Food Notes for March 1, 2021

King Noodle House Announces Forthcoming Closure

Last week, the family behind King Noodle House Pho Hoang announced that their building has been listed for sale and they are preparing for the closure of the restaurant.

Unfortunately, owners Hoa Sen Dao and Tan Hoang (also known to regulars as the “Moustache Man”) weathered the worst year of business in their 26 years of operation, and shared that the pandemic accelerated their retirement plans.

Their noodle soups have been a fixture in the local food scene since 1995, simmered for up to fourteen hours per day. King Noodle’s soup recipe had been passed down for three generations, and though their three children had discussed the possibility of taking over the business one day, the couple had been adamant this wasn’t what they wanted.

“It is bittersweet for the whole family to see the legacy come to an end,” said Linda Hoang, daughter of Hoa Sen and Tan. “Our parents didn’t want any of the kids to take over the restaurant because the last 26 years of business have been so challenging for them in terms of very long work hours, poor work/life balance, and just general restaurant industry stress and hardships—they worked hard in the hopes that their kids wouldn’t need to work as hard.”

Unlike Hathaway’s Diner, who posted their restaurant for sale last February with the hope that someone would want to take over the business, King Noodle House wants to keep their recipes in the family. “It was very important to us to ensure only family would take over the actual restaurant, recipes,” said Linda Hoang. “We are hopeful that even after the building sells, there would be opportunities in the future for pho pop ups and other ways to keep the legacy and recipes in Edmonton.”

As the restaurant closure will depend on the speed at which the building is purchased, the early announcement provides ample notice for those hoping for one last bowl of soup before the doors close for the last time. “It could be two years, it could be two months,” Tan Hoang said.

COVID-19-related News

  • HanJan’s Oliver location had a staff test positive for COVID-19, but found it frustrating that Alberta Health Services was not able to provide clear instructions on next steps for their other staff and business operations.
  • Katy Ingraham of Cartago and Fleisch continues to advocate against indoor dining in spaces with poor ventilation.
  • The Journal covered Tiramisu Bistro’s outdoor heated dining domes, while CTV covered some additional outdoor dining spaces, including Little Brick and the Courtyard Marriot.
  • Lynsae Moon of The Nook Cafe opened up on Instagram on the challenge of keeping her social media accounts active and engaged, “This has been challenging for me to reconcile as I have this narrative telling me I can do it all and this capitalistic idea of productivity eating away at me but the truth is I don’t have the capacity to show up 100% in every area right now.”
  • Alberta Health Services is no longer pursuing legal action against a small town cafe in Mirror, Alberta which defied public health orders by re-opening for dine-in services back in January. In addition, AHS is paying for the legal costs incurred by the restaurant.

Openings

  • Shree Restaurant promises a “modern Indian gourmet experience”. They opened on February 25, 2021 at 5025 Mullen Road.
  • XO Bistro opened up their second location on the south side at 5021 Mullen Road.
  • Downtown has added another Mexican restaurant called Maria which shares a kitchen with Haweli at 10220 103 Street.
  • Barcelos, an international Peri chicken chain not unlike Nando’s, is adding to its Edmonton area locations with a second restaurant in the Windermere Currents (6189 Currents Drive SW).
  • Chain quick-serve strEATS Kitchen serving up “globally inspired street foods” is now open in Oliver at 11327 104 Avenue.
  • International ghost kitchen concepts continue to proliferate – the latest is Man vs Fries.
  • Awn Kitchen Workshop + Cafe will be opening up later this spring in Landsdowne at 104, 5124 122 Street.

Upcoming Events

  • Save Hospitality is hosting LocalLicious! from February 25-March 7, 2021, with participating restaurants offering 3-course menus and donating $1 from each menu to a charity. Braven is the only local participant.
  • The menus for Eats on 118, running March 1-31, 2021, are now live. Half of the Tour and Taste boxes are sold out, so if you’re keen on one, don’t wait!
  • You Need a BBQ! posted their schedule of spring/summer classes, some of which are already sold out! There is still room in their upcoming Ultimate Steak Class on May 15, 2021.
  • Eats on 118 organizers are also planning a long table outdoor dinner for June 19, 2021, with 8+ participating restaurants. Tickets are $118.

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

  • One of the biggest stories was about butter: specifically, because of Julie van Rosendaal’s excellent reporting about palm oil supplements in the feed of dairy cows. There have been some deniers, but as a whole, the industry has started to pay attention. And in the meantime, if you’re looking for palm oil-less butter locally, head to RGE RD.

What I Ate

  • My Toronto-based sister surprised me on Friday with a Doughnut Party delivery. I maintain that one of the silver linings of the pandemic is the increased availability and sharing of food-based care packages.

Doughnut Party

Doughnut Party delivery

  • Our last #yegdt #AdoptAShopYEG was take-out from Tres Carnales Rostizado, including this amazing pizzadilla (pizza +quesadilla). We loved the how the layers of house-made flour tortilla, braised short rib, cheese, and crema came together.

Tres Carnales Rostizado

Pizzadilla from Tres Carnales Rostizado

Food Notes for February 22, 2021

Edmontonians Among Western Living’s Foodies of the Year

Western Living released their 14th annual Foodies of the Year list, and though it is heavily represented by candidates from BC, several Edmontonians were recognized for their contributions to the local food scene.

