Saigon Pearl – Calgary, Alberta

April 12th, 2014

I’ve been going to the Asian supermarket near here a lot lately and this one day I wasn’t feeling the best and just wanted something light and refreshing — I wanted rice vermicelli! So, we stopped in at Saigon Pearl and we’ve been here in the past but we were glad it’s still the same people, same quality of Vietnamese food.

I ordered their Grilled beef and Spring Roll Rice Vermicelli which is something I like to order once in awhile, especially during the summer! The bowl was large, and it didn’t have too much lettuce in the bottom. The beef was delicious and of course their spring rolls were delightful!

My husband did enjoy one of his go to orders at a Vietnamese restaurant Beef Stew Noodle Soup and it was absolutely wonderful here! Tons of tender beef chunks in a delicious broth with rice noodles. It’s a great warming soup – which was the opposite of my dish!

We use to go here a lot more and I think we might be coming back more often as well! The food, service and price was decent and that’s what we love. It is a family restaurant and a place that seems to have tons of kids here. So, it’s not a quiet restaurant – and that makes sense!

Saigon Pearl on Urbanspoon

Saigon Pearl

9650 Harvest Hills Blvd N
Calgary, AB
(403) 532-3999

White Elephant Thai Cuisine – Calgary, Alberta

April 12th, 2014

I’ve been going through some personal things and it’s been making me kind of depressed lately. The few cravings I’ve been wanting lately have been complete fails and so when I had a craving for Thai Chicken Pineapple Fried Rice, I looked for a place with the best reviews and found White Elephant Thai Cuisine inside the hotel. I was kind of low on patience when I got there and they said to me it was cash only and a wait. Good thing my husband decided to do the wait as I was happy with the food! We started our meal with their Hot and Sour Soup with Chicken or what they call Tom Yum Gai which is one of my favourite Thai soups. It’s fragrant and spicy, well balanced.

Of course, with my craving, I ordered their Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken and it was exceptional. It was spicier than expected but nothing I can’t handle, especially after the tom yum soup. The portion size was large, tons of chicken and pineapples and I was really quite satisfied with this fried rice.

Then, we ordered some Red Curry with Beef and Pineapples as my husband knows I love pineapples. We had an order of coconut rice with it, and I was expecting us to bring some curry home… but we actually ate the entire thing. The beef was tender, tons of slices of beef as well. Again, tons of pineapple and the curry was smooth and delicious. The coconut rice was a great with this dish!

After my visit here, I have no problem returning here for any Thai craving that I may want. It’s not cheap here, but the portions are quite large. It’s great for sharing! The location is a little intersting as it’s located inside a hotel and there’s not much signage to the location, but follow your nose! I really enjoyed my evening here. It is smoky as the ventilation isn’t great, and the service is kind of slow… so, don’t come when you’re on a tight schedule and you’ll enjoy it!

White Elephant Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

White Elephant Thai Cuisine

1808 19 Street N.E
Calgary, AB
(403) 464-8558

Schanks Sports Grill – Calgary, Alberta

April 12th, 2014

I’ve been looking for a good dry rib lately and when we came to Schanks Sports Grill I realized they had really good food! We stopped in on a Friday night and it was relatively quiet, but still had other people. The atmosphere was busy and spacious! Once we sat down, I ordered myself a Shirley Temple as it was fruity and something I wanted!

We tried their Garlic Soya Ribs for my rib mission. The waitress did advise us that they are salty, and they really were! The meat was tender and juicy but there was an overwhelming amount of saltiness to them. It’s not bad and it does go with beer… but it wasn’t what I was looking for.

We did order some wings and we got to try their Lemon Pepper Wings and this we really enjoyed. The seasoning was really great and the skin was crispy, with a tender and juicy.

Overall, it’s a decent place to go, but there are tons of other places along Macleod Trail that I’d like to try first before returning. It’s not up my alley as I’m not into sports – but I can see the place being packed on important game nights!

Schanks Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

Schanks Sports Grill

9627 Macleod Trl S
Calgary, AB
(403) 253-7300

Soluxe Restaurant 陽光飯店 – Calgary, AB

March 25th, 2014

Chinatown in Calgary has changed a bit, and Soluxe Restaurant is a new change from Harbour City at the corner of Centre Street and 3rd Ave.

