Food Notes for March 11, 2019

My partner Mack’s startup Taproot Edmonton is doing local beat reporting in a variety of subjects, including technology, health innovation, music, and media. Subscribers can get these topical roundups delivered straight to their inbox, and starting this month, my Food Notes will appear as a food roundup! Taproot will be compensating me for this, but it won’t change the fact that Food Notes will continue to be published on my blog. Also, if you have subscribed to receive my blog posts through the Feedburner link, those e-mails will keep coming. Thanks for your ongoing support!

Chef Has the Chance to Become the First Edmonton-based Top Chef Canada Contestant

The new season of Top Chef Canada debuts on Food Network Canada on April 1, 2019, and Edmonton might finally have some local content to cheer for. Chef Alexei Boldireff of Baijiu will be competing alongside two other chefs for the chance to join the 11 other finalists. In the six previous seasons of the show, there has never been any Edmonton-based chefs selected for the program.

It’s also interesting to note that many of the competitors over the last few seasons have represented some of the same restaurants: Ayden Kitchen & Bar in Saskatoon, Fable in Vancouver, and Richmond Station in Toronto (opened by a previous Top Chef Canada champion). I’m sure the pool is limited to those who apply, but I’d like to think the talent in this country is deeper than the show has portrayed.

Openings

Upcoming Events

  • Food4Good announced the dates of their next several discounted Fruit & Veggie Sales: March 28, April 25, and May 16.
  • To commemorate Earth Hour on March 30, seven local restaurants have developed climate-friendly menus (read: vegetarian and locally-sourced options).
  • This year’s Chef in Residence at NAIT will be hosting a lunch on April 11, 2019. Enter here for your chance to win tickets.

Reviews

  • Gangnam Street Food received a mostly positive review from the Journal, who praised its value and portion sizes.
  • Rat Creek Press reviewed La Bodeguita de Cuba, the restaurant that moved into the Alberta Avenue space formerly occupied by El Rancho.
  • Graham revisited 104 Street gem Tzin, and finds that the excellent food and service has not changed.

Local News

  • Frozen dumplings by Mai Nguyen (she has held several dumpling pop-ups at Prairie Noodle in the past) are now available at the restaurant.
  • People seem to love lists, and this one from Big Seven Travel on the 50 Best Burgers in Canada features 4 local entries: YEG Burger, 1st RND, Burger Baron, and The Burger Joint.
  • The latest Fast Food webisode features Langano Skies chef/co-owner Amsale Sumamo’s recipe for fül, a fava bean-based breakfast dish.
  • Linda shares a sponsored post on how to have a date night at The Rec Room.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • I definitely need a pick-me-up over the weekend, and Mack had great timing when he was able to snag the last two donuts from Farrow that day. The cereal milk icing paired nicely with a coffee from DOSC.

Farrow

Cereal milk glazed Lucky Charms donut from Farrow

  • I was fortunate to attend the kick-off to the 15th annual Downtown Dining Week last week. This year, they have a record 50 participating restaurants (14 of them new), and for the first time, are offering weekend brunch menus alongside the lunch and dinner offerings. The event runs March 8-17, 2019. The best bite we ate that evening was the poached pear and lemon ricotta cake from the Hotel Macdonald – beautiful presentation and just the right amount of sweet.

Hotel MacDonald

Dessert from Hotel Macdonald’s Downtown Dining Week menu

  • My friend Su and I also met up for a Downtown Dining Week brunch at Central Social Hall. Neither of us had been for brunch before, and agreed that the ample windows made it an ideal daytime space. I enjoyed their take on a breakfast poutine (the kitchen was very generous with the cheese curds), but had only wished that the eggs had been soft poached. The doughnuts, on the other hand, had a great chew and subtle cinnamon flavour. For more brunch options during Downtown Dining Week, check out Andrea’s sponsored post.

Central Social Hall

The Cure from Central Social Hall

Food Notes for March 4, 2019

Honouring Edmonton’s Best in Food

March is the season of food lists in Edmonton, with both the food issue of Avenue Edmonton and The Tomato’s Top 100 Best Things to Eat or Drink dropping on the same day.

