January 14th, 2019

Food Notes for January 14, 2019

Edmonton’s First Multi-Day Indoor Farmers’ Market

The discussion about the need for a year-round multi-day farmers’ market in our city has been going on for years. Calgary has several such markets (we’ll leave their tendency to be a one-stop produce shop aside for the time being), but neither the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market or the City Market have been able to meet this demand. Enter a new player: Bountiful Markets, to be located on the south side at 3696 97 Street. Features include an ethnic food hall and space for 140 vendors. Riverbend Gardens has already signed on as a tenant. They hope to open in May or June of 2019.

Openings

  • Pink Gorilla Pizzeria, which took over the former Parkallen Restaurant at 7018 109 Street, opened over the weekend. It’s the second restaurant from Mark Bellows and Ryan Brodziak of The Local Omnivore. The Journal has a preview of some of the pizzas available.
  • Also on the pizza front, Artisti Pizzeria opened in Holland Plaza last week at 11998 109A Avenue.
  • Al Centro opened its doors over the weekend, with soft opening hours continuing this week. Find them at 9888 Jasper Avenue.
  • Amore Pasta’s downtown location at 10235 101 Street in the MNP Tower opened today! They had to delay their opening a week due to mechanical issues.
  • A new coffee shop in Jagare Ridge called Caffiend Coffee is opening on January 18, 2019 at 14132 28 Avenue SW.
  • Gangnam Street Food has delayed their opening to January 24, 2019. Lydia has a photolog of what to expect.
  • Nello’s in St. Albert is opening a location in downtown Edmonton in the space formerly occupied by his father’s restaurant, Il Pasticcio (11520 100 Avenue). Some may remember back in 2013, Nello’s tried their hand at a space in Grandin (now The Butternut Tree), but was unsuccessful.
  • The brewpub that will open in the former Characters space now has a name: Campio Brewing.
  • Ritchie has developed into a hot neighbourhood for new food shops over the past two years. Another business to join the fray – Kind Ice Cream, which will offer small batch ice cream (including vegan options). They hope to open in the spring.

Closures

  • Solstice Seasonal Cuisine is closing on February 16, 2019. The owners are looking into opening a new concept in the space by the end of the year, but in the meantime, Solstice will still be offering their food via Skip the Dishes, and use the restaurant as an event space.
  • The downtown location of the Three Amigos has closed.

Upcoming Events

Reviews

Local News

  • The Journal covered Chinatown Dining Week, which runs January 17-27, 2019.
  • In case you missed it, The Yards selected the winners for their forth annual Best in the Core awards, which features many hidden and not-so-hidden gems in Downtown and Oliver.
  • Chef Ben Staley’s previous restaurant Alder Room was featured in Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, a “guide to the world’s truly exemplary, organic, sustainable, and ethical restaurants”.
  • Love Pizza has opened up their business to franchise partners.
  • The latest webisode of Fast Food features Filistix’s Ariel Del Rosario’s chicken and pork adobo.
  • Chef Steve Buzak of the Royal Glenora Club placed second along with his teammate in an international ice carving competition in Harbin, China.
  • The newest episode of The Edmonton Community Foundation’s Well Endowed Podcast features an interview with Jon Hall and Twyla Campbell. They discuss the biography of Chef Gail Hall that they published late last year.

What I Ate

  • Our Chinatown Dining Week team met at Kanto 98 St. Eatery last week, where I tried their incredibly addictive garlic fried rice for the first time. It won’t be my last time.

Untitled

Our meal at Kanto

  • It was definitely a Love Pizza kind of night on Friday – Mack and I have been looking forward to the return of the mac & cheeza for almost a year! It was just as delicious as we remembered.

Untitled

Mac & cheeza from Love Pizza

  • Mack, Emily, and I stopped in at Al Centro on Saturday on our way home from the City Market. They were clearly in soft opening mode, but we decided to sample one of their pizzas on offer – they have the distinction of being Edmonton’s first Roman pizza bar. The slice was just under $6, which was on the pricey side, but we did really enjoy the crust – it held up nicely and had a great chew.

