Calgary food

It's Hapa Time: Hapa Izakaya #YYC

February 26, 2015

Japanese is one of my favourite cuisines. There are plenty of Japanese restaurants around that serve sushi, but the one thing Alberta needs more of is Japanese izakayas. Edmonton is lucky to have Izakaya Tomo, but I wish there were more casual options for post-work drinks and tapas. This is why I was really excited when I heard Hapa Izakaya was opening its first Alberta location in Calgary.

Hapa Izakaya - 816 11th Avenue SW - Calgary AB

On one of my recent trips to Calgary I finally had the chance to visit Hapa. I had my first taste on a visit to Vancouver years back and couldn't wait to see what menu items they brought over to Alberta. Hapa Izakaya is located downtown on busy 11th Avenue, where parking can be a challenge to find depending on the time of your visit. The space is large with an open concept design and the large windows in the front of the restaurant allow plenty of natural light into the restaurant. Come sundown, the dark decor and dimmed lighting give a more intimate feel.

As with many izakayas, there is a regular menu and a fresh sheet outlining daily features. I noticed that the menu seemed to be smaller than that in Vancouver (the menu has expanded since my visit!), but there was still a fair amount of options to choose from. In addition to ordering a la carte off the menu, Hapa offers a 12 course prix fixe menu at $35 per person and has a 'Hapa Hour' menu from 5:30-6:30 pm with certain plates offered at 50% off.

Our meal started off with the Bintoro ($12), which is a seared Albacore tuna sashimi in ponzu sauce. The thick cut slices of the lightly seared tuna were so fresh, and I loved the slightly tangy ponzu sauce. The greens, seaweed, and garlic chips were a great accompaniment to the fish. I could eat this tuna all the time.

Hapa Izakaya also has a decent selection of sushi rolls, so we went with the Kin Roll ($15) and Umi Roll ($15). The Kin Roll is made with asparagus tempura, onion, miso mayo, yuzu rind, and topped with yellowtail that is torched tableside. The fish is fresh, asparagus still slightly crunchy, and the sweet miso brings all the flavours together. The Umi Roll on the other hand is made with chopped scallops and avocado then topped with Ahi tuna and pickled onion vinaigrette. The Ahi tuna carries flavours similar to that of their ponzu sauce. The rest of the roll is less flavourful, but that allows you to taste just how fresh and sweet the raw scallops are.

When I visit izakayas, Takoyaki is always at the top of my list of things to order. The Takoyaki ($7.50) at Hapa Izakaya is on the fresh sheet, so unfortunately it isn't always available. However, if you get the chance definitely order it! These crispy balls of octopus in smooth batter are something you don't want to miss.

Finishing off our orders was the Spicy Pork Ishi-yaki ($12). Served in a hot stone bowl, rice is topped with minced pork, garlic sprouts, tomato, lettuce, spicy miso, and a raw egg. Similar to Korean bibimbap, this rice bowl is mixed up table side and allowed to sizzle in the pot. There was plenty of sauce to coat all the ingredients and the crispy rice. I loved the punch of spicy miso and garlic flavours, and it's a bowl of rice that will definitely warm you up on a cold night.

Offering something different compared to the traditional Spanish tapas, I'm sure Hapa Izakaya has been happily embraced by those who enjoy going for post-work drinks and small plates. Our server was knowledgeable and attentive, and it was a great upbeat environment to dine in. I'm a little sad that Hapa Izakaya hasn't expanded up to Edmonton, but there's always hope!

Hapa Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Downtown

Tea Time: Fairmont Hotel MacDonald Royal Tea

February 22, 2015

When I was young I loved to host tea parties with my stuffed animals, mimicking my parents version of Hong Kong afternoon tea. Now that I'm grown up my tea parties have transformed into high tea, catching up with girlfriends over sandwiches and decadent desserts.

