Itami Sushi – Victoria

my companion's bento box from Itami Sushi in Victoria

my companion’s bento box from Itami Sushi in Victoria

Regular Happy Sushi Belly readers might remember I posted a while back about a trip to Victoria, BC. Of course, I had to get my west-coast sushi fix while I was there! One of the places I visited was Itami Sushi in downtown Victoria, very close to The Bay Centre – and our hotel!

Ups and downs

There were some downsides to our experience at Itami – mostly relating to service. We went in just after the “lunch rush” and there weren’t many people in the restaurant eating – and also not very many staff. The hostess seemed to be doing double-duty, and we waited a while for her attention before being seated. Our server was also either forgetful or distracted, offering very poor service. We asked for a fork, which never came – instead we ended up going up to the counter to get one from the chef! Likewise she never came around to check how our meal was, nor offered to refill our water glasses which were empty near the end of our meal, and sitting on the edge of the table to catch her attention. Considering the number of other sushi places nearby, I’d find it hard to give a great review… except… Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Out of town - BC, Sushi


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Kingsland Market is now the Market on Macleod

Big Catch's Nine-one-one roll

Big Catch’s Nine-one-one roll

Here’s another Iceland-interuption.. for sushi! (It’s worth it for sushi!) I’ve posted about Big Catch Sushi twice before (one, two) but that was when Big Catch was in Kingsland Market… and now it’s in the Market on Macleod!  I heard about the change even before I went on my holiday, but haven’t been able to post until now about it!

No, they haven’t moved, but rather the market has a new name and is under new management…
so if you haven’t been there yet – go check it out!

Me and a friend did back in July (this is a delayed post because of all of those wonderful Iceland posts!) and here’s a little glimpse of what we enjoyed.

Big Catch's Nine-one-one roll

Big Catch’s Nine-one-one roll

The Nine-One-One roll has crunchy wonton bits and tuna topped with salmon, fire sauce, tobiko, green onions and cayenne pepper. It was a pretty spicy roll, though not as hot as I thought it might be.

Big Catch's Zesty Avalanche roll

Big Catch’s Zesty Avalanche roll

I’ve had the Zesty Avalanche roll a few times – it’s spicy miso-infused salmon and daikon topped with prawn and avocado served with Japanese mayo.

Big Catch Sushi
7711 Macleod Trail SE (Market on Macleod)
Calgary, AB T2H 0M1

Big Catch Sushi on Urbanspoon


(Back to Iceland soon!)

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Posted by on August 23, 2014 in South-East Calgary, Sushi


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No food blog talking about Iceland would be complete without Skyr

Skyr for breakfast our first morning in Iceland

Skyr for breakfast our first morning in Iceland

Skyr – oh Skyr! I couldn’t possibly write about food in Icleand without mentioning Skyr I think.

Similar to Greek Yoghurt that is slowly taking over the grocery shelves here, Skyr is a strained yoghurt-like dairy product which is thick and delicious… It also has quite the history; there are records of Skyr (although the recipe might be different now!) all the way back to the Viking Age when Iceland was settled. It’s low in fat, high in calcium, and relatively high in protein, today made with pasteurized skimmed milk.

We saw a bottle of fish oil offered with Skyr in Reykjavik, though apparently it’s also frequently served with milk or cream, and sugar. It’s also served with porridge, jam, fruit, cereals, and even apparently prepared fish!  On grocery shelves (as well as at our buffets) it was also offered commercially packaged just like yoghurts here with different fruits – however this seemed to be more actual cut up fruit and less syrup-y ‘jam’ type of fruit products that I’m more used to in grocery shops here. It also seems to be a favourite ingredient in a number of dishes from cheesecake to panna cotta and from the sounds of it – pretty much every dessert that it will go into!

For the most part, most of the Skyr we tried was like the gallery above, very thick….

Skyr is thick!

Skyr is thick!

However in Reykjavik we also tried a thinner, more watery version (like a drinkable yoghurt), which had the same yoghurt-sour flavour, but even more sweetness than the thicker variety. (In the top photograph it’s in the little glass jar)

Not really yoghurt?

I read on Chowhound that Skyr isn’t actually yoghurt though, but actually a type of fresh, very, very, very soft cheese!

Skyr In Canada

In that same Chowhound article, some posters share why you won’t be able to find authentic Skyr on Canadian grocery shelves yet though – foreign dairy import restrictions.. though I’ve read in a few places you can get it at Whole Foods in the USA… so next time I’m traveling… I might get more Skyr!

