This Sh*t's Delicious

Exploring the world through cocktails, shit hole restaurants, and UrbanAg

Links I liked

The magnificent multitude of beer – An incredibly detailed chart of the many different types of beer and the glasses they belong in.

Coffee grind chart – How fine are you supposed to grind your coffee? This article explains.

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Links we liked: Canadian microbreweries mapped

Plan your cross-Canada road trip with this map. [link]

Links we like: The shelf life of beer and other liquor

If you are ever wondering if Baileys improves with age: [link]

Sushi for breakfast: Eating the world’s freshest fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market

If you are seeking the freshest seafood on the planet, look no further than Sushi Dai, located at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. Tsukiji is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, and pretty much everything caught in the area will be sold through here. This is the same fish that is eventually sold to restaurants across Tokyo, so the seafood is that fresh. sushi daisushi dai

Having it for breakfast is almost not an option, since it is usually a 2-3 hour wait in line to get into the 12-seat restaurant. We woke up at 3AM on a Friday to make sure that we would get into the fish auction, which is held every morning here at Tsukiji. They only let about two groups of 50 people each in to view the auction, so its better safe than sorry. Rows of frozen tuna will be first inspected for quality and size, and then for 20-30 minutes, each slab is auctioned off for thousands of dollars, before it gets portioned off and sent to the winning restaurants. My friends and I didn’t even hit the lineup for Sushi Dai until about 6AM, and I don’t think we got inside until 8:30-9AM.

sushi daisushi dai

The four of us all got the Chef’s choice. At 3900 yen (about $40 CAD at the time of this writing), you get 10 pieces of nigiri chosen by the chef, one roll, and one nigiri of your choice. It sounds like a lot of money for 12 pieces of sushi, but the entire meal is really filling, and the quality of the fish is completely worth it.

sushi dai

Everyone is seated right in front of the three chefs working. Not only are you entertained by the work of art that is created in front of you, but the chefs are humorous and engaging, chatting with every customer. They are definitely used to tourists. Each sushi is made one at a time: the chef makes it, places the single piece on your plate, and waits for you to finish before the next one is made. There is the standard fare, like fatty tuna and shrimp. And there is stuff that is just uncommon here in landlocked Alberta, like mackerel and sea urchin. If you’re wondering exactly how fresh some of this sushi is, well the clam is still moving when the chef places it on your plate. Back home in Alberta, squid at a sushi restaurant is usually tough and hard to chew. Here, your teeth slices right through like butter.

sushi daisushi daisushi dai

Was the 3 hour wait worth it? Definitely. But if I ever return to Tokyo, I don’t think I will do it again since there are plenty of restaurants at Tsukiji of almost equal quality. Maybe I am too impatient. If you already plan on visiting the fish auction, you might as well swing by Sushi Dai right after.

[infographic] Cuts of Beef

Pretty neat graphic of all the different types of beef, how it can be cooked, and its cost.

Cuts of Beef[/caption]

Understanding the Flavor Network

Maybe a bit technical, but Nature has a scientific report on how ingredients are paired and understanding the differences of one cuisine from another. I didn’t read the entire thing, but the pictures are neat. The internet is only good for pictures anyway (mostly lolcats and other photoshopped pics).

Click the link!

Olé, eh? Review of Ox & Angela

Summary: Amazing service, more than decent food, and an intriguing menu make this a worthy addition to the YYC food scene.


I wonder who's the Ox and who's Angela?

Ox and Angela is a relatively new latin-inspired restaurant which seems to get its influence from pretty much everything in the Americas south of Texas – there are dishes inspired by Mexican, Peruvian, Chilean, Argentinean, and likely other countries’ cuisines.

The decor is relatively sleek and modern, with rich, dark wooden elements balancing white walls and chairs.  There are a few paintings and decorations that seem somewhat related to latin-America, though there’s no way you would get this mixed up with a straight-up Mexican restaurant.  There are two halves to the venue – one side a definitive sit-down restaurant, with the other side containing a bar (equipped with its own menu).

