Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Old Kingdom, Surrey Hills by Obelix

Quanjude Peking Duck has always been top shelf, gold standard Peking duck for me (see Bureaucrat's review in Feb 2012).  But sometimes has lovely as it is, we can't always go top shelf (monetary restrictions apply, shucks).  So a good mid range-feed-a-horde Peking duck place would be Old Kingdom.

They do a Peking duck meal for $55 which includes one duck and a stack of accompanying pancakes, soup made with the duck carcass and noodles with duck meat.  We had a crowd of 16 people (10 adults and 6 kids).  We ordered three of the duck meals plus additional pancakes (each additional pancake is $0.50) and other dishes as shown below.  

It's a help yourself affair.  The duck is carved in front of you but you assemble your own pancake. The duck skin is not as delicate and crispy as the one at Quanjude but you are paying a lot less.  

The pancakes are more the eggy crepe variety versus the wheat based almost tortilla style ones encountered elsewhere.  I'm not a big fan of the eggy crepe variety as they are so thin, they tend to break through when you are wrapping.  Also they are not as filling.  

The duck soup is more like a consomme.  It was slightly spicy which I think is from the picked vegetables used in the broth.  It was lovely and clear.  Kiddo had three bowlfuls.

Stir fry noodles with duck meat and bean sprouts.  This was really yummy and the noodles were crispy.  

The additional dishes included lemongrass prawns.  They were well made and a decent size.

Clams in a blackbean spicy sauce.  I only had one clam as it was a bit overloaded with cornstarch and was claggy.

Loved this.  This is the spinach with garlic.  Nice big serving size.

Gong chicken.  This is chicken and prawn mince deep fried in a loaf shape.  What's not to love?

I love this - soft shell crab.  It tasted amazingly wonderful with an eggy batter as all deep fried soft shell crabs should.  I was a bit horrified when uploading these photos to notice the oil on it.  Oh well, it was yummy, even if it was very unhealthy.

Verdict - we really liked it.

Old Kingdom is a good family restaurant that does reasonably affordable Peking duck.

Old Kingdom on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mount Fairview Dining Room, Alberta (Canada) by Bureaucrat

Before our walk around the glacial beauty of Lake Louise in the fading summer dusk, we had dinner in our hotel’s restaurant, the Mount Fairview Dining Room.

It’s a fancy restaurant with super friendly and attentive staff.  We eschewed entrees as we both wanted desserts. 

A nice warm basket of bread came out. 

I decided to go vegetarian/vegan and was quite impressed with the roulade.  The tender slivers of sliced roasted beetroot wrapped around the cashew and goat's cheese filling.  The earthiness and heftiness of the beetroot was a good simile to meat, while the protein from the cashew filling was thick and creamy and made the dish feel like a proper main dish (as opposed to just a plate of veg).  It was served with wild mushrooms, squash, baby eggplant and asparagus.

The Lawyer picked the dish that I wanted to try – wild caribou!  It was delicious.  Wild caribou medallions served with a yam and leek gratin a red current glaze. The caribou was tender and tasted like a cross between beef and deer.  The gratin was made up of thin slices of yam and leek, and it beautifully buttery and soft.  This is definitely worth a try.  Although, we did feel a wee guilty in eating the caribou since it’s quite an endangered species (due to the logging of the trees that have the lichen that they eat, which is their primary food source).

We were full but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try desserts.  These were really good but just didn’t match the same excellence of the main dishes.

I picked the bumble berry pie based on its name – bumble berry.  How could I pass up the chance to try some that has such a cute name?  Bumble berry refers to a melange of berries.  A warm pie with buttery, flaky pastry, and it’s packed full of berries.  

It wasn’t too sweet and you could taste the berries.  It was served with a good quality vanilla ice cream.

We also go the peanut souffle w salted caramel and raspberry mascarpone.  This was quite good even though I’m not much of a peanut fan.  This tasted like a sophisticated version of a Reese Peanut Butter Cup.  

The souffle wasn't served warm.  Instead it resembled like a light-as-air cube of ice cream.  The roasted aroma of the peanuts really came through.  

After dinner, we took a much needed walk around the blue beauty that is Lake Louise.

Verdict – we really loved it.

A very enjoyable experience here.  The food was excellent (especially the mains) and the service was impeccable, knowledgeable and super friendly.

Mount Fairview Dining Room on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 21, 2014

Waya Japanese Restaurant, Glen Waverley by Obelix

I stumbled onto Waya quite by happy accident.  I was practically hallucinating with hunger and I was cold and being rained upon.  It was like a beacon in the night beckoning to me.  Waya is a Japanese restaurant.  I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to Japanese cuisine.  However, here is where I admit my hypocrisy.  Waya is a Japanese restaurant run by Chinese and guess what?  It was good.

I ordered a teriyaki beef bento box.  It came with sushi, omelette (tamago), a chicken skewer (yakitori), salad, seaweed salad and the teriyaki beef with rice.  It was a very substantial serve and kept me going until dinner time, no afternoon snacking required.  The teriyaki beef was probably a wee bit on the salty side but that's me being nit-picky.

Verdict - we liked it a lot.

The order came quick which was fortuitous as I was about to pass out with hunger.  The water was complementary and you had to pay for tea.

Definitely a good option for a eat and dash meal.  It situated near the cinemas in Glen Waverley so not a bad option for a pre or post movie feed.

I'd most definitely come back.  It is so much better in terms of food quality and service than Ajisen Ramen which is a few doors down.

Waya Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Smitty's, Jasper (Canada) by Bureaucrat

Food invokes childhood memories.  I remember thinking having lunch at Denny's (located inside Kmart near its tyre and automotive section in Brandon Park) as a kid and thinking it was the most amazing and delicious meal that I have ever eaten.  I don't know whatever happened to Denny's but I do think back to it from time to time.

So when I saw Smitty's, which is a family style diner, it made me think of Denny's.  The uniformed staff, the booths, the Americana vibe, wallet-friendly prices meant that the place was filled with young families, golden oldies and tourists.

By this point we had been in Canada for about a week and we had yet to try poutine - a national dish of sorts.  The Canadians are onto a good thing here - a plate of chips laden with gravy and cheese.  While this was an okay rendition of poutine (it was a tad too salty for me), I'm sure there are more gourmet versions of this all across the country.  I like the idea of smothering my fried carbs w gravy and cheese - all it needs on top is a runny fried egg.  

For dinner, the Lawyer got the steak burger which came with onion rings and a choice of side - in this case, he chose the fruit salad.  Topped with lots of fresh salad, to offset the slightly greasy but delicious steak and onion rings, the Lawyer wolfed down the burger.  The fruit was pre-made but still fresh.

He also got a glass of iced tea.

I decided to go old school and ordered liver and onions.  I don't usually like offal but I do like liver - something about the creamy texture about liver is very comforting.  Two slices of beef liver pan fried with proper bacon (my god, the Canadians really know how to cook their bacon) and onions.  It was a bit over cooked but I'd much rather my livers to be over cooked than under cooked.  The livers were delish with the gravy, a serve of rice, steamed veg and a light-as-air slice of garlic bread.  Simple but really good.  

We also got a slice of a deep dish apple pie for dessert.  A thin pastry loaded with chunky apple slices and drizzled with caramel and served with whipped cream.  

Verdict - we liked it a lot.

We really liked Smitty's.  The food was good, the service was good and the price was good.  Some of the reviews have noted the poor service and food but we had no issues with either.  Granted, the food ain't gourmet but it's homely, filling and done pretty well.

Smitty's on Urbanspoon
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