Journalist Liane Faulder, who covered the food beat for more than a decade at the Edmonton Journal, is among the honorees. Although she continues to cover the arts scene for the publication, I miss reading her food-related stories; Liane’s passion for the people behind the food was always evident.

Also on the list are the trio behind Meuwly’s, Peter Keith, Will Kotowicz, and Glendon Tan. They just celebrated the fourth birthday of their Secret Meat Club venture, which eventually led to opening their 124 Street storefront.

Brian Welch of Farrow was also recognized for the expansion of Farrow (including a fourth location early this year) and the Three Boars pandemic pivot of High Dough.

Rounding out the list is Greg Zeschuk of Ritchie Market, credited for making this southside neighbourhood a food destination. The Market also attracted other like-minded businesses to the area, including Farrow, Kind Ice Cream, and Doughnut Party.

The top ten Foodies of the Year will be released on March 10, 2021.

COVID-19-related News

Upcoming Events

  • Eats on 118 is returning March 1-31, 2021. The event features $15-25 dine-in and take-out specials, and new this year, a Tour & Taste Box featuring products from several vendors, delivered to your home for $65. Menus will be posted soon.
  • Above Average Drinks is hosting a virtual cocktail experience on March 5, 2021 with bartender James Grant (of Little HK and Pablo). Kits containing three single serve cocktails are available through Color de Vino for $65 and must be pre-ordered by March 1, 2021.

Local News

  • There’s a new bread pop-up in town called Breadmonton.
  • It’s also great to see specialized home-based businesses, such as Scandinavian bakery Söta Saker, start up during the pandemic.
  • Chee’s Sandwich + Soup is a ghost kitchen operates out of the Midway kitchen.
  • YEGdate now offers a YEGdate Box, which features four dates, either in the box, or certificates that can be redeemed, two mini dates, and two perks.
  • The latest Best Dishes column on CBC Radioactive highlights Rosewood Foods.
  • On the heels of Chartier’s appearance on Food Network’s Big Food Bucket List, Zwick’s Pretzels also made an appearance on the show over the weekend. Congrats!
  • Businesses in the 124 Street area are offering an incentive to visit their neighbours, with a discount at a second business when you patronize another. Check out the participating businesses here.
  • Mercer Tavern debuted a new menu created by their new chef Kunal Sawhney. It features items like Korean fried cauliflower, grilled romaine salad, and a house cured corn beef sandwich.
  • Tamara Vineberg posted about Olympus Donair in Riverbend that looked like it was in trouble and could use some community support.
  • Oodle Noodle continues their aggressive expansion, with plans to open at least five locations in Edmonton this year, including its first food court branch. They will also be expanding into Calgary and southern Alberta.
  • Home-based pasta business bell’uovo, started by theatre performer Gianna Vacirca, was featured in the Journal and CBC Radioactive.
  • The Journal featured noodle kit company Nai Nai Mie who has grown their business significantly over the last year.
  • Local chefs Allan Suddaby and Chael MacDonald have launched their own podcast called Food Court.
  • FC Edmonton debuted a YouTube series called Eat Like an Eddie, featuring recipes prepared by a Registered Dietician alongside one of the players.
  • Also on YouTube, the Dickinsfield Amity House started the Collective Kitchens YouTube channel highlighting simple recipes for home cooks.
  • It’s great to see local arts organizations partner with restaurants, such as the Citadel Theatre and RGE RD for Valentine’s Day. The Catalyst Theatre is partnering with Dalla Tavola Zenari so those looking for something to enjoy can do so while streaming UnCovered on March 8, 2021.
  • Edmonton-based food processor Canyon Creek is investing $1.7 million to increase their production capacity.
  • A group of volunteers in southeast Edmonton continue to give back to the community through prepared meals for those in need.

Beyond Edmonton

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • We were really looking forward to trying DOSC’s weekend ghost kitchen, Burger Brawl. The fun concept of “burger contenders” named after video game characters is immensely marketable, but we were more excited about having another great option on our street. Mack’s Donkey Kong burger fared better, but I was disappointed with my order. The bun on my Bowser burger were so charred I couldn’t taste much else – a pity, as the patty was cooked to a beautiful medium rare. We hope it was a one-off and would consider trying it again – it does seem to be very popular as they consistently sell out.

Burger Brawl

Our Burger Brawl order

  • I signed up to support a couple of businesses on Linda’s #yegdt Adopt A Shop, running until the end of the month. We started with LovePizza – it was a great excuse to finally try Drift’s feature pizza. I loved the sweet hoisin glaze, and of course the pork belly! There’s less than a week to sample The Drifty, if you’re so inclined.

LovePizza

We LovePizza (and Drift)!

Food Notes for February 15, 2021

New Initiatives Highlight Downtown and Old Strathcona Businesses

A couple of new initiatives launched recently to encourage diners to support local businesses in the Downtown and Old Strathcona areas.

Explore Edmonton has created the Downtown Dining Pass, a free mobile passport that currently provides discounts at 11 participating businesses. The pass launched on February 8, 2021, the same day in-person dining restrictions were relaxed, but both dine-in and take-out deals are available. The pass currently doesn’t have an expiry date, but because of its digital nature, deals can be updated by the restaurant at any time. Additional businesses may also be added.