Al Centro

Potato and bacon pizza from Al Centro

Green Onion Cake Man

Green onion cakes and hot and sour soup from The Green Onion Cake Man

  • This isn’t “what I ate” so much as a “where I could eat” – has anyone else noticed that the Courtyard Marriott has winterized their tables overlooking the North Saskatchewan River? I spotted these a few weeks ago on the funicular, but didn’t have the chance to check them out until the weekend. They can seat up to six, and there are blankets for warmth. Staff weren’t certain they’d hold up on very cold days, but on sunny afternoons, they definitely trap heat. Worth a look for those seeking winter patios!

Courtyard Marriott

The Riverside Bistro patio at the Courtyard Marriott

     

January 13th, 2019

Culinary Highlights: 2018 Edition

2018 was defined by Emily, who entered into our lives at the end of January. So when it comes to food, much of this year was spent taking baby steps and learning how to dine out with a little one. In rediscovering local restaurants with a baby-coloured lens, it continues to surprise us when we’ve dined at establishments with high chairs, but no change table.

I’m also proud that I was able to meet my goal of maintaining this blog – albeit with fewer posts – after Emily was born. I really wasn’t sure what my life would look like with a small human to care for, but keeping up with the Edmonton food scene was a welcome exercise to keep my sanity intact!

Here are some of my favourite food-related memories of 2018:

My favourite new restaurant opened towards the end of the year, with an ethos that exemplifies the culinary experience that I now crave most: unfussy and unpretentious. Partake is a lovely spot on 124 Street, with good food and a great vibe.

Partake

Happiest hours at Partake

We also discovered a wonderful new high tea option in the city at The Art of Cake that also happens to be Emily-friendly!

Art of Cake

Treats for days

I definitely had more time for brunches this past year, so it was perfect timing for Calgary-based OEB to roll into town. Eating my way through the breakfast poutine portion of their menu will take me well into 2019.

OEB Breakfast Edmonton

Brunches with Emily

I was still on a sweets hangover from my pregnancy (my strongest craving while carrying Emily was baked goods of all sorts). No dessert was more spectacular – or fun – than the Fruit Loop-dusted confetti cake from Rebel.

Rebel Food and Drink

The sparkler takes the cake

It was great to be a part of a volunteer team who successfully organized the inaugural Chinatown Dining Week in January (if you missed it, the event returns for a second year starting this week)!

Gui Lin

The 2-course meal from Gui Lin

We continued our tradition of visiting farms of producers we frequent. This year it was a tour of Sundog Organic Farm.

Sundog Organic Farm

Strawberry fields forever

I also had the opportunity to see some urban agriculture even closer to home – the rooftop hives are a sight to see at MacEwan University.

MacEwan Urban Beekeeping Tour

Urban bees

Mack and I were fortunate to do some travelling this year, with stops in Canmore and Kananaskis, and a short flight to a Vancouver Island getaway in Sooke.

Shirley Delicious

At Shirley Delicious, our favourite breakfast spot just outside of Sooke

It was a year full of change, but without a doubt I’m having the best time of my life. Here’s to 2019!

January 7th, 2019

Food Notes for January 7, 2019

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holidays – I know we did. Christmas does seem more magical with a little one around! I am playing a bit of catch up with these notes, however, as I’ve missed a couple of weeks. Regular readers will also notice a slightly new format. I might still tweak the categories here and there in the weeks to come, but I hope these changes will make it easier to read!

Chinatown Dining Week Returns

The second annual Chinatown Dining Week runs from January 17-27, 2019. Like last year, all restaurants are offering 2-course dinners for $15. With 8 participating restaurants, including Kanto 98 St. and Padmanadi, there is something for everyone on the menu! Learn more about the new restaurants on board, and whet your appetite with the menus here.

