Rocky’s Burger Bus (Calgary) – A massive burger but the poutine was the star

•February 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve tried to hit Rocky’s Burger Bus since I’ve been back in Calgary but it has been pretty hard since they are only open Monday-Friday 10am-3pm. Now that J and I are both on shift work schedules, we finally made it one cool January afternoon.

It is based out of an old transit bus in the southeast which is pretty cool. There are some picnic tables laid out, some benches, and in the summer, I can see how it would be quite a nice place to frequent. They are open year round fortunately so you can get your burger fix even in the cold.

Snow. Picnic tables. Cranes. And a dumpster.

Here you can see them grilling the burgers fresh. Look how massive they are. My god. It is like a massive meat pancake.

This is the regular hamburger. I chose not to adorn it with anything.

The burger was surprisingly lean. D says that you can tell how lean the burger is based upon the way it rises/flattens after grilling. This one rose and became thicker as it was grilled. The bun was pretty plain but solid enough to hold this massive burger. Unfortunately, I thought the simple burger was a bit underseasoned. It was cooked completely through so ultimately was a little dry. I was a little underwhelmed with the amount of beef flavour. It really needed ketchup, which says something about a burger.

This is the poutine. While I was disappointed in the burger, this poutine more than made up for it. I think it is the best I’ve had in the city. I’ve never had such squeaky cheese curds, even in Montreal. And the gravy was delicious. Nicely cut fries that were freshly fried. This was such a good poutine.

Overall, Rocky’s Burger Bus wasn’t great with regards to burgers but I was in love with their poutine. Too bad they are only open during day time hours. If they decided to expand their business and open a stand on 17th Ave open 10pm-3am… I would be there every night.

Rocky’s Burger Bus, 4645 – 12 Street SE, Calgary, (403) 243-0405, no website.
Rocky's Burger Bus on Urbanspoon


Korean Village (Calgary) – Finally! Some good gamjatang!

•February 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

In Kingston, there were many Korean places for some unknown reason. In fact, none of the sushi shops in Kingston were run by Japanese people: they were all Korean! One of the benefits of this was my exposure to Korean food. I have become particularly fond of Gamjatang or pork bone soup. Unfortunately, we tried some at Seoul in Calgary (article here) and it was pretty bad.

I often drive home along 10th ave after I pick up J from work and we always hit this small Korean strip mall. I get my Kimchi there, I get my Korean buns there, and I get my Korean fried chicken fix there. But I’d never had gamjatang there so I had to check it out.

I am not sure exactly what this is but I like it. It is sort of a flavourless jelly with some soy/spice on top. Clean and a nice palate refresher. It comes complimentary with your meal.

These are the steamed dumplings for $10. The noodle shell was light and the pork insides were juicy and flavourful with little bits of noodle to add some bounce to the dumplings. Solid dumplings.

This is the Gamjatang for $10.95. Such a good deal. You get several large bones of pork, some potato, tons of vegetables, and rice. You feel so warm and cozy after this. Perfect for Calgary over these last few weeks. The soup base was delicious with a distinct porkiness that was both savoury and a little sweet. The perilla seeds that are ground on top are supposed to take some of the stinky porkiness out of the gamjatang (according to the lady I talked to). I think they add an interesting almost medicinal/herby taste to the soup. This is the best Gamjatang I’ve had in Calgary. It isn’t quite as spicy as I would like but that is all a matter of preference.

This is the seol-leong tang (milky unsalted beef bone soup with thin-sliced beef and noodle) for $10.95. It was about as plain as it sounds. A clear, warm, hearty broth but really no seasoning at all. If I was nauseus… this would be a great soup to help make me feel better. Curiously, they serve it with a small bowl of salt and pepper so you can season it to taste. It is nice because then you can control the amount of seasoning you want… but why not just add it to the soup then? They make a point of unsalting the soup… only to give you salt afterwards?

This is one of their large hotpot soups made with chicken. I forgot to write down the name but it was for $30.95. They said it served 2 but it can obviously serve more. It was delicious. You can see how wonderfully colourful the food is. The soup was so rich, spicy and heart warming. The chicken, at first, was not too flavourful, but as you let it boil in the hotpot, it really picked up a lot of depth. There were potatoes as well as some rice noodle cakes in their as well to provide some starch.

This is another dish where I forgot to write down its name. Basically a beef, mushroom, potato stew served with noodles and an egg. Basically you add the broth over the noodles on the right. There was a panfried egg that opens and shares its yolk as you mix it all up. This was soooo tasty. Lots of beefy flavour, with little pockets of potato. The mushrooms were also delicious. If you don’t feel like a soup noodle, I’d recommend this… if you can find it on the menu.

