Calgary Court Restaurant
119 2 Ave SE
[Note: I had a "brain fart" and posted this incorrectly and prematurely earlier today, sorry folks! Reminder to self not to blog after a night of too much wine.]
With the typical “over a hundred choices” kind of menu booklet you can find in places like this (a Hong Kong cafe), which covers off various subsections such as rice, noodles, beef, chicken, vegetables, etc., its always a chore to decide what to eat. I suggest sharing (if you’re in a group) that way you can sample everything and not be limited to what can end up becoming a single monotonous dish in terms of flavors and textures. Having said that, sadly, I usually end up ordering pretty much the same types of dishes. To change things up this time, I allowed my trusted dining companion to order for us.
Looking to have just a very light meal given the time of night, other than some simple steamed Gai Lan, a dish that I’ve frankly never heard of before, let alone tried, was our main. How do I describe this? Well, I was told it was a baked rice dish with a breaded and deep fried chicken cutlet, and topped with lemons and a thick layer of cheese. A monster of a dish! Almost casserole or baked lasagna in appearance. Frankly, I was shocked. Never had a I really associated Chinese food with such bright color cheese. As I scooped out my first spoonful, I had no idea what to expect…
The rich, oily and salty layer of cheese was infused with some of the brighter properties of the lemon slices (although I didn’t really catch this til the end when I got more into the middle of the dish) and it helped change/soften the texture of the fried layer of breading on the moist chicken meat inside. The drier pieces of rice added another unique pairing to it all, and was truly the only element that reminded me of Chinese food in each spoonful shoveled into my mouth. I was simply amazed that it all worked together, with the tastes connecting with various parts of my palette. Especially the cheese and rice together. I must also comment here, that despite the late hour, it was really pleasing to know that the kitchen still had some standards, as we were told they had just changed the oil and it needed time to heat up to cook the cutlet incorporated in our dish. The extra fifteen minutes of waiting was well worth it.
As I am completing my read of Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain and going through the chapter where he delves into the incredibly creative and not naturally intuitive combinations of ingredients and cuisines in the cooking of superstar chef David Chang, I’ve become more aware and perhaps open minded about any melding of things that I have to this point thought of as in no way, being able to actually taste good together. Let me know if you’ve ever come across any other mixtures of food ingredients, cooking styles, ethnic cuisines, that have at first shocked you (perhaps even frightened you upon hearing/seeing it) but after sampling, completely turned your assumptions on their head and you ended up having a great flavorful meal. Hope the comment box fills up on this one! :)