We started with some dumplings – at this time when we visited Soluxe, it was right after we got home from China and we just wanted some good dumplings in Calgary, so we gave it a shot and ordered an order of Seafood Meat Dumplings which wasn’t bad. They cooked it in boiling water and had some red vinegar on the side. I think they could have elevated it by pan frying it a little, but that’s my opinion. The filling was very flavourful, and I would say a little on the salty side.

We stopped in here for lunch one day to try out their noodles. It wasn’t bad at all. The portions were quite large and the flavours of the meat and soup was quite good! I ordered an order of their Rice Noodles with Beef and the beef chunks was really tender.

The other bowl of noodles that we ordered was basically the same thing, but it was called Special Noodle with Beef and the noodles were quite special. It was very homemade like, and it varied in thickness leading me to think they rolled it out themselves. It’s a broader noodle but it worked nice with the noodle soup.

Our overall experience was quite decent. We enjoyed our bowls of noodle soup. We actually took left overs home and had it for dinner! The portions were huge, so it helped justifying the price tag a bit as each bowl of noodles was just under $11!

Soluxe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Soluxe Restaurant

302 Centre Street South
Calgary, AB
(403) 269-8888

Wellingtons of Calgary Dining & Lounge – Calgary, AB

March 23rd, 2014

For all the people who actually know me, they know I’ve been going to the same place for Valentines day for the last LOTS of years until they changed hands. This year, we had to find something else as we weren’t satisfied last year. We went to Wellingtons of Calgary and it was pretty good! It’s not cheap, but it was worth it for special occasions like Valentines day!

Once we were seated and ordered our drink, a bread basket came out and it was decent! But, we did order some starters and I enjoyed their Fresh Oysters in a Half Shell. I really enjoyed these oysters, they were really fresh and it tasted great with just a little bit of lemon.

My husband ordered their soup of the day, which was Seafood Chowder and it wasn’t a thick chowder, but it was still rich. It had tons of seafood in the soup and great depth of flavour.

The main entree, I had to order the Beef Wellington and it was really delicious! The steak was cooked to perfection, wrapped in great puff pastry that was light and fluffy with a great crispy exterior! It was a large piece of steak!

My husband ordered the Steak Dianne which was broiled beef tenderloin topped with a brandy mustard sauce. The steak again was prepared to perfection! We thoroughly enjoyed this steak with it’s gravy sauce! There was so much meat it was really worth the price!

After we ate, we were both stuffed to the rim. Our waiter sold us on getting a piece of cake for dessert, so we ordered what he recommended – the Cheesecake! It was fantastic and I’m so glad we got it! It was a light and fluffy cake where we were both glad we didn’t turn it down!

Overall, I believe this is going to be our new Valentines day location! We really like steaks for this special day and I’m sure we’re going to keep it that way! This may be my new favourite steak place in the city right now!

Wellingtons of Calgary Dining & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Wellingtons of Calgary Dining & Lounge

10325 Bonaventure Dr SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 278-5250

Homemade Xiao Long Bao – 小籠包

March 2nd, 2014

Well, after we came back from Shanghai, China, we were really missing some delicious Xiao Long Bao so we decided to be adventurous and make some!

The process is time consuming, but it was delicious! We just enjoyed some frozen ones, and sadly, I had to say mine tasted better! Not bad for a first time attempt! There is 3 parts to making Xiao Long Bao, and it starts with the soup part

Ingredients for Soup:
Pork Belly Meat
1 Package of Gelatin
Water

First of all, make a soup with fatty meat so it solidifies. I boiled some pork feet with pork belly in water until it reduced to about half. When I claimed it was done, I seasoned it up as though I was about to drink it – with a little heavier hand of seasoning!

Now, we have to let the soup set and become “jello” so I add a package of flavourless gelatin just to make sure it sets. Put it in the fridge at least 3 hours before using it!

The next thing I did was to marinate the meat. I wanted the meat to be full of flavour so I did that before making the dough.

Ingredients for Filling
1/2 lb regular ground pork
2 tbsp 5-Spiced Powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
chuck of ginger (minced)
chopped green/spring onion
1 tsp salt

Basically here, mix everything together and let it marinate in the fridge!

