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Tag Archives: authentic Indian

Food Truck Weekend Overload (Part 2)!!

Richard and I headed up to Lilac Fest a couple of weekends ago to kick-start the summer festivals circuit. Although I personally find most of these street festivals a bit blasé, they are an awesome opportunity to make lots of food-related discoveries.

After the initial successful pilot, food trucks are now here to stay, with their numbers reportedly rising up to 30 by the end of summer. It seems like food truck frenzy has taken over the city, with a new one popping up every week. Lilac fest had a plethora of food trucks so it was the perfect opportunity to review a few more trucks from the day before

Snoberry: Shaved Ice-Cream

The first one that caught my eye was the latest offering from the folks over at The Noodle Bus, which explains the following photo:

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But no one can beat the one Asian gang sign to rule them all:

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(Kiran’s so jealous of my style Winking smile -Richard)

(I am. Sad smile –Kiran)

But, I digress…

Snoberry serves up shaved ice treats and allows up to two toppings per cup. The toppings range from the classics like blueberries, to the more exotic like “mochi” and “lychee burst”.

What is shaved ice, you ask? The “formal” Wikipedia definition describes it as a “large family” of ice-based dessert made of fine ice shavings or finely crushed ice and sweet condiments or syrups.”

Basically, it’s a fuckin’ snow-cone…aka kala khatta in India or Ais kachang in Southeast Asia

And not a good one at one. The texture of this shaved ice was that of shredded wheat. The texture basically turned me off the dessert completely. Plus, a real shaved-ice treat would actually be dripping with syrup and other condiments (like red beans or peanuts) that you can scoop or suck on. Instead, Snoberry’s version just blurs the line between a frozen yogurt and snow cone, and unfortunately, the end result isn’t very good. (I tried it and was rather ambivalent to it – it’s not really much like a snow cone, as the flavour is imbedded in it rather than in syrup form like the types that Kiran is familiar with. It’s more like those ice crystals that you get on the lid of an ice cream container when you over freeze it – vaguely milky-flavoured, but a relatively dilute taste. Sure it’s a bit overpriced, but the main thing that made it shitty was the horrible combination of flavours that Kiran picked – sorry, peanuts and chocolate don’t go with mango ice and lychee bursts. –Richard).

(It was a fuckin’ delicious combo. –Kiran)

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The Happy Truck

We were looking for a solid meal, and the bright and cheery Happy Truck caught our eyes and stomachs. We were also intrigued by their po’boy offerings with decidedly non-traditional po’ boy ingredients like satay sauce, tempeh, and beef.

I decided to get the temphee (sic) po’boy (that was pretty much my only option) which was a cornucopia of ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily see often but nonetheless excited me somewhat in my loins. The big “mystery” ingredient for me was tempeh (deep fried fermented soybeans) which turns is something that has been consumed in Indonesia for centuries. The tempeh was supplemented with a generous (and I mean fuckin’ generous) load of shredded/marinated cabbage, pineapple chunks (?!?!), carrots, and cucumber, all topped off with satay sauce and dollops of sambal.

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The above ingredients sound delicious on paper, but unfortunately, where the po’boy failed was in delivery and execution. I didn’t know how to eat the fuckin’ thing. The bread was cut through on both sides so there was no way to hold the sandwich without ingredients oozing out and dripping onto your lap. The above would be forgivable if the sandwich was mind-blowing, but it wasn’t, thus exacerbating my dislike for the po’boy.

Richard’s Thoughts

The Happy Truck, eh? The name certainly appealed to me, and the people running it inside seemed happy enough. Ok, worth a try, right? Their off-beat offerings were a strange mix of Asian-inspired flavours (from samosas to Southeast-Asian satay) centered around a “Po’ boy” that was the Southern-States standard in name only. It was more like a Viet/Thai style sub (though the bread was certainly po’boy-like), filled with satay beef, cabbage, seemingly cooked cucumber, pineapple pieces, hoisin sauce, and slathered with a generous helping of peanut-y satay sauce.

DSC00097It was certainly an adventurous combination, but I can’t say that I was a fan of it. The sweetness of the pineapple and hoisin sauce combined with the strong peanut flavour of the satay made it taste like I was eating a PBJ sandwich – that happened to also have beef and cabbage in it Sick smile. Seems like it might appeal to people who like the PBJ hotdog at tubby dog though Winking smile. I also had a spring roll, which was almost like an Asian-style sausage roll – unlike many spring rolls, there was no vermicelli or vegetable fillers – only pure, pot-sticker-style meat. On the plus side, the Happy Truck accepts credit cards, which was rather welcome.