Avenue’s “Best Overall” category saw Biera take the top spot, followed by RGE RD, Cibo Bistro, Bundok, and Uccellino. It’s also worth noting that a couple of ethnic eateries – Kanto 98 St. and An Chay – are included in the “Best New” category.

The Tomato’s list placed RGE RD’s blood sausage as their top item, followed by dishes from Uccellino, The Butternut Tree, Corso 32, and Cibo Bistro.

Openings

  • Melt Sandwiches is set for their soft opening on March 5, 2019. From the folks behind Cookie Love, their newest venture in the former Daily Planet space on the second floor of the Bell Tower is all about gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and soups.
  • There’s a crowdfunding campaign underway for Glass Bookshop, which hopes to be Edmonton’s newest bookstore and wine bar in the Quarters.
  • The folks behind the Little Brick Cafe development are adding a “cousin” in Riverdale called Umphreville Block, promising a bistro pub, among other things.

Upcoming Events

  • Knosh Catering hosts semi-regular afternoon teas at their Crestwood Curling Club location. Their next event is a Dr. Who-themed tea on March 17, 2019. The cost is $35 per person, and reservations are required.

Reviews

Local News

  • Kind Ice Cream, a small-batch ice cream shop that hopes to open in Ritchie in the spring, has launched a Kickstarter campaign. They aim to raise $15,000.
  • This Postmedia piece highlights Shane Chartrand’s restaurant in the River Cree Resort, along with some details about his forthcoming cookbook called Tawaw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine.
  • Where Edmonton recommends new-ish restaurant Three Vikings.
  • Club House for Chefs interviewed a number of local chefs, including The Marc’s Spencer Thompson, Baijiu’s Alexei Boldireff, SC at River Cree’s Shane Chartrand, and Wishbone’s Brayden Kozak.
  • It was great news to hear City Council went ahead with funding for the Wild Heart Collective Program today. Taproot Edmonton has a summary about the program in their latest Council Roundup – they have plans for a 15,000 square foot food incubation hub called The Public, located at 10560 107 Street. The space includes commercial kitchens to support small food businesses, and they hope to open in October 2019. There is an option to build a year-round, multi-day public market in the future as well. The Journal also covered the story.
  • There’s some fascinating oat-based products coming out of NAIT’s research kitchens, such as ice cream, yogurt, pastas, and even cheese.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

  • Seedy Sunday is returning on March 17, 2019, from 11am-4pm at the Central Lions Seniors’ Centre at 11113 113 Street. There will be presentations on a variety of topics, including soil health, mushroom growing, and yes, cannabis cultivation, and lots of vendors for those already planning their gardens for the year.

Food Notes for February 25, 2019

Downtown Dining Week Returns

Downtown Dining Week, which celebrates the range of cuisine available in Edmonton’s core, is back for its 16th incarnation for 10 days from March 8-17, 2019. This year, they have nearly 50 participating restaurants, all offering fixed-priced multi-course deals: 2-course lunch or brunch for $18, or 3-course dinners for $30 or $45.

In addition to the special menus, the Downtown Business Association has also put together some special events to consider, including a cookbook sale at Audrey’s, tours of the City Market, cooking classes, and even a community potluck.

Openings

  • The Iconoclast in the Oliver Exchange Building at 103, 12021 102 Avenue is officially open.
  • A second location of plant-based chain Copper Branch is now open in South Edmonton Common, at 2205 101 Street.
  • A second Cinnaholic, the vegan cinnamon bun bakery chain, is now open in Old Strathcona at 10345 82 Avenue.
  • Filistix shared a sneak peek of their new Downtown location, due to open in April 2019 at 10621 100 Avenue.
  • Ramen Misoya, with locations in Toronto and Montreal, will be expanding to Edmonton’s 104 Street in the Icon II.

Closures

  • Bru in Oliver is now closed.