Openings

  • Amore Pasta is opening its second location downtown at 10235 101 Street on January 7, 2019. From the folks behind Cafe Amore and Black Pearl, this quick-serve eatery will offer made-to-order pastas from a selection of sauces, vegetables, and proteins. Interestingly enough, they’ll also be open for breakfast during the week; Amore Pasta is open weekdays from 8am-9pm and on weekends from 11am-9pm. Leduc has a preview of what to expect.
  • Pink Gorilla Pizza, which has taken over the space formerly occupied by Parkallen Restaurant, will be aiming to open on January 12, 2019. It’s a new restaurant from the folks behind The Local Omnivore.
  • There’s yet another new microbrewery opening called SYC Brewing Co. They’re celebrating their grand opening with a party on January 12, 2018. Tickets are $20 which includes a flight of beers and food from Smokehouse BBQ.
  • Gangnam Street Food is a forthcoming addition to the “K-Mall” area, at #15, 9261 34 Avenue. They will be opening on January 14, 2018.
  • I’m a huge fan of Todd’s sourdough breads, so am eagerly awaiting Brio Bakery’s brick and mortar storefront, located in the Oliver Exchange Building at 12021 102 Avenue. They’re hoping for a January opening.
  • Dauphine has finally opened their new bakery and cafe in Montrose, located at 6005 120 Avenue. Some may remember their beautiful space on 104 Street which closed back in 2016. Linda and Paul have already begun serving brunch, too!
  • Copper Branch, the latest plant-based franchise to land in Edmonton, is now open downtown at 10316 Jasper Avenue.
  • Curry Vibes is now open in the Mayfair, at 10827 Jasper Avenue.

Closures

  • The Sequel Cafe has shuttered, but has announced that they plan to reopen in the core in the future.
  • I was sorry to hear about the closing of El Rancho, one of my go-to eateries on Alberta Avenue.
  • Holy Roller is currently closed for renovations and will reopen with a new concept.
  • Cally’s Teas in Old Strathcona is also now closed.

Upcoming Events

  • The first Taste Alberta Prairie on a Plate dinner will take place January 17, 2019 at Under the High Wheel. Tickets for the 4-course meal are $65.
  • The Hotel Macdonald is hosting a Grand High Tea Celebration on January 26, 2019 to celebrate the launch of their custom tea blend. A Master Tea Sommelier will be on hand. Tickets are $75 per person.

Reviews

Local News

Year in Review

Urban Agriculture and Farming

Beyond Edmonton

What I Ate

  • I finally had the chance to order some doughnuts from Apollo Donuts to try (they’re available by pre-order only, for pick-up on their production days at Transcend or The Colombian). I really liked their blackberry yuzu glaze.

Untitled

Apollo Donuts

  • I’m determined to eat my way through OEB’s breakfast poutines, and so far, the confit de canard is my favourite! It was still as busy as ever last week, but as they do offer reservations on weekdays, I’d highly recommend planning ahead if possible.

OEB

Confit de Canard at OEB

  • Mack, Emily, and I managed to sneak in for the brunch at Northern Chicken at the end of December. Their biscuits are unreal – I really enjoyed the breakfast sandwich featuring a sausage patty, egg, and cheese.

Northern Chicken

Breakfast sandwich at Northern Chicken

    January 5th, 2019

    Chinatown Dining Week Returns, January 17-27, 2019

    I’m thrilled to share that Chinatown Dining Week is returning for a second year, running January 17-27, 2019. It was so successful last year that we knew we wanted to bring it back again and make it even bigger!

    Chinatown Dining Week 2019 postcard

    Although many are familiar with the great eats available in Chinatown, others continue to be unaware of the diversity and value of meals to be found within walking distance of Downtown. With Chinatown’s proximity to several prominent attractions, including the newly-opened Royal Alberta Museum, Ice District, and the Arts District, those planning an evening out could easily incorporate a stopover in the area.

    Chinatown Dining Week is about highlighting some of the tasty options in the neighbourhood through $15 2-course fixed price dinner menus. This year, we’ve expanded the event to 11 days (up from 9) and will have 8 participating restaurants (up from 5). The menus will be online at edmontonchinatown.ca starting January 7.

    Our volunteer team is excited to welcome back three of our partner restaurants from our pilot last year – Asian Express Hot Pot, Gui Lin Noodle House, and King Noodle House. They embraced this new idea early on, and we’re happy to help introduce even more people to their food!

