Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cilantro and Chive

Hello friends,

I haven't posted in a while I've been busy doing rotations. I find myself in Ponoka where there isn't much to do or see except maybe the "world's largest bucking cowboy." However, lots of the locals told me to go to a nice little place called the Cilantro and Chive. One of my good friends hates cilantro and says it tastes like soap so I looked it up and about 10% of people have this problem. Anyhow I decided to come check the place out.

I was impressed by the overall decor and atmosphere of the place. It was clean and they offered a seat yourself dining room and patio. The waitresses all wore bright green aprons that livened up the place. They quickly came and brought me out water with mint and cucumber which I thought was a great way to brighten up water and bring a freshness to it.

There were several things I was told by the waitress to try but I ended up picking the special they had on - the prime rib. It was an 8oz medium rare cut served with a loaded bake potato, yorkshire pudding, and roasted zucchini with au jus. The cut of meat was very juicy and delicious. There was some fat marbled around to give it a rich and tender taste. The potato was topped with sour cream, cheese, and chives and was good but ordinary. The yorkshire pudding was surprisingly delicious. I've never had it before and it was crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. The taste and texture was very similar to that of a chinese long donut (sorry it's mostly under the meat here.)

I left stuffed. There was a lot of other things I would've liked to try here. I would definitely come back! Verdict 90/100.

Cilantro + Chive on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pizza Hut Hot Dog Stuffed Crust

I wanna start by saying, I am not a big fan of the pizza (or pasta for that matter) at pizza hut. It is greasy and of average cost and taste (I prefer Panago for late night pizza). Anyways I first saw the commericals for hot dog stuffed crust ads early last year and I it really piqued my curiosty. According to Beverly D'Cruz (marketing director of Pizza Hut Canada) "The innovative chefs at Pizza Hut have taken two classic favourites - pizza and hot dogs - and found a delicious way for them to be enjoyed together!" Anyways there were some coupons sent out for a free stuffing of the crust and all of this culminated into ordering in some pizza hut  the other night to finally try it out.

The delivery service over the phone is pretty standard so nothing special there. We ordered a large Hawaiian pizza (thats the only size hot dog crust comes in) and we also got an order of garlic parmesean chicken wings.

The pizza came pretty quick and it didn't look too different from normal pizza. The pizza itself was fine again arriving hot, greasy, a bit lopsided, and with a good amount of topping evenly distributed.

The crust was where the money was at. The hotdog itself tasted like a weiner bun (like from Garden Bakery or any other Asian bakery for that matter). There was a bit of sweetness and the hot dogs weren't those super cheap quality ones either. They were cut into about quarter hot dog size chunks. It wasn't too heavy or I thought it complimented the pizza well as oppposed to just plain crust. It was pretty filling and I was only able to eat two slices before feeling full.

The chicken wings were dripping with oil (you can see it pooling in the aluminum foil) and the garlic paremesean sauce was slathered on thick. They were tasty enough but again nothing too special going on there.

Overall this is still Pizza Hut pizza which I consider run of the mill average fast food pizza (on par with Little Caesars, Dominos, Pizza 73, etc). The hot dog stuffed option is fairly inexpensive ($3 extra) and adds a small bonus to the meal. I consider it almost to be eating two different meals; pizza with a hot dog side dish. It would be something to try for sure and if some of my other friends wanted Pizza Hut anyways I would definitely stuff the crust again. Verdict: 80/100 (only rating the crust).

Pizza Hut on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 22, 2013



Sofra @ 10345 106 Street NW # 780-423-3044

What a raging way to jumpstart Spring! Vehicles in the ditch, code orange at the hospitals, and a schwackload of snow. You would think that we’d all be used to Edmonton’s spontaneous snowstorms by now. I just hope everyone is safe and sound!