Upcoming Events

  • Food4Good is hosting another Fruit & Veggie Sale on February 26, 2019.
  • The 2019 National Brewers Cup competition will take place March 1-3, 2019 at the Transcend in Ritchie Market.
  • The next Northern Bites experience on March 5, 2019 features a visit to Barr Estate Winery and a cooking lesson and tea tasting at Formosa Bistro. Tickets are $70.
  • Leftovers YEG is hosting a meet up on March 11, 2019 for those wanting to learn more about food waste and the organization.
  • Tickets for Avenue Edmonton’s Best Restaurants event on March 18, 2019 are still available. Tickets are $50.
  • Yellowhead Brewery will be celebrating the first anniversary of its Drag Brunch on March 24, 2019. Tickets are $30 and include an all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Eat North is bringing its pop-up Drags Benny event to Edmonton’s Fairmont Hotel Macdonald on March 30, 2019. Tickets are $70, and include a cocktail and brunch canape hour, and a 3-course brunch. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards Canadian Pride initiatives.

Reviews

Local News

  • Liane wrote a great piece about how certain restaurants, including Kanu and XIX Nineteen, have been able to snare a strong Head Chef.
  • Also from Liane – she has more details behind Have Mercy’s change to a “recession-proof” menu.
  • Giselle Courteau of Duchess Bake Shop shares her recipe for Spanish-style baked eggs in the latest Fast Food webisode. It’s a recipe that will appear in her second cookbook, Duchess at Home, due out in the fall.
  • Chef Lasantha Mendis who works north of Fort McMurray competed in the fourth international bread baking competition Festival International du Pain 2019.
  • Vancouver-based Chef David Hawksworth will be NAIT’s 11th Chef in Residence, from April 8-12, 2019.
  • Eat North is a finalist in the Digital Presence category for this year’s Alberta Magazines Awards.
  • Alberta set a monthly record on restaurant and bar spending in December 2018, totaling $810 million. The average Albertan spent almost $190 on dining out.

What I Ate

  • It’s always a good day for soup in my books, and the bun bo Hue at King Noodle always hits the spot.

King Noodle

Bun bo Hue from King Noodle House

Food Notes for February 18, 2019

“Restaurant Realities” Campaign Backlash

Last Tuesday, Restaurants Canada, led by Board Chair Patrick Saurette (from The Marc), held a media conference to launch their Restaurant Realities campaign. Speakers shared statistics about the loss of hospitality jobs, increase in operational costs, and decline in foodservice sales in Alberta, attributing these to some of the policy changes made by the current provincial government, such as minimum wage and holiday pay increases, and the carbon tax. They released a promotional video featuring many local restaurant operators who share the hardships they have faced. Italian Centre Shop President Teresa Spinelli, who mentions in the video how challenging it is to employ people with disabilities with the current minimum wage, faced immediate criticism on social media, and has since tried to clarify her company’s stance on fair and equal pay.

Restaurants Canada

The event was further politicized when United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney delivered a policy statement about decreasing the minimum wage for youth workers and alcohol servers should he win the election. Garner Beggs, co-owner of Duchess Bakeshop and Cafe Linnea, publicly stated that he would support a reduction in pay for younger staff. However, two days later, the company posted a statement clarifying that Garner was not speaking on behalf of the businesses.

Openings

  • Congratulations to Brio Bakery for the opening of their brick and mortar location in Oliver Exchange (12021 – 102 Avenue) last week!
  • The latest type of plant-based establishment to open is the Sly Fox Vegan Butcher at 10722 124 Street, offering plant-based meat alternatives. The business is run by the same folks behind The Clever Rabbit (and is in the same divided space).
  • A new butcher shop called Meat Head is on the verge of opening, located at 7664 156 Street.

Upcoming Events

  • Aditya (Addie) Raghavan is back from India! He will be sharing many of the delicious flavours and foods he discovered through his extensive travels in India at a pop-up dinner at Get Cooking on March 4, 2019. Tickets for the 8-course meal are $90.
  • The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Taste of the Chamber on March 6, 2019 at the Jubilee Auditorium. General admission tickets are $30, and sampling tickets are $1 each.
  • The Roundhouse is hosting a free information and networking session for those running food businesses that “address food security, income, and other social issues". It is taking place on March 6, 2019.
  • The next Prairie on a Plate dinner will be held at Cafe Linnea on March 7, 2019. Tickets for the 3-course dinner are $55.
  • The Canadian Agri-Marketing Association is sponsoring a free movie screening on March 11, 2019 of Before the Plate, a 2016 production that captures 8 different farm operations to showcase how food is produced. Pre-registration for the event at MacEwan University is required.
  • Save the date: the annual Culinary Cook-off at Mount Royal is taking place on April 13, 2019.