Explore Edmonton Media Relations Manager Nancy Gordy shared that they wanted to curate a pass that wouldn’t overwhelm the consumer, hence the focus on Downtown businesses only at this time. “Many downtown restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic, so we want to do all we can to help,” said Gordy. “We have been chatting about creating passes for other areas, businesses, and neighbourhoods as well.”

The Old Strathcona Business Association (OSBA) has spearheaded the Sweet Treats & Latte Festival in an effort to increase foot traffic into the neighbourhood. 13 businesses are offering either a treat or a hot drink from February 13 – March 14, 2021 for prices around $5.

The event was also created in light of the pandemic, says Jeff Samsonow, Marketing & Communications Coordinator with the OSBA. “This is a perfect grab-and-go [event], allowing folks to try new restaurants or support their favourites, while talking a walk on Whyte Avenue,” said Samsonow. “We’ve still got our winter lights up in McIntyre Park and Ice on Whyte begins this weekend too, so there’s lots to see while staying COVID-safe.”

The OSBA is also encouraging those sampling goods to submit their votes for the best treats and hot drinks for a chance to win gift cards.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • Brew + Bloom Cafe delayed their opening last year but have announced a grand opening to take place on February 26, 2020. They are located at 10550 115 Street.
  • Pine & Dine is now open in the former RoseBowl Pizza space at 10111 117 Street. EDify has an early review.
  • The Mill Craft Beer + Kitchen is now open in Fort Saskatchewan.

Closures

  • The Downtown location of Swiss Chalet in Canterra Centre is now closed.

Local News

  • Congratulation to the winners of Th3rd Wave’s annual awards recognizing cafes and coffee roasters, including The Colombian as coffee shop of the year and Take Care Cafe as the best new coffee shop of the year.
  • Food trends seem to come and go at a more frenetic pace in the pandemic – the latest seem to be croffles (croissant waffles). Sharon has a guide of where to try them in Edmonton.
  • I Heart Edmonton ranks Edmonton’s 15 best donair shops.
  • Linda is back with her third iteration of #AdoptAShop, this time focusing on Downtown. Nominations for businesses to be included in the initiative will be accepted until February 16, 2021, and sign-ups for those interested in “adopting” businesses will be live February 18, 2021.
  • YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson (aka MrBeast) has created a burger now available in Edmonton through ghost kitchens.
  • Uproot Food Collective continues to expand the brands and products they carry.
  • The fourth season of The Great Canadian Baking Show kicked off on Sunday, featuring Edmontonian Larry Harris. He spoke to Edmonton AM about his experience on the show. He was also profiled by the University of Alberta School of Business.
  • Local startup CommerceOwl, just launched RecipeStack for those interested in sharing their recipes to build an audience – their tagline is #RecipesNotYourLifeStory.
  • Fresh Routes, who hosts many mobile grocery stores across the city in food deserts and communities with vulnerable residents, is looking to crowdsource $20,000 to repair one of their trucks.
  • A&W is now a Mealshare partner – the restaurant will donate a meal with every Mealshare item purchased.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • It was a strange Lunar New Year – our first without extended family. As a result, we decided to outsource the cooking, opting to order a special multi-course meal from Rosewood Foods. The five-spice chicken legs were outstanding (they know their chicken!), and I also really enjoyed the sticky rice with lapcheong and shiitake. Emily, as expected, couldn’t take her eyes off the citron-honey crullers.

Rosewood Foods

Lunar New Year dinner from Rosewood

  • Mack and I have never been big on Valentine’s Day, so the closest we got to celebrating was using it as an excuse to try a couple of single-serve cocktails from Tumbler & Rocks, picked up during our Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market run over the weekend.

Tumbler and Rocks

Cheers from Tumbler & Rocks

Food Notes for February 8, 2021

In-Person Dining Resumes in Alberta

Hospitalizations have remained below 600, so today, the province proceeded with the first stage of easing restrictions, which includes the resumption of in-person dining.

The guidelines limit 6 individuals to a table from the same household or two close contacts for those living alone. Liquor service will end at 10pm, in-person dining will close by 11pm and the establishment must collect contact information from one person in the dining party.

On February 5, 2021, the Edmonton Independent Hospitality Community wrote an open letter to government leaders asking for a COVID-zero plan and further financial provisions to assist the hospitality industry: “Many of us are left with no other option than to re-open for dine in and put ourselves and our staff at increased risk of contracting Covid and spreading it to our loved ones and the community because the alternative of not opening is just as grave a predicament.”

Since last week, a slough of restaurants announced re-opening plans. Many, such as Blue Plate Diner, Delux, Central Social Hall, Fife and Dekel, Tiffin, XIX Nineteen, resumed in-person service on February 8, 2021. Remedy locations and Sugar Bowl were busy on the first day welcoming back in-person customers.

Other restaurants have delayed their opening until later this week in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, including The Butternut Tree, DOSC, Guru, and Pampa. A couple are limiting in-person services even further – Filistix is only offering dine-in on Fridays and Saturdays, while Lux is re-opening for the weekend only.

The resumption of in-person dining also means outdoor patios can return. The winter igloos at Riverside Bistro have since re-opened, while Tiramisu Bistro’s new igloos can now be reserved. The courtyard at Little Brick is also open to patrons.