If your soup has set at this point, pull back the layer of fat/oil and break down the soup jelly and mix it into the meat marinated. If you put this in at this point, make sure you keep the meat in the fridge so your soup doesn’t become “soup”.

Now, as everything is chilling and developing their flavours, we can make the dough!

Ingredients for dough:
200g A/P Flour
1/8 cup of cold water
1/3 cup of hot water (I used boiling water)
1 tsp salt

Making the dough is actually super easy! Basically you measure out the flour and pour the boiling water in. Mix until the dough is smooth and keep mixing as we’re trying to develop the gluten!

When it’s soft and smooth, add the cold water in and knead for a few more minutes! It will have a nice texture and bounce back when you poke it – then it’s ready. When you reach this point, let it rest in the bowl covered for at least 30 minutes.

After it’s rested, roll it out. I rolled mine out in a pasta roller to get the consistent thickness – and on my machine, I had it at setting “6″ for the perfect thickness! I then cut out circles so I can fill the xiao long bao

Then, I get to fill the xiao long bao wrappers and place them on a cabbage lining to my bamboo steamer! I tried to make as many pleats as possible as that’s how it’s prettiest.

Now, we prepare the steamer and we’ll steam for about 15 minutes!

Now it’s done! Be careful, it’s hot and the soup you can see at the bottom of the dumpling — this means it’s really hot!! Enjoy!

Jiajia Steamed Tang Bao 佳家汤包 – Shanghai, China

January 24th, 2014

We found this amazing tang bao location at Huang He Lu which is directly north of People’s Square, which is an amazing place recommended to us by our hotel concierege! It’s apparently very famous for not only their tang baos, but ji ya xue tang as well.

We of course started out with their regular Xian Rou Xiao Long which is their fresh pork buns which we think are made to order and then steamed to perfection! These were our favourite xiao long bao on the entire trip! They won first place in our books! The skin was super thin and delicate with lots of amazing stuffing and soup inside!

There were also 2 other flavours of these tang bao that we tried. One of them was their Hai Fen Xian Rou Xiao Long which translates to crab meat and fresh pork buns! These were amazing! When you bite into it, you definitely know there’s some crab/seafood in there – yet it’s not fishy or over powering! It was a great combination and something to drool over!

The last flavour of the tang bao we tried was their Dan Huang Xian Rou Xiao Long which this one translates to egg yolk with the pork bun! These were really good as well, yet not our absolute favorite, we still ate another 2 orders of this! :) So, not our absolute favourite yet eating about 30 of them tells you something about this place! WE LOVE IT!

Lastly, here’s something that is special to this place and area. It’s Duck and Chicken Blood Soup which is also known here as Ji Ya Xue Tang. The chicken and duck blood was so soft and jello like, it was really good! The flavour of the broth was fragrant too! It’s not as gross as it sounds as I have some co-workers who think I’m nasty… but, they don’t know! :)

Now, with this blog post posted – this is our absolutely favourite place that we discovered on the trip! We highly recommend this place, and be aware it gets busy really fast!! So, be patient, you’ll love it!!

Jiajia Steamed Tang Bao 佳家汤包

90 Huanghe Lu, by Fengyang Lu

Shanghai, China

+82 21 6327 6878

Bellagio Cafe 鹿港小镇 – Shanghai, China

January 23rd, 2014

We ventured to the Super Brand Mall in Shanghai and found a great place for dinner called Bellagio Cafe and it’s located on the 8th Floor of the mall and relatively easy to find! It’s closer to the IMAX, if it helps! :)

We ordered a bunch of dishes and shared it, Asian style! We first started with their Black Pepper Beef on Iron Plate which smelled and tasted absolutely amazing! The amount of pepper used was the perfect amount on beautifully tender pieces of beef!

We also tried Steamed Shrimp with Garlic and I know it doesn’t sound too appetizing, but it was absolutely amazing! The shrimp was really fresh and steamed to perfection. Tons of garlic on top of the shrimp – so luckily we all had at least one piece!