As a means of defying Mother Nature, my buds and I weathered the storm and went out for dinner. One of my buds wanted to try out a Turkish restaurant in downtown Edmonton that was featured on You Gotta Eat Here!. Our destination of choice: Sofra. We were greeted and seated promptly, and immediately took to our cozy surroundings. At the table, I was welcomed in the most peculiar manner by this:  

Beware, the Evil Eye is everywhere and sees everything

According to our waitress, the eye on the table was some sort of charm to ward off evil. Neat! I couldn’t stop peeking and poking!

Anyhow, the menu displayed a large variety of foods ranging from pizzas to authentic desserts. It was enough to make anyone’s mouth water. I decided to go for something that sounded super authentic to Turkish cuisine: the Adana Kebab. Adana is a city in Turkey whose cuisine is both spicy and sour. The Adana Kebab is one of the more popular foods from this region and, as its name suggests, comprises of skewered meat cooked over flames. This particular kebab was made with spicy beef ($20).

This made me drool

The meat was delish! The beef had a spiciness that simmered slowly so that I could relish all the flavors of the meat without burning off my taste buds on the get-go. As well, the dish came with a unique yogurt dip that had a refreshingly mild sour taste. This toned down the spiciness of the beef and stimulated very different but complementary taste buds. What a delectably pleasant surprise! The dish included grilled slices of cucumber, tomato, and green pepper. I enjoyed this addition, as they were super fresh, crisp, healthy-tasting, and mildly seasoned. I felt like the salad was nothing out of the ordinary. It essentially comprised of spring greens lathered in what tasted to me like raspberry vinaigrette. Last but not least was the bulghar pilaf. According to Wiki, bulghar is a whole wheat grain common in the Middle East. It is relatively high in fibre and protein. This also had a mild simmering tomatoey spiciness to it and was unlike anything I’d tasted before.

My awesome beef dish

Some other foods that I sampled included the Kiymali Pide, a pizza made with ground beef, vegetables, and cheese. I appreciated the proportion of ingredients in this meal. The crust was thin and the cheese did not overwhelm the other flavors. The Tavuk Sis Kebab was essentially the same as my order, except that the meat was chicken. This was my favorite out of all the dishes. The chicken was very tender and juicy. Its seasoning did not overpower the natural flavor of the meat itself. It was, in all honesty, cooked to perfection and I would highly recommend this dish for newcomers. Another dish was the Kili Baligi Kebab, which was swordfish! Exotic! Unfortunately, I have a weird psychological allergy to seafood, so I opted not to sample this skewer. From what I hear, the fish was a bit “meaty and overcooked”. 

Very different from Pizza Hut


Swordfish exotica

Last but not least, we shared a traditional Turkish dessert known to many as Baklava. It was absolutely amazing! Unlike other Baklavas, this one’s pastry did not stick to my teeth, one of my biggest pet peeves in the food industry. It was not overly sweet and it seemed to almost melt in my mouth with flavors of pistachio, walnut, and honey. Our dish came with four slices and Mr. Gultekin (chef and restaurant owner) was kind enough to give us two extra slices as my bud raved about the amazingness of the Baklava.

We attacked no mercy before I could take a nice photo

Since we had such a great experience with dessert, we impulsively ordered a Firin Sutlac, which was a creamy rice pudding. While it had more character than the Kozy Shack rice pudding I normally get from Costco, it did not live up to our expectations. In all honesty, I couldn't stop thinking of Baklava while sampling this pudding, almost felt like I was cheating on the Firin Sutlac…

I cheated on you sorry

Overall, Sofra had great food, polite and efficient service, and a quaint atmosphere. While the menu was somewhat pricey relative to portion size, the quality and authenticity of the food just about made up for it. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed dining at Sofra and would highly recommend this restaurant for anyone interested in a Turkish venture. My final verdict: 87/100.