Similar to the case in November, when many restaurants voluntarily closed to in-person dining, some businesses have decided to remain on take-out and delivery models only. This includes Northern Chicken, Cartago and Fleisch, Jack’s Burger Shack, The Next Act/Meat/Pip, and The Nook.

New York City resumes indoor dining this weekend, and this writer for The New Yorker captured my thoughts perfectly:

“But today, on the cusp of a second, nearly identical experiment with indoor dining, the moral weight of our individual decisions has increased. We know what happened last time; we know the limits of what this move can fix, and the extent of whom it can harm. There is a flip side to the fallacy of individual responsibility during the pandemic: just because we’ve been given permission to do something doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.”

COVID-19-related News

  • Co-owner of Sabor and Bodega restaurants Christian Mena shared his personal experience with COVID-19, and preparing to re-open on February 8.
  • The owner of That Bar-B-Q in Sherwood Park doesn’t believe stage one of re-opening will be beneficial to his business, which relies on diners wanting to socialize with people from other households.
  • The NDP are calling on the province to follow Ontario and BC and cap the fees that can be charged by third-party delivery apps during the pandemic. Some believe that capping fees is only scraping the surface of what the hospitality industry needs to survive.

Closures

  • The owners behind Cibo Bistro have decided to close the business permanently. Lisa and Rosario Caputo shared: “This past year has made it almost impossible to move forward with the constant changes to our industry and the inconsistent rules and regulations due to Covid-19.”

Upcoming Events

  • The second annual Taste of Africa is taking place virtually on February 27, 2021 , with a contactless food pick-up component.

Local News

  • Acclaimed local chef Larry Stewart (formerly of Hardware Grill) will be heading up the kitchen at Cattail Crossing Golf and Winter Club in Sturgeon County.
  • The Journal shares the stories behind HanJan’s new concept HoneyJam and Old Strathcona restaurant Palette Cafe.
  • Phil’s latest Best Dishes column highlights the sandwiches at Zwick’s Pretzels.
  • Twyla shared her sneak peek of Chef Jiju Paul’s new menu at Hotel Macdonald.
  • CTV featured the couple behind Benny’s Bread and Butter.
  • Still making Valentine’s Day plans? Mary Bailey of The Tomato shared some in-person and curbside pick-up options on Global.
  • CoffePass announced that they are extending their expiry date until April 30, 2021.
  • I love that Linda is sponsoring her own giveaway supporting BIPOC businesses in honour of Black History Month.
  • Also from Linda – a wonderful story about how farmers’ markets brought the two people behind Mini Kitchen and El Gringo together in love and eventually, marriage.
  • Alberta Food Tours is offering another curated local box; this one features sweet treats from 11 Albertan chocolatiers and confectioners. The box is priced at $99.
  • The next season of The Great Canadian Baking Show (which includes Edmonton’s own Larry Harris of Bonne Vie Bakery) shared their favourite local bakeries across the country.
  • EDify profiled one of the Edmonton area’s newest distilleries, White Lightning Distillery. It is located in Barrhead County.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • Even the cold couldn’t stop me from satisfying my vermicelli bowl craving. It was also a happy coincidence that all pick-up orders from T and D Noodle House are 15% off until February 14, 2021 to commemorate their 7th birthday!

T and D Noodle House

My go-to vermicelli bowl from T and D Noodle House

  • Emily’s current favourite book is the adorable “My Day With Gong Gong” by Sennah Yee, and after seeing the dim sum restaurant scene over and over again, Mack and I were craving dim sum something fierce. All day dim sum from Dynasty Century Palace to the rescue!

Dynasty Century Palace

Dim sum and noodles from Dynasty Century Palace

  • I likely never would have attempted one from scratch, so Dalla’s Timpano kit was a great excuse to assemble this famous Italian dish at home. Emily had a great time helping us layer the ingredients, and we think it turned out great!

Dalla

Timpano

Food Notes for February 1, 2021

In-Person Dining Permitted to Resume

Last week, the Alberta Government announced that due to declining hospitalizations, certain restrictions would be lifted. This includes permitting in-person dining as of February 8, 2021, as long as hospitalizations remain below 600.

The guidelines in place are similar to those introduced back in November, and limit 6 individuals to a table from the same household or two close contacts for those living alone. Liquor service must also end at 10pm and in-person dining by 11pm. A new requirement is the need for the establishment to collect contact information from one person in the dining party.

Some restaurants have already announced that they will be opening on February 8, 2021, including Braven and Dalla. Others, such as Pho Tau Bay, are gearing up to open in March.

Many restaurants have announced that they will remain closed to in-person dining in spite of the change in restrictions. These businesses include Northern Chicken, Cartago, and Jack’s Burger Shack, who shared:

“On Feb 8th we will not be opening our dining room. The reality is our restaurant is just too small to serve everyone safely. At the end of the day, the safety of our staff and guests is paramount. We are suffering along with all other restaurants; we went from a bustling room to only being able to take 40 orders a night before we are sold out of pick times, to avoid overcrowding. Regardless of the impact, we will continue to only provide take out at this time.”

