Tag Archives: Banff

Dark Iron Budda tea

Dark Iron Budda tea

Dark Iron Budda tea

This is just another super-short post. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time right now to write here, and I haven’t been checking out many new places to eat in Calgary lately either. 😦

Dark Iron Budda from Banff Tea Company is really good – mild tasting oolong tea – I’d get it again (the next time I’m up in Banff that is!)


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Piña colada tea slushie

I picked up a small amount of piña colada tea from the Banff Tea Company when visiting the beautiful mountain town in August. It was the sample of the day, and was delicious!

Piña colada tea

Piña colada tea

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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Out of town - Alberta, Tea & Beverages


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Tea: Bingo Blueberry

Even in a closed pouch, the blueberry scent of this tea from the Banff Tea Company seeps out, making your mouth water with the promise of those sun-warmed summer berries…

When I first saw it, and gave the sample tin a little sniff, I was immediately reminded of their Lady Hannah’s Whole Fruit, but with that dark, rich, blueberry scent alongside the fruity goodness.  It visually reminds me of Lady Hannah’s Whole Fruit as well, with big chunks of berry and fruit, this time accented with pink hibiscus petals and blue cornflower petals.

Bingo Blueberry tea from the Banff Tea Company

Bingo Blueberry tea from the Banff Tea Company

The ingredients of this tea include: apple pieces, dried elderberries, dried currents, dried blueberries, cornflower petals, hibiscus petals and natural flavour.  It’s a very heavy tea, so unfortunately a little doesn’t go as far as some other teas. I only picked up a small 50 gram bag of the tea on my last visit, and it’s not nearly enough!

The tea smells delicious, and tastes fantastic too – juicy and flavourful – highly recommended!


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Tea: Kusmi Almond

The last time Connie and I were in Banff we stopped in at our favorite tea shop and picked up a few favorites plus a few new things  One of the things that she tried was Kusmi Almond Tea, and I loved the scent too – so recently she brought it by for me to try.

While I loved the tea in the store, I found the scent this time around a bit strange, almost too strong of an almond scent – as though it were a bit chemical.  This might be that it was a fresh container (versus the container in the shop) or just my mood on the two different days.  There is a very strong almond scent, and a slight bitterness with the green tea.

When I steeped it up, the scent remained, though the green tea scent was more predominant, and the almond scent was significantly less.

In taste, I found this tea a bit too bitter for me, so I added sweetener, and yes, skim milk (I know the purists will clutch their pearls at adding milk to green tea – but it improved it for me!) The green tea flavour definitely took over the tea, and the almond flavour wasn’t hardly noticeable at all to me.  (Perhaps because I am so sensitive to the taste of the green tea…?)

Overall, like the Kusmi Violet tea that I tried, (which I’ll blog about later!) I found that there wasn’t enough of the flavour in the tea – that the addition seemed mostly scent rather than taste.

Have you tried the Kusmi Almond tea?  What did you think?  Let us know in the comments below!  Are there other Kusmi teas that you prefer?

Tea. Photo by Modomatic

Tea. Photo by Modomatic

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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Out of town - Alberta, Tea & Beverages


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Sushi: Japanese Restaurant Miki

Back to Banff and the one all-you-can-eat sushi place in town!

A friend and I were in Banff in December, and it was sushi-mania! We stopped in at my favorite Sushi House Banff for lunch, then Miki for dinner, and on the way home the next day we were at Marra’s Way in Canmore too!

We weren’t really hungry at dinnertime after having gone to the Hot Springs, so instead of having the all-you-can-eat, we chose to select off the menu instead.  We split an order of Agadashi tofu, and then each had the assorted sashimi.

Agadashi tofu from Miki in Banff

Agadashi tofu from Miki in Banff

The tofu was quite good, although I did find it a bit drier than I like it from Momoyama.  Mind you, other than when I’ve made it myself, I’ve only ever had it at Momoyama, so maybe I’m biased! It makes me think I should pick up some tofu soon to make my own again though!

We were actually quite disappointed with the sashimi assortment – the pieces were very small and there was not a lot of selection.

Sashimi assortment from Miki in Banff

Sashimi assortment from Miki in Banff

There were two small pieces of each of 6 different types, and we basically just felt that it was pretty limited. We would have had far better value getting the all-you-can-eat probably. The presentation was also pretty boring. Boo. With that being said, the salmon and tuna were both really good, and I think that the selection at the bottom was bonito, which isn’t normally on most of these assortment plates, so that was interesting.

