Restaurant Review: Menyatai Japanese Ramen

>> Friday, July 26, 2013

My husband was working out in Vancouver for the last little while and because of that, I had the chance to travel out there to visit him quite frequently. For a foodie, it was a paradise! All the different varieties of food were overwhelming. It’s also where we both got hooked on ramen noodles and have been eating them nonstop since. Lately it seems like there are more and more places in the Calgary that are serving this yummy noodle bowl, I guess once you start looking, places start to come out of the woodworks so to speak. So when we were walking around Kensington one day and I saw Japanese noodles displayed in front of me, I couldn’t help but go in and get myself some.
Atmosphere: The tiny dining area and interior décor is evocative of the small quarters in Japan, transporting you away from Calgary to a little eatery in Tokyo.
Price Range: Mid $10s

Food: Although they’re known for their ramen (Japanese noodle) bowls, they also serve a nice assortment of appetizers or snack items for those who aren’t looking for a full meal.  We decided to try the Deep Fried Squid, which arrived beautifully presented on a bed of shredded carrots.  There were 4 pieces of squid per order.  The squid itself were very lightly battered, making it crispy without being oily.  It ended up being a nice light snack before our ramen noodles came.
I had the Spicy Miso Ramen, which came with corn, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, half of a soft boiled egg and chili peppers. I was surprised at how perfectly cooked the egg was, still nice and gooey in the centre. It was a great addition to the noodles, especially with all that green onion on top! I didn’t find the broth itself as spicy as I would have liked, so I added quite a bit more togarashi spice to kick it up a notch, but I prefer my foods quite spicy.  The broth was lighter, so if you enjoy a thinner broth this is the place for you. The BBQ pork itself was flavourful and moist. I enjoyed that it wasn't overly fatty nor was it too lean. Next time I'm going to ask for another piece of pork in lieu of some vegetables.

The hubby got the Vegetable Ramen, which was loaded with tons of veggies. Spinach, corn, onion, bean sprouts, wakame and nori seaweed, there were also tomatoes, but he didn’t seem to think it went as well with the noodles and broth like the other ingredients did. Just a note, it’s a vegetable ramen, not vegetarian so for those that are vegan and vegetarian, remember that the broth is always pork based. So ramen noodles can never truly be vegetarian.
My Pick: Deep Fried Squid
Overall: It’s nice to see more ramen noodle options in Calgary. Menyatai is a nice great little spot located in the perfect hipster neighbourhood of Kensington. The noodle house brings a twist to the local area restaurants. Definitely stop in to see if you prefer their ramen, since everybody’s tastebuds enjoy something different, but don’t forget to sample their appetizers as well which are equally as delicious.
Menyatai Japanese Ramen
24 12 St NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 263-3666
Menyatai Japanese Ramen on Urbanspoon


