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Salad from The Hub

Salad from The Hub

Back in June I posted about a contest for food-loving photographers (amateurs welcome) in Calgary by The Hub – the pub at Mount Royal University.

Well, the contest closes soon, but there’s still time to enter.  You can enter as many different photos as you’d like, and the contest ends August 15th, 2013.  Learn more about the contest on their website: http://www.samru.ca/contest-section/current/ 

You can enter through their Facebook page, or send them your photos by email to enter.

As a bit of a disclaimer – I have a personal connection to The Hub, hence my special interest in promoting this contest.  With that being said, I will NOT be judging the photos, so being a Happy Sushi Belly fan won’t win you any contest points.. (though it certainly makes me happy!)

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2013 in South-West Calgary

 

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Another ‘food photography’ contest

Avocado salad

No spoilers of my entry, so here’s a photo of an avocado salad 😉

Back in early June I shared a food photography contest with you – well, here’s another!

This time around, the contest is for foodies who read City Palate – take a photo of yourself holding a copy of the publication taken in Calgary.

From their website:

This year, in commemoration of our 20th Anniversary,
our photo contest stays local and goes creative!
We know there are a lot of readers out there who’d like to
show off their creative side, so we’re looking forward
to some funny, interesting, and crazy photos,
featuring you and a copy of City Palate,
taken right here in Calgary.
And, just to make it interesting, bonus points will be given
to the photo containing the oldest copy of City Palate.
3 fabulous PRIZE packages are up for grabs…

Check out this PDF for all of the information on how to enter! The prizes are awesome – well worth the time to click a few photos and pick out your best one! The deadline to enter is July 31, 2013, and the winning photos will be published in their September/October issue (as well as online).

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Loving all this lavender!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I picked up some lavender jelly at the Butchart Gardens just outside of Victoria on BC’s Vancouver Island on a recent trip.  I finally got around to trying it, and it’s fantastic!  Very sweet (perhaps a bit too much so?) with a light, delicate floral flavor and scent.  Since it’s a jelly (unlike the rose jam I tried earlier) it’s clear – perfect in plain yoghurt with a sprinkling of those gorgeous culinary lavender blossoms I bought on the same trip!

Tasty!

Lavender jam and rose tea

Want to get some of your own, and you don’t have a trip to Victoria planned?  They sell it in their online shop too. Or, Alchemiss has a recipe to make your own on her blog.  (It’s not the same – mine is made with lavender tea apparently) but it should make up something pretty tasty too!

Butchart Gardens
800 Benvenuto Avenue
Victoria, BC V8M 1J8
(250) 652-4422

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Out of town - BC, Treats

 

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Sushi: Shikiji

Despite pleasant past visits to Shikiji, a recent visit makes me hesitant to return again.

A few days ago, Connie and I got together for sushi, and she was interested in re-visiting a place we’ve been together and separately a few times before; Shikiji in Crescent Heights.  The first challenge was getting across the downtown core during rush hour.  (Why do they call it rush hour when it starts at 3:30pm and runs until 7?) The second challenge would seemingly be getting a table! When we arrived, the place seemed packed, though we were seated at a TINY table for two quickly.  My elbow was in a room-divider screen, and my purse was snuggling up to a fake plant.  I credit their dexterous staff that neither of us were bumped into by passers by as we dined.

The exterior of Shikiji

I’ve never seen it so busy in Shikiji – which is usually a good sign of a great place that has become a local favorite, especially with three other sushi restaurants within a 2 block radius.  Unfortunately, we were in the mood to chat and catch up, and the noise volume and general rushed and busy mood within the restaurant wasn’t conducive.  If I had realized then that Wa’s (which I’ve heard so many good things about) was just up the street, I might have suggested we head onwards before our water arrived.

As an aside, we also planned to talk about how to set up Connie’s WordPress iPhone ap, so that she could start posting here too, but intense discussion was better left to another time.  With that being said, she promises to join me here soon!

The seeming increase in popularity really seems to have had a detrimental effect to this small, cozy, well-decorated restaurant.  We waited a fair amount of time to be asked for our drink order, and a bit too long in my opinion for that order (water…) to be filled.  The menu had a number of irksome ‘rules’ – no bill splitting for large groups, no substitutions, etc which speaks to me of an establishment that might be growing in volume faster than they can easily accommodate.  Our orders came out when they were ready (which admittedly, I do prefer, rather than all coming out together) though it meant that Connie’s two plates came out before mine did – and we almost had a mix-up when I presumed that her house special roll was actually my rainbow roll. Of course, had we been sharing the rolls, this would have been a null point.

Very tiny rainbow roll!

