Li-Ao Sushi

image

Ever since Peaches raved about Li-Ao I’ve been dying to go try it out.  However, since the restaurant is on the other side of the city I’ve just never made my way down there.  Hubby and I wanted to have sushi one night and we could not agree on a place to go to.  Hubby wanted to return to a restaurant that we’ve been to before cause he’s very weary of having bad sushi.  I wanted to try some place new and suggested that we drive down to Li-Ao.  I promised him it would be good (I have faith in Peaches recommendations) and he agreed.

I had called to make reservations but was told they don’t take any so we just took a chance in the hopes that the restaurant wouldn’t be full.  Luckily, the restaurant was only about a quarter full when we arrived so we easily obtained a booth seat.  For parents out there they do have high chairs but not the stand alone kind – the kind that straps onto a chair so just a heads up.

There were a lot of different things we wanted to try so why not order all of them.  We could always enjoy the leftovers as a late night snack and I really don’t know when we would come here again.  One thing we noticed while browsing through the menu were the prices.  I couldn’t believe how reasonable everything was – why don’t we see prices like this in the NW?

image

A complimentary dish of Deep Fried Tuna Gyozas were brought to our table and we munched on these while waiting for our order.  The gyozas were tasty – deep fried to golden with a lightly spicy filling of tuna that was barely cooked through.  They sat on a bed of what I assume was an avocado sauce of sorts.  Even hubby enjoyed these even though he’s not a huge fan of tuna.

image

We started with the Teriyaki Chicken ($5.95) and enjoyed both the sweet and savoriness of the dish.  The chicken was still moist and the steak sauce was really flavorful.

image

I ordered the Assorted Sashimi ($18.95) as I’m always in the mood for the raw fish and was shocked at the huge platter that was placed in front of us when it arrived at our table.  This was definitely a great deal!  15 pieces of assorted sashimi for only $18.95 – wow!  And there was actually an assortment of seafood not just salmon and tuna.  I enjoyed all of it with the exception of the tuna and salmon because I just thought they were cut too thick.  It was literally like eating chunks or slabs of fish rather than silky pieces of sashimi.

image

I cannot go without Scallop Special Sushi ($2/pc) whenever I’m out for a sushi meal. However, Li-ao’s version fell short of my expectations. There was far too much mayo and that completely masked the sweetness of the scallop.

image

I also enjoyed the Seared Scallop Roll ($9.95).  The scallops didn’t appear to be seared but it did have a smoky seared taste to it – perhaps they had lightly torched the tops?  I was surprised that the balsamic vinegar didn’t overpower but complimented the other ingredients.  I also appreciated that the roll wasn’t packed with rice but just enough to hold the filling together.

image

I had ordered the Teriyaki Beef Combo ($12.95) for my toddler and although the flavors of the dish was good the beef slices were really chewy and tough.  That was a bit disappointing as it made impossible for our toddler to eat.  Next time, I’ll order the appetizer portion with a bowl of rice for him instead.

image

Hubby ordered 3 rolls and could only finish half of what he ordered.   Mainly because two of the rolls he ordered were of the giant variety and I was already pretty stuffed from my order so I wasn’t much help.  The Spider Roll ($9.95) was pretty standard but done well.  The soft shell crab was fried well and the roll was quite ‘meaty’.

image

The House Special Roll ($9.95) was filled with salmon, tuna, shrimp, avocado, crab meat and tobiko.  Honestly, this roll isn’t very different from any other house special roll out there but the ingredients were fresh and hubby really liked the fact that the roll didn’t just fall apart as you picked it up.  That seems to happen a lot with these giant rolls and makes it quite difficult to eat.

image

The Seared Tuna Roll ($9.95) was definitely hubby’s favorite since it had a slight kick to it from the jalapeno.  The tuna was lightly seared with a smoky taste and the crab meat filling was creamy and moist. The presentation was a bit sloppy with this roll and since it wasn’t terribly busy the chef should’ve taken some extra time to ensure the pieces were arranged in a neater fashion. Sushi is a bit of an art form in my eyes and we eat as much with our eyes as we do with our mouth.

Service was pretty average, not outstanding but not bad either as the server did get us everything we needed.  The prices are indeed very reasonable for the portion sizes so it’s very easy to over order but I guess that’s just an excuse to try as many menu items as possible.  I only wished that this place was closer to home so we could frequent more often.

Li-Ao Sushi

#231, 2335 162 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2Y 4S6

Li-Ao Sushi on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Open Range

image

We were trying to decide last minute where to have dinner on a Friday night.  It was 6pm so right dab in the middle of prime dinner time and we were still searching for a place.  Considering that it was a Friday night, we figured most places were already booked and our suspicions were confirmed after we made a few calls.  Since we recently had brunch at Big Fish hubby asked if their dinner menu was any good.  I was surprised since he’s not much of a seafood person so he took a look through the menu and decided it wasn’t for him.  That’s when Open Range came to mind and he agreed.  Open Range is known for their diverse selection of meat dishes so this certainly met Hubby’s criteria.