Reviews

Local News

  • Have Mercy’s revamped menu features dishes that are all priced at $7.95.
  • Liane shared the sad news that Bistro Praha co-owner Sharka Svajgr has passed away from cancer.
  • The Cove Tea is hoping to crowdfund $5,000 through ATB BoostR to help open a tea shop.
  • Hansen Distillery has started their one year countdown to the end of the three-year aging process required for whisky. It will be the first Canadian whisky made in Edmonton.
  • Chartier is recruiting a new head chef to replace the departing Steven Brochu. They have put together a beautiful recruitment video.
  • Sharman recaps the recent Swine and Dine dinner held at Salz.
  • Inspired by Sugared and Spiced’s popular Cake Club, Culina is offering a Catering Club. It includes three 4-course dinners for 8 people. It is priced at $999, with 30 memberships available.
  • The local bloggers behind Sugar Loves Spices offer private cooking classes.

What I Ate

  • My first day back at work after my maternity leave coincided nicely with a team lunch at The Moth. I tried their tofu clubhouse and enjoyed it well enough; I found the avocado to be a nice addition.

The Moth

Tofu clubhouse and garlic hash from The Moth

Food Notes for February 11, 2019

Peters’ Drive-In Coming to Edmonton

There will be no need to head to Calgary for your burger and milkshake fix – the family favourite Peters’ Drive-In will be opening an Edmonton outpost between Calgary Trail and Gateway Boulevard at 51st Avenue some time later this year or early 2020. Peters’ Drive-In added a Red Deer location back in 2015.

Openings

  • Keep an eye out on Iconoclast Coffee’s Twitter account – they’re set to soft open this week. Their new location is in the Oliver Exchange building at #103, 12021 102 Avenue.
  • Cinnaholic is adding a second Edmonton location in Old Strathcona at 10345 Whyte Avenue. They plan to open February 22, 2019, and as they did with their downtown shop, will again be offering $1 cinnamon rolls from 10am-2pm that day.
  • Whimsical Cupcakes has relocated from Garneau to Old Strathcona, doubling their store size at 8211 102 Street.
  • A new fish and chips chain called C-Lovers Fish and Chips opened at 4121 139 Avenue in January.

Closures

  • Some of you may know that Manor Cafe will be closing in April – but it seems not without a bang. They’re offering some great deals on their way out – $12 schnitzel on Tuesdays, $19 charcuterie for 2 on Wednesdays, $12 burgers on Thursdays, and their famous nasi goreng for $18 on Sundays.

Upcoming Events

  • Nomiya is collaborating with Calgary restaurant Eats of Asia to present a 5-course dinner on February 26, 2019. Tickets are $80, and include a sake pairing.
  • The annual potluck celebration of Chef Gail Hall’s life is taking place on March 13, 2019 (her birthday). The $20 collected per ticket goes towards the Chef Gail Fund.

Reviews

Local News

Urban Agriculture and Farming

What I Ate

  • Mack and I had breakfast at Lockstock Coffee early in the week. We don’t go often, but when we do, I’m reminded of just how much I enjoy their breakfast sandwich.

Lockstock Coffee

Lockstock sandwich with egg, bacon, on a house-made English muffin

  • We were also able to get away for a lunch date at Pho Tau Bay. Nothing calls for soup like a cold snap.

Tau Bay

My usual at Tau Bay

  • We took Emily to the Silver Skate Festival for the first time! Thanks to Bottom Line Productions, we were provided with some tickets to sample the fare offered at Spirits on Ice. Among the food we tried was the pork belly on rice from Formosa Bistro. Although Spirits on Ice ran just this past weekend, Silver Skate goes until February 18, 2019.

Formosa Bistro

Pork belly on rice from Formosa Bistro

Food Notes for February 4, 2019

Campus Food Delivery Now Available

As a testament to the age we live in now – food delivery is now available at MacEwan University and the University of Alberta. StudentsEat, a company founded by MacEwan students, offers delivery to people on campus from partner restaurants on-site and from those within a one kilometer radius. They will soon be expanding to NAIT and NorQuest College.