Purple Pastry Chef

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The set of cupcakes that were on display in front of the little van caught my eye as we were walking by, and the cheerful ladies manning the little van seemed pretty down-to-earth, so I figured it would be a good place to grab some dessert. The flavour selection was very unique (cinammon, rosewater, and mojito were among the offerings that day), and each cupcake was exquisitely decorated and packaged in individual windowed boxes. We were informed that everything on the cupcakes was edible (including the well-crafted butterflies that adorned several cupcakes) – except for the straw that adorned the mojito cupcake (which was what I ended up ordering).

The cupcakes were almost too adorable to eat – but eat, we did. Unfortunately, I’d say they made better decorations than desserts – the cake itself was nice, if unremarkable, but the icing was too viscous for my liking (almost like marzipan) and the flavour was mostly one-dimensional – sugary (there were wisps of rum/mojito mix but it was pretty muted). Luckily, it came with a slice of key-lime that I bit into in between bites of cupcake that helped cut the sweetness and added some zing. The sugar mint leaf on top was actually also really good, but it wasn’t really big enough for me to get a piece of it with every bite of the cupcake. They weren’t that cheap either ($3.50 or $3.75, I think?), but I don’t doubt that a lot of care went into each and every cupcake so the price was somewhat understandable. –Richard

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I went with the white chocolate and rose water cupcake, which like Richard’s selection, was absolutely gorgeous to look at. However, like his, mine was also better admired than eaten. The icing was too thick and sweet for my liking and the cake wasn’t really all that special. I attempted to eat the rose petals, but ended up just coughing them out.

It was pretty disappointing to have something that delicious looking turn out to be not that delicious, but such is life. #firstworldproblems. -Kiran

Other Trucks

4th Street was lined all the way with food trucks and amongst the new and interesting ones we saw were:

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Which essentially seems to be Edo Express on wheels:

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Then there are other trucks like The Naaco Truck that weren’t at the Lilac Fest, but which I am SUPER-excited about as white people need to know there’s more to Indian food than butter-chicken (which 95% of India Indians won’t be able to afford anyways):

Summary

Food truck mania is definitely taking over the city. I can’t thank Nenshi’s office enough in pushing this concept through City Hall. Calgary’s a pretty cool place, and although it will take us a while to be as trendy, hip or cool as Montreal, we will get there (in a couple of decades or so!). I personally think Calgary’s main problem is how young of a city it is. A lot of people don’t realize that we have grown to a million in the span of only 60 years, whereas a lot of the major cities around the world have two or three CENTURIES worth of history.

As the food truck scene explodes, there will be an increased scrutiny on the quality and price of the offerings. BUT, ultimately, regardless of the food quality, the concept of street food is only going to help revitalize our City.

Looking forward to what summer brings in our local food scene.

-Kiran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Pastry Chef (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

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Review of Canada Dosa Corner

Canada Dosa Corner (CDS) has been on my hit list for a long time. It fits every definition of a hole-in-the-wall place (HITW). In a seedy part of town? Check. Ethnic clientele? Check. Almost hilarious lack of attention to detail and decor? Check. Owner and chef from original country? Check. I could go on. To say that I was excited to check out this place would be an understatement.

CDS’s claim to fame is their ginormous dosas (crepes) made from rice flour and are a staple of South Indian cuisine (kinda like pasta for Italians). Unlike most French crepes, dosas are a traditionally savoury dish served either plain or stuffed with meat or potatoes and eaten with sambar (vegetable broth).

We sat around and twiddled our thumbs for a few minutes before our server came out. He was short line cook from Bangalore, India whose family has been in the catering business for generations. I ordered the Mysore Masala Dosa and Idli-Sambar whereas Kent & Richard ordered Minced Goat Dosa and Sri Lankan Lamb Curry. In addition, Richard ordered Mango Lassi while Kent & I decided to stick with Sri Lankan chai.