I really liked Korean Village for their soups. They were warm, delicious, and satisfying. My only recommendation would be to leave your coat in the car. It smells heavenly in there…. but you will go home smelling like Korean food.

Korean Village, 1324 – 10 Ave SW, 403-269-7940, no website.
Korean Village on Urbanspoon

Una Pizzeria (Calgary) – A good replacement for the Wicked Wedge

•February 7, 2012 • 5 Comments

I used to frequent the Wicked Wedge with J when we were platonic friends and then when we started going out in university. The pizza was always dry, the toppings a bit burnt, and the cheese lacking. But it was still our place! Every year, J and I make a pilgramage to the Wicked Wedge but this year, I was sad to hear that it had been replaced with another pizza place, Una Pizzeria. It was no longer a take out place and even more horridly… it didn’t take reservations.

This is the walnut stuffed persian dates, wrapped with prosciutto and baked for $2 each. These were so delicious. The crispy prosciutto was intensely salty but cut with the honey sweetness of the dates and the richness of the walnut. Mmmmm. It was hard to eat only one.

This was the truffle baked provolone piccante cheese, served with crostini for $8. Simple flavours, rich and tasty. I appreciated that it didn’t get overwhelming truffle-y, which is what I find happens with a lot of food featuring truffles these days.

This is the side of sauteed broccolini, garlic, calabrian chili oil for $8. Soooo tasty, though a touch oily. I loved the bitterness and the crunchiness of the broccolini but the gentle heat of the chili. I could’ve eaten this side as my main.

This is the pan roasted quail marinated in chili, smoked paprika and fennel pollen served with orange and spinach insalata for $12. A great price for this dish. The rub was delicious with the skin being especially flavourful and crispy. The meat was nicely gamey. The orange and spinach were nice fillers. Quail can be a tiny but this dish was reasonably priced!

Last but not least, we had the salami (san marzano tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella, salami, chilies and grana padano) for $17. The toppings were so tasty. The salami made my mouth water and the chilies definitely fired up my taste buds. The cheese was used pretty sparingly but I think that is appropriate for this pizza. It was nice to bite into a ball of mozza every now and then so that I could taste the other elements of the pie. My only grip was the dough was a bit thin. I recognize that they are trying to go for thin crust pizza but I found this one especially thin and crispy. I prefer something a little doughier, with a little give, even when they are thin. I think Without Papers achieves this quite nicely. This is just a matter of preference of course.

Una Pizzeria is a great place to grab a drink, have some small bites, and to share a pizza. I loved the food more than the pie, especially the prosciutto walnuts. While I remain sad that Wicked Wedge is gone, Una is a great replacement!

Una Pizzeria, 618 17th Ave SW, Calgary, 403-453-1183.
UNA Pizza and Wine on Urbanspoon

Vintage Chophouse (Calgary) – Decent steak but I prefer homemade

•February 6, 2012 • 2 Comments

A friend came in from out of town to visit for 3 weeks. She is from Toronto and I thought it was important to show her what Alberta Beef tasted like. So I Chowhounded “best steak in Calgary” since I hadn’t been in so long. Unfortunately, the threads were somewhat old and bare. Vintage got some good reviews but also some bad ones. I thought I’d give it a try.

This is the 14oz Striploin (custom aged for up to 55 days to further enhance flavour and tenderness and grilled at 1600 degrees) for $45 with one side. It seemed pricey but I think it was comparable to other chophouses and the side portions were very large. I feel mixed about this steak. They didn’t quite get a crust on the steak the way I like. The actual marbling and texture was great. It was cooked well. The hard part about discussing steak is that it is all based on preferences. Some people might find this steak perfect.

This is the 8oz tenderloin for $39. I got a bite of this and it was delicious!!! They really got the crust right on this steak. A little crispy, salty, but gives way to a tender juicy interior. I wish I’d gotten this steak instead.

This is the Baked Alaska. Have you ever been on a cruise and on Americana day they serve large Baked Alaska? It is quite a spectacle! They have all the servers and busboys wear red-white-blue vests with top hats, then they bring in the Baked Alaskas, they do a song and dance with the entire dining room, they light sparkler candles, and finally, flame it table side. I had to get this dish based upon my fond memories of my grade 8 cruise with my parents. Unfortunately, this was only okay. The outside whip was a bit dense and sweet. The ice cream underneath was tasty but in the end… it was just ice cream with a topping on the outside that was lightly scorched.