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • New vegetarian restaurant Palette Cafe is now open in Old Strathcona at 10047 80 Avenue.
  • Hey Croffle is open in the Premium Outlet Collection by the Edmonton International Airport, serving up croissant waffles. Sharon enjoyed her croffles.
  • Freson Brothers is opening a store in Edmonton proper on March 5, 2021 at 5139 Mullen Road.
  • Jess noticed Phoenix Diner coming soon to 10803 Jasper Avenue.
  • Ghost kitchen Flying Burrito is now open.

Closures

  • Careit’s Downtown location in the Fox Tower is closing on February 5, 2021.

Upcoming Events

  • The Edmonton Intercultural Centre is hosting a series of free virtual cooking classes from February 4 – May 6, 2021, with cuisines ranging from Bengali, Sudanese, Turkish, and Vietnamese.
  • The next Edmonton Eats event on February 12-14, 2021 celebrates honey in all its forms, and features recipes for honey marinade, honey vinegar dressing, and honey cake. Tickets are $75 per household.
  • Milk Crate is hosting two virtual cooking classes on February 13, 2021, one for women seeking men/men seeking women, and a second for LGBTQ2 community members. Tickets are $30.
  • Deep Freeze is taking place this year, but with many modifications due to the pandemic. One such change is their annual tourtiere contest, which will be a recipe draw instead of a tasting competition. Share your recipes with the festival by e-mail and be entered to win a prize. The submission deadline is February 14 2021.

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • Last week, we were fortunate to receive a gifted Meuwly’s Secret Meat Club package to help celebrate their fourth birthday. The bag includes charcuterie, sausage, condiments, and their house-made Fleur Jaune cheese. We tried the Cassonade sausage over the weekend, and it is some of the best sausage we’ve had in some time. First time subscribers can get 30% off their first month’s subscription by using the promo code SMCTURNS4, valid until February 15.

Secret Meat Club

Secret Meat Club package from Meuwly’s

  • We got our annual fill of Love Pizza’s mac and cheeza on Friday – it’s one of the rare things to look forward to in January!

LovePizza

Mac and cheeza from Love Pizza

  • We were so spoiled by a gifted curbside brunch from the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald this weekend. It was a sneak peek of their new menu created by new Executive Chef Jiju Paul. The crispy chicken (buttermilk marinated crispy chicken, smoked bacon, mushrooms, hash brown potatoes, and fried eggs) was our favourite, so flavourful and crunchy even after the ride home. The menu launches to the public on February 6.

Fairmont Hotel Macdonald

Crispy chicken from the Hotel Mac

  • One of the best things about living in #yegdt is the diversity of small businesses within walking distance. For Emily’s birthday, we ordered cupcakes from My Cupcake Mama, housed in the Don Wheaton YMCA (and the COVID-19 pivot of Maka Eatery). They were fantastic to work with, and the cupcakes were delicious and not too sweet (their Swiss meringue buttercream is a nice alternative to super sweet icing). I’d definitely recommend them, as would Emily!

My Cupcake Mama

Cupcakes from My Cupcake Mama

Food Notes for January 25, 2021

JustCook Kitchens to Open Downtown Food Hall This Spring

Edmonton might finally get its first food hall. JustCook Kitchens is planning to open the 5th St. Food Hall this spring at 105 Street and 103 Avenue.

This flagship location will feature four restaurant concepts and a bar. The name of the company is derived from a desire to help food entrepreneurs pursue their passion. “We put the infrastructure, technology, and processes in place for the chefs to just cook,” said COO Luke Butterworth. “[By] taking away the additional burden and complexities of being a business owner, we aim to give chefs and foodpreneurs the keys to succeed and thrive.”

JustCook envisions that they won’t be just a landlord to the businesses, but a partner to help them achieve success. “We designed our Food Hall concept around [the chefs], said JustCook CEO Jennifer Keith. “We realized that many restaurants are still lagging behind in terms of technology, so we decided to ensure our food halls would be fully integrated with technology in mind for every step of both the chef and the customer experiences.”

No tenants have been confirmed yet, but they have received interest from several chefs and food entrepreneurs. Their plan is to open additional locations around the city. CMO Maëlle Piquée shared that they want to help build new restaurant brands, and intend to be a “destination food hall for dedicated restaurants in our space and distribute food through eat-in, take-out, and delivery networks.”

The JustCook concept is not too dissimilar from The Public, WildHeart Collective’s initiative to assist small food vendors with scaling up their business. They believe their eat-in space differentiates them, as does JustCook’s approach to technology. “We believe that being able to make data-driven decisions is what will lead to smooth and lean operations,” said Piquée. “Easy identification of best dishes, food trends, or not-so-successful dishes and ways to improve, which will ensure continued success and growth.”