Due to a Flames game later than evening, Kent and I had to grab dinner right at 5PM – and hence found ourselves the only ones sitting in the vast restaurant.  It was quite lucky for us that we arrived then, as apparently it was booked solid that evening, and it was definitely starting to look that way by the time we left. 

It was a tough decision figuring out which of the several tantalizing dishes we wanted to try, but our server was very helpful in providing detailed descriptions of the various choices.  We decided to split the ceviche to start, as well as to order a meat dish and an accompaniment each to share.  I decided to grab the skirt steak while Kent went with the chorizo sausage, and also selected corn-on-the-cob and a cold zucchini salad at the waiter’s recommendation.  Unfortunately, the menu seems to have changed substantially since we were there, and almost none of these items are on it anymore (except for the ceviche).  The new menu seems to be less latin-based than before, eliminating things like chorizo and skirt steak and adding things like duck breast and striploin… a bit puzzling if you ask me.  The new menu also seems to have less emphasis on the sides, as before there were ~6-7 side dishes to the current 3.  The main dishes seem to come equipped with accompaniments now though, while before the meat dishes were basically meat and little else.

Restaurant side - Angela, I presume?Bar side - drink like an Ox

A real pity that they had to change the menu though, because some of the items were absolutely stellar – namely, the corn-on-the-cob.  Grilled in citrus butter and drizzled with a bit of herb oil, it was simple yet incredibly flavourful.  The zucchini dish was also really good for the first few bites, though I found it to be a bit too much of the same to finish the whole thing.  The skirt steak is pretty good too, as long as you like the taste of chimmichuri, as it is absolutely slathered in it. 

There's almost more lemon and chimmichuri than steak here!

Kent’s 2 Cents

This place had some of the best service I have ever had in Calgary. The wait staff was almost absurdly attentive, constantly watching over your table. A knife was dropped at one point, and a new one was brought over a short moment later. And a dropped napkin was replaced before it hit the ground (not really, but it was damn fast). No, we weren’t intentionally throwing things to test the wait staff. And water was replenished in your cup before you would decide to fill it up yourself.  (Not to mention the ceviche came out mere seconds after we ordered it – they must have a big batch of it in the back –Richard)

Fish and chips, Latin styleRE: ceviche – it was different from the stuff I had in South America, but it was still tasty. The chips that came with it were a bit on the salty side, so the lime & jalapeno taste of the marinade didn’t show through. And maybe the fish could have been softer, as I was expecting more of a sashimi consistency (I’m not sure if it’s their choice of fish – snapper – but it had the consistency of cooked fish, which I hadn’t seen either with my previous ceviche experiences –Richard). But I like the idea of serving ceviche over chips, like a salsa.

Hope you like sausage, because that's pretty much all there is to this dishMy main was chorizo sausages, with sides of corn and zucchini. I was more impressed with the sides than the main. Although the sausage was grilled nicely, it was a lot of one single meat. Maybe I don’t consume as much salt in my diet as I used to, because I couldn’t finish the 3rd chorizo. Or maybe I needed it to be spicy, or drowned with maple syrup like a breakfast sausage.  The corn, on the other hand, was amazing. It was grilled with a citrus butter, and came out hot and slightly charred. It had sweet, buttery, and lemony tastes in every bite. And the zucchini was just as impressive. The marinade was sort of like a ceviche sauce, really limey, but a mint flavour was also thrown in. And cheese and crumbled nuts were sprinkled all over to give it a nice texture.

They pretty much have a whole zucchini here, sliced paper-thin!I can't believe they took this off the menu - but at least I can steal this concept for my own BBQs!

O&A isn’t the cheapest place around. But it probably leans closer to the fine dining end of the spectrum, with incredible service and great food. Not to say you need to dress up to come here, its pretty relaxed and has a hustle & bustle noisy atmosphere well representing everything outside on 17th Ave on a Friday evening. And you won’t be disappointed with portions. I unfortunately decided to pass on the dessert because I was too stuffed with sausage.

