Edmonton food

Free Burrito Day at Burrito Libre!!

September 28, 2010

How excited was I when I got the Facebook invitation titled "FREE BURRITO DAY!"? SUPER EXCITED.

Today was the first time I headed over to Burrito Libre right by the U of A campus. I know this place opened up last year, and on their first day they gave out free burritos as well. Only that day it was very cold and in the middle of winter!

Today was a great day to walk over to the little establishment, with the sun out & a slight breeze. Despite being fall, the weather was actually really nice - I'm liking this Indian summer!


Burrito Day Pass


Burrito Libre was actually giving out free burritos today to help fundraise for the U of A Campus Food Bank. The Campus Food Bank provides food and toiletries to students in need on campus, because they "believe that University is a place where one should hunger for knowledge, not food". In order to receive a large burrito, bowl, or salad, you had to bring one non-perishable food donation, or donate $1. Pretty good deal if you ask me, and I think others would say so as well based on the length of the line they had wrapping around the building!


Woop Woop Free Burrito Day


Lisa and I headed over to the little restaurant right after class, and waiting in line did not take long at all. There were maybe 20-25 people ahead of us in line when we got there, but we were up at the front ordering what we wanted all within 5 minutes. What I think was even more impressive was that I got my burrito in less than a minute! Talk about efficiency.


Assembly line of workers


They had a little assembly line formed, with one person at each ingredient. They would ask you whether or not you wanted an item, and pass it on to the next person, assembling the food very quickly. Unfortunately, it was very loud inside, and hard to hear what the person was asking you. I wasn't always able to hear what she was asking me, but I said yes anyways, hah! From what I can remember, there was a choice of meat (chicken, pork, beef), lettuce, tomatoes, rice, black beans, corn, peppers and onions, salsa and sour cream. The restaurant also handed out little cards inviting you back for a burrito in the near future, and the card entitled you to a free serving of chips with salsa. Great way to drive business and help the community!


Look at the filling in there!


Sitting down to eat the burrito, it was so big, just by looking at it I knew I wouldn't be able to finish - but that didn't stop me from trying. The first bite in was just like any normal burrito, lots of tortilla and not much flavour. But upon my second bite I was quite surprised! I got a bite of the rice, which was soft, fragrant, and flavourful. The salsa gave it a mild kick, and the vegetables a nice crunch. There was one thing I wasn't too fond of in my burrito though, and that was the chicken. I had chosen to try the chipotle chicken as the protein in my burrito, and it was a bit too sweet for my liking. I added in some hot sauce to try to mask the flavour, but I could still tell it was there. If you're like me and like your chipotle sauce to be more on the salty side, stay away from this one! Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed eating the burrito and will likely go back in the future when I'm close by & hunger is calling!


Next Up: Free Burger Day!!


HEADS UP! Rodeo Burger, which is right next door to Burrito Libre here on campus, is having ... FREE BURGER DAY next week, on October 5th. They will require a non-perishable food item or a $1 donation to get a burger! All donations will support The Salvation Army. Make sure to check it out to get some free food & support a great cause!

Burrito Libre
8525A 112 Street NW
Edmonton AB

dinner

Happy Birthday Jason!

September 27, 2010

I always like when friends' birthdays come up on my calendar.. its a good excuse to get dressed up and eat some good food! This weekend was Jason's birthday, so I was excited to go out to Cactus Club for dinner with everyone!


Excited to eat!


I've been to the Cactus Club Cafe here in Edmonton a couple times already, and I always get the same thing.. beef carpaccio to start, jambalaya rice bowl as my main, and finish off with the chocolate peanut butter crunch bar! Once I find something good.. I stick with it! :)


Beef carpaccio!


Vince wasn't feeling too great that night, so we shared everything like a real couple, haha. I always love the beef carpaccio because I find it so flavourful! And I like building it the way I like it! The herbed crostini it is served with comes soft, with the edges slightly crisp, making it a great bed for the rare peppercorn crusted tenderloin. Garnish with aioli, shallots, capers & parmesan, and you got yourself a delicious appy! However, I think I would enjoy this dish even more if the beef slices were a tad thicker!


My carpaccio masterpiece :)



Jamabalaya rice bowl!