As I mentioned, I ordered a rainbow roll, only because I was interested in trying a roll, and none of the others appealed to me that evening.  When it came, I was largely disappointed.  The roll was… TINY; not much bigger than a food-court-style cucumber roll.  Graceful layers of salmon and tuna, draped over a generous rice roll filled with delicious morsels were substituted for tiny chunks placed upon a small inside-out roll, almost like an after-thought.  The flavor overall was unmemorable, the tiny pieces of sushi just popped in my mouth and were consumed without fanfare.  The prawn was more like those tiny shrimp you find in deli-case seafood salad, and there was only a tiny piece of avocado on every third piece of sushi.  (Which means that in a roll of 8, I only had three tiny pieces of avocado.)  This was a 5$ roll spread out on a large plate to make it appear worth the $12 they charge – but all the large plate did was exaggerate how small and disappointing this roll was.

One neat thing – they used multiple colours of tobiko as well – including the green wasabi-flavored tobiko.  I wonder if this is a ‘new thing’, or if after the lovely experience of it at Acme Food Co – that I just started to notice it?

Next up, one of my favorites – the special scallop battleship style sushi.  This normally contains chopped scallop (giving the chef the opportunity to use smaller scallops not suitable for nigiri-style scallop sushi) mayonnaise, and tobiko (flying fish roe) layered over rice and wrapped in nori (seaweed).  Unfortunately, mine came out ORANGE (which should have been a tell-tale sign) and incredibly spicy.  (Mostly because I was expecting the mellow flavor I’m accustomed to.)  It appears that the chef confused the filling for their spicy scallop roll with the filling for my special scallop battleship – which should not have been spicy.  (I’ve tried a spicy scallop sushi before, and was very unhappy with it, so it’s not the kind of thing I’ll be ordering again anywhere.)  It took some time for the waitress to return to our table, but she easily took the two pieces of incorrect sushi, and returned within a reasonable time frame with what I had actually ordered.

Ikura

So, while waiting for the new scallop, I had two pieces of Ikura (salmon roe) battleship-style sushi.  These were on the small side, but the roe itself was good – firm and nicely coloured.  When the new scallop pieces came I found them similar – a bit on the small side but good all the same.

In all of the sushi rolls, the rice was well flavored, but I found that the fish/filling sometimes lacked flavor.  I also found the nori (seaweed) very chewy, as though the rice was too hot when the rolls were assembled (?). We often stay and have a dessert, but the atmosphere felt crowded and rushed, so instead we headed elsewhere to conclude our evening out.

Do you like going to Shikiji? If you’re a regular – would you say that the packed house we experienced is the new normal, or an unexpected occurrence for this restaurant? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’d rather read another blogger’s thoughts on Shikiji, take a look at David’s post on F-log for Thought, or Vincci’s thoughts in Ceci n’est pas un food blog.

Shikiji Japanese Noodles & Sushi
1608 Centre Street North
Calgary, AB T2E 2R9
(403) 520-0093

Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2011 in North-East Calgary, Sushi

 

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Sushi:a new spin on masago

One of the great things about going somewhere outside of my own happy sushi zone is trying new things – on a recent visit to Nanaimo I visited a restaurant called the “Acme Food Company“.  The name alone might have kept me away, but I was glad I went!

First off, one of the reasons I chose Acme is because they have a very diverse (and not just Japanese) menu.  Being a sushi-lover with many friends (and in this case, a travel companion) who don’t all like sushi, often means foregoing my favorite meal – but restaurants like this are a nice way to keep everyone happy – providing they’re able to do all of the dishes well…. Acme serves up steak, pasta, cooked seafood, and a number of other dishes, and both of us were pleased with our meals – sushi for me, and cooked salmon for  my travel companion.

Acme didn’t have my very most favorite Ikura (Salmon roe) or special scallop sushi, so instead I tried out two of their rolls- the Rainbow roll (shrimp, scallops, avocado and mayonnaise topped with tuna, salmon, and masago) and the 420 roll (Ahi tuna, tempura papaya, cucumber, avocado, all rolled in hemp hearts).

The 420 roll was good, though I found the hemp hearts somewhat overwhelmed the flavor – they were very much like sesame seeds – which I often find a little overwhelming.  The rice was good though, and the filling in the roll was good.

The Rainbow roll was very good though – I definitly would recommend it. I don’t totally love shrimp – but the flavor wasn’t strong – and it mostly tasted like my beloved special scallop sushi – topped with lovely pieces of alternating tuna and salmon. The most interesting new thing about my meal though – the masago (smelt roe) on the Rainbow roll. While the orange, red, and black were all flavored as expected – the yellow and green had additional flavors introduced.  The green masago was wasabi (hot horseradish) flavored, while the yellow was a citrus flavor – very crisp and tasty!  Not only was it yummy to eat, but it was also incredibly pretty!