This was the pumpkin pie cheesecake. Tasty, simple, satisfying. Nothing elaborate. A good cheesecake.

Overall, Vintage had a decent steak but I prefer the steaks I make at home. I think it is a matter of preference more than anything. The steaks were cooked well, had good flavours, but I just didn’t think they got the texture right. I feel like Ruth’s Chris got the texture better for me, though I haven’t been there in 4 years.

Vintage Chophouse, 322 – 11 Ave SW, 403-262-7262.
Vintage Chophouse & Tavern on Urbanspoon

Model Milk (Calgary) – A really exciting place to eat!

•February 3, 2012 • 3 Comments

I’ve been to Model Milk a few times over the last 3 months and I have to say that it is one of the more exciting places to eat in Calgary right now. Unfortunately, I do not love the no reservation system. I know they probably make more money this way and that on the whole, it is a savvy business practice, but it really just deters me from eating there on weekends. Maybe that is what they want? The no reservation thing is spreading unfortunately. Borgo Trattoria doesn’t take reservations either. Grumble.

The space is beautiful. As H would say… it is the place in Calgary that is most like Vancouver. It is kind of douchey statement… but I agree. They really think about all the details.

These lamps are gorgeous.

The food is also very good. They revamp their menu frequently and are currently on their 13th iteration of the menu. This item was on the 0010 menu over December 2011. This is the Pork Ribs as Chicken Wings. They take pork side ribs, presumably bake/boil them, then bread them, then fry them. Then they add hot chicken wing sauce. You get an amazing mix of fried breaded meat, spicy wing sauce, but also a rich and satisfying pork flavour. This was my favourite item on their menu.

They also make delicious drinks, some of the best I’ve had in Calgary. They are expensive, around $12 each, but they are made well with some great ingredients. In the middle is a Sazerac and to the right is the Christmas Punch. Really thoughtful and tasty drinks! The drinks combined with the late night menu makes Model Milk an amazing place for a post-dinner pit stop.

This is the Shrimp. It is no longer offered unfortunately but it was really tasty. Huge shrimp, nicely cooked, and very bouncy.

This is the Fricassee of Calamari, guanciale, edamame, pimenton for $14. Really interesting flavours here. The calamari had a lot of squid flavour which was sort of surprising for me. Usually calamari is bland and really a mechanism for sauce delivery into your mouth. I couldn’t get enough of this squid. It almost had the taste of squid ink. The edamame added some sweetness and there were little croutons littered through the dish that soaked up sauce.

This is the Pig. Such a smart dish for $28. You get pig essentially 3 ways. It starts with pancetta on the outside that is crispy and salty, then you get a pork sausage that is deconstructed and wrapped around some pork tenderloin. The tenderloin is cooked in such a way that it almost falls apart on your fork. They really get the texture right with this meat. Then you add some delicious beans and a savoury sweet sauce (can’t remember what was in it) and you’ve got yourself a winner. A really smart and tasty dish.

This is the Octopus (maple glaze, lime, basil, radish) for $15. Really nicely cooked octopus that is steaky without being gummy. Each bite just made your mouth water with juicy octopus flavour. Again some sweet edamame rounds out some of the seafoodiness.

This is The Burger (morel mushroom ragout, cheese curds) for $19. This is the 2nd best burger I’ve had in Calgary (followed by the Dairy Lane DLB Burger, click here.) The meat was soo juicy without being oily. You can see it dripping down the bun here even before I take a bite. The flavours were intense, the savouriness of the mushrooms and a kick in the nuts of beef flavour. God it was good. The fries were decent.They were lightly fried, salted, oily, and hit the spot for late at night.

Model Milk is an exciting place to eat. The space is beautiful, the menu frequently changes, and they make really interesting food. It helps that it is open late and their kitchen closes quite late. I can’t wait to come back. I only wish they’d take reservations…

Model Milk, 308 – 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB, 403-265-7343,
Model Milk on Urbanspoon

Las Tortillas (Calgary) – Whoa Calgary! Nice find!

•February 3, 2012 • 3 Comments

J’s brother D recommended this taco place in a stripmall in NE Calgary. He recently moved from Vancouver and there was a seriously awesome Taco shop on West Hastings that I fondly remember. To get his taco fix, he combed the Chowhound boards and discovered this place. We decided to check it out one random Friday.