    We also have five new restaurants on our roster:

    • Fuqing Lanzhou Noodles – located on the northern edge of Chinatown, this noodle house is often overlooked. But their steaming bowls of noodle soup and dumplings make it an ideal place to gather on a cold winter evening.
    • Kanto 98 St. Eatery – shortlisted for the prestigious list of 2018 Best New Restaurants, Kanto made a splash even before it celebrated its first birthday. Their brand of Filipino fusion eats has won over its share of fans.
    • Namaste India – a hidden gem, it seems that few know that a delicious Indian buffet spread can be found in the heart of Chinatown.
    • Padmanadi – this vegan restaurant was serving plant-based cuisine before it was trendy. Their vegan takes on classic Asian dishes have a cult following in Edmonton.
    • Tea Bar Cafe – so much more than bubble tea, Tea Bar also serves Hong Kong-style savoury and sweet dishes to complement their drink menu.

    We hope you’ll join us for Chinatown Dining Week!

    January 1st, 2019

    A High Tea Tradition: The Art of Cake

    It’s been a tradition over the last number of years that Mack and I take Grandma Male to high tea at Christmas. As a result, we’ve been able to sample our way through most of the high teas available in the city, ranging from the opulent experience at the Hotel Macdonald to more quaint settings such as Reinette Café in Mill Woods. I had only recently heard about the high tea at The Art of Cake, held on certain Sundays each month. With a few dates in December to choose from, we made a reservation for the four of us a couple of weeks ago.

    We had been running a little behind, and it turned out we were the last party to be seated (the staff had graciously included a high chair at our table). It was a full house that afternoon; clearly the word has gotten around about their high tea! Much to Emily’s delight (she loves music), our table was situated next to a guitarist who added to the pleasant atmosphere.

    Art of Cake

    Emily enjoying high tea

    I had only been to The Art of Cake once before, ducking in to pick up some baked goods, so hadn’t before taken the time to survey the interior. It’s a lovely space, with high ceilings and numerous chandeliers beckoning the eye upward. I liked the natural light and the cozy vibe imparted by the wood furnishings and dining sets that are charmingly not uniform.

    High Tea at The Art of Cake

    Mack and Grandma Male

    Moments after we were settled, we were provided with a pot of crème de Earl Grey tea. While I appreciate the pomp and circumstance of the choice of tea in some cases (the presentation of the tea box at the Hotel Macdonald, for instance), it is much more efficient when tea is simply set. It was also an unexpected bonus that the tea was pre-steeped in the kitchen so we could simply enjoy refills without having to wait for the leaves to steep in our tabletop pot.

    High Tea at The Art of Cake

    Tea setting

    A few minutes later, staff descended from the kitchen and started serving all tables in rapid succession. The presentation of the tiered tray (created by My Uniquely Vintage), plates of mini quiches, and scones rivals any high tea I’ve been to in the city. It was also a lovely touch that menu cards were left on the table so we could easily reference each item.

    Art of Cake

    High tea tray

    We found there to be a great variety of savoury and sweet items. The spinach and feta quiche and cranberry chicken salad puffs were a favourite on the savoury side, and Grandma Male enjoyed the festive gingerbread men-shaped scones (served, of course, with clotted cream and strawberry preserves).

    High Tea at The Art of Cake

    Festive scones

    For dessert, Mack liked the flavour and texture of the gingersnaps, while I marveled at how much the cream cheese mints reminded me of After Eights. And though cupcakes are not a typical high tea item, I’m a sucker for them, so I loved that they were included here. At $45, The Art of Cake falls in the middle price range of available high teas, but we thought it to be of good value overall.

    Service was amazing; tea refills were provided quickly, and because the food was delivered so expediently, we found we could really take our time to work through the treats.

    I would highly recommend high tea at The Art of Cake – with a picturesque setting, good food, and excellent hospitality, it was the best high tea we’ve been to in recent memory.