Ranking

  Kent Richard
Ambiance 5.5/6 5/6
Service 6/6 6/6
Plating 4/6 4.5/6
Taste 5/6 5.5/6
Originality 4.5/6 5.5/6
Value 4.5/6 4.5/6
Overall 29.5/36 = 82% 31/36 = 86%

Ox & Angela on Urbanspoon

Review of Blue Star Diner

Blue Star Diner is a new restaurant in Bridgeland opened by the same guys who run Dairy Lane Cafe, taking over the space on 1st Ave where Artisan Bistro used to be. They work on a similar concept as Dairy Lane, serving a solid selection of breakfast and lunch dishes. But I hear that they will offer a dinner menu in the future (at least, that’s what the sign in the window says! –Richard).

There's a fair bit of wine on the wall for a place that's only open for breakfast and lunch!A lot of the food comes from local Alberta producers, and there is a lot to choose from if you go down the gluten-free or vegetarian path. Many of the burgers on the menu offer a gluten free bun for an extra $2. Like many new establishments in Calgary, hype gets built up, and hipsters and foodies all feel like they need to check it out ASAP just so they can tell their friends “oh this place is new, you probably haven’t heard of it before”. So the four of us were asked to wait about 20 minutes one Sunday before a table was available. It was busy, but thankfully the turnover was pretty quick. They offer coffee (not free, but all you can drink) as you sit at the bar or stand outside waiting. I didn’t know cream and sugar was available near the entrance until after I sat down, so I drank it black. And everyone knows the saying, once you go black, you’ll never go back. It was really good brew, in my limited coffee drinking experience.

Isn't pulled pork just carnitas with a less Mexican- sounding name?I had the pulled pork tacos ($14), which came with a side of yam fries. Standard chipotle mayo with the fries, jalapeno salsa with the tacos. The yam fries were some of the better ones I have had. Cinnamon was sprinkled on top, which sounds kind of odd but it works really well. The pulled pork tacos were a bit disappointing though. They were loaded with fresh toppings, but the meat itself I found to be quite dry. But the jalapeno salsa made up for it as it added much needed flavor to the tacos.

Richard’s Experience

This place is literally right around the corner from my condo, yet I never really noticed that it had replaced Artisan Bistro until my cousins were all like “ooh Blue Star, you should check it out!”  I figured it would be worth a shot, so I called down Kent and Kiran for a leisurely lunch.  The fresh robin-egg blue and white made the place feel modern yet comfortable, which fit a new diner quite nicely.  Like most breakfast places in the Edmonton Trail area, this place was hipster central, which Kiran had to explain to one prospective customer (she didn’t stick around ultimately, but it wasn’t the hipsters that scared her off, it was the prices -Kiran).

Steve's gotta save money for travelling, so he went with the white mug!As Kent mentioned, we got to have some coffee while we waited, and as it turns out, they actually have two kinds – a medium roast (“Guatemala”) and a dark roast (“Cup of Excellence”).  I went with the dark roast, and it was nice and smooth without a hint of sourness – just how I like my coffee.  Of course, it turns out that it was $4 for a (admittedly bottomless) cup – it seems the medium roast is only $3, so if you have had enough Excellence for the week then you can save a buck by choosing the medium roast instead.  They have white mugs for the medium roast and blue for the dark so they know which one to top you up with – clever system!

Chicken burger vs. beef burger - next time, pork!Having not been to Dairy Lane, I found the menu quite exciting (any place with pork burgers gets a +1 in my book!), though I am told that they share some similar items – I am guessing the “Dairy Lane burger” isn’t just a coincidence.  I ordered the honey Dijon chicken burger, but was a little surprised when it came out as a patty (wholly my fault, as it’s written right on the menu that it’s ground chicken!).  It was quite nice, if a little lacking in mustard for my tastes (though I could actually taste the honey, which surprised me).  Fortunately for me, I also ordered the stuffed French toast – to split with everyone for dessert, of course – which I thought was REALLY good.  Lightly-egged slices of toast sandwiching a sweet, sultry, slightly melted centre of cream cheese and fruit filling… and topped with berries!  $12 is a bit steep for something of this size, but I thought it was worth it.  The French toast came with a side of hash browns, which I thought made kind of an odd pairing.  The potatoes seemed to be of quite good quality (with a nice natural flavour), which was fortunate because they were rather plain with only a bit of green onion to spice things up.