Openings

  • The Downtown location of Nello’s is now open at 11520 100 Avenue.
  • Iconoclast Coffee’s branch in the Oliver Exchange building at 12019A 102 Avenue is opening this week.
  • Also in the Oliver Exchange building, Brio Bakery has announced that they will open their doors on February 14, 2019.
  • Cartago’s sister deli in Forest Heights has a name: Fleisch.
  • American chain Church’s Chicken is coming to Edmonton.

Closures

Reviews

Local News

  • 24-carat gold rose sparkling wine lollipops from Fort Saskatchewan-based Sumptuous Lollies will be included in the swag bags at the Grammy Awards.
  • At Ice on Whyte this weekend, the Hotel Macdonald and Ampersand 27 took home the judges’ and people’s choice awards for their stew creations.
  • Chef Paul Shufelt continues to be worried about the challenges restaurant face in this economy.
  • SPUD has launched the Be Fresh Marketplace, a “digital platform for local artisans, small shops and independent grocers to sell online with consolidated delivery.” At present, in Edmonton, only some products from the Italian Centre are available on the website.
  • Ian Gladue, who some may know from his Native Delights food truck, also sells traditional Indigenous dry meat under the name Pȃnsȃwȃn. It is available at all Sobeys and Safeway stores.
  • Food delivery has even spread to MacEwan University through a delivery service called Students Eat, and will soon be available at NAIT and NorQuest College.
  • How did Drift come to reach the success they’ve achieved to date? A piece in The Business Link blog tracks their ups and down since they launched the food truck.

Urban Agriculture and Farming

Beyond Edmonton

  • In Calgary, the food scene is shifting to fast casual establishments, including meals served in food halls, such as the newly-opened Avenida Food Hall and Fresh Market.
  • Tim Horton’s will start selling a double-double coffee bar this fall (it contains no actual chocolate).

What I Ate

  • I was invited to the launch of Local Public Eatery’s new burger last week. The company’s chefs brainstormed their favourite qualities in a burger, and The Local Burger was the result. It is made up of a brioche bun, two grilled, hand-pressed patties, American cheese, caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce, and sexy sauce (with the key ingredient being liquid smoke). It was a satisfying burger to be sure – thanks to Local Jasper Avenue for hosting me!

Local Jasper Avenue

The Local Burger at Local Public Eatery

  • Padmanadi is becoming one of my go-to places to take Emily for lunch – the staff are always welcoming, and the space easily accommodates a stroller. I met up with some friends there last week and warmed up over some curry vermicelli soup.

Untitled

Curry vermicelli soup from Padmanadi

  • Over the weekend, Mack and I took Emily to RGE RD, one of our favourite restaurants. We were delighted to learn that they are more baby-friendly now, offering high chairs and a change table. The food and hospitality was top-rate, as always, and Emily enjoyed herself too!

RGE RD

Kitchen board from RGE RD

    Details Matter: Aarde

    It goes without saying that in leaner economic times, restaurants need to be even more competitive, and distinguish themselves with memorable experience to ensure repeat visits. A meal at one of Edmonton’s newest eateries, Aarde, left me wondering if they will be able to stand out amongst the increasingly crowded dining scene Downtown.

    Mack and I happen to live in the same building as Aarde, and after seeing multiple tenant turnovers and long vacancies in the ground floor space, really want the restaurant to be successful (it is an unfortunate reality that there is a glut of prime, empty streetfront retail bays Downtown). Aarde, which means “earth” in Dutch, opened in November. It was opened by Chef Guru Singh who wanted to bring the best of the European dishes he sampled to Edmonton.

    I like the aesthetics of Aarde – neutrals, clean but modern furniture, and some plant accents. The layout of the tables doesn’t necessarily maximize the space, but I appreciated some room to breathe. That night it didn’t matter though, as we were just one of two parties that late Sunday evening in December.

    Aarde

    Interior

    After we were seated, my first impressions weren’t positive – the candle on our table was left unlit, and dried leaves that had fallen from a nearby plant had been left on the floor unswept. Although these were small details, and perhaps not intentionally careless, it communicated an ambivalence that felt surprising for a brand new restaurant. It’s also strange to me that Aarde has yet to adopt (even now, in January) any signage indicating that they are, in fact, open – the closest they’ve come is putting out a sandwich board advertising weekend brunches served from 10am-2pm.

