Haitai Calbee Honey Butter Chips 


Listen here, I’m not the type to boast about products but I recently discovered these honey butter chips at my local Korean grocery store, Emart, and I am in love. Like lovey dovey head spinning, can’t see straight love. They are just simply delectable. Thinly sliced potato chips covered in this sweet and savory honey butter flavoring. My mouth is literally drooling just talking about them. They are just amazing and so so good. Seriously life changing! I’ll never look at a potato chip the same way again. 

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Katsuten

I’m always a sucker for crispy deep fried foods. I mean who isn’t? When Katsuten popped up on my radar I was just counting the days until I tried it. You can count me in for crispy crunchy pork loin anyday.


“Mom, what should we order? I’m hungry.” “Don’t worry, sweetie. I already know.” I was watching a Hong Kong food show not too long ago where a group of celebrities ventured to Japan to try a variety of foods to review/showcase them. One of the dishes they tried really stood out to me due to its uniqueness. It was a Japanese curry udon with a piped potato cream on top. It looked absolutely delicious and I was already planning to recreate it at home when I saw that Katsuten offered it on their menu. Well, surely I had to try it!


We started off with the Lotus Root Salad. Thinly shaved fried lotus root chips sitting over a bed of shaved onions and dressing. It was quite tasty although I’m not sold on naming it a salad. There’s nothing that shouts salad to me. It’s more like lotus root chips. It was also on the pricier side at $6.50 for the portion.


The Katsu came with a miso soup. This one is pretty standard. It was piping hot with firm pieces of tofu.

This is the Loin Katsu made with Glamorgan Bakery bread crumbs. Now if you haven’t tried Glamorgan Bakery’s famous cheese buns, you’re missing out on some of the best cheese buns hands down. But that’s for another post. Their breadcrumbs added a nice fluffy and crunchy coating to the pork loin. My only disappointment was that the bottom of the katsu was soggy. Shame. The pork itself was quite tender and juicy. The shredded cabbage side was a nice addition topped with a sweet dressing. It almost tasted like apple sauce to me.


Now, the dish I came to try, the Creamy Curry Udon. The server told us to expect hot curry noodles underneath the cold potato cream. I could barely wait to dig in.

The potato cream on top was heavenly. Imagine whipped cream but instead the creamiest potatoes ever. Underneath was a mild curry with udon and vegetables. I ended up mixing it all together and slurping down every last bit of it. That is after I ate a few spoonfuls of the potato cream alone. Simply delightful ! I wished the portion was larger! 

Overall, a tasty meal. I would return for the creamy curry udon however I found the portion sizes to be on the small side. I feel like you would need to order three entrees between two people to fill up. They seemed to be consistently steady through lunch time on a weekday. The restaurant itself is small so I wouldn’t come with a large group. The plus side is that they do have high chairs for those parents dining with young ones. 

Katsuten Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Foreign Concept 

I think the most anticipated restaurant opening in 2016 was Chef Duncan Ly’s Foreign Concept. They opened late 2016 and there was a ton of buzz surrounding the restaurant. There was so much hype and buzz surrounding the restaurant that I was almost afraid to go try it in fear of it falling short of my expectations. Luckily for me, that didn’t happen. Instead, my tastebuds were treated to a wonderful evening of delightful alternative Asian dishes.


We started off with the Angus Beef Striploin Tataki. The plating was beautiful and the taste equally as good. The Asian mustard nuoc cham really opened up my palate and appetite for the rest of the meal.


The Soy Garlic Caramel Roasted Eggplant is a new menu item. We had our hearts set on the scotch eggs however they’re no longer on the menu (queue sad face) so we decided to try the eggplant instead. The soy garlic flavor was very nice paired with the eggplant however I found that the eggplant itself could’ve been a tad more tender.


This Charsiu Pork & Foie Gras Steamed Buns dish was the dish we came to try. It looked simply amazing on all the pictures we’ve seen of it on social media. Now, let me tell you that this dish was everything we dreamed of and more. The bao was fluffy and light. The pork belly was tender and so flavorful in that braising sauce. The foie gras pate was creamy and rich. Plus, you have all the extra condiments and toppings like the nutty samjang sauce, the pickles, daikon, apple pear, basil and mint. Please make sure you get a bit of each component in your bao because it really makes this bao stand out from all the others in Calgary. Each bite is a perfect balance of flavors. If you’re going to try one dish here, this is the one to try.

The Braised Duck Leg Cellophane Noodles was the other dish we came to try. The braised duck leg was incredibly tender and flavorful. The cellophane noodles were coated in the flavorful braising sauce and perfect for slurping. This dish was well prepared and another must try.

