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Author Archives: Dawn

About Dawn

Hi there, I’m Dawn! I’m a professional communicator with a passion for loose leaf tea, delicious sushi, photography, corsetry, writing, costuming, fashion sewing, symphonic metal music and travel! I have a degree in Communications with a major in Electronic Publishing along with a post-secondary diploma in Fashion Design and have continued my education with a certificate in Public Relations and classes in Event Management, Social Media, Technical Writing, Photography, and Human Resources. I love learning, and I love sharing what I’ve learned with others! I’m currently an editor with a large not for profit organization in Calgary, Alberta, and in the past I’ve also worked in communication/marketing departments (sometimes a department of one!) in commercial real estate, software development, couture fashion, international music, and telecommunications just to name a few! Feel free to follow me personally on Twitter @SadinaDawn

Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus in SW Calgary

Sweet triple chocolate "pancake" from Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus

Sweet triple chocolate “pancake” from Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus

When I was out with a group of friends in early April the topic of neat, unusual, interesting restaurants came up.. and with it, Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus in Calgary’s SouthWest. Luckily, it’s not too far from where I work, so one day I went there with a friend after work for dinner. (It’s really a good place for any meal, since their dishes are pretty good breakfast, lunch, or dinner.)

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Posted by on June 24, 2017 in South-West Calgary, Treats

 

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Nice Cream – liquid nitrogen ice cream

The ice cream maker at Nice Cream creating our frozen treats

The ice cream maker at Nice Cream creating our frozen treats

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen the sneak preview of this – liquid nitrogen ice cream from Nice Cream, a little shop not too far from where I work. I’ve been here once or twice before, but thought I’d share here on Happy Sushi Belly.

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Posted by on June 20, 2017 in South-West Calgary, Treats

 

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Sakana Grill in Calgary’s Chinatown

Salmon roe and chopped scallop rolls from Sakana Grill

Salmon roe and chopped scallop rolls from Sakana Grill

Back in late April, I met up with a friend after her work downtown – and we had hoped to go to Goro + Gun for dinner – but it was Sunday, and they were closed. So, we wandered over to Sakana Grill instead.

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Posted by on June 17, 2017 in Downtown Calgary, Sushi

 

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Nourish Kitchen & Bakery

Colourful tarts and other goodies from Nourish Kitchen and Bakery

Colourful tarts and other goodies from Nourish Kitchen and Bakery

At the end of April a friend invited me to the YYC Alternative Market. In the back of my mind I really hoped that the market would be retro-funky-goth-cool… and while there were a lot of vendors there that fit that bill – I was also super happy see my friends from Nourish Kitchen and Bakery!

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Posted by on June 11, 2017 in Downtown Calgary, Treats

 

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Special event fare at Fort Calgary

Crispy parmesan polenta Calgary - at a special event.

Crispy Parmesan polenta Calgary – at a special event.

In April my work hosted a special event at Fort Calgary. I was totally impressed with both the serving staff who kept the food coming – and kept tables cleared discreetly – but also the food itself. The business owner and the event manager are both vegetarian, so all of the dishes selected were also vegetarian.

I thought I’d share a few photos here with you from the event.

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Posted by on June 9, 2017 in South-East Calgary

 

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Kruse’s Bakery

Lemon strudel from Kruse's bakery (located in the Market on MacLeod)

Lemon strudel from Kruse’s bakery (located in the Market on MacLeod)

Every time I’m down at the Market On MacLeod (usually to get sushi!) I swing by Kruse’s Bakery too. There are a few things I love every time I go – like their lemon strudel or the hockey pucks – but I also usually am coersed into trying one or two other things too. Luckily I don’t have a gluten/ dairy/ egg intolerance, so the bakery-world is my tasty oyster!

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Posted by on June 4, 2017 in South-West Calgary, Treats

 

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Are you a ‘reader’?

mushroom salad from Cibo

mushroom salad from Cibo

With Google Reader shutting down, a lot of people were left wondering how to keep following the blogs they loved.  While WordPress offers their own Reader (you can follow WordPress blogs as well as non-WordPress blogs), there are a few other options out there.

If all of that seems like too much effort, we’ve got an alternate solution if you are on Facebook

Consider “liking” Happy Sushi Belly on Facebook and add our page to your interests list.  You’ll get an update when we make new blog posts, along with an occasional related video, link, or cool thing happening in our local area right on your Facebook wall. You can also scroll through some of the previous posts in a quick way, versus when you want to linger and browse each entry.

Read more about the WordPress Reader here: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/wordpress-reader/

Or follow Happy Sushi Belly on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HappySushiBelly 

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Do blog posts & review ratings make a difference?

