Hyoga Japanese Cuisine (Vancouver, BC) – Sushi by Real Japanese

A friend of mine suggested that we try Hyoga Japanese Cuisine as it had Japanese owners unlike the overwhelming sea of Chinese-, Korean-, and Vietnamese-owned sushi restaurants in Greater Vancouver. It’s not that I have an issue with those restaurants. In fact, the affordability of those places allows me to have a regular night of sushi whenever I want. However, there’s something about the way authentic Japanese restaurants run their restaurants, including the politeness and cleanliness.

Hyoga Japanese Cuisine is located on Kingsway, not too far from Burnaby. We had trouble locating the restaurant as the signage was “unique”. FinestDish also joined us for the night.

Hyoga Japanese Cuisine

We started with the Negitoro Tartare which was described as chopped toro with green onions, sesame seeds, and Hyoga’s seaweed sauce. It was one of three dishes listed under Hyoga’s Special (we ended up ordering all three specials).

Hyoga Japanese Cuisine - Negitoro Tartare

The Negitoro Tartare arrived with some intriguing surprises. The first thing that I spotted was the prawn crackers. It was a happy surprise as I grew up grabbing every piece that I can reach. The other surprise was the rice wrapped neatly with nori. The plating here is definitely a stand-out compared to the run-of-the-mill sushi restaurants in town.
Read More

Yum Yum Chicken (Airdrie, AB) – Fried Chicken Korean-Style with a Friendly Owner

My friends have been telling me there’s this awesome fried chicken place in Airdrie. Yes, Ardrie. So on a trip back to Red Deer, I took the last exit to Airdrie with my hungry stomach. My destination: Yum Yum Chicken. Word on the street was that it served korean style fried chicken and hurricane potato.

So when I finally arrived at the storefront, I was shocked to see a closed sign along with a handwritten sign that stated they were out of chicken.

It took a while before I finally made a return trip, having been disappointed and stuck driving back to Red Deer hungry. When I finally deicded to give them another try, I called ahead to ensure they were open.

The signage for Yum Yum Chicken represents the fun nature of the owner. You’ll see what I mean when you meet him.

Yum Yum Chicken

Inside, the restaurant feels fast-casual: clean and open with big windows to let in the bright sunlight. The kitchen and the order counter was in the back. Korean music videos were playing on the flat screen tv which will keep you entertained as it takes a bit of time for them to fresh fry every order.

Yum Yum Chicken Interior

Yum Yum Chicken Interior 2

There were 4 flavors of fried chicken to choose from: Yum Yum, Shallot, Spicy, and Regular. My wife and I wanted to try a combination, but there were no options. When prompted by the owner, we explained our dilemma. He was extremely friendly and honest, telling us that as a big eater, he can only a “whole” serving which consisted of 6 pieces. He then asked us which flavors we were interested in, telling us that Yum Yum and Shallot were the customer favorites. We told him that we were thinking of Yum Yum, Shallot, and Spicy. He then offered to put all 3 combinations together so that we would have the opportunity to try a variety. What a great guy! This is why I love supporting the Mom-and-Pop stores as they will always bend over backwards to make their customers happy.

I also mentioned that the last time I tried to eat here, they were closed with a funny explanation. He told us that he gets his chicken regularly to maintain freshness so sometimes the delivery truck fails to make it on the scheduled day and they have to close. He rather use fresh chicken then stock up and freeze. This is again why we all must support these little guys. Plus, the food’s good too!

As every order is fresh fried, we had ot wait around for approx. 20 mins.

Yum Yum Chicken - Box Top

The box that held the fried chicken followed the whimsical signage. If you look closer, you can see that they were printed in Korea as there was no English anywhere on the box.
Read More

Mango Shiva (Calgary, AB) – Replication of Vij’s Famous Lamb Popsicle Dish?

While talking about favorite restaurants in Vancouver to some of our Calgary friends, I spoke about Vij’s which is so popular that we usually have to wait 1.5 to 2 hours for a table. Upon hearing this, one friend told us that a restaurant in Calgary serves a similar dish to the famous lamb popsicle dish at Vij’s. I was so shocked and excited to hear this. Thus, my wife and I made plans to visit Mango Shiva the next time we headed to Calgary.

