Mexico Lindo – Edmonton, AB


Mexico Lindo
16604-109 Av NW
Tue-Wed,Sun 11am-6pm; Thu-Sat 11am-9pm

In the west end of Edmonton there’s a strip mall. Next to the Mayfield Inn, long ago, there was a Mexican restaurant out here before Mexican restaurants existed. It was my first experience with Mexican food that wasn’t fast food, and it was delicious. A whole different world of flavours. I loved eating there. Unfortunately, the owner, tired of Edmonton winters, retired, and went back to Mexico.

Years later, word came out that there was a new Mexican restaurant open in the same strip mall. I was hoping some of the magic had rubbed off on the new establisment: Mexico Lindo.

Clean and a bit spartan, there’s a bit of an odd feel about it. However, the service is friendly and warm. I’ll take service over atmosphere any day.

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MRKT (Market) Restaurant – Edmonton, AB


MRKT (Market) Restaurant
10542 Jasper Ave NW
Edmonton, AB
(780) 757-6758

My poor camera was dropped at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the lens no longer retracts. I loved that camera – but after extensive research, im back in the game with a new camera! Happy to do my first post with pics from my new baby.

On a rainy dreary day, we head down the “ugly” part of Jasper Avenue to try the new restaurant by Carla Alexander of Soul Soup and Sal Di Maio who owns the gastropub downstairs, Red Star. MRKT Market is simply that – a “fresh market” concept restaurant where the limited menu provides you with a few choices in terms of sandwiches, soups, and specials. 3 sandwiches, 3 soups, one special the day we were there.

The interior feels like a wooden airplane fuselage. I’ve heard canoe,  and upscale log cabin (rather generous i’d say), it is nonetheless hip, while managing some warmth. The most prominent feature of MRKT market is the long table that allows many diners to share a meal.

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Bangkok Express – Edmonton, AB


Bangkok Express
6234 99 Street NW
Edmonton, AB
(780) 433-0795

Bangkok Express on Urbanspoon

In Canada, the distribution of good Thai restaurants is a bit of a strange thing. Some cities seem to have a great collection of Thai restaurants, and some don’t. Edmonton, oft-maligned for a variety reasons, certainly has a fantastic collection of Thai restaurants. Syphay in the south, to Boualong and Viphalay in the North, these are all great restaurants – though they are all Thai food by way of Laos. Even your generic Thai restaurant, Bua Thai, or Ban Thai are reasonably good. Why? I honestly couldnt tell you. However, what I do know is this does not mean that we don’t have our share of questionable places either. But for the most part, it’s all pretty decent.

Bankok Express is located in Argyll Plaza – an odd assortment of businesses and hotel, it can be pretty easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. Bangkok Express is conceptually more Thai than many other Edmonton Thai restaurants – serving fast, cheap, and fresh food. With no dish over 10 dollars, the price point is fantastic for a cuisine that shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’ve always been a bit offended by the prices at establishments like the King and I – nice decor doesnt justify double the prices for half the food.

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The interior of Bangkok Express is clean and cafeteria like. You order from a counter with an open kitchen, wait for your order to be called, and pick it up. Things flow fast, and are served fairly promptly, dishes hot. With a limited menu, there is very little time wasted. They could be a bit faster, but i appreciate the extra time they put into cooking everything.

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On cold days, i find nothing more soothing than a bowl of soup – preferably, something spicy. Any version of Tom Yum is a great soup for this – light, spicy broth whose heat and acidity evoke memories of warmth, and sunny days. My preference is usually Tom Yum Khaa, but the non-coconut version is usually good too. Unfortuately, the version here is not. The vegetables are reasonably fresh, but the broth is limp, the balance is missing, and it lacks a lot of the subtle undertones that make Tom Yum so memorable. Not enough heat. Not enough acidity, not enough fish sauce, and in general, just a poor bowl.

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I ordered the Pad Thai as well, and this was slightly better. The noodles were hot, and had a nice chew, and the peanuts were fragrant and fresh. But once again, the flavour was uniformly oily, and bland. From my standpoint, the brilliance of Thai food lies in balancing key, essential flavours. Pungent, heat, and acidity, along with the textures of crisp, and chewy. This dish lacked any pungency, any heat, and no real acidity. Thoroughly disappointing, considering how simple a wok fried noodle should be.

Considering Bangkok Express is, according to published reviews, run by Thai people (i’ve never been able to distinguish based on language alone), i have to say im pretty disappointed with the outcome. It’s like everything has been taken down 3 notches in order to appease the clientele near their location. After reading many reviews, I was genuinely looking forward to this. “This is how we ate in Thailand!” they would gush. Makes me wonder where they were eating, as this food was really sub par. Thai food is generally fairly basic – and excellent eateries in town manage to demonstrate this on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, Bangkok Express is not one of them.

Bangkok Express on Urbanspoon

Oodle Noodle Wok Box – Edmonton, AB


Oodle Noodle Wok Box
10803 – 82nd Avenue
Edmonton, AB
(780) 988-7808

The wok. An Asian cooking utensil typically used for stir frying at high temperatures. The heat and the technique are the keys for making a great stir fry. When done well, you get a crisp, flavourful, non-greasy blend of meat, vegetables, and starch. When done poorly, the end result is an oily, slightly charred, coagulated mess of food. As simple as stir fries look to be, properly using a wok isnt that simple.

Oodle Noodle Wok Box, not to be confused with the local Edmonton chain “Wok Box”, is a small eatery that focuses primarily on wok-fried takeout. Broken down, the name actually makes a lot of sense. They provide a lot of noodle dishes (“oodles of noodles”), cooked in a “wok”, served in one of the classic chinese takeout containers- a “box” – first brought to the Canadian conciousness in movies and television shows set in New York.