Japanese Restaurant Miki
at the Inns of Banff Hotel
600 Banff Avenue
PO Box 1077
Banff, AB T1L 1H8
Phone: (403) 762-0600
Fax: (403) 762-4482

Miki Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Out of town - Alberta, Sushi


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Chaya. In Japanese, this means ‘life’. And with the name of this adorable, hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant, in Banff, it is a delight, every time I visit! A long-time friend of mine, who lives in Banff, had first introduced me, to this little place. (:

The last time I visited, was last weekend. I had friends from out east, visiting from Mahone Bay, In Nova Scotia. So, of course, I decided to introduce them to this lovely little spot, for some Japanese cuisine. It is not your typical Japanese restaurant, or Sushi Bar. Instead, it serves as both a tiny restaurant and take-out place. Now I know that may not sound promising, however; you will find yourself impressed with this place! (;

Once you arrive, you either stand just inside the door, or walk right up to the back counter. Most times, I end up near the door, where the lovely waitresses will hand you a menu. Once you have decided on your meal, you approach the counter to place your order. At this counter, there is a small fridge, which contains several different types of sushi rolls. The gyoza is also in there. From there, you can peek into their tiny kitchen area. It really is adorable, with their little curtains. The atmosphere in the restaurant is quite quaint, and friendly. The counter also offers iced water, chopsticks, & condiments. Once you place your order & have paid, you find yourself a table, and the food is brought to you, by the friendly waitresses.

Last weekend, I had gyoza, a tuna roll, (wrapped in rice, not the Nori, which is the seaweed) and a wonton soup. Both my friends had ordered the Pork Katsu. The meal was warm and delicious, especially when consumed with great company, in such a cozy environment. Makes you feel right at home. Plus, the bill only came to an approximate total of $40.00. Not bad at all! (:

But of course, I was so busy catching up with my friends, as I hadn’t seen them for almost five years, I forgot to take photos! I know, how could I forget? But no worries, I am planning to visit Banff fairly soon, in the near future, and will post photos then.

Therefore, if you are looking for a quick and diverse Japanese meal in Banff, Chaya offers a wide range of Japanese foods, at a modest price & environment. I find myself wishing there was a place like this in Calgary. Or perhaps there is, and some of you out there, could inform me about it!

So, if you are in Banff, and looking for a decent, warm meal, Chaya would be a more healthy choice, versus the go-to fast food restaurants in town! Let us know what you think!!

118 Banff Avenue
Banff, Alberta


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Tea: Ice Wine tea

Not long ago, Connie and I went to Banff and of course had to pop into our most favorite tea shop – where she picked up a few new flavours for herself as well as a few favourites. (Of course, I did the same!)

Recently, while over for a visit, she brough with her some of her picks, and shared with me a few that she thought I would like.

One of the teas that she brought by is Ice Wine, described on the Banff Tea Company website as: “Add a dash of sugar and have organoleptic journey to the winter vineyards of Niagra. A delicious, fresh, and piquant white grape flavour with hints of exotic fruit.“  It has both black and white teas from Sri Lanka, freeze dried grapes, Ontario ice wine, and `natural flavours`.

Ice wine tea leaves

Dry the tea smells first slightly fruity, then a little smokey, and then finally a bit wine-y. (Is that a word? Let’s say it is!) The scent when it has steeped is almost identical, and the liqueur is a lovely clear amber.
The taste is fantastic! The scents carry over into the flavor really well – first the slight smoky-fruit flavour, then the tea flavour, and finally just a tiny taste of wine. I had mine with a bit of sweetener (after all, ice wine is sweet, right?) and it’s perfect. Definitly something I’ll pick up next time I’m in Banff. Well, as long as I drink up some of my other teas soon – I’m swiftly running out of room – and the area where I store all of my tea is starting to overflow!

Ice wine tea

The second cup I had using the same leaves was just as good – some of the smokiness was reduced, but the fruity taste (and wine taste!) was still there.

Of course, in exchange, I traded some of her tea for some of mine – some Romeo & Juliet Green Tea Hearts (a green tea pressed into the shape of a heart) I know she loves (and that the Banff Tea Company is no longer carrying!).

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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Out of town - Alberta, Tea & Beverages


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Sushi: Sushi House Banff

Sushi House Banff (faces blurred for privacy)

I’ve mentioned Sushi House Banff once before – my first (and subsequently best) experience with the boat/train style of sushi dining, but not too long ago Connie and I were back up again and headed in for some lunch in a sushi-packed weekend.