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • California-style smashburgers are available at Flatboy Burgers, at 8717 53 Avenue.
  • Hanjan and Let’s Go Round Two are behind a new concept called Honey Jam, offering a handful of burgers and sides.
  • Rub’d Smokehouse BBQ is a ghost kitchen located in Crash Hotel Downtown.
    • Tacos El Nido is now open, in the same space as Jiro Ramen and a Presto Tea location, at 11113 87 Avenue.
    • Let Eat Snow has rebranded to Urban Plant Cafe, and re-opens on January 26, 2021. Sharon has a photolog of the renovations.
    • The third Edmonton location of Jollibee is slated to open on January 28, 2021 at 17136 90 Avenue.
    • Noodle Xtreme is opening up a second location in Sherwood Park on January 31, 2021 at #182, 270 Baseline Road.
    • Corner Hub is now open at the University of Alberta campus, at 8623 112 Street, offering coffee and light fare.
    • I was remiss in not mentioning that the sister French bistro to Eleanor and Laurent, La Petite Iza, opened at the end of last year. It is located at 10926 88 Avenue.
    • Bicycle Bakery is another home-based business that opened during the pandemic. The unique aspect is that all orders are delivered by bicycle in several central west communities.
    • The new restaurant in the Transit Hotel is not yet open, but owners are confident their permits will come through soon.
    • A new branch of The Canadian Brewhouse is under construction in Manning Town Centre, to open this summer, and another is in the works for the Edmonton International Airport.

    Local News

    • The Anti-Social Running Club is putting on Dine and Dash, an initiative that encourages people to run a 10K, half marathon, or full marathon from February 7-14, 2021. As a reward, runners will be able to pick up dinner from one of six restaurants on February 14, 2021. The cost starts at $45 for an individual.
    • It’s never too early to plan for Valentine’s Day – Linda has a fantastic post about sweet treats available from small businesses in the Edmonton area (including one of my favourite Valentine’s treats on the list – Cookiegrams from Bloom, which also benefits the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton).
    • Phil Wilson’s latest Best Dishes column highlights the chicken shawarma from El Fino Kabab and Shawarma.
    • It’s always great to see more restaurants move into the online/digital sphere, such as the 45 year old Coliseum Steak & Pizza.
    • Farrow has been able to expand their pastry production in their new location, and are optimistic their shop fits in with the Downtown crowd.
    • This listicle contains 25 Edmonton restaurants offering Oilers game day specials.
    • City Council voted to move forward with public engagement about the possibility of permitting alcohol in public parks.
    • The Taste of Edmonton has announced that the 2021 festival will be relocating to Churchill Square this summer, if the event is permitted to happen.
    • The first episode of NAIT’s new Career Essentials podcast features Chef Steven Brochu of MilkCrate and his mental health initiative MilkCrate Listens.
    • Plant-based products continue to grow in availability – plant-based sausages and burgers from Victoria-based Very Good Butcher are now available at Meuwly’s.
    • Hungry Zine is accepting submissions for their first issue, centred around the theme of home cooking.
    • Additional FreshCo conversions were announced, including the Safeway by the Coliseum, in Millbourne Mall, and Palisades Square.
    • Sikhs for Humanity is giving away free groceries to those in need, then transitioning to a kitchen that can provide meals in downtown Edmonton.
    • Edmonton-based Nabati Foods Inc. is looking to raise four million dollars to help with their expansion.
    • How do urban bees survive? This is a great thread from local bee expert Dustin Bajer about re-locating a wild honeybee colony in a tree.

    Beyond Edmonton

    • An owner of a Montreal Chinese restaurant’s very honest menu descriptions went viral last week after they were shared on social media. They include such gems as, “it has curry flavour, don’t expect it to be SO tasty but it’s a safe choice and make you happy.”

    What I Ate

    • Mid-week, Mack and I had time to visit Farrow’s newest location close to home for a couple of grick middles. It might just be my favourite sandwich in the city.

    Farrow

    Grick middle from Farrow

    • Thank you for all of your support of our fourth annual Chinatown Dining Week. The event just concluded on Sunday, but it’s safe to say that the participating businesses felt the love from the community. We ordered our Friday night take-out from Syphay – their pad Thai is so good!

    Syphay

    Our order from Syphay

    • We also popped over to Tea Bar Cafe over the weekend for some bubble tea and egg waffles. Emily has been a part of Chinatown Dining Week from the beginning (she was born on the final weekend of the first event in 2018), so it’s great that she’s more actively sampling the food now. She thoroughly enjoyed these treats!

    Tea Bar Cafe

    Emily and an egg waffle

    Food Notes for January 18, 2021

    Curated Samples of Local Goods Provide Positive Exposure

    Many consumers are looking for ways to support small businesses, and there are a couple of recent examples that offer compiled collections of local goods.

    The Alberta Box, an initiative of Sobeys, is a package of 22 locally-produced products, including candy, soda, soup mix, and oats. Participating companies, including Gramma Bee’s Honey, appreciated the exposure. Priced at $49.99, the boxes were very well-received and are 90% sold out. As a result, Sobeys will be releasing an additional box featuring new vendors in the spring.

    The Silver Skate Festival has created its own version of an Edmonton box, in the form of Celebrate Edmonton surprise gift bags. The bags not only support the suppliers highlighted, but also the festival itself. This promotion ran over the Christmas holiday (I picked up a bag and was pleasantly surprised by the range and quality of items), and was so popular that the festival has brought it back again for Valentine’s Day. Vendors for this version include Caramunchies, Smokey Bear, Acquired Taste Tea, and Token Bitters. Bags start at $25 and orders must be placed by February 9, 2021.

    COVID-19-related News

    • Love Pizza’s Spruce Grove location is temporarily closed due to a staff testing positive for COVID-19.
    • Northern Chicken has re-opened again after a temporary closure due to a COVID-19 positive staff member.
    • Bundok has chosen to remain closed until at least January 21, 2021.
    • The Calgary-based Alberta Hospitality Association is asking the government to consider allowing in-person dining to resume and to commit to no further shutdowns.