From there, with us being so Asian, we ordered some rice, Taiwanese Fried Rice, and it’s quite different from the fried rice that I’m use to! It is very similar, but different! Usually the main difference between Chinese fried rice and Taiwanese fried rice will be in the egg cooking format. Chinese will basically make scrambled eggs or an omelette first, while the Taiwanese will crack the raw egg into the fried rice and then mix it up.

A very traditional and popular Taiwanese dish is the Three cup chicken (三杯鸡) which is made with 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup rice wine and 1 cup sesame oil. This recipe will make TONS of chicken, so it’s nice to modify it and Bellagio Cafe definitely modifies it and adds other ingredients such as ginger and basil into the dish to make it extra special!

My husband actually has Hakka ancestors so it was neat to him to find a dish done in this style. When he saw Hakka Stir Fry Dried Squid an Celery he ordered it! It is exactly as it sounds! Most of Taiwanese cooking is derived from 3 simple ingredients, and this dish shows the simplicity of their cooking with rice wine, soy sauce and some sugar! This dish was so simple yet so delicious!

We actually ordered a dessert or 2 for this meal, and the most memorable dessert was their Mango Pancake which was a mango crepe that was really thin around some light cream with some mango inside. It was light and airy and actually kind of refreshing! We really enjoyed this and I ate up my husbands half of the dessert! :)

Overall, we loved this place and it’s a place we would recommend for Taiwanese food! It’s neat to see Shanghai has different types of Asian cuisine and it’s actually done properly! The food, service and atmosphere ranks top notch for sure!

Yong He 永和大王 – Shanghai, China

January 22nd, 2014

During our stay in Shanghai, we switched hotels to be in a different location. We ended up staying near the Shanghai Railway Station, and near there is Yong He Da Huang for breakfast and loved the location of our new hotel as it’s close to public transportation, other hotels and lots of good eats!

Once you enter this store front, you’re in the main ordering area where they take your order and you can either go into the back and pick up your order for take out, or sit down and wait for dine in. We did the dine in as we weren’t on a schedule so we can relax. We ordered their Red Beef Noodle Soup 紅燒牛肉麵 with of course some Xiao Long Bao, and I was quite impressed with the bowl of noodles! It had tons of flavour and it wasn’t as greasy as it looks! The beef was tender, and the noodles were excellent! The xiao long bao was in the top ranking too! The skin was thicker than some of the other ones we had on this journey, but it was delicious!

The other items we ordered were some Dou Jiang (豆漿) as it’s “the” thing to drink for us – and for those who don’t know what it is, it’s soy bean drink! The other item that looks pretty funny in the picture is actually Chinese fried dough or You Tiao 油条 wrapped in a thin omelette, with some sauce. It was a greasy and interesting.

We really liked this place! It was pretty local yet in a touristy area, and the food was cheap and delicious! It was fun and convenient as it was a 24 Hour shop!

Hong He 永和大王

梅园店
中亚饭店一层,太平洋火车站店对面
021-63179503

Xiao Chi Dian 小吃店 – Shanghai, China

January 21st, 2014

A very cool little place that we went to is actually a street side restaurant, which typically are dirtier but local and delicious. This one that we went to was Xiao Chi Dian which directly translates to Little Eat Place, or something like that!

At this little eat restaurant, we ordered some Xiao Long which came to the table in a bamboo basket steaming hot! It was really good! These xiao long bao ranked really highly on our Shanghai trip!! Steaming hot, tons of flavour, great skin with a great filling! It was divine!

The main attraction for this visit actually was for their lao ya fen si tang 老鸭粉丝汤 which was recommended to us by our friends wife! This steaming hot bowl of glass noodles (粉丝) has some duck and tofu in the soup. The flavour of the soup has left us all speechless! So what if this place is a little dirty… the food really compensates for it!

Lastly, we ordered some Fried Pork Chop to share amongst us all! It wasn’t anything to rave about, but it was a great piece of fried pork chop! The pork was still tender and juicy and the crust was really crispy! They used Chinese Vinegar for a dipping sauce which was good, and it helped cut the grease!

Overall, we have nothing negative to say about this place. If I had to say something, it would be that there isn’t a lot of seating at all. They do have tables on the upper floor, and that’s where we sit. We did pretty much take up the entire upstairs… with just 6 of us!