Restaurant Review: Misato Sushi & Grill

>> Friday, July 19, 2013

There seems to be more and more restaurants opening up on the West side of town, which is great to see because not only is Calgary’s food scene growing in the core but its momentum has carried forward in to the suburbs.  Although we’ve always been a fan of restaurants out west, such as Misato, an oldie but a goodie. Especially now with the new renovations, it feels like a brand new restaurant!
Atmosphere: The newly renovated restaurant looks miles different from the Misato of old, where cool tone accents now mesh with stylish décor, really revitalizing the dining room. The long tables accommodate both small and large groups for lunch or dinner.
Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+
Food & Drinks: I can’t repeat how much I love dining in large groups. You get to pick and choose what you’d like to eat and if you’re up for it, you can eat a bit of everything! But I digress…so when we ordered, we were able to pick almost a bit of everything off the menu. From tempura to soba noodles, sushi to sashimi, we really had a bit of it all.  I was amazed that our food came out as quickly as it did!
Our starters were the Beef and Vegetable Gyozas or dumplings with a light spicy soy dipping sauce. The gyozas had a good amount of filling with a nice thin outer layer. I prefer the steamed dumplings over the fried version, but they offer both on their menu.  We also had the Prawn, Chicken and Yam Tempura, where the chicken had a sweet chili sauce accompaniment versus the typical tempura dashi that came with the prawn and yam tempuras.
We had quite a few rolls that night and it was hard to differentiate some after a while, especially when somebody consumes the ends of the sushi roll with the telltale signs of the ingredients within. I did find a couple favorites though, one being the Special Scallop Roll – Chopped scallop, green onion, cucumber, masago with mayonnaise. Sounds simple, but I really enjoyed the roe mixed in with the mayo providing that extra texture. It was different, probably why it stood out to me. A large crowd pleasure was the Calgary Special Roll.  A large format sushi roll with all the seafood you can think of all combined in to one. It always causes a stir amongst the table when the plate arrives.
Other rolls that I enjoyed include the Spider Roll (soft shell crab), Spicy Roll (both spicy tuna and salmon combined), Anita Roll (avocado, shrimp, tuna with mayo) and the light Negi Toro Maki, essentially chopped tuna with green onion, but there is something about how the flavours combine that makes it one of my favorites.
A sushi night isn’t complete without a bit of traditional sashimi. When the Deluxe Sashimi arrived we were all very impressed with the presentation of the platter. A combination of 20 pieces of chef’s choice sashimi beautifully presented in an ice bowl with lovely accents, it was almost too pretty to eat. The platter is a great option when you’re not sure what types of sashimi you’d prefer, the chef would choose the best pieces of fish on their menu making it easier for your dining experience. That night we had everything from red tuna to spot prawns. It was a delight seeing what was all included in the selection.
There’s a good selection of wine, beer or sake, perfect for whatever mood you’re in. I prefer to stick to a hot sake or beer when eating sushi, but a nice crisp white wine always works well like the Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. 
My Picks: Special Scallop Roll, Calgary Special Roll
Overall: Although the atmosphere and surroundings might be a bit different for food quality hasn’t changed. Misato still provides their signature dishes that most probably know well. So they might not be a brand new restaurant, but with the amazing changes but still great food, there’s no reason why people wouldn’t still want to check it out.
Misato Sushi & Grill
1851 Sirocco Dr SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 217-3000

Misato Sushi & Grill on Urbanspoon


Perogies Made Healthy

>> Monday, July 15, 2013

Now that the stampede is over, it’s time to eat healthier again. No more deep fried foods, well for a little while anyhow. However, that doesn’t mean I still don’t want to eat delicious comfort food. Especially since we’ve moved and now live much closer to Edelweiss Village. I find we’re always there grabbing some perogies as a quick snack. Who doesn’t love the doughy chewy goodness of perogies? But they’re not exacting the best thing to be eating all the time. So I set out to find a healthier alternative.  When I made these perogies with greek yogurt, my husband didn’t even notice that they didn’t contain any cheese.  I found that amazing, since perogies rely quite heavily on the cheddar cheese to provide the smooth creaminess of the filling within.  Plus, using the yogurt allowed me to up the amount of protein in the perogies and lower the amount of fat.

If you’re not willing to lose the cheesy flavor that the cheddar provided but wanted something a bit lighter, I recommend using ricotta cheese. Low in fat but still providing the tangy cheesy goodness, it’s a great substitution for this recipe. This recipe was a definite winner, especially when my husband asked me to make it again and maybe even a bit more so we can freeze them for a quick snack instead of running off to Edelweiss!

Nutrition Tidbit: Potatoes get a bad rap because they're starchy, but they provide many nutrients that our body needs and can fit in to a healthy diet. When eaten in moderation, they provide lots of vitamin B, C, antioxidants and a great source of potassium, preventing high blood pressure. Just make sure they're not the deep fried kind!

Dough Recipe:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk, warm
1 small potato
1 tsp salt

Dough Preparation:

Fill a large stock pot with water and place on stove top to boil. 