The service wasn’t the fastest, but it wasn’t too bad given the patron to wait-staff ratio – but I thought the food was solid enough and menu interesting enough to warrant future visits.

This stuffed french toast is just oozing with deliciousness

Kiran’s Observations

Kent and Richard don’t really do justice describe the ambiance of this place. Having recently come back from NYC, the New York “feel” is still freshly pressed in my mind. Blue Star Diner reminded me of  that “NYC feel.” It was a cloudy fall day, so the floor-to-ceiling windows let plenty of natural light in. The place was humming, but it didn’t feel crowded. The dining area itself wasn’t very large, but felt spacious as the tables weren’t packed in too close together. The tables were square, instead of the annoying rectangular, which facilitated the flow of conversation, but left plenty of room for your plates and utensils. And of course, when you first walk in, you are immediately greeted by the bar, with its row upon row of glasses and wine bottles. I almost considered giving a 6 for Ambiance, but it didn’t feel right…I don’t know why.Beans, beans, in magical soup!

I wasn’t feeling too hungry as I had already eaten before, so I opted to get the black bean soup instead. It turned out to be the best decision of the day. The first thing that hit me when I scooped it in my mouth was “wow.” This was possibly the best ”soup” I have ever had – “soup” cause clearly this was more like a vegetarian chilli. You had lime just jumping off every bite without overwhelming the heat and spice in the dish. The thick, spicy broth of corn, beans, onions made for a great dish on a cloudy fall afternoon.

I also tasted the stuffed French toast, which I felt was underwhelming. It sounded so good on the menu, but it failed to inspire in its execution. The  “stuffed” part was essentially a French toast sandwich with some filling in between. Apart from that, there was nothing really that special or different about this dish compared to regular French toast offerings.

Bridgeland is, for some reason, quickly turning into breakfast/brunch central. I love the feel and ambiance of Bridgeland, (and I personally think it’s the next Marda Loop) so it’s great to see this area developing a great restaurant scene. I had a pretty good time at Blue Star, but be warned that the prices aren’t the cheapest. I don’t think you get the full value for your menu, esp. if you are a vegetarian. But apart from that, there’s very little reason to NOT visit the place.

Back to Kent

In terms of value, its okay. Not really that expensive, but no cheaper than any other diner place in Calgary. And if you are a firm believer in buying local and putting those poor oil companies out of business, its a worthy restaurant to support. Everything else on the menu sounds really good, so Blue Star is a place I will have to visit again.

-Kent

Kent Richard Kiran
Ambiance 4.5/6 5/6 5/6
Service 5/6 4.5/6 4/6
Plating 4.5/6 5/6 4/6
Taste 4.5/6 5/6 5/6
Originality 5/6 5.5/6 4/6
Value 4/6 4/6 3/6
Overall 27.5/36 = 76% 29/36 = 81% 25/36 = 69%

Blue Star Diner on Urbanspoon

Review of Indonesian Kitchen

Indonesian Kitchen is officially named Calgary Sweet House because they originally focused on Indian food and desserts. On urbs (what I call urbanspoon), there is one listing for Calgary Sweet House, and a separate listing for Indonesian Kitchen. They are, in fact, the same place.

INDONESIAN KITCHEN IS IN ALL CAPS, HOW CAN YOU MISS IT?

To make it even more confusing, when you look for this place, its main signage says Calgary Sweet House with Indonesian Kitchen printed on a smaller banner on the window underneath. The place has apparently been open for five years, but only in the past year have they started serving Indonesian food alongside Indian food (on separate menus). I am considered the Gordie Howe of urban navigation in some circles, so I didn’t have trouble finding this restaurant, but I can how some people might (ie. me –Richard).

Richard and I came for the Indonesian food. The owner is actually Indonesian, but I am sure she does a fine job with the Indian food too.