    Openings

    • Farrow’s fourth location is now open in the former Wishbone storefront at 10542 Jasper Avenue.
    • East African restaurant Rayyan is now open in Chinatown (in the space formerly occupied by Garden Bakery, 10019 106 Avenue).
    • Sunflower Eatery is now open at 10014 104 Street.
    • The Express Chef, offering Indian fusion food, is now open at 10534 111 Street.
    • Ayco, a local artisan bakery, opened in West Edmonton Mall back in December.
    • Bubble tea chain Presto Tea added a location to Southgate Centre.

    Closures

    • Cacao 70’s Ice District location has been closed since March 2020, but for some reason remains on the company website.

    Upcoming Events

    • Celtic Kitchen is still taking orders for Robbie Burns dinners for pick up on January 23, 2021.

    Local News

    • Chinatown Dining Week has received some great press in the last week. The event runs until January 24, 2021.
    • The Journal profiled Alberta BBQ Collective, which delivers smoked meats of all kinds.
    • New Asian Village’s Sherwood Park location has been experimenting with fusion-style dishes, including a popular tandoori fried chicken.
    • Vote for your favourite Edmonton cafe in the Th3rd Wave Awards – in categories including coffee shop of the year, best new coffee shop and best new coffee roaster.
    • Edmonton chef Mai Nguyen is back in the MasterChef kitchen for a second chance in MasterChef Canada: Back to Win. It begins airing on February 14, 2021.
    • Kirsta Franke of Wild Heart Collective and Aga Wajda-Plytta and Nina Karpoff of Good Goods Co. were highlighted as a part of EDify’s first class of Edifiers.
    • CTV covered Kind Ice Cream’s recent foray into learning American Sign Language and about Deaf culture. It was driven partly because mask-wearing has made it more difficult for their Deaf or hard of hearing customers.
    • Long-time Old Strathcona Market vendor Hendrickson Bagel has retired.
    • Edmonton’s Food Bank is commemorating 40 years of community service.

    What I Ate

    • Mack and I took advantage of the sun last week to walk over to On the Edge, a new cafe located in the Co*Lab space in the Quarters. We loved the welcoming yellow paint and fixtures outside, and it was a good chance to pick up some beans from the new-to-us local roaster 8 Acres Coffee.

    On the Edge Coffee

    Coffee from On the Edge

    • Our Friday night takeaway was from King Noodle House, our first Chinatown Dining Week meal so far! The soup definitely hit the spot for me, and Linda’s tip about ordering uncooked noodles made a world of difference.

    King Noodle House

    Chinatown Dining Week combos from King Noodle House

    • We finally ordered some bread from Bonne Vie Bakery – the Sturgeon River Cereal sourdough was dense and hearty, and definitely will lead me to try their other products! I also loved how the loaf was presented with such care.

    Bonne Vie Bakery

    Beautifully presented loaf from Bonne Vie Bakery

    Food Notes for January 11, 2021

    In-Person Dining Restriction Extended

    Last week, the provincial government announced that the public health restrictions that had been introduced in mid-December would be extended until at least January 21, 2021. This includes restrictions on in-person dining.

    Some restaurants are doing their best to maintain take-out during this period, but are finding it challenging. Chef Paul Shufelt of Workshop Eatery and Woodshed Burgers has had to lay off staff, and isn’t certain when, even after restrictions are lifted, whether he will re-open indoor dining again. He shared:

    “I don’t know if it’s actually going to be the 21st of January that we can reopen or if it’s going to be mid February or later. Furthermore, I don’t know, just because of the province says it’s OK for us to open, will I feel safe for us to make that decision for the sake of our staff and for the sake of our customers.”

    Other restaurants are choosing to close outright due to the length and unpredictable nature of the restrictions. DOSC and Sober Cat Cafe have decided to close as of January 11, “due to the financial burdens of the pandemic.” They hope to re-open for dine-in when it is safe to do so. Their ghost kitchen Burger Brawl will continue to operate for limited hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

    COVID-19-related News

    Openings

    Local News

    • Chinatown Dining Week starts later this week, and runs from January 14-24, 2021. I was interviewed on CBC Radioactive alongside Phong Luu of Kim Fat Market to help promote the event.
    • The Tomato is collecting nominations for their annual list of Top 100 Best Things to Eat in Edmonton. Submissions are accepted until January 31, 2021. The folks at Jack’s Burger Shack have a suggestion on the types of businesses to nominate – “Vote for a restaurant that opened in 2020. Vote for a restaurant owned by immigrants. Vote for a restaurant with no social media presence. Vote for the mom & pop’s.”
    • The most recent episode of Radioactive’s Best Dishes column focuses on the brisket donair and the nacho kit from The Next Act.
    • Local baker Larry Harris will be on the next season of CBC’s Great Canadian Baking Show. He is also continuing to offer loaves and baked goods through his microbakery, Bonne Vie.
    • Sugared and Spiced turned some bad politics into some tasty treats, and will be serving up Hawaiian-themed desserts for the month of January.
    • The Moth Cafe was included on this Eat North list of vegan restaurants.
    • The Ritchie Community League has launched a hyper-local monthly subscription service that supports businesses in the area.
    • The Muttart Conservatory (and Culina Cafe inside) has been delayed in re-opening after its modernization due to current public health restrictions.
    • Restaurant Yarrow celebrated their first birthday last week.
    • The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald is welcoming Executive Chef Jiju Paul to their team. He was most recently the Executive Chef at the Edmonton Expo Centre.
    • The staff at Kind Ice Cream are taking workshops on basic ASL to be more inclusive with the Deaf community.
    • The latest from MilkCrate Listens involved a conversation with Chef Andrew Fung of XIX Nineteen about maintaining positive mental health during the pandemic.
    • Congratulations to Caramunchies for partnering with Sobeys (bringing their retail partners to 35).
    • The Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market is the last year-round market to add curbside pick-up as an option.