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Out of town - Europe


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The One Sushi – not just sushi

Mongolian Beef & Spring rolls

Mongolian Beef & Spring rolls

In my last post I shared some of the sushi my dining companions and I shared when we visited The One Sushi only 3 weeks after it opened it’s doors.  In this post I’ll let you know about some of the other food items.

The One Sushi offers Japanese, Thai, Chinese, and Korean foods, including soups, rice dishes, deep fried items, and salads.

One of my companions ordered the Mongolian Beef, pictured above. He said that this was probably his favourite dish of the whole night, and would definitely order more of it. We also ordered one order of spring rolls, but accidently got 3 orders! Ouch!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on August 17, 2014 in South-West Calgary, Sushi


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The One Sushi

Sushi order at The One Sushi - with the iPad menu in the background

Sushi order at The One Sushi – with the iPad menu in the background

I have a bunch of other posts to share with you from delicious meals and treats in Iceland, but I’m going to interrupt just for a moment to introduce one of Calgary’s newest AYCE (All You Can Eat) sushi places.

I visited The One Sushi during the August long weekend, and the server let me and my dining companions know that the restaurant had only been open for three weeks. They’ve given a minor facelift to the previous Home Food Inn (a Chinese food buffet) on Macleod Trail, but have kept the all-you-can-eat premise. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in South-West Calgary, Sushi


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Cheesecake, Iceland style at Bláa Kannan in Akureyri

Amazing cheesecake

Amazing cheesecake

While in Akureyri, the “northern capital” of Iceland, my travel companion and I popped into a little Perisian-style cafe for dinner. With the daylight never really leaving the sky, I can only guess that it was dinner time though!

Paris-style cafe

Paris-style cafe

Along with a delicious quiche, we also were tempted by a delicious-looking slice of Bailey’s flavored cheesecake- or at least we hoped it was cheesecake!

We loved the super smooth, fluffy, almost whipped cheesecake filling. It wasn’t as strongly ‘cream cheese’ flavor as cheesecakes back home, but it was totally delicious! The crust was like cookie crumbs, and the top was a smooth chocolate layer. Plus it was joined by a big dollop of the amazing Iceland whipped cream. I’m pretty sure they don’t add sweetener/sugar/etc to the cream, but it’s just so delicious on it’s own…

 Not just dessert

As mentioned, we started off the dinner with a slice of quiche each, which came with a little side salad and dressing as well.

quiche and salad

quiche and salad

I THINK that the quiche and salad was one of the better priced dishes, around the equivalent of 9$ Canadian, though I could be a bit off.  The dessert too I don’t entirely recall, but I think it was about $6.

After out dinner, we walked up to the Kureyrarkirkja (The Church of Akureyri). It’s described as “towering above the town on a hill” and also called “church with all the steps.  I guessed it was about the equivalent of an 8 story walk up all those stairs, though later I read online that there are 112 steps in total. (So 8-9 flights of stairs) We earned that cheesecake!

We didn’t spend much time in the church (I actually wasn’t nearly as impressed with it as I was with older European churches I have visited) but instead headed further up the hill to the Akureyri Botanical Gardens. You might remember that I wasn’t totally impressed with the Botanical Gardens in Reykjavik? Well the Akureyri gardens blew them away by far! If you like visiting gardens, make sure Akureyri’s are on your list. Although most of the plants growing there were familiar, they were very well laid out, with interesting sculptures, lovely pathways, little ponds and fountains, and an overall quiet, serene feeling.  Below are just two of several photos I took in the garden.  (Visit my Flickr album to see them all)


Bláa Kannan
Hafnarstræti, Akureyri, Iceland
+354 461 4600

More cheesecake

Once we were back in Reykjavik, we stopped in at a grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner, and picked up a cheesecake there too. This one was mandarin orange flavour, and although the crust was a bit ‘wet’ – since it was a frozen cake – the cake itself had that same lovely, fluffy texture.

Ostakaka mandarin orange cheesecake from the Bonus market

Ostakaka mandarin orange cheesecake from the Bonus market

I also photographed the ingredients… in Icelandic.


I would totally love to make this light, fluffy cheesecake, so I searched for a few recipes.