I had dinner at Open Range a couple of years back and enjoyed my meal there so this was the perfect opportunity for me to try more of their menu items.  I like the atmosphere of the restaurant itself – relaxed and cozy yet they serve food that would normally be served at a higher end restaurant.  The best part is that they’re baby friendly so we didn’t have to worry about him making too noise and being a nuisance to other patrons.

image

Since I wasn’t terribly hungry that day we decided to split an appetizer and get our own mains.  We settled for the Chili Baby Back Ribs ($13) and loved every bite.  The ribs were tender, sweet, salty, smoky and we could tell there was a nice spice rub on there.

image

I had the Apricot Glazed Boar Rack with Stuffed Pork Belly ($36).  The boar rack was cooked perfectly – moist and seared very well.  The apricot glaze was the perfect accompaniment.  The stuffed pork belly was roasted well – the skin was crispy and the meat was also moist and tender.  I did find the mushroom stuffing to be unnecessary though.  The green beans could’ve been a tad more tender – they were still quite raw.

image

Hubby went with the NY Striploin with Chimmichurri sauce ($34).  It was cooked to his liking and he really enjoyed this dish.  I had a taste and found that the steak was tender and the chimmichurri sauce was fresh and vibrant.

The service was attentive but not overpowering and they always cleared our dishes in a timely manner.  We were too stuffed to have dessert that night but will definitely be back when the mood for a meat heavy dinner strikes.

 Open Range

1114 Edmonton Trl NE
Calgary, AB T2E 0Z2

Open Range - Steak Chops on Urbanspoon

Big Fish

image

Hubby’s friend C was recently in town from London, UK and we had brunch with him to catch up.  It is not easy looking for a kid friendly place to dine at on a Sunday afternoon.  A lot of the places that we go to are either not open for lunch or they don’t take reservations for brunch.  And, doesn’t it seem like everyone in Calgary is out for brunch on Sundays?  It sure seems that way when we’re left waiting for table.  That’s when Big Fish came to mind – one of the bonuses is that they take reservations and the food is good.

image

I went with the Wild mushroom, truffle, basil and white cheddar scramble on Noble duck confit hash ($15).  I’ve had it before, really enjoyed it and wanted to have it again.  It was still as good as I remember although I found the portion to be a bit smaller than before – not as much duck I think. I still enjoyed it though and love the flavor combination of mushrooms and duck together.

Homemade jam and ketchup

Homemade jam and ketchup

I tried some of their homemade strawberry jam with my slice of bread and really enjoyed the intense strawberry flavor.  I love their homemade jams because they’re always packed full of fruit and not cloyingly sweet.

image

The Citizen Sidewalk brioche French toast with orange curd and maple syrup ($13) was my toddler’s order since they don’t have a kids menu.  Although on the pricier side, the French toast was indeed really good.  The toast was crispy yet soft, buttery and custardy.  The orange curd was to die for…I could seriously smear that on everything and eat it!

image

Hubby had the Arugula, oven dried tomato and Sheppards Dairy sheep feta omelette ($12) with a side of bison chorizo ($4).  He really enjoyed the omelette and sausage but was super stuffed after.  The chorizo was huge and he couldn’t believe the portion size. I didn’t try his dish so can’t comment on the flavors but he polished off the entire thing so that must be a good sign.

image

C decided to try the Soft shell crab club sandwich with wild boar bacon and organic tomatoes with a side salad ($17).  The server was kind enough to explain what it the crab was like so he wouldn’t be surprised.  He enjoyed the soft shell crab but got tired of eating the bread with it halfway through.  I suspect because it was too hard and crunchy overall – in other words too much jaw work.  The buttery crusty bread with the deep fried crab can give your jaw a bit of a workout. I think this sandwich would almost pair better with a soft bun instead.

Service was pretty average – the server got us what we needed and refilled our waters when they ran low.  We really liked the laid back atmosphere of the place and didn’t feel rushed to finish our meal and leave so that waiting patrons could get their table.  I would definitely return for brunch and try their other offerings.  I have my eyes set on their Maple Fried Oatmeal next time.

Big Fish

1112 Edmonton Trail NE
Calgary, AB T2E 0Z2

Big Fish Dockside on Urbanspoon

Vendome Cafe

image

I love going out for breakfast but I hate having to wait especially since I’m usually starving in the mornings.  My friend J and I met up for breakfast at Vendome Café and I was quite happy to find that they had a steady stream of customers but it wasn’t so bad that we weren’t able to get a seat right away.

I really loved the atmosphere of this place.  It was very inviting and also meant that you could drop in for a quick bite, catch up with friends or bring your laptop and chill out for a few hours.  The space is bright and the seats aren’t so close together that you can hear your neighbors conversation.  It was perfect for us. Continue reading

Sushi Bar Zipang

image

My friend W and I met up for lunch recently and decided on going for sushi. I’ve wanted to try Sushi Bar Zipang for the longest time and suggested that we go there. They were great at accommodating a baby and a toddler and even had baby utensils and plates set out for us. Continue reading

Brava Bistro

image

I immediately think of their famous lobster poutine whenever Brava Bistro is mentioned. It really shouldn’t be a surprise considering that they won best poutine in the 2012 Poutine Crawl. Yet, all this time and I haven’t even tried it. Well, that all changed when hubby and I headed here for dinner last Saturday. Continue reading

Carino Japanese Bistro & Wine, Cerezo Cafe Bar

Peaches and I met up for a lunch date at Carino Japanese Bistro and Wine recently and I was really excited to try their mentaiko pasta.  I’ve always been interested in trying their lunch menu since it’s priced very reasonably but have never actually ventured out on my own to do it.  Why?  Because the restaurant itself is very small and since I was there for brunch back in January and didn’t see a high chair in the establishment it just didn’t seem like a good place to bring a baby. I was really surprised and ecstatic when the server asked me when I walked in with a baby if I’d like a high chair.  I must’ve had a shocked expression on my face at first, followed with a huge smile – yes please!  It turns out they have a compact foldable one tucked away in the back. Continue reading