    With some guidance from the server, Mack and I decided to share four dishes. The roasted potatoes ($11) were a pretty standard dish, but ended up being our favourite – perfectly cooked, with a nice level of spice in the aioli.

    Aarde

    Roasted potatoes

    Mack wished we had been told beforehand that the confit leeks and tomato ($10) were served cold. While the ricotta date stuffing was enjoyable, we found that the leeks themselves were tough and hard to eat.

    Aarde

    Confit leeks and tomato

    The bacalao fritters ($14) weren’t quite executed as well as they could have; the batter tasted almost gristly in texture, though the fish within was well seasoned. The dry mango powder, which sounded interesting on the menu description, was not discernable.

    Aarde

    Bacalao fritters

    The presentation of the beef ribs ($24) left something to be desired. That said, we liked the charred cabbage bits, and the creamy celeriac, but what should have been the star of the plate was not fall-off-the-bone tender as we would have expected.

    Aarde

    Beef ribs

    We’ve found that chefs at most chef-owned restaurants make their presence known, especially in the early days. So Chef Singh’s absence was even more conspicuous that evening. While I’m not certain it would have made up for an overall disappointing meal, it was evident that more care and oversight was needed in the kitchen and the dining room. I have heard more positive things about Aarde’s brunch, however, and with the restaurant being so close to home, I do want to give it another chance. Only time will tell if the dining public feels it is a worthy addition to the food scene.

    Aarde
    10184 104 Street
    (587) 881-7891

    Food Notes for January 28, 2019

    Two Food Halls Opening Soon in Edmonton

    Beljan Development, the company behind the Crawford Block (home of Holy Roller, El Cortez, and Have Mercy), and Oliver Exchange (soon to house Brio Bakery, Culina Grab and Go, and Iconoclast Coffee), is working on bringing the trendy food hall concept to Edmonton. They’re planning to include food halls in the redevelopment of the Strathcona Hotel and the YMCA building downtown, with the latter, called Williams Hall, set to open in Fall 2019.

    Openings

    • Jack’s Sandwich Shack has replaced Ong Hanoi Style Fried Chicken at 15 Perron Street in St. Albert.
    • Signage just went up announcing Ice District locations for Guru and Delux Burger Bar at the base of the Edmonton Tower.

    Upcoming Events

    • The next Swine and Dine will be held at Salz on February 11, 2019. Tickets for the three-course menu are $40.
    • The annual Winefest returns to the Shaw Conference Centre on February 15-16, 2019. Tickets to the all-inclusive event start at $87.
    • NAIT is hosting their inaugural Cook, Butcher & Baker Food Competition Showcase on February 23, 2019, featuring the top students from the Department of Culinary Arts & Professional Food Studies. Tickets are $50.
    • The wildly popular medicinal plant walks with herbalist Robert Rogers always sell out – tickets for his events on July 9 and August 7, 2019 are available on EventBrite through The Local Good for $60.

    Reviews

    Local News

    • Chef Steven Brochu is leaving Chartier in February to helm his own cafeteria and catering operation.
    • There’s a new brewery tour in town: Canadian Craft Tours, who leads tours in BC and Calgary, is launching brewery tours in Edmonton.
    • Speaking of beer, The Local Good has a great resource mapping out establishments who have at least 40% of their taps devoted to Alberta beers.
    • Star Metro published a piece about a ghost kitchen operating in Edmonton, though I’m not sure it’s the first – after it closes its doors to public in mid-February, Solstice Seasonal Cuisine will still be offering food through delivery apps.
    • The latest webisode of Fast Food features The Commodore’s Chef Megan Gee and her kimchi fried rice.
    • Send a sweet gift that will also benefit charity: Bloom Cookies will be offering Cookie-Grams for Valentine’s Day, with $5 from each $28 box going towards the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. On a related note the Local Good recently profiled Bloom.
    • The most recent NextGen vlog highlights Cafe Linnea.
    • Sylvia Cheverie from Chartier is interviewed on this week’s episode of Let’s Do Coffee, a podcast about entrepreneurship.