The Harvest Room - 10065 100 Street - Edmonton AB

Edmonton doesn't have many options for high tea, but if there's one tea service I'll recommend it's the Royal Tea hosted at The Harvest Room inside the historic Fairmont Hotel MacDonald. High ceilings and the traditional architecture in the dining room add to the experience of having traditional afternoon tea.

Hosted every Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 PM, high tea comes with impeccable service and a gorgeous view overlooking Edmonton's river valley. Each guest gets their own teapot to steep one of the tea blends exclusive to the Fairmont hotels, and there is a lovely variety to choose from.


Amuse bouche: sweet tomato sorbet with basil sea salt


Classic & chocolate orange scones with devonshire cream & mixed berry compote


Assortment of finger sandwiches

After an hour of sipping tea and sharing bites, a tour of the historic hotel is offered to all guests at high tea. It's a great way to learn about this landmark in the city, and you can even visit the grand Queen Elizabeth II Suite (subject to availability). At At $39 (+ tax&tip) per person you can expect to have great food (the scones are my absolute favourite!) and even better service. It can be fun to indulge in a fancy tea service from time to time, especially when they have special themed menus. Reservations are required so make sure to book ahead of time!

Harvest Room on Urbanspoon

Fifty Shades of Grey

Makeup Monday: Fifty Shades of Grey x Make Up For Ever

February 16, 2015

Happy Monday! It's a long weekend here in Alberta and I'm enjoying the extra day off to just relax and do absolutely nothing. How many of you went out to see Fifty Shades of Grey this past weekend? Was it any good? I've definitely heard lots of mixed reviews!

Movie aside, Make Up For Ever is the official makeup sponsor for the film. In collaboration with the movie release, Make Up For Ever put together four different make up kits to achieve Ana's different looks in the movie. The sets include two lip trios, one blush trio and a kit for eyes and lips.

Victoria Down, Makeup Department Head for the film, actually said that Ana's lips were the makeup focus for the movie. It only makes sense that Make Up For Ever released two lip sets for this film! The Tease Me Lip Trios come packaged with a smudge-proof lip liner, long wearing lip gloss and a textured gloss. I tried out the trio in Nude, and Make Up For Ever utilized this nude shade to create an innocent, kissable lip.

The kit included Aqua Lip in 3C, Aqua Rouge in 3 and Lab Shine Lip Gloss in D16. As you can see from the swatches above, I would only classify the Lab Shine gloss as a nude shade. When applied, the lip liner and lip gloss apply beautifully and give off a light berry shade. It's almost one of those "my lips but better" shades, which is probably why this set has been labelled as 'nude'. Applied in combination, the products do not budge and give the lips long lasting colour.

Although the lip trio isn't truly comprised of nude shades, I like that you can mix the products to build the desired nude berry shade you may be looking for. The products are long-wearing and quite moisturizing too. If you're a fan of the book/movie, and love the Make Up For Ever range of products, you'll definitely want to add this lip trio to your collection.

Available for $38 via Sephora.

*Disclosure: This product was sent for consideration of a review

Chinatown

Lee House 2.0

February 15, 2015

Just as everyone was getting ready for the 2014 holiday season Lee House celebrated the opening of their second location, this one in Chinatown. Offering Korean BBQ, the restaurant is a very welcome addition to the Edmonton food scene, given the lack of Korean BBQ options.

Lee House Korean Restaurant - 10704 97 Street - Edmonton AB

Lee House is located along the busy strip of 97 Street, right across from Lucky 97 Supermarket. It occupies the corner of a building and is much bigger than their location off of Whyte Avenue. The space is clean and furnished with tables, chairs, and decor straight from Korea. The decor is rustic and each table is equipped with a built in stove for Korean BBQ. With all the changes, I was excited when I finally had the chance to visit.

Along with the renovations, Lee House made some big changes to the menu. They kept the classic dishes, like their famous chicken balls, but also added some new ones - most notably, Korean street food, lunch boxes, and more soups.