Super yummy salad made with dressing from Eau Claire market Oil & Vinegar bar

Super yummy salad made with dressing from Eau Claire market Oil & Vinegar bar

I write for Happy Sushi Belly for a few reasons, 1) I write for a living and constantly writing keeps things flowing when I just have to pound out that 45 page proposal in 2 days (true story) 2) I love to share my experiences with others who have similar interests, 3)It’s good experience with my camera – when I can remember to bring it! and 4) It’s a good way to remember what I liked and didn’t like… for when I go back and am sitting down wondering “did I like the gyoza here?”

As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer to keep my reviews pretty positive, though sometimes that’s hard and I have to give a bad review.  (I’m looking at you, Schanks).  I know that reading good or bad reviews makes a difference if I choose to visit a place or not (and sometimes I wish I had read the reviews first after finishing a meal..) but what is the difference to restaurants, cafes, and other places that get reviewed?

Do good reviews guarantee a good meal?

There’s an article in the Ottawa Citizen by Peter Hum about ‘the numbers game’ on review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and other review sites. The author concedes that sometimes a place with a bad review actually gives him a good experience, and vice-versa, sometimes a well-reviewed place is lackluster in person. Changes in suppliers and staff could make a big difference in this, not to mention the personal bias of the reviewer.  (After all, no place that gives me onions is going to get a glowing review, no matter how good the food might be otherwise!)

But a lot of positive numbers do have at least one effect…

Tray of goodies at the Butchart's Afternoon Tea

Tray of goodies at the Butchart’s Afternoon Tea

However a high number of positive reviews does have one obvious effect – it moves your business up to the top of the list on those reviewing sites.  For instance, on a review site Fine dining list, the following restaurants are at the top of the list:

  1. Bolero Fire Grill
  2. NOtaBLE
  3. Gaucho Brazilian
  4. Vero Bistro Moderne
  5. Japanese Village

Does this mean that Japanese Village is far better than the little strip mall Japanese place close to home where you’ve been going for years? Nope, but it does mean that if I hop onto a review site and am just looking for a place to eat fast, and don’t want to do a lot of searching, Japanese Village is more likely to get my business than your around-the-corner favourite.

Peter goes on to illustrate a restaurateur who really did want to get the ‘numbers’ for one of his restaurants up – looking to increase the rating from 62% to 75% as his goal. His plan to ask for up-votes from his friends backfired, as a particular review site saw a huge rush in traffic to vote for his restaurant as potential spam.  Instead of his percentage of positive “thumbs up” going up… it actually went down.

Do a lot of positive reviews get ‘butts in the seats’?

Watermelon, feta & mint salad at the Argyle Attic in Victoria, BC

Watermelon, feta & mint salad at the Argyle Attic in Victoria, BC

Social media & search engines has made it easy for people to find out what other people think – just type something into a search bar or post a question on Twitter and you’ll have loads of responses.  We’re also more likely to believe the review of someone we know than someone we don’t, and more likely to believe the review of someone we don’t know than the marketing of the business owner.  In his article “Boost your Yelp Rating… and your sales with these six steps” Arment Dietrich quotes a Harvard Business School study that concluded that one full star books on Yelp can increase sales by 5-9%.  That’s a lot more sushi.. or tea.. or hamburgers..

How can restaurants get good reviews?

While it’s true that people are possibly more likely to tell their friends “oh, don’t go there.. they’re terrible!” than to log into a review site to put their name behind their opinion, but there are a few tips that can get restaurant owners & managers on the right foot to getting ‘that extra 5-9%’.

1) Serve good food, at a good price, and do it well.

It might seem pretty obvious, but if your staff are lackluster, your dishes are spotty, your food is overpriced, and the menu is boring… you’re not going to get rave reviews.  Consumers have a whole wealth of options to choose from, and at the end of the day they WANT to be glad they picked your establishment.

2) Live up to your promises

If you say that you have the ‘best ribs in Calgary’ – is that true? Do you regularly check out the competition to evaluate your price, quality, speed, service, cleanliness and all of those other factors to ensure that you really are the best? If your menu has photos, does the plate on the table really resemble the photograph? Don’t expect positive reviews after the bill has been presented if what they bought is nothing like what you promised they would get.

3) Monitor your reviews

An assortment of strange things to eat in Lake Mývatn

An assortment of strange things to eat in Lake Mývatn

Monitoring your reviews is an amazing way of seeing if you’re living up to your promise. For example; Are bloggers taking photos of your food? How much does it look like your menu photos? Sign up for the different review sites (more about that below) and sign up for a Google Alert to get the news from news sites, bloggers, and more.  Follow your own hashtag on Twitter, and Instagram and read your comments on your Facebook page. Pay attention to who is leaving you great reviews or posting mouth-watering photos – and reward them! Likewise, if you see that a particular customer had a bad experience – respond and make it better!