Mango Shiva is located in Downtown Calgary so expect to circle for parking or head to the nearest parking lot.

Mango Shiva

Inside, the restaurant was dark though lit in a way to maintain a sense of warmth -think fireplace setting.

Mango Shiva Interior

We were given some Complimentary Papadums (thin, crisy chips made from black gram).

Mango Shiva - Complimentary Papadums

The Complimentary Papadums didn’t have much flavor, but were very airy and crispy. They paired well with the accompanied sauce which provided all the flavor.
Read More

Pho Thuy Dong (Red Deer, AB) – Catering to the Mass

Working in Downtown Red Deer, I often see coworkers ordering takeout from Pho Thuy Dong though usually it consisted of egg rolls (aka spring rolls) or dried ribs which technically does not to speak to the calibre of its traditional Vietnamese cuisine fare.

Judging by the crowded, double- and triple-parked parking lot, Pho Thuy Dong is quite popular at lunch (this photo was not taken during peak lunch hours).

Pho Thuy Dong

Inside, the restaurant appeared more Western than Asian other than the random assortment of Asian décor.

Pho Thuy Dong Interior

My wife’s co-workers claimed that the pho was delicious here so she was curious to see how it compared to their competition which included restaurants that we have tried before, Thap Ba and Little Star Vietnamese Cuisine. My wife ordered the Pho Dac Biet which was a traditional Vietnamese rice noodle soup containing beef, tendon, tripe, brisket and beef meatballs. There is an option to order a medium or large which was odd as it left out small, but I suppose this was a business tactic to suggest a larger portion when ordering the smaller version. My wife went with the medium size.

The waitress served my wife with the wrong dish at first. We believe the incorrect dish was Bun Bo Hue as it looked like it and the dish was listed right below Pho Dac Biet on the menu.

Pho Thuy Dong - Bun Bo Hue

We notified the waitress and she took it away.
Read More

Hawksworth Restaurant (Vancouver, BC) – Fine Dining Highs

I had an eye on Hawksworth ever since PhoneixWright kept posting photos of his meals there and raving about them. On a trip to Vancouver, I insisted that we eat at Hawksworth when we met up. On this occasion, we were joined by FinestDish and GVBlack.

Inside, the restaurant was bright and detailed which reflected the plating style of the dishes to come.

Hawksworth Restaurant Interior

My wife ordered an alcholic drink which I sadly cannot remember. It looked beautiful.

Hawksworth Restaurant - Drink

Perusing the menu, my wife and I decided to start with the Ancho Glazed Pork Belly which was served with heart of palm, yucca, jicama, and lime.

Hawksworth Restaurant - Ancho Glazed Pork Belly

Like the dishes in PhoneixWright’s photos, the Ancho Glazed Pork Belly was beautifully plated. In fact, all the dishes were esthetically exceptional.
Read More

Tony Roma’s (Lethbridge, AB) – No Ribs, but Burger instead

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Tony Roma’s is ribs. I grew up making the connection between Tony Roma’s and ribs, yet I honestly don’t remember visiting the restaurant chain much. This was probably because my family seldom ate ribs and those times when we did, they were homemade.

Once again, I found myself in Lethbridge and having lunch with a relative. She suggested Tony Roma’s as it was nearby.

She decided to have the Caesar Salad which was described as fresh romaine lettuce tossed in Caesar dressing and topped with an italian cheese blend and croutons. She decided to add a 5 oz Chicken Breast to make the starter salad her main course.

Tony Roma's - Caesar Salad with 5 oz Chicken Breast

The Caesar Salad arrived quickly topped with a sliced chicken breast. The chicken breast had light grill marks and was neither dry nor moist. The warmth was a nice contrast to the cool Caesar salad. The romaine lettuce had a good crunch with each piece of lettuce thoroughly coated in the delicious Caesar dressing. The cheese blend was minimal and more would have been appreciated. The croutons didn’t appear to made in-house which would have helped make this salad a standout. My relative was satisfied with the meal.
Read More

Big D’s Smokehouse (Calgary, AB) – Smoky Meat Goodness

A good friend of mine highly recommended Big D’s Smokehouse, raving about the sandwich there. Interestingly, the restaurant/stall was located inside the Calgary Farmers’ Market so the old adage of “never judge a book by its cover” rung true.