Our initial plan was to park, head to the candy shop for some sweets to take home (none for me this time!), head to the Christmas Store (just window-shopping this time around) and then to the Banff Tea Co. to pick up a few much-needed favourites. From there we were going to head up to the Banff Springs Hotel to splurge on some (incredibly over-priced) sushi from Samurai Sushi Bar and Restaurant.

(Why do I say over-priced?  Check out the prices on their menu… well over the price I normally pay elsewhere. Ouch!  I have eaten there before, and while the service was wonderful, it dosn’t justify the inflated price IMO.)

Well, on our walk back to the car we struck a bargain, since we had found such a good parking spot (for free) and weren’t too excited about the hike from free parking near the Banff Springs Hotel to the hotel itself (their parking is not free), we said that if there was room at Sushi House Banff, we’d stop there instead.  As luck would have it – there were a few spots, so we put our purchases in the nearby car and headed in for lunch.

(Another spot of luck – it turns out that Samurai might have been closed anyways while we were up there – I only just found that out now by looking at their website for this post!)

So, all the sushi-stars were aligning well, and we had some of what I think is the best sushi I’ve had in a long, long time.

Delicious scallop from Sushi House Banff

I didn’t see my favorites circling on the model train, so placed an order with the waitress for Ikura and chopped scallop (but not spicy like they have on the menu).  While I was waiting I had some smoked salmon.  It was good but I really should have waited – it was not nearly as good as what was to come…. and I also had some scallop – delicious!

Fantastic chopped scallop from Sushi House Banff

The chopped scallop was PERFECT.  I’d say it was as good as the best I’ve had – the scallop and eggs nice and firm, hardly any mayo, the right proportions of topping to rice and nori.  Yum, yum yum.  In fact, when they put the extra on the train, I scooped that up too – even though it had spicy sauce on it. The only thing I didn’t love about it was that it had a tiny amount of chopped green onion – which is unusual.  However, it wasn’t overwhelming, and I still really liked it.

Ikura from Sushi House Banff

Ikura from Sushi House Banff

The Ikura (salmon eggs) was just as good.  The eggs were firm and shiny – none of the cloudiness or stickiness that I sometimes see.  My only regret was that the lighting wasn’t great so I didn’t get fabulous photos.

They also do take out too -which is important to remember (though I don’t know if you can call ahead with your order or not…) especially with how tiny the resturaunt is, and how absolutely fantastic the food is.It was all so good that it wasn’t hard to think “oh.. I’ll just have ONE more…”

Sushi House Banff is also really (well-behaved) child friendly with lots of things on the menu (like potato croquettes and shrimp dumplings, plus fried chicken???) and children’s chopsticks. (Plus a booster seat) There were a number of really well-behaved kids in there while we were in there.

Yum yum yum.  Add this to your must-visit list when you’re in Banff.  If you can find a seat, you won’t regret it.  (However, if you are coming with a party of 5 – like the lady who came in after us.. you likely won’t get enough seats!)

Sushi House Banff
304 Caribou Street
Banff, AB

Sushi House on Urbanspoon


Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Out of town - Alberta, Sushi



Sushi: Miki in Banff

When Connie and I first discovered Miki, it was immediately a fast-favorite.  With a really excellent and diverse all-you-can-eat menu and really helpful and attentive staff, it was easy to love them.

However, I’m going to push Sushi House Banff to the top of my list after a few annoying experiences.

First off, Miki isn’t open for lunch.  Second, even though it’s a reasonably sized restaurant, they were not able to serve us when we got there for dinner, and instead we had to make a reservation for an hour later.  The parking there is TERRIBLE, so after finding a good spot, we were annoyed to have to leave and come back.  (Though we ended up parking at our hotel and walking over to avoid the parking issue.) Still, the food is good, and if you love trying new things (without the risk of a big order) they’re a great place to check out.

Japanese Restaurant Miki is located on the second floor (above a little family restaurant/bar that we have tried once and wouldn’t recommend) in the Inns of Banff Hotel at the end of the strip as you head out of Banff.  What makes the parking terrible is that there is next to no parking in front of the building, and instead you have to park on an incredibly steep hill, outside of hotel rooms.  In the summer it’s funny when you can’t open your driver side door or close your passenger side door because of the serious incline, but in the winter it’s a hazard without enough salt/gravel/lighting/walkways/railings.