    The Art of Cake
    11811 105 Avenue
    (780) 441-1229
    Tuesday-Thursday 8am-6pm, Friday 8am-9pm, Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm, closed Mondays (high tea served on select Sundays; reservations needed)

    December 30th, 2018

    Epicureous in Edmonton: 2018 Year in Review

    While the biggest trend of 2018 in Edmonton was the rise of plant-based establishments, it’s important to note that the momentum actually began in 2017. The Moth Cafe, sister to the popular Cafe Mosaics, vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant An Chay, vegan pizzeria Die Pie, and quick-serve Good Stock all opened last year. They were joined in 2018 by celebrity chef-driven Kanu, vegan bakery Cinnaholic, franchise locations of Green Moustache and Copper Branch, and Square Root, the first plant-based eatery located on an Alberta post-secondary campus. But perhaps even more significant, plant-based items even made their way into the mainstream, in the form of A & W’s Beyond Meat burgers (which were so in demand they sold out across Canada), and vegan hot dogs at IKEA.

    City Market

    Here are a few other items that were notable to me in 2018:

    • Another rollover trend from 2017 was the continued proliferation of independent bakeries in the Edmonton area, but this time, primarily outside the core. Although vegan cookie favourite Bloom, specialty producer Food in the Nud, and City Market darling Dauphine opened in mature neighbourhoods, Milk and Cookies Bakeshop, Jovic Bakery, and Pome Bakery located in more suburban communities. St. Albert also had its share of newcomers, with Confections Cake Co. and a second branch of Macarons and Goodies setting up shop.
    • It was also a great year for independent cafes and coffee roasters, with no less than half a dozen helping to caffeinate the masses: Colombia Mountain Coffee, Rogue Wave, Grizzlar Coffee and Records, Lui-Chi, and Roasti in Sherwood Park.
    • Owing to the changes made to Alberta’s minimum brewing production laws several years ago, microbreweries continue to proliferate in the Edmonton area. Sea Change Brewing, Ale Architect, Omen, Analog Brewing Company, Two Sergeants (who relocated to Edmonton from Fort Saskatchewan), and Endeavour Brewing Company in St. Albert, all opened their doors in 2018.
    • Bundok helped put Edmonton on the map nationally, landing on the prestigious Canada’s Best New Restaurants list.
    • As always, it’s great to see when local restaurants can build on their successes by expanding their operations. Congratulations to Splash Poke, Pampa, Louisiana Purchase, Let’s Go Number Two (Hanjan’s sibling restaurant), Bottega 104, Chix Shack (operated by the folks behind Sawadee in Sherwood Park), Buco, DOSC (opened by the folks behind Japonais, Dorinku, and Seoul Fried Chicken), and KB & Company on the opening of additional locations.
    • Although changes such as the increase in minimum wage have made it more challenging for some restaurants to turn a profit, there was enough confidence in our economy for numerous chains to expand to Edmonton. These high profile brands included matcha master Tsujiri, dessert bar Cacao 70, brunch favourite OEB, seafood eatery The Captain’s Boil, and American chain Bubba Gump Shrimp.
    • We also saw our share of closures, including long running restaurants Packrat Louie, La Boheme, Parkallen, El Rancho, and Characters. 124 Street tenants North 53 and Daravara didn’t survive, and the Alder Room shuttered in spite of its critical acclaim.
    • Due to the LRT construction, the Taste of Edmonton relocated to the Legislature grounds this year. Based on the positive feedback they received, it will be interesting to see if they decide to return to Churchill Square in a few years.
    • Several programs to help those in need also kicked off this year, ranging from The Hallway Cafe’s suspended coffee program (similar to the one run by The Nook Cafe), to pay-what-you-can produce from VEG in YEG, discounted produce at Manna Market (inspired by the Food4Good veggie sales), and Boyle Street Eats, a social enterprise food truck.
    • In the age of Instagram, it’s a bit surprising that there aren’t more social media gaffes committed. However, the most memorable incident involved food blogger Leduc Nguyen’s negative Instagram post about The Common, and retaliatory comments from Cartago’s Katy Ingraham.
    • While it didn’t exceed Chartier’s record-breaking crowdfunding total from 2015, Black Box Hospitality’s Kickstarter for their forthcoming Gibbard Block project came close, exceeding their $100,000 target.
    • It was a mixed year in food media. Edmonton saw the loss of alternative paper Vue Weekly (and their Dish coverage along with it), but we also gained food-centric print magazine Eat Local. Food Artisans of Alberta and Maps, Markets and Matzo Ball Soup were also published in 2018, highlighting many amazing producers in the province and the life of local food advocate Gail Hall.