I typed out the ingredients from the packaging above:

“Innihald: Rjomaostur (30%) [kvarg, smjor, syrdur rjomi, salt] fjomi, sykur, mandarinur (11%), hafrakex [hveiti, sykur, haframjol, ohert jurtafita (palma-, palmkjarna - og repjuolia), mysuduft, salt, lyftiefni (natriumkarbonat, ammoniumkarbonat) kanill, yruefni (sojalesitin) bragdefni] appelsinuthykkni, smjor, matarlim, yruefni (ein- og tviglyserid fitusyra), maissterkja, bragdefni (m.a. vanillin), rovarnarefni (kaliumsorbat, natriumbensoat), syra (sitronusyra).”

which translated in Google to:

“Ingredients: cream cheese (30%) [quark, butter, sour cream, salt] fjomi, sugar, mandarins (11%), hafrakex [wheat flour, sugar, oatmeal, unhardened vegetable fat (palm-, palm kernel - and rapeseed oil), whey powder, salt , raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium carbonate) cinnamon, emulsifier (soya lecithin) Flavour] appelsinuthykkni, butter, gelatin, emulsifiers (mono and diglycerides of fatty acids), corn starch, flavoring (including vanillin), rovarnarefni (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate), acid (citric acid).”

(ok.. not everything translated perfectly – this might have been my typing or just the word itself)

On the Modern Wifestyle, Katrin has a recipe for a Skyr cheesecake alternative that looks beautiful – but not quite what I had in mind – skyr isn’t mentioned in the original recipe.

The Amateur Icelandic Chef has a recipe that uses cream cheese and mascarpone cheese which sounds delicious, but not quite right either..

Jo’s Icelandic Recipes has a recipe for Mandarínu-ostakaka – Mandarin-orange cheesecake which includes gelatin (like Jello) which sounds like the original recipe, but not quite..

Finally I found Fatimarana’s Piece of Cake blog, where she has a recipe for a cheesecake with sour cream… I bet using the orange topping from Jo’s recipe and this one would do the trick! (Now just to find an occasion to try it out!)

(While I was searching, I also found the International Dinner Project, #29: Iceland where a family tried out different things – including the “Thunderbread” I enjoyed so much from a previous post… perhaps that will be another baking adventure for me.. some day that isn’t quite so hot!)


Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Out of town - Europe


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Taste of Calgary – this weekend

Look out for the bus or one of the ticket stands at the Taste of Calgary to get your tickets

Look out for the bus or one of the ticket stands at the Taste of Calgary to get your tickets

Don’t forget, the Taste of Calgary is this weekend!

It runs August 14-17 at Eau Claire Market, and this year you can try tasty nibbles like:

  • Maple Bacon Ice Cream Sandwich – from Black Betty Burgers & Wine Bar
  • Sweet ‘Smores Crepe – from Crepes & Cravings
  • Banana Fritters – from Curry Club
  • Crispy Shrimp Dumplings – from Globefish
  • Japanese Sushi Quiche – from Goro + Gun
  • Green Tea Sandwich – from Lava Dining
In the beer garden at the Taste of Calgary 2013

In the beer garden at the Taste of Calgary 2013

along with vendors like:

  • Africana Bar and Grill
  • The Canadian Brewhouse
  • Caribbean Choice
  • Coco Brooks
  • Delice Pastryshop and Café
  • Delicious Thai
  • Ed’s Restaurant
  • Halo Steak, Seafood & Wine Bar
  • Heritage Bakery and Deli
  • Jackie’s Thai
  • Jamesons Irish Pubs
  • Mini Melts
  • Ogam Chicken and BBQ
  • The Old Spaghetti Factory
  • Oriental Dumplings
  • Pacific Hut
  • Pegasus
  • Wing Tat
  • Zen 8 Grill
  • … along with great tastes from the Beverage Garden

A lot of the vendors are the same as previous years, so you can read more about the Taste of Calgary by clicking the “Taste of Calgary” tag.

Some hints to have a great time:

  • Try going on a weekday evening instead of during the lunch hour if possible – it’s less crowded usually
  • Check out what you’re getting before hand, especially if you’re on a budget. Not all of the samples are good deals, and you can end up spending a lot of money at the festival.
  • There are usually lots of freebies at the festival too – wander around (usually close to the east side of the plaza) and look for special taste test and give-away booths.
  • BYO… – consider bringing your own (reusable) bottle of water. Every vendor sells plastic bottles of water, but you might as well bring your own bottle and save the money – and the plastic! There’s also a water fountain inside near the restrooms for refills.
  • BYO… – consider bringing your own reusable dish and cutlery/chopsticks. The amount of waste that builds up in the garbage containers from this event is massive… and most of the vendors are using Styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery, rather than opting for compostable options.
Deep fried pickles - Taste of Calgary 2013

Deep fried pickles – Taste of Calgary 2013

Are you going to Taste of Calgary 2014? Let us know what you thought in the comments below – which samples were the best bang for the buck, and which were the tastiest?

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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Downtown Calgary




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