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A former Mr Sub located on Whyte Avenue, Oodle Noodle Wok Box first opened shop in 2005, the first of the wok-fried stir fry locations to open up in Edmonton. Wok and Roll, Wok Box, and assorted other places opened soon afterwards. The location is nothing fancy – retaining a lot of the old fixtures from it’s previous incarnation. However, the counter does provide a good view of the kitchen – several employees dancing, singing, and stir frying in intense heat. Their enthusiasm is kind of catchy.

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The selection of foods is pretty diverse – much like a culinary tour around Asia. From Japan, Mongolia, and China, to the flavours of SE Asia (Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia) and even including India, they provide simple wok dishes of chicken, beef, and shrimp, stir fried with differnt noodles, different veggies, and different sauces. A very basic concept, but by allowing you to switch certain choices, providing you with infinite variety.

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The best part of the Oodle Noodle Experience? The price. $6.99 for chicken and beef. $7.99 for shrimp. They provide you with a very large serving of steaming hot food. The veggies are generally very fresh, and crisp. In general, each dish has some wonderful balance. Good acidity, spice, and sweetness. Nice texture contrasts of crisp and soft. The biggest issue is the whole dish is usually a bit oily, the result of inexperienced wok technique, and sometimes the sauce can be a bit overwhelming. Good flavour, but too much sauce leaves you with nothing but that taste in your mouth. Of all the dishes available, my favorite dish is the Jungle Curry Cambogee. I order this two times out of three.

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Ok, so the boxes are cute. And the dancing is catchy. And the food is pretty good. That pretty much covers it all. Great value – definitely the best food, and value, of all the wok places in town. And with some great opening hours (open till 10pm weekdays, 11pm Fri-Sat), they are pretty much available whenever i have a craving for some hot, filling, satisfying food at one of the best prices left in town. Kind of makes me want to dance the next time im in line – and that’s something no one needs to see!

Oodle Noodle Wok Box on Urbanspoon

New York Bagel Cafe – Edmonton, AB


New York Bagel Cafe
8430 Gateway Blvd NW
Edmonton, AB  T6E 4B4
(780) 432-2003
Open Sun, Mon 9:00am-4:30pm, Tue-Sat 9am-9:30pm

September 2008 re-visit post here

Original post below:

Brunch is one of those love/hate relationships for me. On the one hand, I would generally prefer to eat lunch and dinner foods at any time of day. Give me a nice bowl of Pho, a slice of cold pizza, or a great big burrito instead of bacon, eggs and toast any day.  On the other hand, im a real sucker for Eggs Benedict, and hash browns. What this means for me is the occasional foray out for Brunch. And it typically means im ordering the Eggs Benny.

New York Bagel Cafe existed in Edmonton at the corner of Whyte Avenue and Calgary Trail for many years. That was, until a tragic fire took out the Alberts, Pet store, and other establishments it shared a building with. They had a small but loyal following, and yet, were now homeless.

Down the street, a few blocks down, was a small mother-daughter sandwich shop that served up organic, sustainable foods, fresh local ingredients in the forms of sandwiches, salads and soups. Twig N Berries was an idea that was too early – before its time. It’s neighbour, the venerable Edmonton institution “Club Malibu”, did not attract the same kinds of crowds they were looking to target. Sadly, they closed their doors as well. This space, once vacated, became the new home to New York Bagel Cafe. The new space was twice as large, and some concern about their ability to reproduce their success from their previous location existed. Maybe the positive vibes that TNB started would be passed onto the NY Bagel Cafe.

Like a Phoenix fresh from the fire, New York Bagel Cafe came back as good as ever. First off, they have the best eggs benedict in town. Period. Start with a great selection of fixed benedicts – utilizing creative flavour combinations, combined with some seasonal variations. The base for the benedict is your choice of toasted bagel – a more hearty, and solid choice over the traditional english muffin. The eggs are perfectly poached. The hollandaise? Freshly made, stable and no where close to breaking. These large portions are served with the best hash browns, broiled, pan fried, seasoned potatoes that have the perfect combination of toothy and crunch. They are salty, but i like them that way. Lastly, comes an array of exotic fruits. Seasonal berries. Kiwi. Orange. Melon. Dragonfruit. Starfruit. The varieties are endless. And they are always fresh.

What else do they have? Omelettes and frittatas. Eggs and Bacon. Platters. The Montreal Smoked Meat platter is a particular favorite among many patrons. Eggs. Bagel. Smoked meat. Hash Browns. Fruit. Hard to go wrong with that, especially when you wake up two advil short of a lesser hangover.

The new location is not without issues however. Food of this quality is made fresh to order. Resulting in painfully long waiting times – typically 60-70 minutes from the moment you order, to the moment you get your food. NY Bagel Cafe is also not much of a secret among the brunch crowd – there can be hour long lineups on weekends, just to get a table. Especially if you show up during the prime hours of 10:30am-1:00pm. They also do not have refillable coffee – making a European latte their “house coffee”. Lastly, they are not cheap. But these days, what is? If these are my biggest concerns regarding a breakfast establishment, I believe we have a winner.

At the end of the day, in most cases, I’d still prefer lunch and dinner foods over breakfast foods. But at any time before dinner, I will take an order of Eggs Benedict from New York Bagel Cafe. They are that good. And for those who know me, that is saying quite a lot.

New York Bagel Cafe on Urbanspoon