    Urban Agriculture and Farming

    • The Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association is offering an Introductory Fruit Production workshop, all about fruit production and its economics in Alberta. Tickets are $50.

    Beyond Edmonton

    • The new Canada Food Guide has finally been released. For the most part, the reviews have been positive, and I’m a fan of the healthy eating habits included along with the food guidelines (here’s one opinion, from Food Network chef Laura Caulder).
    • CBC’s Great Canadian Baking Show is accepting applications for their third season. The deadline to apply is March 10, 2019.

    What I Ate

    • Congratulations to Cora’s who officially opened their downtown Edmonton location on Wednesday, located at 10041 106 Street (in the Days Inn). Emily and I were happy to be part of the festivities!

    Cora's

    Enjoying our Cora’s breakfast

    • I’m always happy to see more ramen options available in the core, so I had to try Jang’s version, available on their lunch menu. I loved the miso beef broth, and of course, the house-made noodles were perfect, as would be expected from the sister restaurant to Nudoru.

    Jang

    Gyu ramen from Jang

    • Mack and I found ourselves near the University of Alberta today, and took advantage of this proximity to check out the (no longer new) digs of Filistix in the Students’ Union Building. Their food always hits the spot, and I’m looking forward to their downtown location opening later this year (they’re hoping for April).

    Filistix

    Comfort food from Filistix

    • Chinatown Dining Week came to a close over the weekend. Mack and I snuck in one more meal at Padmanadi – it was a happy coincidence that my favourite dish (the ginger beef) made it onto the menu! If you attended Chinatown Dining Week this year, please consider filling in this survey – the results will help with the planning of future events. Thank you!

    Padmanadi

    Curry chicken and ginger beef at Padmanadi

    The K-Wave Continues: Gangnam Street Food

    Back in 2017, I noted in my year end wrap-up that Korean eateries were making their presence in Edmonton known. What was particularly impressive was the range of establishments that were opening – mainstream-friendly Korean Fried Chicken and Korean BBQ joints, but also bingsu (Korean shaved ice) dessert bars, Korean soup restaurants and anju (food to accompany alcohol).

    A year later, Culinaire Magazine published a piece further categorizing the variety of Korean cuisine available in Edmonton and Calgary, which has continued to grow. In fact, a new restaurant specializing in Korean street food is set to open tomorrow, January 24, 2019.

    Gangnam Street Food is situated in a south side strip mall on 34 Avenue. It is also known as “K-Mall”, in recognition of its cluster of Korean businesses, including bingsu place Let Eat Snow and the newly-opened grocer A-Mart. Gangnam Street Food is the brainchild of the folks behind Dookbaeki and Baekjeong, so they’re already somewhat familiar with Edmontonians’ appetite for Korean cuisine, but this concept brings the team back to their youth.

    Gangnam Street Food will offer inexpensive dishes found in Korea that are popular with young people; quick handheld bites picked up after school, or before a night out. Dishes will be priced from $4-9, so for the price of one main elsewhere, diners can easily sample several plates. The restaurant is primarily set up for those looking for take-out, but there are also about 30 seats to eat in. In addition, their menu will be available on Skip the Dishes.

    Two weeks ago, I was among a small group that was invited to preview Gangnam Street Food. We were able to try 7 of the dishes (though there will be more on the full menu).

    Gangnam Street Food

    Part of our spread

    It’s no surprise that the deep-fried items we sampled were the most crowd-pleasing overall; they would easily appeal to those unfamiliar with Korean cuisine. The Korean-style hot dog features a wiener wrapped in mozzarella cheese and house-made dough, then fried. It fared best when eaten right away (which I had failed to do), but I still enjoyed the concept.

    Gangnam Street Food Edmonton

    Korean style hot dog

    Similarly, the Dak-gang-jung, or deep-fried boneless and breaded chicken, was straightforward and tasty. Here, it was served with honey mustard sauce, though there were spicier dips available on the counter for those keen for more heat.

    Gangnam Street Food Edmonton

    Dak-gang-jung

    Gangnam Street Food’s version of Dduck bo kki, was plenty hot for me; the rice and fish cakes were stir-fried with a spicy sauce. When I was first introduced to this dish in Korea years ago, I always opted for the more pedestrian version on menus, so just for the reason of my personal preference, this was my least favourite dish.