    What I Ate

    • We finally tried El Beso for the first time on Friday. Mack had the carnitas tacos while I chose the enchiladas. They definitely didn’t skimp on the meat, and their website made ordering pick-up a breeze. If dining restrictions lift, we hope to snag a seat one day on their great Beaver Hills patio in warmer climes.

    El Beso

    Takeout from El Beso

    • Mack, Emily, and I continued our outdoor dining streak with Jack’s Burger Shack. Their Quebecer poutine burger really hit the spot.

    Jack’s Burger Shack

    Quebecer from Jack’s Burger Shack

    Chinatown Dining Week Returns January 14-24, 2021

    Chinatown Dining Week is back for a fourth time! This year, 9 participating restaurants will be offering $10 and $18 takeaway deals from January 14-24, 2021.

    IG CDW Poster 2021

    Our mission has not changed – Chinatown Dining Week was created in 2018 to help promote and raise awareness of culinary gems in a neighbourhood that is often overlooked and undervalued. However, amidst an economic downturn and an ongoing pandemic, our partner businesses could use even more support. Foot traffic is understandably down in the area, as consumers plan only targeted visits, and pre-pandemic, many businesses served food not ideally suited for take-out. These family-owned businesses have done their best to pivot, offering delivery or enhancing their social media presence, but many are still struggling.

    This year, due to ever-changing public health restrictions, Chinatown Dining Week will offer take-out meals only. Menus are available here, and diners are encouraged to call ahead to order.

    We’re excited to welcome back eight returning businesses, offering a range of cuisines including Indian, Indonesian, Szechwan, Thai and Vietnamese, along with bubble tea, baked goods, and pastries. We are also thrilled that Kim Fat Market is joining us for the first time. Some may be aware of Kim Fat as a Chinatown grocer and butcher, but a well-kept secret is that they also offer prepared meals, too.

    KimFat_alldressedribsAll-dressed ribs from Kim Fat

    We hope you’ll consider enjoying a meal from one of our participating businesses during Chinatown Dining Week!

    We’ve also launched a giveaway on Instagram for a couple of dinners for two and other specials!

    Food Notes for January 4, 2021

    New Restaurants Continue To Open During Pandemic

    In spite of the ever-changing public health regulations, more than 4,000 new businesses opened in Edmonton between March and November 2020. Not all of these businesses were in the food and hospitality sector, but they are among the most visible.

    Even this month, as in-person dining restrictions continue until at least January 14, new establishments and concepts continue to pop up. Transit Smokehouse & Bistro, the new restaurant in the renovated Transit Hotel, was set to open by New Year’s Eve, but has since delayed their opening date. The ramen bar in Dorinku Osaka Downtown has been replaced by a new concept called Korea Town.

    COVID-19-related News

    Openings

    • XO Bistro’s second location will be open in February in southwest Edmonton, located at 5021 Mullen Road (Rabbit Hill Crossing).
    • There appears to be a third Jollibee location in the works in west Edmonton.
    • Mondo Pizza has opened in the space formerly occupied by Die Pie (11215 Jasper Avenue).
    • Spirit Bistro is a new-ish Chinese restaurant located at 10824 97 Street.

    Upcoming Events

    • The menus for the fourth annual Chinatown Dining Week are up. The event runs January 14-24, 2021 and features 9 restaurants offering $10 and $18 takeaway deals.
    • Filistix held a couple of successful Kamayan feasts pre-pandemic. They’ll be bringing it back for home consumption on January 16, 2020 for pick up only.

    Local News

    Beyond Edmonton

    What I Ate

    • Mack and I treated ourselves to some cocktails from Woodwork over the holidays! Convenient single servings and pre-mixed, it was easy to order from their online system to boot. I found the Nocturne to be deliciously refreshing, and Mack loved his WW (boozy) egg nog.

    Woodwork

    Nocturne from Woodwork

    • We also dug through our freezer for provisions last week and sampled Nepa Food’s chicken momos. They had great flavour and just a bit of a kick. Find them at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market.

    Nepa Food

    Chicken momos from Nepa Food

    • On the occasion of Mack’s birthday, we finally tried pizza from High Dough. We loved that the Detroit-style crust was thick, but fluffier than expected. We ordered the Dirt City de Luxe.

    High Dough

    Dirt City de Luxe from High Dough

    • A quiet birthday deserves an epic cake! We decided to go all in for an old fashioned carrot cake from Rosewood Foods (it smelled amazing, and didn’t disappoint).

    Rosewood Foods

    Happy birthday, Mack!