Now, are you wondering why on earth I would order a bowl of jambalaya at a place like Cactus Club? The first time I saw it on the menu, it was really intriguing for me! I've always loved jambalaya, and I wanted to know what it would taste like at a place like Cactus. It's not like its a recommended dish from their menu, but I actually really like this rice bowl! Sometimes the jamabalaya I try has the sauce completely saturating the rice, making it soggy, or the rice isn't cooked well enough and is covered in sauce. Surprisingly enough, here at Cactus club, the sauce is thicker and sits on top of a bed of rice that is perfectly cooked. The grains of rice aren't clumped together, and are actually somewhat separate from one another - I love rice like this! The sauce isn't too spicy, and packed with lots of veg, chicken, shrimp & sausage. Also, the rice bowl stays HOT for a very long time!


super delicious dessert!


There's always leftover space in my stomach for the chocolate peanut butter crunch bar! I'm not a peanut butter lover, but in this dessert, I find the peanut butter taste isn't too strong, and the saltiness actually compliments the sweetness of the dessert very well. The bar is served warm, and when you take a bite of it, there is a layer of chocolate mousse and peanut butter atop of crunchy chocolate pearls. The pearls remind me of rice krispies, but in their round form (like in real crunch chocolate bars!) Pair it with the ice cream and it's like pure bliss in your mouth!


Vince, myself & the birthday boy!



Everyone at dinner!


After dinner, we headed over to Ed's Rec Room for some neon bowling. Despite looking ridiculous in my dress it was lots of fun trying to beat the boys (which I didn't unfortunately...!) The bowling alley also looks really cool under the lights - it's blue, and music videos are playing on the screens in the back!


Neon bowling :)



I'm only going to show you my feet, cause the shoes & my dress looked terrible!



And this is what happens when you bowl with Vince's buddies!


Our night ended with an unfortunate puke fest from Jason, but hey, that's what birthdays are for, right? Hah! Happy Birthday, bud.

Edmonton food

Closeby Korean Fix : Ga Ya

September 24, 2010

Lisa and I have lunch breaks together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Asian in her LOVES to eat, but she has a preference for Korean food! I love eating with this girl cause she's just like me!

She's been craving Korean lately, actually, she craves it frequently, haha. To make her happy, we headed over to one of the Korean restaurants nearby Campus, called GaYa. I'm quite familiar with this place since I've been here a couple times, whether for lunch or dinner with friends, and it's always nice to visit because it's a cute, cozy family run restaurant.

In the past they had a small selection of items to choose from, maybe 10 different dishes. But in the recent months they have added various traditional dishes to the menu, and it's nice to see that they're trying to expand the amount of variety and change things up for their loyal customers.


bibim bab!


Lisa ordered the bibim bab for lunch, which is a rice bowl topped with cucumbers, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, beanspouts and a friend egg, sprinkled with a generous amount of sesame seeds on top, and finished with strips of dried seaweed. For you carnivores out there, usually this would also come with beef, but Lisa is a vegetarian so she gets it without the meat. To this dish you can add hot sauce prior to stirring it all up! It tastes great here at Ga Ya, but I'm more partial to dol sot bibim bab which is served in a sizzling hot stone bowl. I love eating the crunchy rice that gets stuck to the bottom of the bowl - really changes up the texture & keeps the dish nice & hot from beginning to end!


jap chae bab


I ordered the jap chae bab for lunch - which is basically the regular jap chae noodles served with a side of rice. I don't know how Koreans do it, eating so many carbs in one sitting, but I definitely felt the side effects of eating it all after... I didn't eat for the next six hours cuz I was so full! Jap chae here is vegetarian, loaded with vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, onions, spinach, and wood ear fungus, giving each bite a slightly different texture. But at this restaurant, the dish has a very strong sesame oil flavour to it, which I'm not very fond of. The noodles were, however, not clumped together which is nice when trying to pick up smaller bundles of the noodles to eat.

Overall, this place is a great restaurant, and the service is always great! The food comes out promptly, and the waitress (shes actually the manager...!) is very friendly and is always ready to bring you whatever you need, be it more kimchi, or water to wash down the delicious, spicy food!

GaYa Korean Restaurant
11147 87 Avenue
Edmonton AB
Gaya Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Family

Happy Mid Autumn Festival

September 23, 2010

I always love when the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival comes around because it means that I get to see my relatives and have a nice sit down meal with them.