One of my favourite street foods is ddukbokki, a combination of rice cakes and fish cakes in a spicy chili sauce. Lee House's Dubboki ($9.95) features rice cake sticks mixed with fish cakes, cabbage, and onion in a spicy sweet Korean chili sauce and a hard boiled egg. The mixture is gooey and has a nice spicy kick, and the rice cakes are cooked to a soft, chewy consistency. Unfortunately the sauce was too sweet for my liking, as I like my chili sauce to be on the savoury side.

The Jab Chae Bokeum ($12.95) at Lee House is my favourite jab chae in Edmonton. The combination of the sweet potato noodles with cabbage, carrot, onion, and black fungus in a sweet soy sauce is delicious. The noodles are stir fried with the perfect amount of oil so that the noodles don't stick together and it is deliciously garlicky. I love the chewy noodles and always order this dish when I visit Lee House.

To warm up on a cold day Korean soups and stews fit the bill. The Yuk Gae Jang ($12.95) came to the table in a bright red beef broth with shredded beef brisket, an egg, green onion, and shiitake mushroom. Given the colour, the stew surprisingly wasn't spicy. There was a nice portion of brisket but it felt like the dish was mostly broth. I would have loved if there were more substantial ingredients in it.

Overall, Lee House is a welcome addition to the busy Chinatown strip. Customer favourites from the original menu remain, and I'm looking forward to returning to try more of the new ones. Although I didn't try the BBQ items, I would definitely consider ordering some of the dishes for dinner when I have more time. Service is fairly quick, especially with a built in call bell at each table. The Whyte Avenue location recently re-opened following some renovations and I've heard that drastic changes have been made to the menu. Classic dishes are gone, and it's more of a location offering quick food options. So if you're craving your favourite Lee House dishes, Chinatown is the location you have to visit.

Lee House Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Edmonton

Winefest 2015 [GIVEAWAY]

February 09, 2015

Needing some plans for this upcoming Valentine's Day weekend? Winefest is back in Edmonton this weekend so you can take your date on a wine tasting adventure!


Edmonton’s all-inclusive wine event is back at the Shaw Conference Centre on February 13-14. Celebrating its seventh year in Edmonton, Winefest invites guests to sample from a wide selection of local and international wines from fifteen of the world’s top wine regions. Wine experts will be on hand to share their knowledge and suggest tasting notes, as attendees sample their way from booth to booth. Attendees can nibble on a delicious selection of hors d’oeuvres from Shaw Conference Centre Catering, The Cheesiry, Dave’s Hot Pepper Jelly, Mojojojo Pickles, and Buttery Bites Caramels.

here's a whopping 251 different wines to sample, and the onsite Sobeys Liquor store will allow guests to purchase their favourite finds of the night.

Tickets to the event range $70-$80 each and are selling out fast! The Friday and Saturday night sessions are completely sold out, but I have a pair of tickets to the Saturday, February 14 afternoon tasting session from 2-5 PM to give away to one lucky reader! The tickets will gain you entrance to the event and all the wine you can drink and appetizers you can eat (valued at $150). To enter, follow the directions below!

------------------------------------------------
THE GIVEAWAY

One Pair of Tickets to Winefest ($150 Value)
For the February 14 Session, 2-5PM

To enter, tell me what your favourite wine is by commenting on this post. Please make sure you leave a valid email address in the giveaway widget as this is how I will be contacting you.

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES

1. Follow me via Twitter (@littlmissandrea)
2. Tweet about the giveaway: "Enter to win a pair of tickets to @Winefest in #yeg on February 14 from @littlmissandrea! #yegwine" and link back to this post
3. Follow me via Instagram (@littlmissandrea)
4. Visit my Facebook page, find the giveaway post and tag the person you would bring to Winefest!

For additional information, please visit the festival website here.

Contest opened to individuals 18 years of age and older. Please note that this event will NOT allow minors - not even if you are bringing an infant along with you. Please ensure that you are able to attend on Saturday afternoon! Winners will be chosen by random and announced on February 11 at 8PM. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Instagram

Like us on Facebook