Alright, story time:

The menu picture that almost ended KentI got there first and decided to take a wide photo of the restaurant from the inside. Immediately after I took the photo, this big burly dude asks “was I in the photo?”. No smile was made, he looked pissed. I think I offended him and at that instant my testicles ascended into the depths of my body cavity. I was going to die that night.

My reply was “um, no sir”, and I sat down. I take a photo of the menu because us at TSD (This Sh*t’s Delicious) folk tend to forget names of dishes. BBD (Big Burly Dude) then asks “are you stealing food ideas for your own restaurant?”. This place is in Forest Lawn. If I were to disappear in this lawless land, no one would know! My response was “um sir, I am actually writing a review for a food blog”. Five long seconds passed before he said “oh cool” and went back to his meal.

Now to the food:

This picture makes these look better than they actually are :P

(Kent didn’t take notes and it took us 3 months to get around to writing this, so it’s all me from here! –Richard)

The first thing out was a plate of some sort of salty, southeast-asian tasting chip – it had an… interesting flavour, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it – it was rather stale and unevenly salted/spiced.  Hey, at least they were free!

We ordered a variety of things to split, as the only Indonesian food I’d ever had previously was from a food court in Singapore and I was eager to try something new.  Kiran wasn’t with us so we took the opportunity to order all meat.  Our server recommended the deep fried wontons to start, and we went with the rendang stew and satay skewers to flesh things out.

Who doesn't love the deep fryer?

The wontons were kind of floury tasting, but nice and crispy – and the dipping sauce had that complex tangy/vomit-y (not in a bad way) taste that you only seem to get with Southeast asian cuisine (tamarind-y?  My flavour vocabulary is rather limited here, sadly – if you know what causes the flavour I’m talking about though leave a comment!).  The rendang was pretty good – rich like a curry, but not spicy at all.  The satay skewers had a very unique flavour – kind of grassy, very peanutty, and with a sort of lofty bitterness that reminded me of vodka.  Also, they put fried onions on everything (or something resembling onions, as they didn’t have that strong of a taste).

We were also treated to a plate of ayam goren ibu sari – quite the mouthful!  What was this, you ask?  “Mother’s recipe”, we were told – piping hot and very tasty chicken wings!  Probably the best dish we had there, and we didn’t even order it!

Curry? Nope, just rendang!A satay that's actually peanutty - fancy that!Awesome wings, and not just because they were on the house!I only counted 27 layers... rip-off!

To top it off we got a 30-layer cake, which sounded like a real pain in the ass to make.  It smelled warm and cinammony, and it had subtle yet exotic flavours that I can’t quite describe.  You’ll have to try it yourself!  Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that the coconut juice has floaty bits in it – just like Orbitz, if anyone remembers that.

Doesn't this look like a nice summer drink? Oh yeah, that's when we were there.All in all, the food was decent, though the servings seemed kind of small given the price and the foot wasn’t all that hot (though maybe we were just eating too slow).  The Indian menu, on the other hand, seemed damn cheap from what I saw (lots of dishes under $10, which I’m pretty sure isn’t typical in Calgary!).  The service was good, but it wasn’t very busy so hard to say what it might be like on a different day.

The owner (the husband half of it, anyway) sat down for a chat with us near the end, and was quite the talkative guy – apparently he’s quite the well-traveled renaissance man.  Car importer, correctional officer, school board member, restaurant owner – oh, the stories he could tell!

Summary

The food was hit and miss (though the hits were really quite good), but the people and place were cool (there’s even a stage there where they hold speeches, weddings, and other events), so if you’re ever in the area and in the mood for something different, it’s worth checking out.

-Kent & Richard

Ranking

Richard Kent
Ambiance Interesting TBD
Service 5/6 TBD
Plating 1/2 TBD
Authenticity 5/6? Who knows TBD
Taste 4/6 TBD
Value 3.5/6 TBD
Overall 18.5/26 = 71% TBD

Indonesian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Random Finds – KeepRecipes.com

Save recipes from your favorite websites, family recipes, and other sources all on one website. It is like evernote.com, but more catered towards food creators. An iPhone/Touch app is currently not available, but is in the works. Which should make recipe viewing a lot easier than hauling the computer around.

[link]