When I woke up yesterday morning, I was so happy to see blue skies, sunshine, and not a cloud in the sky. To make things even better? 14 degree weather, whoo whoo!! Definitely a big contrast to the cold weather we have been experiencing lately.

This year, my parents invited a couple of our relatives over for dinner at our house. I love when my parents cook because I know that it's not filled with MSG! This year the cooked up a storm, but three dishes really topped them all:


jellyfish, cuttlefish, braised beef slices & BBQ pork



hand pulled chicken topped with sesame seeds, on a bed of sweet&sour cabbage & carrots


And the star of the meal...


shitake mushrooms, sea cucumber & abalone on a bed of lettuce


Family time is the best. Hope you guys were able to spend some time with your family and eat some moon cake! Happy Mid Autumn Festival!

Breakfast

Another Denny's to Add to the Map!

September 20, 2010

Being Asian, the radar goes off when you see a good deal, or even better, FREE THINGS! That's exactly what went off in my dad's mind when he saw an ad in the paper yesterday..

To celebrate the opening of the new Denny's in Sherwood Park, the restaurant was offering free original grand slams from 7am - 2pm at just that location. Okay, so let's do some math. I live in the South end of the city, and driving all the way to Sherwood Park takes about 20-25 minutes. If my dad brought my mom, my aunt, me, and himself all the way to the restaurant, was the trip worth it? HAHA, just kidding. I would say I guess it was worth it, since we had some valuable family time! That time included me glaring at him for being so cheap ass and trying to get him to drive me quickly all the way to campus to make it in time for lecture.

Anyway, we headed out around 9:30, because my dad thought that it wouldn't be too busy. According to him, everyone will be at their jobs by 10 and the restaurant should be pretty dead, and I should be able to get to class on time by 11. Okay, so I trusted him, and when we got there, the parking lot was FULL. Heading into the restaurant, there was a long, long line up to get to the front where the hostess was! So much for being a quiet restaurant around 10, he forgot to account for all the elderly Edmontonians that love breakfast and taking their time!

We were seated by 10:05, and knew we needed to order fast! Our waitress was so sweet and friendly, she was perfect for the job! Each of us ordered our grand slams, and they arrived so fast, likely because they were being mass produced! Drinks had to be purchased on the side, so it was a pretty good deal to be getting a breakfast worth $9 for your $2 coffee.


Breakfast for the day!


The grand slam was surprisingly delicious! I've never had one.. Pancakes were soft and warm, the eggs scrambled to a perfect consistency, bacon was crisp and sausages lean! Good breakfast to get my day started and keep me awake during lectures!

I've been to Denny's before, but the service at this location was exceptional. Maybe because it was opening day.. but I hope for the sake of this location that the service remains the same! People are very friendly, and prompt to fulfill your requests. This particular location is what I would call a truck stop - there's lots of gas stations and industrial companies in this area, and it's equipped with a Tim Hortons! When people are too tired to drive in the night, it will be nice to make this a stop and be greeted by the workers here, willing to help you out with anything!

Denny's
975 Broadmoor Blvd.
Sherwood Park, AB

Edmonton food

Quick Fix & Happy Birthday Philippe !

September 12, 2010

On the first day of school this week, Vince and I had a mandatory meeting to attend for work at 6:15 pm. The meeting was near the university area, so there was no point in heading home after class since we finished at 4. We did need a quick dinner fix, and I had chosen to go to the closeby Korean restaurant, Ga Ya. Unforunately, the restaurant was closed due to a family emergency (my condolences for your loss), so we headed over to Phobulous.

A lot of my friends always think I'm gross for liking the food at Phobulous. Why??? It still puzzles me to this day. I think their food is good. It isn't the best pho you can find in the city, but it's decent, flavourful, and awesome for being so close to the university campus. Say all you want, I love this place! And YES, familiar faces this time when we were there - our waitress was great!


Hu Tieu Original


I was feeling a little adventurous and ordered something different today - Original Hu Tieu. It's just like what Vince got last time. So, pho noodles cooked with pork, and served in a pork based broth, garnished with chives and shallots. I actually really like the broth, because it's clearer than the beef soup and has what seems like a richer flavour base in it. This might be my new 'go-to' food at Phobulous, just because my favourite pho is down at Basil Leaf!