    You can check out previous year in reviews here.

    December 17th, 2018

    Food Notes for December 17, 2018

    Formosa

    Popcorn chicken from Formosa Bistro

    • I was fortunate to have two meals at King Noodle House in two weeks! You can never have too much Bun Bo Hue.

    King Noodle

    My standard at King Noodle House

    December 16th, 2018

    Cultivating Regulars: Partake

    Having Emily has reduced the frequency of our experiences dining out. For that reason, when we do eat out, we often default to restaurants that are unfussy, where I can relax after spending the day caring for Emily. Partake fits this bill perfectly. I’ve been to the restaurant twice thus far; once in early November and a second time this week, and I enjoyed myself both times.

    Opened by the folks behind Manor Café and Urban Diner, Partake has taken over the former La Favourite storefront on High Street. No trace of the bakery remains – in its place is a space with old world charm that feels worn in, and would not seem out of place on a Parisian side street. I love the interior – rounded door frames, pressed ceiling tiles, a comfortable central bar, and a mix of small tables and cozy booths. I felt comfortable immediately, at ease with the kind of establishment that seeks to cultivate regulars.

    Partake

    Interior

    The one page food menu is French-inspired and unpretentious, with a focus on nibbles and comforting share plates. Those seeking something more experimental won’t find it here, but the familiarity is part of the attraction.

    My first visit coincided with Partake’s happy hour, which runs from 4-6pm and 10pm-close from Monday-Thursday, and from 4-6pm on Friday. With the purchase of any drink, the kitchen treats customers to several complimentary snacks. It was a more generous spread than I was expecting, and included pesto-drizzled popcorn, cheese-stuffed dates, olives, and meatballs. It’s a great incentive to come in early (or late!).

    Partake

    Our happy hour spread

    My favourite dish from that meal was the potato fondue ($10), a blend of gruyere and emmental cheeses, potato, and garlic. I loved the smooth texture with the addition of the starch; it’s an idea that I’ll steal for my own use in the future.

    On my more recent visit, my friends and I shared the beef tartare ($16). Prepared tableside, the mixture was beautifully seasoned, dotted with capers, beet-barley relish, and chives. It was served with a delicious roasted garlic spread that elevated each bite.

    Partake

    Beef tartare

    The croque mon’soubise’ ($14) will have me returning again. Featuring the amazing ham from Meuwly’s (which alone is work a trek to the meat shop) and gruyere, the toasted sandwich is served with a side of creamy soubise sauce. An onion-based butter sauce, it would probably make anything taste infinitely better, and in this case, it absolutely does.

    Partake

    Croque mon’soubise’

    I don’t typically order dessert during meals out, but I did both times at Partake. This was primarily because they offer mini desserts that appeal to people like me who are looking for just a few bites of something sweet, as opposed to another course onto itself. Their tiny creme brulees ($3.50) were just perfect, the caramelized crust concealing a light and creamy custard underneath. Flavours change constantly, but the white chocolate mint was the favourite of the ones I’ve sampled.

    Partake

    Mini creme brulees

    Service was a bit more attentive on my first visit, but that was a minor detail in an otherwise very pleasant duo of meals. In my opinion, Partake is a very welcome addition not only to High Street, but to the Edmonton dining scene as a whole.

    Partake
    12431 102 Avenue
    (780) 760-8253
    Monday-Thursday 4-11pm, Friday 4pm-1am, Saturday 5pm-1am, closed Sundays

