May 23rd, 2016

Food Notes for May 23, 2016

Are you following the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals? They’ve played some great basketball these last two games. Go Raps go! On to this week’s food notes:

  • Are you ready for this year’s first What the Truck?!, taking place May 28-29, 2016 at the Expo Centre? Check the website for the menus on Tuesday.
  • Edmonton’s Craft Beer Festival is coming up, taking place on June 3-4, 2016 at the Expo Centre.
  • Edmonton’s newest craft brewery, Situation Brewing, has been open since the weekend, but their grand opening is slated for May 25, 2016. Jason Foster has the lo-down on Situation.
  • One of Downtown’s most consistent revolving door spaces is again changing hands – The Burg (10190 104 Street) is becoming Stage 104 after May 24.
  • Jonny is the latest to visit The People’s Perogy.
  • Last week, the Journal posted the first positive review of The Almanac that I’ve seen.
  • I missed linking to the Journal’s review of Malaysian restaurant Island Cafe and Bistro in the west end.
  • Vue Weekly profiles East African restaurants Mareeg Cafe and the newer Samosa House on Alberta Avenue.
  • Make sure you read your menus carefully and ask questions, otherwise, you can be duped: Liane tackles the confusion around restaurants claiming to serve kobe beef.
  • Western Living Magazine just released their list of 2016 Foodies of the Year, and Edmonton has some great representation, with Italian Centre’s Teresa Spinelli, food activist Kevin Kossowan, Prairie Noodle Shop’s Eric Hanson, and chocolatier Jacqueline Jacek.
  • Liane wrote a great article about the good intentions of restaurants that try – but cannot sustain – the support of local producers.
  • Phil’s latest Off Menu podcast features local butchers Elyse Chatterton and Corey Meyer.
  • Liane profiles Ian Truer and Winding Road Cheese. I hope to make it out to the French Quarter market soon to pick some up for myself!
  • Did you know Edmontonians have had a sweet tooth from our inception? Lawrence Herzog covers our love affair with candy since the 1900s.
  • If you’re looking for some great excuses for a road trip to Central Alberta, check out this AMA article.
  • Ocean Odyssey Inland has a great new space at 10019 167 Street to house their frozen products, but also to offer customers convenient, quick meals solutions such as marinated seafood and fresh options from Iceland.

Ocean Odyssey Inland

Ocean Odyssey Inland

  • It was a soggy first outdoor market day for the City Market on Saturday, but we love that it’s back on our street!

City Market

City Market

Asparagus

Edgar Farms asparagus for miles

Rhubarb cream scones

Rhubarb cream scones

May 22nd, 2016

Back in the 6ix: Toronto Attractions

My sister Amanda moved back to Toronto in the fall, and I promised to visit her in the spring. I was finally able to keep that promise in April. It’s no secret I love visiting the city, and each trip allows us to discover (and in some cases, rediscover) our new favourite spaces, places and events.

Toronto Trip

Nathan Phillips Square

Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market

Many years ago, Amanda and I had complained our way through a covered-but-outdoors Toronto Underground Market at Evergreen Brick Works. I haven’t been back since then, but their weekly farmers’ market seemed like a great opportunity.

Evergreen Bick Works

Evergreen Brick Works

We probably shouldn’t have taken her boyfriend Jason’s vehicle, given the number of times we had to circle around, but it did make us wonder why anyone would drive there on a regular basis at all – it would incite road rage in most people. Inside, there weren’t as many produce vendors as we were expecting (recognizing that farmers are now down to their cellared products), and not one greenhouse producer. We did pick up some Best Baa sheep’s yogurt to try (not as tangy as the cow’s yogurt we’re used to), and refilled our supply of my favourite mustard, Kozlick’s.

Evergreen Bick Works

Shipping container vendors

The covered part of Evergreen housed vendors in shipping containers (great idea, though it must have still been chilly for the vendors), and some food trucks. It was our chance to try Eva’s Chimney Cakes, a genius marriage of Hungarian cinnamon-sugar doughnuts (available one year at K-Days) and soft serve.

Evergreen Bick Works

With my doughnut cone

The "cone" had to be cooled in order to not immediately liquefy the ice cream, and lost its chewy doughnut quality in the process. I did enjoy the mix-in of apple preserves though.

Gladstone Flea Market

The Gladstone Hotel is considered (along with The Drake Hotel) the anchor of West Queen West. They host a monthly flea market curated with unique, independent vendors.

