Random Chinatown Chowing (June 2010) – Edmonton, AB
Its been said many times, but there is something special about the big blue skies of summer in Alberta. On a recent visit to Edmonton, I had the pleasure of driving around a bit, seeing some rural and urban landscapes that reminded me of how great the scenery can be where there isn’t that abundance of grey clouds and gloomy rainy weather that dominates the west coast in June. I guess that has something to do with the large quantities of great produce and livestock product that comes out of this oil-rich province. Good eats under sunny skies, what could be better!
During my stay, I made a completely random jaunt to 97th street just north of the downtown core of Edmonton that resulted in a trio of stops all within the span of about an hour! While the Alberta capital’s Chinatown isn’t as pronounced nor expansive of say Vancouver’s version, it does have some of the same classical appeal and is worth checking out. Alas, this early Saturday morning resulted in stopovers at least than traditional Chinese places for the most part, but hope you can follow the story…
1. Hoa An Restaurant
I’d say its only been in recent years that I’ve grown to appreciate pho, especially those with all kinds of different pieces of meat and other-meat organs. Its here at Pho An where I probably had my first introduction to things like tendon and tripe. They serve up a pretty clean broth, no prevalent tongue numbing taste of MSG or other artificial additives to up the ante at the expense of good honest flavor. A large size will get your plenty of well cooked rice noodles (hidden underneath), quite the filling start to what turned out to be a big food morning. While its not the most outstanding bowl of pho I’ve ever had, there is just some comfort level in knowing this is one of the earliest places where I began to eat this kind of food.
2. The Bubble Tea Cafe
Strolling further along this strip, you can find this fairly ordinary looking, blue/white stripped awning for The Bubble Tea Cafe. Again, not a heck of a lot of creativity going into the name either here. Inside, there is not a lot to impress you either aside from some tables and an open counter facing the door where you can place your order to go. The first page of the drink menu, dubbed the “bubble tea series” listed about thirty-five varieties with the base black and green teas. Cup sizes were on the smaller size, but priced accordingly at $3 (add a dollar if you want fresh fruit). Pictured below is a green tea milk tea with pearls. The green tea flavor was on the diluted side of things, watery almost despite it looking quite creamy through the plastic cup. As a random visit, I couldn’t blame anyone but me, but you can do better when it comes to bubble tea in E-town.
3. Hing Lung BBQ House
The wonderful scents permeating the air along the street where Hing Lung BBQ House is situated is the best sales tactic that they could deploy. For one whiff of the smoky sweet aromas and you are just inclined to go inside and pick up an order in the early morning. Pork, chicken, duck and even some sausage items are on the menu here.
Lean versus fatty. A choice we all make when we pick our cooked proteins. With Chinese-style BBQ, I tend to favor the lean, party because I can eat more of it without tiring. The moist pork tenderloin here is very good, not overly smoking and no naughty bits of sinew to be seen. The fattier, with crispy skin type I didn’t partake in too much, but the pieces I did eat were okay. Perhaps some parts of skin were burnt too much. Again, this is probably just based on my favoritism towards the leaner meat. With both of the types purchased, they were tasted with several kinds of salt, from rocky to flaky. It was agreed that everything was bolstered with this salty element added, perhaps the one unifying knock against both cuts purchased.