    Gangnam Street Food Edmonton

    Dduck bo kki

    In addition to the hot dog, skewers also make an appearance as an easy-to-eat meat on a stick. That night, we tried two of their kkochi (skewer). Both were charcoal-grilled, but the chicken was basted in a Korean Bulgogi sauce, while the pork belly had been brushed with a house-made “super spicy sauce”. The portions here were on the smaller side, but would be ideal for those just looking for a snack-sized amount of meat.

    Gangnam Street Food Edmonton

    Kkochi

    The spam and sausage cup-bap was the full meal deal. Rice was layered with ham, sausage, stir-fried kimchi, bean sprouts, corn, lettuce, and a pan-fried egg. This dish will be very familiar to those who have frequented standard Korean restaurants, albeit in a smaller serving. It was satisfying enough, and helped balance out some of the heavier courses.

    Gangnam Street Food Edmonton

    Ham and sausage cup-bap

    For dessert, we sampled the Ho dduck, a Korean-style pancake with melted cinnamon and sugar filling, served hot. This was also a favourite of the night, unsurprising given the classic flavours, but notable for the dense and doughy texture of the pancake itself. We were told this was perhaps the most difficult recipe to develop, though I can say it was worth their time – I will be returning in the future for seconds!

    Gangnam Street Food Edmonton

    Ho dduck

    It’s great to see how the Korean food scene continues to evolve and mature in our city, and Gangnam Street Food is certainly poised to help introduce another facet of this diverse cuisine to Edmontonians. Thanks again for having me (and for the very generous $100 in gift cards to their “family” of businesses). Best of luck with the opening!

    Gangnam Street Food
    #15, 9261 34 Avenue
    (780) 244-0148
    Monday-Sunday 11am-9pm

    Food Notes for January 21, 2019

    The Plight of Kitchen Labour

    Chef Paul Shufelt of Workshop Eatery used his latest column in the Edmonton Sun last week to discuss the challenges faced by cooks trying to make a respectable wage: “Our system is broken, those that tell you otherwise are lying. Sadly though, until we all agree to change the way we do business…talented young cooks will continue to give up, in pursuit of something a little more financially rewarding.” He was also interviewed on Global Edmonton about his thoughts on chef compensation.

    Openings

    • A new bubble tea chain from China called Heeretea has opened in Old Strathcona, at 11116 82 Avenue.
    • A location of the chain Delicious Pho is now open in the MNP Tower (101 Street & 102 Avenue).
    • The Raymond Block at Whyte Avenue and 105 Street will soon house a Blaze Pizza and Five Guys, but another location of Remedy Cafe will open on February 2, 2019. The location will include a chai brewery.
    • More of a re-opening – Austrian restaurant The Bauernschmaus is open again after a renovation.

    Upcoming Events

    • La Poutine Week is returning on February 1-7, 2019, providing an opportunity for participating restaurants to showcase a signature poutine. While it claims to be a national event, representation throughout Canada is spotty, with Winnipeg actually claiming the quantitative crown.
    • Are you interested in opening a microbrewery? The City of Edmonton is hosting a free information session on February 12, 2019 that will include reps from AGLC.
    • NAIT is hosting a Junior Chefs’ Valentine’s Dinner on February 12, 2019. Tickets for the 3-course meal are $65.
    • Motley Que Barbeque is hosting an Introduction to BBQ class on March 10, 2019. Tickets start at $110.
    • Hot Chefs Cool Beats is returning after a hiatus. It will take place on April 25, 2019 at the Mosaic Centre. Early bird tickets are priced at $125 and are available until February 1, 2019. I attended the inaugural event back in 2012.

    Reviews

    Local News

    What I Ate

    • I had to hit up at least one Chinatown Dining Week restaurant this weekend! Su and I met up at Fuqing Lanzhou Noodles on Friday, and found it to be a full house by the time we left! We really enjoyed their hand-pulled noodles, nestled among the beef cubes and broth. Chinatown Dining Week runs until January 27, 2019.

    Fuqing Lanzhou Noodles

    Noodles, beef cubes and beef bone soup at Fuqing Lanzhou Noodles