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Gladstone Flea Market

Amanda and Jason sampled some sustainable pasta sauce (with mealworms blended in), while Mack and I picked up some Toronto Bee Rescue honey, made from undesired hives rescued from homes or construction projects. Best of all, there was no entrance fee to the market.

The Social

Mack had never been to a television taping in Toronto, but was still a good sport when he agreed to accompany me to an episode of The Social. It’s not something I watch regularly, but on and off if I happen to be home during the day. Still, it’s always interesting to see how they produce the show behind the scenes (set changes, cues, etc.). Mack’s highlight was getting a high-five from actress Arielle Kebbel, who was the guest host that day.

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With The Social hosts Melissa Grelo and Cynthia Loyst

Battle Sports

I stumbled upon the Battle Sports website after learning about their Rage Room on a segment on The Social. They were featuring 50% off their archery dodgeball, and Amanda and Jason were game, so we tried it.

Battle Sports

Our Battle Sports team

In hindsight, even an hour in the arena wasn’t a good idea for our out-of-shape bodies, as we were not used to all of the crouching and quick movements required of us to stay in the game. At any rate, this sport required the use of foam arrows and axes to fell opponents, and between the adrenaline-inducing music and some overly aggressive participants, it was much more stressful than I thought it would be. While I enjoyed the actual archery, I could have done without the format.

New Urbanism Film Festival

I convinced Amanda to join us for the New Urbanism Film Festival, in its second year. It was a screening of a collection of North American short films, ranging in topic from the blight of raised freeways to the failure of pedestrian malls. As expected, some films were more engaging than others, but I would have appreciated a more localized context following the screening. A panel discussion about ideas as they related to Toronto would have been fascinating.

Toronto Blue Jays

Mack hadn’t been to a live Blue Jays game before, so Amanda made sure that was on our agenda.

Go Blue Jays!

Our view at Rogers Centre

The tickets were so reasonably priced ($26), and there was even a giveaway that day – Josh Donaldson bobbleheads. It was great to be in a packed house (46,000+), much different than the last game I attended. And even better, the Jays beat the White Sox, 6-2!

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With our Bringer of Rain bobblehead

Toronto Raptors’ Jurassic Park

Before our date with Real Sports (a tradition whenever I’m in Toronto), we had the chance to visit Jurassic Park outside the Air Canada Centre before Game 4 during their series with the Pacers.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

It wasn’t as packed as we expected (we learned later that the crowd is smaller for away games), but there was great energy in the square, with a live DJ, a big screen, and alcohol available.

Jurassic Park

Ready to beat Jason one on one

I know there are plans for something similar in Ice District’s winter plaza (if the Oilers ever get to the playoffs), so it’ll be interesting to see how an Edmonton version of Jurassic Park would play out. And yes, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for an Edmonton branch of Real Sports in the District.

Jurassic Park

We the North!

I’ll be back with a food-centric post later this week.

May 19th, 2016

Just Off 124: The Local Omnivore

Mark Bellows and Ryan Brodziak are among a small but growing number of entrepreneurs who’ve successfully transitioned to a brick-and-mortar establishment from a mobile food truck. The Local Omnivore has been open since January, located a few blocks away from the burgeoning 124 Street restaurant district. However, given the impending arrival of Duchess’ long-awaited expansion next door, there is no doubt this area will soon see its own increase in foot traffic. After work on Saturday afternoon, Mack picked me up and we seized the opportunity to finally give this incarnation of The Local Omnivore a try.

The space is much larger than it seems from the outside, accommodating a lengthy open kitchen and bar, 40 seats, and a generous prep kitchen. The interior has a DIY feel to it, with painted walls seemingly unfinished, tools visible, and repurposed wood pallets used as space dividers. As a result, the room seems lived-in and comfortable, even though they are still growing into the space (their liquor license was just granted last month). Lunch and weekend brunches remain their focus, but they will be easing into evening hours at some point in the future.

The Local Omnivore

Interior

The brunch menu is small but interesting, with six dishes on offer, some incorporating the house smoked and cured meat they’re known for. Mack selected the Fraulein sandwich ($12.50), while I couldn’t pass up the brunch pirate poutine ($12.50).

So many brunch purveyors feel the need to tack on a fruit cup, so I appreciated that The Local Omnivore doesn’t mess around with unnecessary garnishes – our plates arrived in their unapologetically indulgent glory. My poutine layered spicy shoestring fries with cheese curds, vegetarian gravy, green onions, two fried eggs and a citrus hollandaise. The hollandaise cut through the spice for me, and the fries stayed remarkably crispy.