Ok.. negativity aside – park at your hotel if you’re close, and just walk over.

The all-you-can-eat menu is fantastic, and doing the math, really worth it unless you only want a few small things.  There is a hot menu with lots of choices (of course we settled on the gyoza), a sushi menu with nigiri-style sushi, rolls, and hand rolls, and a tempura menu with single-piece servings of yam, broccoli, scallop, shrimp, and a whole list of other things they’ll batter and fry for you…and they also offer ice cream (chocolate, strawberry or vanilla) with the all-you-can-eat meal (which is 25$ per person).

Ok.. so the food itself

Gyoza from Miki


The gyoza was actually really good – it came on a plate of 4 pieces which was just enough for us each to have two, and still leave room for lots of sushi.  The batter was maybe a little thick, and the filling a little less seasoned than what I’d really love, but it was still really good.

Other things on the hot menu include edamame, salmon teriyaki, Udon soup, miso soup, steamed rice, deep fried tofu, potato croquettes ,and chicken wings.

Our first plate of sushi from Miki

First plate

We split the Spicy Tuna Roll – which was small, with a nice drizzle of spicy mayo.  It was good without being too spicy or overwhelming. I had a scallop, a tuna and a salmon along with a flying fish roe, while Connie had a salmon, scallop, tuna, mackerel and omelet on this first order.

Yam and prawn tempura from Miki


We also ordered two selections of tempura – the first one was yam (for me!) and prawn (for Connie) while the second was scallop (for me) and another for Connie (which I can’t remember…)  Getting the tempura in only small pieces was perfect – no time for them to cool off (and start feeling heavy and greasy) before eating.

Our second sushi plate from Miki

Second plate

We shared a pickle roll, each had a hand cone, and I had a salmon salad two tunas, and a bean pouch.  The hand cone was really good, with a tiny bit of cream cheese in the Philadelphia roll.  The pickle roll was good, but the salmon salad had onion in it which I didn’t like and the bean pouch was just boring and too chewy.  I have tried it before and didn’t really care for it, but I figured it was worth trying again…  Connie had some tuna, octopus, a hand roll, and tried the bonito – which she found really dry and wouldn’t try again.

Sorry for the really blurry photo!

Have you been to Miki? What did you think? Got any tips on the parking situation?

Japanese Restaurant Miki
at the Inns of Banff Hotel
600 Banff Avenue
PO Box 1077
Banff, AB T1L 1H8
Phone: (403) 762-0600
Fax: (403) 762-4482

Miki Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Gyoza (Dumplings), Out of town - Alberta, Sushi


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Tea: Banff Trail Mix

One of the new teas I picked up on my last visit to my favorite tea shops was Banff Trail Mix. This is a tea with mate added, and although the day that I had some it was a hot day, with an impending wonderfull thunderstorm, I felt like something warm and cozy.

To start off, the tea has a distinctive scent when it’s dry. It reminds me of carob or chicory or something that’s not quite chocolate, not quite coffee, not quite black tea, but somewhere in between.  The smell is interesting, but not something that I really jumped up for.  Perhaps it’s just the timing, because it smelt really yummy in the store.

Pretty tea

It’s a fairly pretty tea though, with two different sizes of chocolate chips. I thought perhaps one of them was a carob chip instead, but reading the ingredients, it looks as though the distinctive scent is likely coming from the mate instead.  The ingredients include: “Roasted mate, black tea, chocolate chips, almonds, sunflower and calendula petals, elderberries, dried black currants, hibiscus, natural flavour.”

The tea steeps up a rich, lovely dark amber colour, and still has that same scent that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Unfortunately, when I had it black, it was a bit underwhelming.  The flavor was similar to the scent, but it didn’t have as much flavor as I had hoped for.  I added some sugar and milk, which improved it quite a bit, but it still wasn’t particularly memorable.

With and without milk & sugar

Since I wasn’t overly thrilled with the tea hot, I steeped some up and put it in the fridge overnight.  Oddly enough, this improved it considerably for me!  With a good chill (and a pinch of sugar), the tea flavor remains, the odd flavor (not bad, just odd) mellows, and the chocolate improves.

I looked for other bloggers talking about Banff Trail Mix – but couldn’t find anything – so if you’ve tried Banff Trail Mix – let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Banff Tea Co. on Urbanspoon

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Posted by on September 2, 2011 in Out of town - Alberta


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