4) Own your own review pages or set them up yourself

There’s nothing worse than having a hundred people show up at 10:00 a.m. because they read that your establishment was open for breakfast… when you actually don’t open until 11:00.  If you own your own review page you can update it with hours, maps, address, phone number, along with sync it with your own Twitter feed so that viewers can get an automatic update about your restaurant – without you having to do any additional work.

 

What do you think?

My companion's tuna and  salmon sashimi in the foreground, and our individual pieces in the background  - from Hana Sushi in Calgary's Mission district.

My companion’s tuna and salmon sashimi in the foreground, and our individual pieces in the background – from Hana Sushi in Calgary’s Mission district.

Do you pick a place to eat based on reviews, or are you more likely to dine wherever is closest? What would you recommend places do to improve their reviews? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Fast food sushi disappointment

Take out sushi from Sushi Ginza at Chinook Centre

Take out sushi from Sushi Ginza at Chinook Centre

I really should know better. Every time I’ve been to Sushi Ginza in Chinook Centre over the past few (years?) I’ve been disappointed. The worst part of it is that the rice is dry, but I also feel like there’s very limited selection.

 

But I don’t learn my lesson apparently – and once again while at the mall to do a little shopping (see my Instagram feed for my shopping scores) I was hungry and popped to the food court for a bite of dinner. The food court was PACKED and I hoped that since it was the busy period, this meant that the food would fresh- no more dry rice. I was wrong. I hate leaving bad reviews, but I really need to remember how disappointing this fast-food sushi is.

Take out sushi from Sushi Ginza at Chinook Centre

Take out sushi from Sushi Ginza at Chinook Centre

You might remember that I’ve also had GOOD experiences with fast food sushi… click the category tag below to get the highs and lows.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in South-West Calgary, Sushi

 

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Kaffi Klassik, Reykjavik

Klassik Crepe from Kaffi Klassik

Klassik Crepe from Kaffi Klassik

Twice I’ve been to Reykjavik, and twice I’ve been to the Kringlan mall – the largest shopping mall in Rekyjavik with over 150 shops and services. Twice too I’ve been to Kaffi Klassik as well – the second time I made a point of going again to get one of their crepes for my lunch, remembering how interesting and tasty it is!

Kaffi Klassik menu

Kaffi Klassik menu

English-speaking visitors don’t have to worry too much about the tongue-twisting Icelandic language, although they are very proud of their language and it’s displayed prominently, (and they have many laws in place to protect it), pretty much everywhere is also comfortable communicating efficiently in English. The menus are in both English and Icelandic – which is good.. because while some of the Icelandic words “feel” familiar… there are some which aren’t Iceland-ified loan-words, and they’re completely foreign!

Kaffi Klassik menu close-up

Kaffi Klassik menu close-up

There are a few interesting diversions though… like “paprika” doesn’t mean the spice the way you’d anticipate – it means bell pepper apparently… (This was also similar in Finnish…) I got the Klassik Crepe with ham, rice, leek, bell pepper, cheese and mustard sauce the first time I visited (and the second too!) while my companion opted for the quiche which she thought was less unusual and more agreeable to her palate at the time we visited.

Licorice meringue cookie from Kaffi Klassik

Licorice meringue cookie from Kaffi Klassik

We also had to have one of the licorice flavoured meringues… I don’t really like meringue – but I’ll suck it up for pretty much ANYTHING licorice-flavoured. (As expected, it was chewy and SO yummy!)

Quiche from Kaffi Klassik

Quiche from Kaffi Klassik

Crepe from Kaffi Klassik before digging in...

Crepe from Kaffi Klassik before digging in…

I don’t usually see these savory crepes here in Calgary – I’m seeing them more now – but do you know any place that you’d recommend here at home?

Reykjavik shoreline

Reykjavik shoreline

I’ll close with a photo of the shoreline looking across a bay to downtown Reykjavik. One thing I really love about Iceland is the diversity. Volcanos, deserted alien landscapes, black sand beaches, lush green hillsides, rocky shores, open meadows… it’s all there – and all within a few hours drive or less. The only thing you won’t find is a thick forest! LOL

My Icelandic friend Guðmundur told me a joke… “What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest?” My reply (and a close-enough response to the joke) “sit up”. 😀

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Out of town - Europe

 

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