    December 10th, 2018

    Food Notes for December 10, 2018

    • There’s a new spot for ramen that just opened on the south side called Menjiro Ramen, located at 109, 2920 Calgary Trail.
    • Via Cindy, I just learned about a new Northern Chinese restaurant called Luscious Kitchen, located at Unit 2, 9261 34 Avenue.
    • Graham reports that the family behind Parkallen Retaurant has sold the building but hopes to reopen the restaurant elsewhere.
    • Prairie Noodle is hosting a “throwback to 2015” pop-up party on December 15, 2018, where they will be offering their ramen bowls at 2015 prices.
    • The second Fox Burger pop-up is scheduled for December 17, 2018 at Salz. Reservations are required.
    • The Tourtiere Baking Contest returns to Deep Freeze on January 13, 2019. Prizes will be awarded to the top three tourtieres! The deadline to enter is January 10.
    • Famoso is currently participating in a campaign for Mealshare – with every jar of Campania Tomato Sauce sold until December 31, 2018, meals will be provided to youth in Edmonton.
    • I wasn’t aware that The Hallway Cafe (located in City Hall) also has a suspended coffee/pay-it-forward program similar to The Nook Cafe!
    • A fire at Zar Zor restaurant in the north side is under investigation.
    • Graham submitted a rave review for Kanu.
    • Leduc was hoping for more from Wilfred’s.
    • Sharman recapped the latest Swine and Dine dinner prepared by Drift at the Shamrock Curling Club (their home over the winter).
    • Phil is the host of a new CBC web series called Fast Food that focuses on what chefs like to cook at home. The first episode features Chef Steven Brochu of Chartier.
    • A new kitchen facility has opened at NorQuest College to accommodate a Foundations of Cooking program. The centre will also host one-day cooking classes that are open to the public.
    • We’ve seen restaurants in the #yegfood scene move away from policies that eliminated tips – Grub Street has a breakdown of why this has been the trend in the US.
    • Trusted Freshness is a growing Edmonton-based vegetable greenhouse that operates on a franchising model.
    • We aren’t able to pop into King Noodle House as often as we used to, but it means we appreciate the Bun Bo Hue even more when we do make it in!

    King Noodle House

    Start ‘em young…

    December 6th, 2018

    Vegetarian Vietnamese Cuisine: An Chay

    After my coworker introduced me to Pho Tau Bay years ago, that was it. I had a hard time ordering pho at any other local restaurants, as I always found myself comparing it to my beloved Tau Bay (Pho Hoan Pasteur is the one exception; it was also recommended by my coworker to get us through the weeks when Tau Bay is closed). I made an exception to this rule at lunch with Linda (and Emily!) last week at An Chay.

    An Chay is part of the recent wave of vegetarian/plant-based restaurants that have opened in Edmonton over the last two years. Within that niche, An Chay serves up meat-free Vietnamese cuisine; much of An Chay’s one page noodle and rice-based menu will look familiar to diners, minus the meat.

    An Chay took over the space previously occupied by Pitaghetti on Jasper Avenue and 112 Street. I’m not certain if much has changed – the décor is pretty minimal – but the best feature of the room by far are the windows that line two sides of the restaurant. On that day, the natural light made it a very pleasant place to have lunch.

    An Chay

    Interior

    Linda had already tried several dishes on the menu, and recommended we share the shredded tofu rolls ($9). These fresh rice rolls were expertly packed with shredded bean curd, lettuce, mint, bean sprouts, pickled daikon, and carrots. While I enjoyed the texture (and Emily liked munching on the tofu), they were a bit plain for my taste, even with the vinaigrette for dipping.

    An Chay

    Shredded tofu rolls

    The pho ($15), on the other hand, had flavour to spare. The broth, laced with heady five spice, had a nice hint of sweetness. There was also a great variety of vegetables included, from baby bok choy, to enoki mushrooms, and lotus root. I would have preferred more tofu, however, especially since it was essentially replacing the typical meat protein found in pho. While I did really enjoy the soup, I still have a hard time recognizing it as “pho”; I likely would never crave it in the same way as a hearty bowl of noodles with beef.

    An Chay

    Pho

    That said, service was efficient, and my experience overall was very positive (they had a couple of high chairs and a change table, making it a great baby-friendly option for parents). So although my go-to restaurants for pho have not changed, it’s likely I’ll be back to An Chay in the future to sample more of their Vietnamese fare.

    An Chay
    11203 Jasper Avenue
    (780) 752-2203
    Monday, Wednesday-Friday 11am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday 12-8pm, closed Tuesdays