We were pretty stuffed at this point and to our surprise Duncan sent us this House-made 5 Spiced Broek Farms Chinese Bacon and White Kimchi Fried Rice to try. It’s topped with an onsen egg, shaved cremini mushrooms and citrus truffle vinaigrette. The smell of truffles was driving me crazy when this dish was set down on the table. Make sure you mix everything together and swirl that egg in the dish. You definitely want to distribute and mix all the different components and flavors together. Each component was cooked well and loaded with umami flavors. Simply scrumptious!

We were more than full at this point but we just had to end our meal on a sweet note. The Vietnamese Coffee Parfait was perfect for us to share. It’s very similar to tiramisu and we really liked how it was only subtly sweet and light.

Overall, we had a great meal here and I was definitely surprised by some of the dishes. The atmosphere is lively and there are large windows all around with lots of natural sunlight. I would not hesitate to return especially for the Charsiu Pork & Foie Gras Steamed Buns.

 Foreign Concept Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Azzurri Pizzeria 

It’s been a while since I’ve had pizza so good and mind blowing that I actually want to share it wih the entire world. I haven’t had a chance to visit Italy yet although it most certainly is on my bucket list. I would love to do a whole tour of that region with my kids once they’re old enough to enjoy it and walk for extended periods without complaining. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy every moment of their life now but I’m also looking forward to what the future has to offer. 

It’s been a tradition for my hubby and son to attend the Calgary Expo Parade of Wonders every year. This year my little one dressed up as Captain America and was beyond excited for the event. According to my hubby, there was a huge turn out this year. I guess my little one was so in awe of all the superheroes he went from being shy to running up to the various characters asking for a picture with them. 


My daughter and I met them for lunch after at Azzurri Pizzeria on Edmonton trail. This hidden gem is a small but quaint little place. It was fairly quiet when we arrived for lunch. There were three other tables that were occupied. Although if you’re planning on visiting for dinner, I highly recommend that you make reservations because I hear they fill up very quickly. 

As we were waiting for our pizzas to arrive, my son noticed the chef by the brick oven tossing dough into the air. He asked what he was doing and was quite interested in the whole process. We’ve made pizza together at home but this was definitely a different experience for him watching a true Italian chef make it.


The Forza Azzurri arrived first. This is a white pizza which means you won’t see any tomato sauce on it. Instead, its topped off with homemade spicy Innis and Gunn sausages, rapini, their own blend of herbs and spices and mozzarella cheese. The sausages offer a nice kick paired with the rapini but was too spicy for my son. My hubby really enjoyed this one. 


The 10 has San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella fior di latte, proscuitto di Parma, arugula, cherry tomatoes, parmigiano reggiano and evoo. Now, this is my type of pizza with all those fresh toppings. My son really enjoyed this one. He even mentioned how sweet the tomatoes are and he’s not the tomato loving type. 

The thing that stood out for both of these pizzas was the crust. Oh, the glorious charred, light, thin and crispy crust. The dough is made from caputo “OO” flour, hand stretched and cooked in their 900 degree brick oven from Naples. This is the real deal, folks. I could probably eat an entire pie myself and not feel heavy and bloated after. 


I’ve heard fantastic things about Mama Terry Ricioppo’s house made desserts and leaped at the chance to try her tiramisu. I’m always leary of those tiramisu that are too sweet. To me, it should always have a bitter edge from the espresso and cocoa powder to offset the creaminess. Mama Terry Ricioppo’s was simply delightful. It was not too sweet, yet was creamy and luscious with a slight bitterness. Listen to me when I say you won’t want to share this one. I probably could’ve had a second piece and not even feel guilty about it.

We had a nice family lunch here and I would not hesitate to return. The pizza here is memorable and in my books definitely worth trying. Besides, I’m all for supporting local family run restaurants. I always find we have too many chain eateries in Calgary. We need more of these family run restaurants so the art of cookery and sharing family recipes, cusisines is not lost. 

Azzurri Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mentaiko Spaghetti 

There’s always a part of me that wishes I could consume an unlimited number of carbs and still feel good about it. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. But that doesn’t stop me from making the best of my meals that revolve mainly around carbs. 

Have you heard of or tried mentaiko? It’s a seasoned pollock roe that’s quite popular in Japanese cuisine. I came across a box of it while shopping at E Mart and decided to try making my own mentaiko spaghetti. I love the distinct salty taste and texture of it paired with strands of spaghetti in a light sauce. At my first attempt, I added it to a sauce made up of butter, cream and a squirt of Japanese Mayo. Although it was good, I found it a bit too rich and masked the taste of the mentaiko. This time, I used a mix of melted butter and pasta water and it was much better. It was lighter and I could taste the pop of the mentaiko with each bite. It was a perfect pairing with nori strips. If only I had some shiso leaves to add to it. 


Remember, it always important to taste and season as you go when you’re cooking. I used salted roasted nori and found I didn’t need to add any salt to the dish. 

For two servings, a rough estimate of ingredients. 