Fun times with Mr. Gultekin

Sofra on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Koutouki Meze

 Hey everyone haven't blogged in a while, I've been super busy catching babies (no joke). Anyways some friends and I went to Koutouki near university area last Saturday night for some late night appetizers and drinks. When we walked in we were greeted with some loud music and a lively atmostphere with a belly dancer entertaining guests tableside. Immediately, my friend Eric was seduced by the dancer who whisked him away with her scarf. The feel of the place and the menu reminded me of my time in Europe comprising mainly of mezenthes (equivalent of appetizers to share); though I thought of them as tapas.

First up the Dolmades (grapevine leaves stuffed with ground beef and rice), I quite enjoyed these. They reminded me of cabbage rolls but with a different flavor. The lemon added a nice acid taste and they were served with a generour portion of taziki sauce. We also ordered some pita bread which was nothing special but warm and soft and a good complement to our dishes.

The Keftedes (really just meatballs) were pretty average. A little bit bland for my taste and a little bit dry too. We also ordered some roast potatoes (I was hoping they would be something special, like potatoes bravos or something) unfortunately they were didn't have much flavor and were drenched in olive oil.

The Spanakopita (spinach & feta pastry) were absolutely delicious. The dish came after the rest of our food and was baked fresh. The phyllo pastry wrapping (many thin layers like in baklava) was warm and crisp and the spinach feta was warm and gooey on the inside. Definitely my favorite dish of the night.

Koutouki is a nice little restaurant. Nothing too fancy but as soon as I stepped in I felt like I was back in Europe where the performers are hustling you for a tip and even late at night (we arrived around 9:00PM) there is a busy energy in the air (something Edmonton sorely lacks). Some of the food could have been more polished considering the price ($8-12 per plate), though they do have a nice student discount Tuesday nights (30% off the bill). I would like to come back and try some of the seafood (since my friend Robyn doesn't eat it) or perhaps the Meze menu (a dozen appetizers for all to share). Verdict: 74/100

Meze By Koutouki on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pampa's Brazillian Steakhouse

I went here today after my Surgery rotation to celebrate the start of the holiday season. We arrived to a packed restaurant but luckily they had a table for two and we were promptly seated. Our server expained to us how Pampa's works as a rodizio (people come table side and carve you meat off of a skewer) and how we had buttons to declare if we wanted meat or wished to take a break. We ordered water and were told how it was "premium filtered" and would cost $2 a person. Surprisingly it did taste better than normal water... though I'm probably just crazy.

The meal included an unlimited salad bar which featured dozens of breads, salads, cold cut meats, and fruits. I can't remeber every item but some highlights included a lemon fish, grape fusilli salad, mango carpacio, pineapple and salami pairing, and a tasty potato salad. There were also some misses including tasteless meat stuffed bread, dry foccacia, and a bitter eggplant sausage combination. Once sat to my delight we were promptly served.

Since we went for lunch there were only five cuts of meat (at dinner there are 10). Chicken drumsticks was first up and they were absolutely delicious: seasoned and cooked perfectly; juicy and the skin was crispy. I ended up having four of those in total. Next up was a pork sausage which though a bit salty was still surprisingly good. The parasean cursted pork tenderloin was a mixed bag. My first piece was delicious; but, the second was very fatty and almost leathery in texture. The beef skewers were overcooked and dried and altogether forgettable. Lastly, the top sirloin steak though it was fun to peel off the meat as they shaved it from the skewer was relatively average in seasoning.

I didn't plan on blogging so I don't have too much in terms of pictures. This was supposed to be a nice relaxing day with my good friend Marina so here she is enjoying the meal.

In summary, Pampa's Brazillian Steakhouse was a unique expereince. All of the staff were extremely friendly, and the rodizio is a cool experience. Unfortunately the point of rodizio is the meat and the meat was just average here. Lunch was $60 for two after tax and tip and would likely be double that price for dinner. I would recommend coming here to experience it but I doubt I will be back. Verdict 70/100.

Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Dish Bistro

I came to this restaurant with my two friends Eric (KFC coupon guy) and Robyn. We were prompted sat, told the drink specials, and given some ice water. The restaurant itself looked pretty ordinary just some generic tables and chairs nothing that stood out. I ordered the crab cakes, Eric the Octoberfest plate and Robyn had the sticky lime chicken. I'll talk about my crab cakes first:

The crab cakes were delicious; baked to perfection: crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. I wish they were a little more generous with the mango coulis sauce on top. It is unfortunate that they failed to really compliment the crab cakes with the sides or maybe they were just lazy. I was served a plain bed of rice and a skimpy portion of steamed vegetables. If this dish was a bit more refined it would have really been great, what a shame. I tried some of Eric's plate which consisted of two Bratwurst sausages, potato salad, spätzle, sauerkraut, and rock salt mustard.

To be honest I didn't care for the dish much. Though Robyn said she "loved" the sausage. It tasted like a salty sausage to me. The potato salad and spätzle were bland though Eric did mention the bacon on the spätzle saved it. Tasted very home made to me and when I go out to eat that is not what I want. I only had a small bite of Robyn's chicken which was had a unique delicious flavor. My gripe here again is the sides were not very well thought out; some plain mashed potato and steamed veggies. Lastly don't be fooled by the angle of the photo,  the chicken was quite a small portion for a $20 dish and served bone in.

Robyn and Eric wanted to be a part of the review so I recored some comments which can be found here. Robyn's rating was 76 and Eric's was 70. For me at about $15-20 an entree I didn't really expect much more in terms of finesse. Considering price and value it is an above average place with some potential. Verdict: 75/100

The Dish & The Runaway Spoon on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

La Persaud Bistro

I was invited to come here by my good pal Doug (author of the blog foodmatterstome) and a couple other friends Siah and Cian. Doug had a $100 gift certificate which he graciously shared between the four of us. Cian had arrived first and he stated he stood up at the front awkwardly (since there is a lack of waiting area) without even being acknowledged for over 5 minutes despite us having a reservation.

Ice water and bread was promptly served as we took a look over the menus. The selection was quite limited with only a handfull of appetizer and entree options. We ended up ordering a Nicose salad and beef tartare to start. We were quickly greeted with an amuse bouche of potato veloute (pretentious word for cream based soup) and crustini. Free stuff is always pleasant and it had a nice seasoning to it.

The beef tartare was very average. I much prefer it from other locations in Edmonton such as The Marc. This one lacked any strong flavor and the pickle taste I like. The Nicoise salad was similar to the one I had in France consisting of seared tuna, sardines, egg, and greens - not a fan of the overal textures and flavors here (probably a personal bias).

For our entrees Cian had the duck confit with rolled onions and potato and the three of us ordered steak Béarnaise. The duck was presented nicely and had a good flavor and was tender and juicy. Served on a bed of I'm not even/can't remember though I remember it tasting bloody...

The steaks all came out all horribly overdone. We had ordered rare, med-rare, and med and what we got was med-well, well-done, and dryed out over done - mine unfortunately =[. The waitress did not ask if they were cooked right for over 10 minutes as we picked at our fries and salad. Finally when she came over she told us it was going to be a 45 minute wait for new steaks which after some grumbling we agreed to. Soon after the manager came over and again asked us if we were "sure" we wanted them recooked since the kitchen was backed up. Puzzled since she offered no real solution (other than eat these poorly cooked steaks) we looked at each other and still said yes. At this point I was quite frustrated, for a place that claims to be fine dining a over or under steak should result in a rapid refire and an apology at the very least, let alone a 45 minute wait in an empty restaurant to flash cook 8 minute steaks. At least be close to the correct temperature but these were just so far gone. Finally the food came and the waitress apologized about a grumpy kitchen. When it was cooked properly it was an average steak at best and the Béarnaise sauce just reminded me of Hollindaise sauce and I barely used it.

All and all the food was not terrible in itself but considering the price and laughable service I would not recommend La Persaud even with a $100 gift certificate. Each entree was $30 and the appetizers were about $15 each. Verdict: 65/100.

Bistro La Persaud on Urbanspoon