The Local Omnivore

Brunch pirate poutine

Mack’s Fraulein sandwich was comprised of a Russian rye grilled Swiss cheese sandwich stuffed with super smoked bacon schnitzel topped with a fried egg and citrus hollandaise. He struggled to finish the generous portion, and really liked the bacon schnitzel.

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Fraulein sandwich

Service was relaxed but solid throughout, with just a few other tables during our stay. For those interested, The Local Omnivore also runs a deli counter that sells their bacon, garlic sausage, corned beef and smoked turkey, but I’m keen to return to try their lunch menu.

The Local Omnivore was a great place to kick back and start our weekend off. A belated congratulations to Mark and Ryan on the  space, and I look forward to what is still to come.

The Local Omnivore
10933 120 Street
(780) 660-1051
Tuesday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday 11am-2pm, closed Mondays

May 16th, 2016

Food Notes for May 16, 2016

  • Several outdoor markets have already started this year, but my personal favourite kicks off this Saturday – the City Market returns to 104 Street on May 21, 2016, and runs from 9am-3pm. See you there!
  • The YEG Market District is taking place Friday evenings from 4-8pm at 152 Street & Stony Plain Road, and will host vendors, craft sellers and food trucks.
  • The first What the Truck?! of the season is coming up on May 28 & 29, 2016, with over 40 trucks expected each day. Check out the line-up here, and check out Liane’s profile of some of the new trucks to expects out on the streets this summer.
  • Cravings, a gluten-free food sampling fair and expo, takes place on June 12, 2016 from 11am-3pm.
  • The Canadian Food Championships, taking place July 22-24, 2016 in conjunction with the Taste of Edmonton, are recruiting competitors. The categories are: bacon, burger, dessert, steak, sandwich and seafood.
  • Satisfy your Korean street food craving at NongBu every Saturday from 11am-3pm.
  • If you’ve ever wanted to try the University of Alberta’s Faculty Club but didn’t know someone with a membership, now’s your chance – the Club will be open to the public on Wednesday evenings and for Saturday brunch.
  • Quick-serve chain Blaze Pizza opened their first Edmonton location at 15709 37 Street. It’s similar in concept to local establishments Urbano Pizza and Love Pizza.
  • Millwoods is home to a new bakery and cafe called Reinette Cafe and Patisserie, located at 301 Woodvale Road.
  • Chef Lindsay Porter of El Cortez shared some information about the forthcoming restaurant Have Mercy, located above El Cortez. Have Mercy will offer Southern comfort food.
  • Old Strathcona will also be home to a new teppan and bar soon, Seorak (10828 82 Avenue).
  • Cindy sampled her way through most of Chartier’s menu.
  • Ms. Hangry is the latest to check out Quickly, the newest bubble tea chain to hit Edmonton.
  • Vue Weekly reviews Juniper Cafe.
  • Buzz Feed compiled a list of 31 Coffee Shops To Visit Before You Die, and three local cafes made the cut: Coffee Bureau, Elm Cafe and Transcend.
  • Meat will be featured on an episode of You Gotta Eat Here on May 20, 2016!
  • The West End Food Hub Alliance has rebranded as Food4Good, and hopes to one day open a grocery store that will offer targeted discounts to those most in need.
  • Vue Weekly has some ideas for some great agriculture tourism day trips.
  • I failed to link to it last week, but Earls backtracked on its earlier announcement that it was switching to exclusively American-sourced Certified Humane beef, and will now continue to serve some Alberta beef.
  • Mack and I met up with some friends at 1st RND on Friday (hoping that the Raptors would close out the Heat that night). I enjoyed the atmosphere, and would definitely go back to watch a game. The perogy burger was great, and I appreciated the option of tater tots instead of fries.

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Perogy burger from 1st RND

  • After dinner, Linda introduced Mack and I to our first escape game experience at GTFO. It was more challenging than we expected (we blew through all three hints), but managed to make it out just in time!

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We GTFO of Visiting Room!

  • We finally made it out to CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice tonight. The salty cream chocolate wasn’t quite as advertised, but we enjoyed the passion mango slush.

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CoCo to go!

May 12th, 2016

Sourdough 2.0 at the 2016 Edmonton Resilience Festival

The second annual Edmonton Resilience Festival took place on April 30 – May 1, 2016 at the Boyle Street Plaza. The festival continued the themes it began to explore in their first year, encouraging attendees to learn new skills and adopt a "do it yourself" mentality.