While waiting peel all the potatoes. Once the water boils, add in all the potatoes required for the full recipe.

Cook for roughly 15-20 mins or until the potatoes are soft when poked with a fork.

Remove the potatoes and put through ricer for fluffier results or you can mash the potatoes by hand.

Measure out a 1/2 cup of the potato for the dough and set the rest aside for the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1/2 of potato, flour, salt together. Slowly add the warm milk while mixing the ingredients together.

The dough will be slightly sticky. Knead it for a couple minutes but don’t over work the dough or else it will be tough.

Cover and set aside to allow the dough to rest, meanwhile prep the filling.

Filling Recipe:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp butter
3 medium sized potatoes
1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese or greek yogurt
Salt and pepper

Filling Preparation:

On medium heat, place a small pan and melt the butter. Add in the onions and cook until they become translucent. Roughly 10 mins.

Once the onions are cooked, set aside to cool.

When ready, add the onions to the already riced/mashed potatoes, stir in the nonfat ricotta cheese or greek yogurt (depending on what you’re using).

Add salt and pepper to taste. Filling is  now ready for assembling in to perogies.

Perogie Assembly:

Separate the dough in to 4 sections. Cover the dough that isn’t being used right away with a wet cloth to prevent them from drying out.

Sprinkle a bit of flour on the countertop and roll out the first ball of dough.  

Roll the dough to about 3mm thick. When ready, using a circular cookie cutter that’s roughly 4” in diameter, cut out rounds of dough.

Take each piece of the dough and add in a tablespoon of the filling.

Close the dough over the filling and start to pinch the dough from the sides to prevent the dough from forming a crescent shape.

Set the formed perogies on a plate and cover with a wet cloth, continue to form all the rest of the perogies.

All the scrap dough can be rolled out again.

When ready to cook, heat up a pot of water, cook each perogie until they rise to the top of the water. Once they rise, they’re ready and can be removed.

 You can sauté the perogies with a bit of olive oil or butter for some extra crunch or serve as is with sour cream, green onions and bacon.
Perogies also keep well in the freezer.  Place them in a freezer bag, remove all the extra air and they can stay for up to a month.


Cool Down wth Fiasco Gelato

>> Wednesday, July 3, 2013

After the unfortunate events of the past week within Southern Alberta, it was a nice change to experience a heat wave going through the area (especially for those that are still cleaning out their homes and businesses). Most Calgarians are trying to cope with this warmer weather, since we’re not used to this unexpected humidity, especially mid 30s temperature quite so early in the summer! Lucky for us, there are many great establishments in and around the city that serve amazing treats to help cool us down, including the newly opened Fiasco Gelato located at the Bridgeland Market.

I’ve visited the market several times before to pick up certain specialty items or stopped by for a coffee. So it was great to see the renovations to the market allowing it to accommodate the new gelateria. From the whimsical hand drawn menu on the wall to the funky art deco photo frames hanging nearby, it really seemed to brighten up the space. What was even more incredible was when I found out that they did everything within a week!

I’m a huge ice cream, gelato, froyo fan (basically any frozen treat really), so I couldn’t wait to taste all the flavours that they offered. Some of my favorites were the Salted Hazelnut, Strawberry Balsamic and Toasted Coconut.  There were so many delightful flavours it was hard not wanting to order them all.  They also serve handmade waffle cones, specifically at this location only! The waffle batter has hints of cinnamon, which lingers in the air making the space smell incredible. If that wasn’t enough, they also have a chocolate fountain which is used to hand dip each and every waffle cone in decadent milk chocolate. 

So if you find yourself melting in the heat, be sure to drop by the market in Bridgeland! Great for kids, but also perfect for those who are looking to satisfy the kid in themselves!

Fiasco Gelato
1104 1 Ave NE
Calgary, AB
(403) 269-2381

Fiasco Gelato on Urbanspoon

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