Bairro Flame Grilled Chicken
B1-1919 31 St SW
Calgary, AB T3E 2M8
For me, fried chicken is one of those things im always on the look out for. I love a gooooood fried chicken. Like Gus’s, or Fremont Diner. Even the recipe in Thomas Keller’s Adhoc at Home is pretty good. But i dont want to fry chicken at home – it’s a big pain. Oil, mess, time. I dont eat it enough to warrant cooking it at home. I just want a place i can go to get my fix. In Calgary, Bairro is that place.
One day last fall, I was driving down 17th ave SE and I see a sandwich board that says ”Bairro – Flame Grilled Chicken”. I like piri piri chicken, but im not a big fan of Nando’s. It’s been dry, and boring, and lacking in complexity and flavour. I figure they might do it better, so I give it a shot.
As i pull up, it has the look of a chain. Not the most auspicious of starts.
After a busy day this past summer checking out various tourist sights in Seoul, I hopped back onto a train back to the suburbs to where I was spending some nights sleeping early on in my journey. On the short walk back to the residence from the station, I noticed a boisterous establishment that seemingly was a pub/fried chicken kind of joint. I suggested to my travel mate that we go check it out – despite having finished eating a hearty dinner an hour before – but was told there was a better place they knew about, and the family I was staying with vouched for it. Sounded good to me. It allowed some more time to digest our dinner and was really convenient too, as all it required was a phone call, as they delivered! A change into some more comfortable clothes later and soon enough the door bell was ringing.
Reportedly there is an outpost of this popular Korean-style fried chicken known as Kyochon Chicken in Koreatown (Los Angeles) as well, but its the first I’d heard of it. Not being able to read anything around me probably had something to do with it. The logo I’d seen before though around the Korean capital city. It seems to be mainly a delivery/takeaway kind of business model. I think the places that serve Korean chicken that I’ve seen here in the GVRD are kind of like that (lots of “to-go” orders), but have seating areas as well where the beer (that goes so well with these things) flow freely. As this was a second dinner, I just asked that we get a dozen or so and I wanted to try the original flavor, so not enhanced with the sweet-spicy sauce that really makes Korean-style chicken so yummy.
205 – 3355 North Road
As alluded to at the end of this previous post, the meal journey of that day was far from over. In fact, it continued along the same chicken wing theme, as we ventured along the streets towards the Burnaby-Coquitlam border. After being rebuffed at Mexican Chicken Hof and Honey’s Bistro since they were both not open for the day, we decided on a longer journey out to Port Moody to check out Rehanah’s Roti.
But suddenly out of the corner of our eye we saw the humorous signage for Chicken Party.
A quick lane change and entry into the parking lot where this business was housed. Was it some kind of party house stocked with poultry-themed costumes? An exclusive entertainment club for chicken farmers?
7624 6th Street
Another completely random, TOFTT kind of outing. As I dug up the Urban Spoon reference for the address to be included in this posting, I was amused to see that someone had beaten me to this place – er, make that rather bewildered that somebody had actually decided on their own to have a meal here before my impromptu visit. Surprise, surprise, it was none other than the adventurous author of I’m Only Here for the Food!
Chicken Delight only stood out as I drove by looking for a quick daytime bite to eat because of its gaudy, outdated colorful signage. You know the kind, complete with windows plastered over in uncoordinated posters trumpeting various deals, combos and specials you can get inside. A funny thing though, after I stepped inside (and became the only customer) I learned that one of the items on their posters wasn’t even available. False advertising at its finest. Its you can’t order it, take it down please.
101-403 North Road
Yangnyeom Chicken is something I’ve discovered previously at Mexican Chicken Hof, and had neglected to follow up on at another nearby establishment that I was aware served it as well, until now. Honey’s Bistro is literally just up the street on the other side of Lougheed Highway, and I would say is a more visually common setting of what one might expect of a Korean Hof, albeit a slightly dated one. Part western, part eastern, it strides that unusual balance between these two worlds, though Honey’s leans slightly more to the west, and my guess is that it used to formerly be a more Canadian-style pub or eating house. The main thing though that gives the Korean-ness of it away are the flat panel displays on the walls, showing popular Korean tv and music programs.
Despite already haven eaten dinner nearby (a future post), I decided to pick up a box of fried chicken wings and drumettes- minus the sauce – to go. I wanted to first taste their chicken straight-up before considering coming back for the Yangnyeom version. Not surprisingly, I ended up eating some of it when I got home (and the rest the next day) despite having had dinner already. So much for dieting.
Fritou Halal Fried Chicken
216 Saddletowne Circle NE
Fried chicken is one of those things everyone can do, but most people fail to do well. In reading Thomas Keller’s new cookbook Ad-hoc at home, he describes his recipe for fried chicken as “if there’s better, I’ve never had it”. While Keller may be onto something, that doesn’t mean I have to take his word for it. So i’ll keep looking…
Fritou Halal Fried Chicken is part of the Fritou Chicken chain. Each independent owner buys equipment and supplies from Fritou, and then operates the chain in their own preferred method. In this case, as indicated by the name, they offer Halal chicken.