Resilience Festival 2016

2016 Edmonton Resilience Festival

Organizers from The Local Good, the volunteer-driven organization behind the festival, seemed satisfied with the attendance this year. The shift in timing of the festival (changed from February to May) did make it easier to program outdoor activities, and did promote more food truck foot traffic. Workshop pricing also changed to much more differentiated ticket prices, ranging from $10-$50.

Resilience Festival 2016

Sourdough Surprise workshop

I decided to sign up for Sourdough Surprise: Naturally Leavened Biscuits, Waffles and Muffins after Su, my sourdough companion from last year, tipped me off. It was led by Owen Petersen of Prairie Mill. I really enjoyed Owen’s Bread Making 101 session at the inaugural festival – he demystified sourdough for me, and made scratch bread seem much less daunting. I’ve made many loaves since then, and (a personal achievement), have managed to keep the starter we were given that day alive for more than a year. In many ways, I went in to this class treating it as "Sourdough 2.0", eager to build on the base of knowledge I had already learned.

Resilience Festival 2016

Owen Petersen

Most in the class were new to the idea of sourdough, so Owen provided an overview about the starter (affectionately named Julie) as well as a basic sourdough bread recipe. Even though it was a review for both Su and I, I appreciated the refresher, as there were some things I had already forgotten. The intimate two hour class also permitted the luxury of time, and we were able to move through each topic at a leisurely pace. Owen is such an enthusiastic teacher that you can’t help but be inspired to pick up his baking mantle.

Resilience Festival 2016

Su and I show off our dough babies

We ended up only making muffins and waffles. The recipes called for starter-based batters, which lent the final products textures slightly different than more traditional flour-only based recipes. The muffins, for instance, had a much tighter crumb and were more dense than I’m used to, but will be worth a try at home.

Resilience Festival 2016

Sourdough muffins

The waffle recipe, however, will go into our immediate rotation. So simple, the resulting waffles had a nice chew and a slight tang. I can envision making batches large enough to freeze and have on hand.

Resilience Festival 2016

Sourdough waffles

My only disappointment was that we didn’t have the chance to make the biscuit recipe as originally advertised. I recognize that festival finances change, so I don’t begrudge the fee increase (from $25 in 2015 to $50 in 2016), but the takeaways this year didn’t seem to have the value that I was looking for – besides sampling some muffins and waffles, we took home the same amount of sourdough as last year.

Resilience Festival 2016

Mixing up bread dough

Overall, I enjoyed the chance to learn more tips and tricks from Owen, and look forward to experimenting further in my own kitchen! Thanks again to Owen for sharing your gift and to the organizers behind the festival for putting on the event.

May 9th, 2016

Food Notes for May 9, 2016

  • Many Edmonton restaurants have stepped up to collect donations or donate proceeds from meals served to support the Fort McMurray fire evacuees. One of those is a dinner on May 16 at BLVD, involving several local chefs. Tickets are $125 plus fees. Remember – you can also donate directly to the Canadian Red Cross.
  • Missed the first Northern Chicken pop-up? Not to worry, they’ve announced the date of their second pop-up at Belgravia Hub, taking place on May 16. Details to come.
  • Vue Weekly released the winners of their 2016 Golden Fork Awards. The issue also features articles on Farm to Fork Eatery in Sherwood Park, Workshop Eatery, The Local Omnivore and Love Pizza.
  • Square One Coffee is Edmonton’s newest coffee shop, located at 17 Fairway Drive.
  • V Sandwiches on Rice Howard Way has finally re-opened!
  • St. Albert darling Jack’s Burger Shack now has a food truck, enabling them to serve the City of Edmonton! Follow them on Twitter to find out about their next location.
  • I’m sorry to hear that Sabzy Persian Grill announced their closure last week.
  • KB and Co, a plant-based cafe, is set to open in the Fox Tower on June 1. With all of the challenges faced by Earth’s General Store, it’ll be interesting to see how another vegan/health-conscious business does on 104 Street.
  • Ms. Hangry Foodie checked out Nudoru Ramen Bar and was hoping for more.
  • Jonny visited Workshop Eatery and had a mixed experience.
  • Cindy recapped the final Comal Mexican Table Dinner of the season.
  • Phil’s latest Off Menu podcast is all about Twyla and Steve Campbell’s Northern Food Night.
  • Looking for some ready-made meals for the freezer? Modern Mama tried Funky Fork, a local catering business that offers freezer meals.
  • I missed this last week – it’s great to see Pat’s shop, Ocean Odyssey Inland, get some great coverage on their expansion.
  • It wasn’t a good sign at Tappen Taro (380, 800 Broadmoor Boulevard) on Saturday night when we arrived to a near-empty restaurant. My Mum had seen an ad in a local paper and wanted to try it. The food was okay, but during the meal, we were longing for Izakaya Tomo.