Vermicelli bowl with beef, shrimp & spring rolls


Vince had a vermicelli bowl today - served with shrimp, beef skewers and deep fried spring rolls. This dish was also really yummy - I like that the fish sauce it is served with isn't too sweet. I remember a terrible trip to Doan's one time (the only time I EVER went), and I ordered the vermicelli bowl. The sauce was loaded with sugar, I had to ask for concentrated fish sauce to mix the right proportions myself. And ever since then I have always been wary of ordering vermicelli... Gee, you wonder why. Anyways! The beef was a little overcooked for my liking, but otherwise the bowl was great. I especially liked the spring rolls! Very crisp and they had a generous amount of stuffing inside them.


Deep fried icecream!


To finish off, we ordered the deep fried ice cream to see what it was all about! It was definitely different from the deep fried ice creams I've had before. It seemed like they coated the ice cream with a very thick batter - when I bit into it, it compacted in my mouth (somewhat like putting a ton of cotton candy into your mouth and having it compact into a ball of sugar), and I knew instantly that the batter was full of sugar! I'm thinking it was dipped into batter, coated with sugar, and the process repeated once or twice. Not to say it wasn't satisfying, but I prefer a lighter coat of batter. Next time I might check out the deep fried bananas :)

On Friday we headed over to Original Joe's on the south side of the city for Philippe's 19th birthday. Phil is like my little brother - we met back in high school and we always look out for each other. Love this kid. Anyway, Vince and I were CRAZY hungry, and we don't really like lounge type food. We settled for their tractor nachos that everyone was raving about.


Tractor Nachos


The half order was supposed to be enough for both of us, and they definitely were! The plate was loaded generously with toppings, but the chips were heated to a crisp! You know how you can bake chips and heat them so much that they're almost burnt? They're really hard when you bite into them and you can kind of pick out a burnt taste. Well yeah, that's what the chips were like for the most part. The chips beneath the exposed top layer were spared and weren't terrible, but I was hoping they would be better. ALSO, here's a tip. For the full sized nachos, I think you pay maybe $3-4 extra dollars and you get double the amount of food, so order that if you're a big nacho fan! Original Joe's isn't a place I would go out of my way to eat at, but if it happens to be nearby when I'm hungry, maybe I'll check out some of their other options in the future!

Phobulous
8701 109 Street
Edmonton AB

Original Joe's
9246 Ellerslie Rd SW
Edmonton AB

Breakfast

Last Time I'll be out for Breakfast for a Long Time!

September 07, 2010

School is starting tomorrow, and the thought of it is slightly depressing. I can honestly say that I really didn't have a summer this year. Most of it was spent studying for MCAT, and even though I wasn't taking a Spring/Summer course or even a prep course on campus, it was like I was in school all summer prepping for the MCAT! I really only had 4 days of summer including today, so I'm feeling kinda gypped! But I guess this will be good in the long run.. I'm used to studying all the time so it might boost my marks this year! :)

This morning, Vince and I headed over to Cora's for breakfast to celebrate our last day of summer. I got my usual eggs benedict, while he just HAD to try something weird and random! It was his first time at Cora's too, so I really didn't think it was a good idea. He has a part time job serving brunch at one of the hotels here in Edmonton, so he complains that he's super sick of breakfast foods! But he came with me for breakfast anyway :) Such a good boyfriend.


Spinach & cheddar crepe with fresh fruit


He ended up picking the Spinach & Cheddar crepe and the presentation just made me LAUGH. It was so bare looking, I didn't know what to make of it! While the crepe was still warm it wasn't bad, but rather dry. Combining the crepe with the little cheese slice on top made it a little better in terms of taste, but did not do a thing to solve the dryness. When the crepe turned cold, he ended up combining it with ketchup - solving the dryness and flavour issues. BUT this totally compromised the intended taste of the crepe, so we really wouldn't recommend ordering this one!


Eggs Benedict with fresh fruit


My eggs benedict was fantastic as usual, and is probably what I'll always order from this restaurant. I got the eggs with asparagus & swiss, so delish. Once I find something good, it's hard for me to break the habit and try something new - but maybe I'll venture the next time I'm here, who knows!