It doesn’t look like much. A small Mexican grocery shop in a stripmall manned by a nice man and his daughter (I presume). I thought I might have the wrong place because it really didn’t look like a place to eat. But the warm and inviting scent of fresh tortillas convinced me that this wasn’t a bad idea.

The menu is small. They serve 6 types of tacos: beef, pork, beef tongue, chicken, shrimp, chorizo. Cost is somewhere between $3 to $4 for each taco. But my god, they are amazing.

As you can see, the tacos are small, soft, and are doubled up because they are so thin. Make no mistake… they are small but they pack a flavour punch.

This is the chorizo sausage, my favourite. Fresh onions add some nice heat but the big thing is the spicy sauce they add on top. It makes your mouth scream with fire. J thought it was too hot… but I enjoyed the challenge. I was sweating. But then again, I usually sweat when I eat. Maybe I’ll clarify and say that I sweat more than usual. The tortillas were just fantastic. Rich sweet corn flavour, tender, and never chewy. I would definitely eat this one last because it packs such a punch.

This is the beef tongue. Just amazing. I know it grosses people out but you have to give it a chance. When it is done well, it is done realllly well. Just soft, tender meat. They must’ve braised the hell out of it. Sweet, nicely seasoned, but it was the texture that won me over. Again, this works well with the tortillas and the green sauce they slather on top is just delicious.

They also sell a lot of other awesome Mexican stuff but probably the best two items are their fresh tortillas that you can take home… and Mexican Coke! It is made with real sugar versus fructose and it just tastes cleaner and fresher. You have got to try it. You don’t feel as gross and full with sugary sweetness. What I also love is the family style nature of this place. Honestly, J and I ate 5 tacos while watching an old 60s movie on AMC. It reminds me of coming home from school in grade 5, eating a snack, and watching RDTV.

I am definitely coming back here more often. I need to explore the NE more. One of the big pluses of being back in Calgary is the more diverse cultural offerings! W00t!

Las Tortillas, 2, 4100 Marlbourough Drive NE, 403-273-3555.
Las Tortillas on Urbanspoon

Tenshi Sushi (Calgary) – Ridiculous fish pieces!

•February 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It has been a long time since I’ve made a new post. A couple of reasons for this:

a) moving back to Calgary required more adjustment than I thought. The job was harder, more demanding, and J got a new job which was similarly demanding.

b) Calgary had a ton of restaurants! It was daunting to post about every restaurant that I ate at!

c) My camera sucked. I dropped my G7 and created a crack in the case. It still shot good photos… but there was a dead pixel on the sensor and some dust on the sensor too. Robinson’s camera told me it would cost $120 to fix it. I said screw it. I’ll get a new camera.

All in all… lots of excuses. But… I got a new camera! The Fuji X10! I love this thing. And the photos are rolling in now. And I feel like I might as well post them. And the strange thing is… I feel like I miss blogging!

Tenshi sushi is really close to where I live. It makes me happy to know that I am a 7 minute walk away from some awesome sushi. It reminds me of my Kingston days.

The reason why I love this place is because of the ever so important R:F ratio. The fish pieces are insane. Each nigiri requires at least 3 bites. Or you can stuff your face like IM does. It is funny to watch. Each piece is very well priced at $1.50. For the price of typical all-you-can-eat in Calgary (around $30), you can get 20 pieces. And the fish is way higher quality and you get way more of it! It isn’t the best fish I’ve had in Calgary… but it is damn good for the price. The rice is also good quality and not too dry, sticky or chewy. I should probably comment on why I only order salmon and tuna. It isn’t that I don’t like the other fish here… it is just that the plain salmon and tuna here is SUCH A GOOD DEAL!

God, even writing about the sushi is making me crave it. The fish pieces are sooo huge. It is insane. J does describe one drawback: fish cut this large is somewhat hard to chew. It is true. A mouthful of slippery salmon can be somewhat unpalatable after the 10th piece.

This is the negi-toro handcone. Cost is $4.50. Not a bad price… but really high quality rice and seaweed. It cracks easily in your teeth and you don’t find yourself chewing through damp seaweed. Try a handcone at an all-you-can-eat place. You’ll see what I mean. The fish again is quite good and I love the spiciness of the green onions.

All in all, Tenshi Sushi isn’t the best fish I’ve had in Calgary but I would argue it is the best value I’ve ever seen in sushi. And I live 7 minutes away! Happy!

Tenshi Sushi, 304, 10th Street NW, Calgary AB, 403-457-0370, no website.
Tenshi Sushi on Urbanspoon