  • Two loonie sized handfuls of spaghetti 
  • 4 tbsps unsalted butter, melted 
  • 3 sacks of mentaiko
  • Dash of Japanese soy sauce 
  • Pasta water, as needed
  • Strips of nori 
  1. Defrost 3 sacks of mentaiko a hour before you’re planning on making the dish. Once defrosted, slice sacks in half vertically and scrape out the seasoned roe. Set aside. 
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt and add spaghetti. Cook to al dente stage according to directions on the package. 
  3. In a large bowl, add melted butter, dash of Japanese soy sauce and 3/4 of the mentaiko. Add cooked spaghetti to the bowl and toss everything together, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the mixture and to form a light sauce. 
  4. Plate up your spaghetti, top with nori strips and the remaining mentaiko. Slurp up and enjoy! 

This made for a fabulous quick lunch for my hubby and I. It was absolutely delicious and satisfied all cravings I had for carbs. As I was eating it, I began to wonder how it would taste if I added a raw egg yolk or a soft sous vide egg to the dish. I bet the creamy runny egg yolk mixed in would taste great. Well, there’s always next time and it gives me an excuse to make this dish again. 

Whitehall Sunday Roast Lunch 

My friends and I always look forward to each other’s birthdays because although it means we’re getting older, it also means we get to pick a restaurant to celebrate at. This year, I decided to check out Whitehall’s Roast Sunday Lunch. It was a nice change from dinner and who doesn’t love to get dressed up and enjoy an exquisite lunch? Their Sunday lunch menu is an exceptional value in my opinion. You get to choose either two courses for $38 or three courses for $45. 

Our server bought along some bread and butter to start. The oval sphere on the left is whipped pork fat and if you’ve never had pork fat over anything; well then you’re missing out. The pork fat had a light whipped texture and my inital taste was of a light toasty flavor. However, subsequent bites after that was not as flavorful. The butter was on the cold side and did not spread easily. The bread was too hard and dense for my liking as well. 


For a while now, I’ve been ogling over Instagram pictures of their famous cheese soufflé so I was definitely getting that as my first course. No doubt about that. However, we wanted to try the chicken liver pate as well and got an order to share between the four of us. The Double Baked Cheese Soufflé certainly lived up to expectations. The souffle was fluffy, light and had excellent cheese flavor. The creamy sauce around the souffle put it over the edge. I basically licked the plate clean. This was the best souffle I’ve tasted in Calgary and definitely a dish that one must try. 

We were really look forward to trying the pate; mainly because there was shaved foie gras over top. The chicken pate was smooth and creamy. The pickled cherries were just the thing to provide a hint of seeetness and to cut the richness. It came served with toast; however we all agreed that it would’ve tasted better on toast points or toasted baguette rounds. 


The main course is served family style so our server recommmed that everyone order the same dish. This was not a problem for us considering that we all wanted to try the beef. The Dry aged Alberta beef was cooked to perfection and incredibly tender. It was served alongside Yorkshire pudding, dripping potatoes, kale, red wine sauce and horseradish creama. Everything was delicious and definitely hit the spot. Our only complaint was  that we wished for more vegetables as an accompaniment. 


We were all pretty full after the two and a half dishes but decided to share dessert anyways. What’s a birthday celebration without dessert, right? The treacle tart with mascarpone ice cream provided a sweet ending to our meal. The tart was a tad too sweet for my liking although the crust was very well done. The mascarpone ice cream was just perfectly creamy. 


We all enjoyed the Sunday lunch and would return in a heartbeat. Personally, I would skip dessert next time as British desserts are not to my liking. I’ve recommended their Sunday roast lunch to many friends and family because it’s truly not to be missed out on. 

Whitehall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dumplings, Potstickers or whatever you want to call them


If there’s one thing you’ll always find in my freezer is a bag (or two) of dumplings. It’s something that I must always keep on hand for a quick meal or snack. My favorite are meaty dumplings with a fair amount of visible vegetables. Why? Well, because then I feel like I’m eating my portion of vegetables along with the meat and carbs. Win-win, right? 
I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed how pricey those freezer dumplings have become at my local supermarket. The quality has also gone down. Don’t get me wrong; those will do in a bind but they’re definitely not my first choice. 

What’s my first choice? Homemade, of course. How can you beat that? So when I have some extra free time I’ll make 200-300 and freeze them so I’ll always have some ready to go. My go-to is always ground pork with a healthy dose of whatever vegetables/greens I can get my hands on. Spinach, bok chiu, mustard greens, kale, watercress, cabbage. Seriously, they all taste great in dumplings. The key is to ensure you blanch them, squeeze all the water out of them and then finely finely chop so you get any stringy bits. 


To ensure you get the proper texture for the meat you’ll want to add a fair amount of water to the mixture and stir, stir, stir with a pair of chopsticks. I also like to add shaoxing wine for added flavor. Now, that’s how you get a tasty and moist dumpling filling without it being dry. 

Have you made your own dumplings? What’s your favorite filling combination?