Also, Cora will be opening a couple different locations in the city within the next two months or so. One will be in the North side of Edmonton (12520 137 Avenue) and another in the West end (9977 178 Street). Check out the locations when you're nearby, whether for breakfast or lunch!

Cora Breakfast & Lunch
2920 Calgary Trail NW
Edmonton AB
Cora (Calgary Trail) Breakfast & Lunch on Urbanspoon

dessert

Perfect way to "start" my summer!

September 06, 2010

So.. three days ago was the dreaded MCAT exam day, and I felt TERRIBLE after writing the exam. And I will leave it at that.

However, I have the best boyfriend in the world who decided to take me out and cheer me up after the exam, seeing as I was a wreck. We headed over to Mikado in the west end to eat some of my favourite things!

At Mikado it was insanely busy, especially because it was a Friday night at 730 pm! Lucky for us, we were seated within 20 minutes because it was just the two of us. We ordered my favourites from Mikado - beef tataki & dragon eyes.


mm beef!


Beef tataki arrived very quickly, and the presentation was beautiful. If you compare Mikado's version to the one served at Ichiban (one post down) - you can really tell which restaurant puts in more effort in terms of aesthetics! I'm always pleased with the service at Mikado, and their food tastes great! The ponzu sauce in this dish was on point - not too sour & not too salty, making the beef taste fresh & delicious!

As for the dragon eyes, Mikado is the restaurant that makes it the BEST. Out of all the places that I've tried that attempts to make this dish, Mikado wins the award hands down. Andrew & I previously speculated, thinking maybe Mikado is the place that started up dragon eyes in Edmonton. I know there's such a thing as a dragon roll, but I haven't really seen dragon eyes anywhere but in Edmonton. This is just what we think since we like Mikado the best! If anyone knows anything about this, let me know!


dragon eyes are soo yum


Anyways, the dragon eyes are my favourite dish, since the fish is fully cooked! The fish is still nice and tender, but I think my favourite part of this dish is the rice! The rice is very warm and soft, being the perfect contrast to the crisp outer layer. With the delicious sauce on top, this is my ideal sushi roll!

After our light 'dinner', we headed over to The Melting Pot for some dessert. I can never pass up dessert, even after a very filling meal! There's always that little extra space my stomach can make for a sweet treat :) I was actually pretty surprised that night, because it was our first visit to this fondue restaurant. From the outside, it seems to be a pretty small space, somewhat like a small, cozy restaurant. But, when the hostess led us to our table, we were taken along dimly lit hallways, passing by multiple tables and even party rooms before arriving at our small little table! The place is HUGE! But it's a very nice environment to be in on a romantic night, or just even on a date. Our table was relatively secluded so we were given our privacy and time to indulge in the delicious dessert!


I love the Yin-Yang presentation in the pot


For the night, we chose to go with the passion fruit Yin & Yang chocolate fondue. The small size ($18) was the perfect portion size for the two of us to share. We were instructed on how to use the equipment and the different ways to dip our sides into the chocolate - but there was one thing that really bothered me! All the fondue sticks seemed to be FILTHY and weren't even washed! There was all this residue on every single one of our sticks, so we chose to use the ones that looked least disgusting.. Otherwise, it was good :)


Perfect assortment of dippers!


For the dippers, we were given an assortment of: fresh strawberries, bananas, cheesecake, pineapple, oreo covered marshmallow, graham cracker covered marshmallow, pound cake, and brownies. They were great with the chocolate, but I found that the brownies and marshmallows were a little too sweet when combined with the chocolate. But my favourites would have to be the cheesecake and poundcake dipped in the chocolate!

Our Yin & Yang fondue was very delicious! But it seemed that the passion fruit white chocolate portion was much smaller than the side with dark chocolate. It was a great combination of the two chocolates together, with the different chocolates making the sides taste different! Once we were finished, it was a little difficult to navigate through the dark maze of the restaurant, but we made it out, with our tummies satisfied! I definitely want to come back to the Melting Pot in the near future to try out their full four course meal, especially the cheese and broth based fondue. They're currently featuring a new menu, entitled "Big Night out France" so definitely head over and check it out!

Mikado Restaurant
9942 170 Street
Edmonton AB

The Melting Pot
2920 Calgary Trail
Edmonton AB

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