Tappen Taro

Appetizer platter for two at Tappen Taro

  • It was great fun to help Annie host her baby shower on Saturday! I probably bit off more than I could chew, but everything came together in the end. It was also great to have a Sugared & Spiced cake for our finale!

Baby Shower

Baby shower goodies!

May 3rd, 2016

From the Sea to the Streets: La Mar Food Truck

It’s daunting to open a new business at any time, but to do so during an economic downturn is even more difficult. So it’s been heartening to see local restaurants supporting budding businesses who need a leg up to get going or to test out ideas. Recent examples including Dovetail Deli (RIP) hosting pop-ups for Northern Chicken and Honest Dumplings. Alberta Hotel Bar and Kitchen opened up their doors this weekend to La Mar, a forthcoming food truck hoping to hit the streets this month.

La Mar is the brainchild of Larissa Martinez and Chef Victor Hugo. Offering up the flavours of Mexico, this seafood-forward truck has developed a menu that differentiates itself from other local vendors. Mack and I were invited to a menu tasting at Alberta Hotel on Sunday to taste what La Mar has to offer.

La Mar Food Truck Pop-Up

Larissa and Victor of La Mar

The historic bar inside the Alberta Hotel wasn’t perhaps the most congruent space for a tasting of Mexican street food, but we didn’t come for the surroundings. We were told that no item on the menu would be more than $7, which is a competitive price point to start with, especially if the actual serving portions match the size of the dishes we were provided that day.

The Vallarta shrimp tostada layered creamy avocado, tomatoes, shrimp, chilies, and their house “chimichile” sauce over a crispy tortilla. The fried base was balanced by the freshness of the shrimp, tomatoes and citrus. Our only complaint was that it would be very difficult to eat as a take-out item, and would fare better as a street eat if converted to a dish comprised of dips and chips.

La Mar Food Truck Pop-Up

Vallarta shrimp tostada

The chicken Itza taco was easily our favourite plate. The shredded chicken retained its moisture and absorbed the flavours of the marinade. Unadorned with the exception of pickled onions, it allowed the chicken to remain the star of the show – but really, if allowed, I would have eaten the chicken up with a spoon.

La Mar Food Truck Pop-Up

Chicken Itza taco

Our third and final taste featured the fish taco. The battered and fried fish was topped with tomatoes, cabbage, and their house “chimichile” sauce. The textures spoke for themselves, crisp and light.

La Mar Food Truck Pop-Up

Fish tacos

Chef Hugo was in his element, hamming it up for the camera between the kitchen and the dining room. It’s clear he’s passionate about his food, and I can’t help but think the food truck will be the perfect stage for someone with his energy and enthusiasm.

La Mar Food Truck Pop-Up

Chef Hugo

There are still a few hurdles for La Mar to clear before they can officially join the fleet of food trucks in Edmonton, but I look forward to the day when La Mar is out on the street! If you’re hoping for an early taste of La Mar, Alberta Hotel Bar & Kitchen is hosting a Cinco de Mayo and patio launch party on May 5, 2016 which will feature Chef Hugo’s menu.

Thanks again to Larissa and Victor for the invitation and hospitality!

Follow La Mar on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates.

May 2nd, 2016

Food Notes for May 2, 2016

It was great to finally have that vacation, however brief! We had a fun time in Toronto, in spite of their weather (a chilly 10 degrees most days). So though we’re back at work, the weather is much better at home! On to this week’s food notes:

Pho Tau Bay

Our usual

April 26th, 2016

Lunch Value in Old Strathcona: Nariyanni’s

While dining out for lunch on weekdays has been a rare occurrence for me as of late, meeting up with my sister Felicia during the work day has never happened. So it was a particularly nice occasion when we could do so to try the lunch buffet at Nariyanni’s for the first time. We were invited as guests of the restaurant.

Just off the busy Whyte Avenue strip, the family-run Nariyanni’s is located a beautifully converted heritage auto body garage. Specializing in South African Indian food, Nariyanni’s offers a lighter type of fare when compared with other mainstream Indian buffets. Their "clean eating" philosophy also extends to accommodating those who are gluten and dairy intolerant, making it an attractive option to those with certain food restrictions.