Mexican Chicken Hof
A1-341 North Road
H.O.F. Those three letters mean nothing on their own. Unless you happen to be in South Korea and your eyes are swimming around looking at an unfamiliar language and fonts. Especially if you are in a busy commercial zone full of restaurants, bars and other entertainment establishments in busy areas such as Kangnam in Seoul.
Derived from the German word hoffbrau meaning ‘royal or court brew’ which originates back in the days when beer was only available to the elite, its now often associated with German taverns. The Koreans have adopted part of the terminology as their own, and in the modern day, a hof could be described as a Korean pub or drinking spot. Incidentally, one of the very first hof’s I visited in Seoul over a decade ago was very much patterned after a German brew house, complete with huge beer steins, and delicious sausages on the menu.
Dadeo New Orleans Diner and Bar
10548A 82 Avenue NW
While there are differences between Cajun, Creole, and Southern food, I couldnt name many off the top of my head. Local and native versus European influence is how i was taught to distinguish between the two, but with Dadeo, this dilemma is solved. They offer both.
Dadeo is an eclectic diner on Edmonton’s spirited Whyte Avenue. They serve lunch and dinner every day except Wednesdays, and are open late. I have always found the biggest oddity with them is not the bright, kitschy decor, nor the menu, but the fact kids arent allowed. They function as a restaurant, but are licensed as a bar, so they maintain a strict 18 years and older policy. Unfortunate for the times that i wish to meet friends with kids for lunch, this is very inconvenient, as they serve some good, simple fare.
The Dadeo menu is an all things to all people kind of menu – which frequent readers will know i dislike. However, what it means is some homework, and some reconnaissance need to be done in order to navigate the extensive menu to find the real treasures – because really good comfort food does exist.
My favorite entree at Dadeo is the Combo Fabio. Half St. Louis ribs, half fried chicken, it’s a great sample of two good entrees. The seasoned fried chicken has crispy seasoned skin, but invariably ends up a touch dry. The ribs are tender and moist, and doused in sauce. Not my preferred BBQ style, but there is something satisfying about the messy satisfaction of eating wet ribs.
Po Boys are Cajun style sandwiches served with a variety of fillings. Pictured is crab cake. Often decent, occasionally a bit dry. The blackened catfish is usually quite good, and the blackened chicken is a safe choice as well. They are on special for lunch as well – so that is the best time to indulge.
My first memory of Dadeo involved an angel hair pasta with seafood and bananas foster. This classic dish for two is a heart attack waiting in a bowl, but oh my what a way to go. Banana’s with rum flambeed in a pound of butter, brown sugar, and poured over ice cream. The table side service is a nice touch, and the taste is to die for. Rich, decadent, best shared with one or two people.
Every Edmontonian i know loves Dadeo. I have to say, at this point, it is likely more institution than great dining experience, but it is still worth trying unless you frequent the Southern United States. The food is solid, hearty, and comforting. Definitely heavy, greasy, and good value. These values appeal to Edmontonians – as the long lineups and wait times are a testament to the popularity of Dadeo. It’s not the best food in town, but I never complain about ending up there. Definitely worth a sample, along with a beer. I’d pass on the chili beer though – neither Cajun, nor Creole, it is interesting, but hard to stomach more than a few drinks. Save the room for your meal, you’ll be glad you did.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
310 S Front Street
Memphis, TN 38103-4112
Fried Chicken. In my travels, I’ve come across fried chicken in almost every culture. This was definitely surprising to me. Just as surprising, is that it often was really good fried chicken.
By the estimation of my fanatical, fried chicken loving sibling, Korean’s do the best fried chicken. But neither of us have explored a lot of the southern United States, and that’s somewhere that really appreciates their fried chicken.
The Front Street location of Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is the downtown Memphis location of the original Mason, Tennessee shop. And from the lineups and the crowds, it really is world famous.
Not much to look at, the place is completely full at all hours of the day. Clean, and tidy, the focus is really on one thing – the chicken. As has been accurately reported in thousands of reviews, this is not fast food. As the saying goes, good food takes time to prepare. And Gus’s serves good chicken!
When I walk into an ethnic restaurant for the first time, I make an attempt to determine if they have a specialty – a particular house dish for which they are “famous” within their community. I look for clues in the menu or on chalkboards and also I look around at the other tables to see what the other patrons are having.
The first time I entered My Chau a couple of years ago, determining their specialty was easy – it was their chicken pho (pho ga) with a side of deep fried chicken leg. The place was packed for lunch and almost every single table had a plate full of this beautifully deep fried chicken leg that comes with bowl of a chicken pho. I knew then I had to have it.