Such pretty sushi from the Acme Food Company!

I would definitely recommend checking out the Acme Food Company if you’re in Nanaimo – they’re located in a lovely downtown area of the town (city?) and my only complaint about the sushi was just the size of the rolls. They weren’t as large as the ones here in Calgary made by Towa, but still very large.  I find that when they’re really big, they’re harder to eat and still enjoy all of the flavors as they mingle together.  Having to take a roll apart in order to eat it kind of ruins the beauty of the combination to me.  These ones were not too large for me, but they were approaching that size limit, as I noticed a few customers at a nearby table were having some problems with the size of the rolls they ordered.

On the other hand, Anthony with the Handsome Burger blog wasn’t nearly as impressed when he had a burger from Acme in October in 2010.

Have you been to Acme Food Company in Nanaimo?  What sushi rolls do you like best from there?  Let me know in the comments below!

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2011 in Out of town - BC, Sushi

 

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Sushi Tokyo

Sushi from Sushi Tokyo

Over last weekend, Connie and I were in the mood for our favorite treat before heading to an art show.  Sushi it was!

I felt like going for all-you-can-eat (AYCE), and there aren’t too many places in Calgary where you can find really good all-you-can-eat it seems, so although the art show was just north of downtown, we decided to go to Sushi Tokyo in the Dragon City Mall in Chinatown.

I know a lot of people have hit-and-miss luck with Sushi Tokyo. One friend commented that she found the staff lacking in attentiveness, another found the selection lacking and in the past I found the portion size for all-you-can-eat to be pretty skimpy. On the other hand, I’ve generally had good luck there, and find the prices pretty good, the quality pretty good, and the location really nice. In previous occasions Connie and I have found that their alcohol selection is pretty bad as well, (and the staff’s knowledge on how to mix drinks lacking as well) however we rarely have good luck at sushi places when we want a drink as well.

This time around we had tempura, gyoza, and then of course sushi. None of the AYCE places seem to include sashimi on their menus, but luckily Sushi Tokyo had my favourite battleship-style sushi on the menu.

Yam Tempura: Good – the coating wasn’t too oily, and the pieces were a good size.

2 remaining gyoza from a plate of 4 from Sushi Tokyo

Gyoza: Good – one side was very crisp but not tough, while the other two sides were soft but not chewy. The filling was well-flavoured as well. The only change I’d make to give this an ‘excellent’ rating would be the sauce. The sauce was dribbled on the plate with the dumplings, rather than being served separately. The sauce also wasn’t as tangy as I like it.

Sushi: Good – this time around the AYCE portions were good, and the quality was good. My one complaint was that the scallop in the special scallop roll seemed to be cooked – although the taste was excellent, it had a different texture from what I’m used to and prefer. I also had massago, tuna, and salmon, and we shared a spicy tuna roll and a salmon roll. (Or was it the other way around; spicy salmon and a tuna roll?)

Atmosphere: Below average – while the restaurant is all right, it’s definitely showing signs of wear. The walls are scuffed, the chairs are worn, and the restrooms really are in need of renovation. However, the staff was attentive, and although we came into the restaurant while it was fairly empty, it was about half-full when we left. They used to give back the money you spent parking in the downstairs parkade, but they don’t appear to do that anymore. (Maybe you have to ask?)  Still, on the weekend parking is reasonable and it’s nice to not have to walk if it’s cold outside.

Cost: The AYCE for lunch was $19.99 which was a bit high for lunch, but still I think cheaper than the other places I’ve gone for AYCE.  A year or so ago while I was there I placed a menu order, and the waitress totaled up my order and let me know that it would be cheaper for me (though only by a few dollars) for me to order AYCE.  I appreciated that thoughtfulness.
On the negative side of things – they automatically added a 10% tip.  ahem.  I really hate this practice period.  Typically I only see it on groups of 9 or more (there were only two of us), and then it’s almost always written on the menu or somewhere highly visible.  I find this a cheap tactic, and although the service was good, I think it’s a lousy way of doing business. When this happens, I generally only include the 10% tip (well, rounded up for a whole dollar amount) where as I might have given 15% otherwise.

Want another review of Sushi Tokyo? Check out Russ’s blog post from 2009!

So, have you tried the all-you-can-eat at Sushi Tokyo? What are your favorite places to go in Calgary for all you can eat sushi? Comment below!

Sushi Tokyo
328 Centre St S
Calgary, Alberta
(403) 232-8868
Sushi Tokyo on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2011 in Downtown Calgary, Gyoza (Dumplings), Sushi

 

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