Big D’s Smokehouse

Based on my buddy’s recommendation, we decided to order a Big D’s Smoked Meat Sandwich. There was a choice of beef brisket, pulled pork, or half and half. We went with half and half.

Big D’s Smokehouse - Big D’s Smoked Meat Sandwich

The pulled pork and beef brisket were shaved and weighted to ensure the right amount. After that, you get a choice of free toppings similar to Subway. We added coleslaw and jalapeño.
Read More

Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge (Red Deer, AB) – Hungry for Kobe Chicken

It’s no surprise that we found ourselves heading to Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge again after the first 2 successful meals (the Valentine’s Day set menu experience didn’t count in our books). Credit goes to my wife who insisted on going there for dinner because she wanted the Kobe Chicken that night.

Please refer to the first visit blog post and second visit blog post for meals that we had off the regular menu. If you are interested in what Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge has to offer for Valentine’s Day, take a look at our Valentine’s Day 2014 blog post.

Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge Interior

We decided to try something different for the appetizer course though we were very tempted to have the delicious tacos again. We went with something a little more offbeat (well, to try in Red Deer anyway), and chose the Beef Carpaccio. It was described as the finest seared and shaved Alberta beef tenderloin topped with parmesan flakes, arugula, cracked black pepper, and olive oil.

Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge - Beef Carpaccio

As requested, it arrived at the same time as our main dishes so I noticed that the same plates were used for both the Beef Carpaccio and one of our main dishes. The Beef Carpaccio was presented beautifully, consistent with all our past experiences at Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge.
Read More

Ricky’s All Day Grill (Lethbridge, AB) – Burger and Fries

While in Lethbridge, I was hungry and headed to the nearest restaurant, Ricky’ All Day Grill. I haven’t eaten in Ricky’s All Day Grill for years and am curious to see if things have change.

As my philosophy goes for these types of restaurants, I went for a burger. From the list of burgers, the Old Style Bacon N’ Cheddar Burger caught my eye. It was described as a 1/2 lb beef patty topped with maple bacon, double slices of Canadian cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red relish, and mayo. A choice of fries and signature tossed salad was available. Moreover, for additional cost, there were choices of soup, caesar salad, savoury potato wedges, sweet potato fries, or onion rings. I decided to go with the traditional fries.

Ricky's All Day Grill - Old Style Bacon N’ Cheddar Burger

The Old Style Bacon N’ Cheddar Burger arrived fully assembled which was great as it provided room on the plate for the large portion of fries.
Read More

Hubie’s 1955 Diner (Red Deer, AB) Attacking the Mighty King Burger

Having spotted this subtle restaurant in the West Park Shopping Centre while driving by, Hubie’s 1955 Diner has since been on my radar. In fact, I have had a past failed attempt to eat there on a Monday which was when I first learned that they don’t open on Mondays.

Hubie’s 1955 Diner

The West Park Shopping Centre provides ample amount of parking even though there are a number of businesses within the shopping centre.

Hubie’s 1955 Diner Front

Inside, Hubie’s 1955 Diner teleports you back in time (here’s a guess: to the 50’s). The diner green color was definitely the predominant shade with Elvis mementos decorating the area behind the stools/bar. Clearly, someone is a big fan of Elvis.

Hubie’s 1955 Diner Interior

Hubie’s 1955 Diner Interior 2

Hubie’s 1955 Diner - Jukebox

Unlike typical diners, the kitchen is not open and behind the line of stools. Instead, it is located in the back though you can clearly see the chef working hard.

I have decided to do something unusual and post the complete menu since there is very little online presence for the restaurant.

Hubie’s 1955 Diner - Menu Page 1

Hubie’s 2955 Diner - Menu Page 1

Hubie’s 1955 Diner - Menu Page 3

Hubie’s 1955 Diner - Menu Page 4

I decided to go-big-or-go-home and order the King Burger which had 2 homemade lean beef patties topped with a cheddar and mozzarella blend, bacon, mushrooms, and grilled onions. Hubie’s fresh cut fries were served on the side though one can substitute a tossed salad for an additional cost.

 Hubie’s 1955 Diner - King Burger

The King Burger was served open-faced and despite the presentation style, the burger was stacked high already.
Read More