Last Tuesday, Felicia and I were welcomed into the restaurant. We settled into a comfortable booth, marveling at the warm décor and flow of the space. I liked that the circular buffet station was at the centre of the room, mimicking the place of a kitchen as the heart of a home. And with a sign pronouncing that all food is prepared by "Mama", it did feel like we were among family.

Nariyanni's

Interior

The $12 buffet (cash only, from Tuesdays to Fridays from 11:30am-1:30pm) is an unbeatable value – salad, soup, rice, three vegetarian selections, one meat option plus dessert, it’s hard to imagine how Nariyanni’s recoups the cost.

Nariyanni's

Felicia helps herself

Felicia and I happily sampled our way through most of the buffet, heartily enjoying the braised kale and cabbage, dhal and eggplant, sautéed butternut squash and chicken curry. Our favourite dish may have been the kale and cabbage – it was nice to have different textures available on our plates. Warm roti was also offered to us, a lovely, flaky accompaniment to soak up the sauces and soup. Through the course of our meal, the heat level snuck up on us, though diners with a higher tolerance for spice will be just fine.

Nariyanni's

Our modest spread

It was a leisurely lunch for us, but other parties with less time on their hands were in and out in a half hour. And though we were comfortably full, we didn’t feel as sluggish as we may have exiting a different type of buffet or quick-serve establishment.

Thanks Nariyanni’s for the introduction to a wonderful lunch option in Old Strathcona. I hope to be back with Mack in tow for the dinner buffet soon!

Nariyanni’s
10131 81 Avenue
(780) 756-7112

April 21st, 2016

In View of Rogers Place: Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar

Central McDougall, the neighbourhood just north of Ice District (it still feels unnatural not to include a "the"), is at a crossroads. It will definitely endure more foot traffic once the arena opens this fall, but I do hope it will be seen as more than just a repository for vehicles.

Restaurants like the newly-opened Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar have an opportunity to change that perception. Similar to Noodle Feast on the south side, they specialize in Northern Chinese cuisine and handmade noodles. Given Wheat Garden’s average entrée price hovers around $11 (for now), it’ll be interesting to see whether folks will discover these gems like this "on the other side", or if the uptick will only impact the more upscale or pedestrian restaurants south of 104 Avenue.

At any rate, Wheat Garden is already trying to make their presence known on social media, opening up channels on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in a way most small, family-run businesses don’t have the capacity to do. Even better, to engage customers, they offer some immediate gratification in the form of a free drink or side to diners who mention the restaurant on their own social media channels.

When Su and I stopped by last week for dinner, it was obvious the space had been transformed from its previous tenant (the Old Szechuan Restaurant, which has since relocated to Old Strathcona). The new paint hue lightens the room and further highlights the expanse of windows. The only downside of the cozy and intimate dining area is that save for some quiet televisions in the corner, there is no background noise. Su and I felt like we had to deliberately keep our voices down to prevent from being heard across the space.

Wheat Garden

Interior

The menu offers rice-based plates in addition to their namesake dishes, but since this was my first visit, I stuck to the latter. Su recommended we share the assorted dumplings ($13.99/18 pieces), made up of six different flavours, and I ordered the ground beef spicy noodle ($10.99) for my entrée. It may be of interest to some that all meats served at Wheat Garden are certified halal (they claim to be the first Chinese halal restaurant in Edmonton).

Everything is made fresh to order, and it’s obvious that the staff take genuine pride in their food and service. The dumplings were a visual delight, though we didn’t inquire about the colour coding, which resulted in a fun round of dumpling roulette. The handmade skins offered a great springy texture, and the fillings were well-seasoned. My favourite flavour of the bunch I tried was the chicken, mushroom and fungus.

Wheat Garden

Assorted dumplings

My noodle bowl was probably meant to be devoured faster than I could keep up – the handmade noodles had sopped up much of the thick broth by the time I got to it. They did have a nice bite to them though, and I will be eager to try the flat noodles on another occasion. The dish also wasn’t as spicy as I was expecting either.

Wheat Garden

Spicy ground beef noodles

With good service, tasty food, and reasonable prices, I hope that folks flocking to Rogers Place will consider Wheat Garden or other Central McDougall alternatives. It’d be a shame if they remain under the radar and overshadowed by more mainstream eateries.

Wheat Garden Noodle & Dumpling Bazaar
10703 103 Street
(780) 757-8166
Monday, Wednesday-Thursday 11:30am-8:30pm, Saturday-Sunday 11:30am-9pm, closed Tuesdays