Kiran’s Thoughts

I have been eating dosas since I was a kid and was excited to finally find an authentic South Indian eatery as opposed to the saturated North Indian fare that one typically finds in Calgary. I couldn’t resist ordering Idli Sambar (steamed rice cakes) for my appetizer. Like dosas, I have been eating idlis like a good boy since I was 5 and was anxious to compare them to the ones my mum makes at home.  The Mysore Masala Dosa came stuffed with mashed potatoes, onions, green chillies all cooked in aromatic Indian spices. All dosas came with the standard sambar and two assorted chutneys.

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As you can tell from the above picture, these dosas are frickin’ massive. Believe it or not, that’s the way they are made back home. When your portions get this big, it is pointless to maintain any decorum by using utensils – I dug in with my hands, using my fingers to tear the dosa into smaller chunks and dipping them into either one the sambar, onion chutney, or tomato chutney.

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IMG_0031.CR2The dosa was exactly like my mum makes it – mix of crispy and soft with just the right amount of salt in the batter. The stuffed potato also was perfectly done. The prize, however, had to go to the sambar. It was everything I could ask for – a perfect blend of spicy, salty, tangy, and umami. It was like being transported back to a food stall in India with every bite. Absolutely fabulous.

Idli is typically had as an appetizer/breakfast, but is a time-consuming dish to make as the rice cakes have to be steamed. The idlis were piping hot when they came out, fresh out of the steamer. They were a tad stickier than I am used to but were fluffy and moist.  The idli also came with the standard thoroughfare of sambar, onion and tomato chutney. IMG_0055.CR2

The only issues I had with CDS was the relatively poor service and the off-putting taste of the chutneys. There was a moment in time where the server completely forgot about us and we had to ask him a couple of times to refill our water. Also, the Sri Lankan chai that Kent and I ordered turned up towards the middle of the meal instead of the beginning…or even the end. As for the chutneys, I just wasn’t a big fan of them. They had a weird off-putting taste which I can’t describe that completely turned me off them.

Richard’s Ruminations

The place smelled delicious even when standing outside in the parking lot – that was surely a sign of good things to come!  Entering the restaurant, we were surprised to see that it was completely empty, given how much hype this place has been getting (though there were a few tables with reservation placards on them).  Like many an ethnic restaurant, they had sweets prominently displayed in glass cases, which caused some excitement in the group (not for me though; I’m not a fan of Asian desserts in general).  The menu, on the other hand, sparked my interest substantially – ultimately, Kent and I decided to split a goat dosa as well as a Sri-Lankan lamb curry.

The curry came out first, quite quickly (probably one of the few things that is slow-cooked and hence already made – the waiter made sure to inform us that they freshly cook virtually everything upon order).  The curry came with rice by default (as it should, IMO), a nice change from many places where prices for curry may seem deceptively low if you don’t take into account the extra rice order.  The lamb was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the depth of spices was terrific, though there were a lot of bones in the curry.

Then came the dosas.  These things were f*cking huge!  They were literally the length of your torso and looked like they could feed a small country.  The crepes themselves were thick (for a crepe) yet crispy, with decent filling and a few nice chutnies on the side.  I also ordered a mango lassi, which ended up being kind of plain tasting.

Kent’s Two Cents

Everyone, this place is effin amazing. South Indian/Sri Lankan cuisine is hard to come by in Calgary. The dosas are gigantic and could be ordered on its own if you are looking for a meal for yourself. And if you are not that adventurous, the more well known Indian dishes are also excellent. It might be my favourite place in the city for butter chicken, and I NEVER order butter chicken at an Indian restaurant (its equivalent to the California roll for sushi for me). The service could use a bit of work depending on the server, but that is mostly due to miscommunication and a language barrier. Don’t let that stop you from visiting Dosa Corner, everything there is absolutely delicious.

Summary

It is hard not to see why CDS was recently crowned as the hidden jewel of Calgary 2011 by Avenue Magazine. Although the service was ok, and the location out of the way, CDS is an must for everyone looking for a taste of authentic South Indian cuisine. This is definitely where the real locals eat. I took a huge dump the next with a solid ring of fire around my anus and that’s how I knew it was good times. Thank you, CDS!

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Ranking

  Kiran Kent Richard
Ambiance N/A 4.5/6 4/6
Service 3/6 4.5/6 3/6
Plating 6/6 4.5/6 6/6
Taste 5/6 6/6 10/12
Authenticity 6/6 6/6 6/6
Value 5.5/6 5/6 5.5/6
Overall 25.5/30 = 85% 30.5/36 = 85% 35.5/42 = 85%

Canada Dosa Corner on Urbanspoon