Korean BBQ House – Edmonton, AB


Korean BBQ House
6111 – 28 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
780-461-5509‎

As I started writing this post, I noticed that fellow Edmonton blogger ‘eating is the hard part’ was also through this restaurant recently (and quite possibly the same day, a few hours apart).  While he took the adventurous route, we stuck with the better known classics.  Our dinner started with the same trio of banchan: savoury sprouts, sweet daikon, and spicy kimchi — all good.

I have a secret obsession with Pajon, a.k.a. Puchingae.  Shokutsu probably has haunting memories of me dragging him through the streets of Seoul into the wee hours of the night, in my desperate hunt for a quality vendor (with only hours before my flight out).  The hunt in Seoul was a success, but this local option was fairly basic – with green onion, squid, egg and a vinegar based dipping sauce.  It is an acceptable base representation, but sadly not great.

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Pad Thai – Edmonton, AB


Pad Thai Cuisine of Thailand
10159 – 82 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
(780) 437-4858

I have driven past this location on Whyte avenue (just east of the train tracks), a countless number of times in my lifetime.  On a quest to try somewhere new – we stopped in for lunch.

There was a solid lunch crowd already seated in this small little restaurant, so we ordered a couple appetizers right away fearing a slow lunch service.  I was proven wrong – as the food quickly started arriving at the table.  Starting off with an order of spring rolls and satay skewers – the skewers win the appetizer battle.  Spring rolls & sauce were good, but not memorable; however the sweet chili sauce with the satay was a definite winner.  Nothing against the peanut sauce, but it looked unlike any peanut sauce I’ve ever seen and tasted like every other peanut sauce I’ve ever had.

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Nando’s Chicken – Burnaby, BC


Nando’s Chicken (Burnaby South location)
5761 Marine Way
Burnaby, BC
(604) 451-0020

It was out in my familiar Kerrisdale neighborhood where I first saw the sign for Nando’s Chicken.  At the time, I was completely unaware that it was a chain of part dine-in, part take-out food enterprises.  From the outside, that particular outlet on W 41st Ave. looked to me like  a regular restaurant and so it wasn’t until I saw it later in a few other places that I began to wonder about its setup.  As an aside, a visiting friend from the UK told me upon seeing the store front that they have these in the UK and he was surprised to see them here as well.

The south Burnaby franchise where I had my first ever Nando’s meal is in a shopping area along Marine Way, which bears a striking similarity to the commercial area known as South Edmonton Common in the provincial capital of Alberta.  Kind of lost amid the big box stores and rows of business, it has set up shop in a smaller part of the strip malls in the area, with a Starbucks (surprise, surprise) nearby as well.  Getting a quick meal while driving in the region, I got caught up in the obvious lunch hour rush of customers, and was surprised to see a decent crowd eating inside as well as those waiting for take away orders.

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Cake-ya – Port Moody, BC


Cake-ya
2415 Clarke Street
Port Moody, BC
(604) 931-9005
Tues – Sat: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 5:0
0 pm

December 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

This was a far cry from my usual pattern of seeking out new eats.  First off, this mission required an extended drive way out to the community of Port Moody – a quaint little place with an older downtown core near the water but also has some beautiful natural surroundings up in the nearby mountains.  Second, this was a deliberate foodosophy trip focused solely on sweets, with no regular food component as part of the meal.

So what led me to what is self-dubbed as the “City of the Arts”?  A Japanese-specialty dessert shop known as Cake-ya.

Located in an older building next door to a funky used bookstore and down the same path as a soup/sandwich joint, Cake-ya began as a place that made and sold Japanese pudding, otherwise known as Purin.  To describe it simply, I would say it is a smooth, silky custard (with the usual key ingredients such as butter, milk, sugar, eggs, etc.) with a sweet caramel syrupy sauce at the base.  I’ve traditionally enjoyed it as a simple after meal sweet treat, or on its own while drinking a contrasting bitter green tea.

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Pho Ha Noi – San Jose, CA


Pho Ha Noi
1759 Capitol Expressway
San Jose, CA 95121-1561
(408) 239-0888

When discussing the origins of Pho, there are not a lot of facts available. While some think that the origin of Pho (pronounced ‘Fuh’) is from the French dish Pot au Feu, there is very little that historians can agree on. Reconstructing an oral history from something from the turn of the 20th Century can’t be easy. But there are a couple facts that are always agreed upon – Pho was originally beef, there was undoubtedly a French influence on the creation of the dish, and that it originated in the North, somewhere around Ha Noi, and was brought South with locals who migrated when the country was split into two in 1954.

Versions of Pho from the North ended up quite different than versions of the South, which was adapted a lot more for the Southern palate. As i discussed in my post on Pho Y #1, which is just across the road from Pho Ha Noi, versions in the North are much milder and more subtle. Far less anise, clove, black cardamom, and lighter treatments of charred onion and ginger, resulting in a lighter, cleaner broth. Pho Ha Noi serves a true northern style Pho, quite different than the Southern style Pho served at Pho Y #1.

Located at the intersection of Capitol Expressway and Silver Creek Road, it’s another in the large number of Vietnamese noodle shops in the area.
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Pho Y #1 – San Jose, CA


Pho Y #1
1660 Capitol Expressway
San Jose, CA 95121-1839
(408) 274-1769

In travelling through Vietnam from North to South, it was interesting to see the changes in Pho. Starting in the North, the flavour was extremely subtle, delicate, and extremely balanced. Very light accompaniments. Broth had a wonderful clean odor like perfume, and the taste of beef with gentle underlying spice notes.  A delicate balance between sweet, and salty. As you moved further south, things got richer, spicier, beefier. Bolder flavours, stronger presence, the broth was more pronounced. Darker, saltier, more charred ginger, onion, and star anise.

Bringing back this understanding with me to North America, I’ve come to realize how many variations exist in Pho restaurants here, and that your favorite Pho will likely be a matter of personal preference. The key element, balance, exists in both styles, and in an infinite number of small regional differences.

With a very large Vietnamese immigrant population, it is no surprise that San Jose is home to some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in North America. One area with a particularly high concentration of high quality restaurants is the intersection of the Capitol Expressway and Silver Creek Road. One of the oldest, most highly regarded, and best known Pho restaurants exists there – Pho Y#1.

Pho Y#1 is a bit of an oddity. If you’ve been a frequent reader, you know I’ve stumped at length for the past few years about restaurants staying within their means, and trying not to be all things to all people.  Keeping a manageable menu that allows them to maintain high quality standards.
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Redwood Grill – Big Sur, CA


Redwood Grill
47200 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
(831) 667-2129

I love road trips to no where. They give you an opportunity to see new places, and explore areas that you would otherwise just drive by. Some of my favorite memories come from impromptu trips and destinations unknown.

The California coast line has some of the best driving vistas in the world. The stretch of Highway 1 from San Francisco down to Morro Bay has a great diversity of scenery – oceans, cliffs, redwoods, beaches, dunes, winding canyons, big surf. It also has some fantastic food finds like Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero. On an impromptu trip to Big Sur, I hoped to discover another find in the Redwood Grill.

Located in the Fernwood Resort, the Redwood Grill isnt exactly what I pictured. A restaurant inside a resort conjures images of white linen, stunning vistas, and well attired servers.

Driving through Big Sur, I almost missed it. What I thought would look like a resort actually looks like a motel with attached drinking hole. Pulling a quick u-turn, we slid into the parking lot.

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