10, they cost much more than in Chinatown (and the pho itself was $14). Cut into perfect triangular wedges, the pieces were crispy but did not taste any more outstanding than their cheaper counterparts. The star of the plate was the sauces: a smoky hot sauce and a chipotle.


Also seasonal is the chai latte, so thick and spicy that it is in a class of its own.

Lemongrass Tofu Vermicelli at Doan's

Lemongrass Tofu Vermicelli

I have eaten at Doan's before, but never the south side location (7909 104 Street) - until last week for a business lunch. I had a lemongrass tofu vermicelli bowl, and found the spice to be just right, the amount of tofu excellent, and the overall experience affordable and plentiful.

Breakfast for Lunch: Brioche French Toast at IHOP

Peaches and Cream Brioche French Toast

I stopped by IHOP (3921 Calgary Trail) for supper a couple of weeks ago. Since I was not very hungry, I opted for some French toast. My eye caught the brioche French toast selections, and settled upon the peaches and cream. The French toast was very rich and definitely a different texture than regular French toast. The whipped cream rapidly deteriorated and the peaches were canned - I would have preferred the brioche French toast plain, with butter and syrup.

Ginger Chicken at New Tan Tan

I took a lunch break in between a conference I was attending and a rally this past weekend, and headed to New Tan Tan for some Chinese food (10133 97 Street). I ordered a ginger chicken lunch combo, with chicken fried rice and chicken with vegetables. The ginger chicken was quite good - I knew I was eating chicken and not beef - while the portion of rice and vegetables was enough to keep me going for the rest of the afternoon.

Chicken with Onion at Mamenche's

Chicken with Onion

I ordered one of the chicken dishes yesterday during at business lunch at Mamenche's (10831 101 Street). Three pieces of chicken were marinated with onions until the meat was sot ender, it was falling off the bone. It was served with seasoned rice and a salad of greens and avocado. Filling and flavourful - and at only ten dollars, affordable!