This place is truly a hole-in-the-wall in the best meaning of the term. The restaurant is a mere sliver – perhaps ten feet across and seats no more than perhaps 20-30 people. For such a tiny place, they have an extensive eight page menu.
East Vancouver has a number of places that serve a good beef pho (pho bo). My Chau differentiates itself from the crowd by specializing in pho ga and thus have developed a quite a following. It fills up quickly around lunch time – often with well-dressed and affluent Vietnamese side by side with working class folk looking to have a good pho ga.
Their chicken broth is light, but flavourful – and very nearly transparent in its clarity. It is also quite light in salt. I do not detect that “round” MSG flavour that so many bowls of pho in this town exhibit. The accompanying chicken leg is fried perfectly – with a crisp, golden skin and tender meat. I suspect that the legs had been used to make the broth prior to being deep fried. It may explain the excellent crispiness of the skin. It is delicious and perfectly seasoned.
The noodles are perfectly cooked – loosely separate, al dente, fresh tasting and nicely “ricey”.
The other food I have had here has been very good (The hu tieu – dry noodles – in particular). However, it is their pho ga that beckons.
Well Tea & Asian Cuisine
5728 University Blvd
(604) 222 0016
Its a well documented fact that finding good eats in certain places is always a challenge. Airports. Train stations. University campuses. Perhaps its the transient nature of these places, full of people on the move and just wanting a quick bite as they come and go.
Well at the University of British Columbia (UBC) this stereotype definitely holds true…
The enclave that is the University Village is an interesting microcosm of the perceived general populace of students who attend this institution. Set in this two block area, the overwhelming majority of retail space is taken up by places to eat… with many of them are ethnic.
There’s been a lot of turnover in recent years as well, be it swaps in ownership/management (e.g. Suga Sushi), or just rapid closures (e.g. some taco shop lasted mere months before shutting down). Coincidentally, this a fore mentioned collapsed fast food joint is now the site of the subject of this post, Well Tea & Asian Cuisine.
Located not too far away is the Pearl Fever Tea House. So it was a little bit surprising to find yet another bubble tea serving place pop up. But given the large Asian student body at UBC, I suppose they have the right demographic in dense concentration to survive the dangers of potential “bubble tea cannibalization”.
This outlet of Well Tea also has a place to eat in, its in an area accessible by a steep climb up some stairs to the second floor. I had no idea there was space up there, as I don’t think the previous tenant had seating up there. Regardless, with my intention to only get something to go, I only glanced up at the alleyway leading to the seating area, and can only guess at how many people can actually fit up there.
I’m not sure if you are like me, but do you ever find some menu’s really daunting? And I’m not talking in terms of not knowing the cuisine. Its the sheer size and volume of choices, especially in places like run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants, or in this case, bubble tea shops. I often wonder how one can come up with twenty-odd dishes that are listed under generic headings such as beef, chicken, pork, rice and noodles. The same goes for tea.
Its almost like looking at the departures screen at YVR.
After going through my fair share of bubble teas this past year, which was preceded by very little exposure or interest to this drink, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of them taste the same to me. Perhaps this is because I often sample the same base tea, and don’t get creative with the extras beyond the pearls. In fact, the pearls are likely the only true distinguishable thing (too soft, too hard, too chalky, etc.) between one place and another for me. It doesn’t mean I don’t like bubble tea. But perhaps I should stop drinking it for a while. The offering at Well Tea is nothing extraordinary, and if I had to choose, I’d go with Pearl Fever.
Take-away orders are available, and upon opening the bag once I was back home, I smiled when I saw these distinctive looking packages containing my meal. Not the usual Styrofoam containers you get at other fast food places, or as boxes to take home any left overs at restaurants, these had a clear Asian motif. Not knowing what they say, I can only guess they are a generic brand of packaging, but well suited to the food that can be had here.
To further explain my earlier sentence, it seemed that a lot of the quick snack food items come with a trio of vegetable-based sides. These would be slotted neatly into the separated compartments built into the container. On this day, it was a very bitter tasting, gai-lan (Chinese broccoli), a spicy miso-flavored eggplant mixture, and lastly a strange cabbage kimchi and bean sprout pairing. Suffice it to say, none of these were any good in my humble opinion.
As you can see, my main target for my lunch was the fried chicken “nuggets”. Flavored Taiwanese-style, they had that fragrant scent that I enjoy with this kind of deep fried chicken. The chunks of meat were crispy on the exterior but still very juicy inside. I won’t go as far to say I like them over the chicken karaage at Suga located upstairs, but not bad for the low price.
I’ll take Well Tea for what it is, another good, quick and easy place to grab a cheap meal when I’m in a hurry or just passing by. Certainly more interesting than the neighboring McDonald’s, but for your average Canadian student, I imagine the golden arches will still have them lined out the door…