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Happy Hour at Brooklyn Warehouse

2795 Windsor St, Halifax, NS B3K 5E3 – Website

The rather singularly named Brooklyn Warehouse is a bistro style establishment with a fairly comprehensive wine and beer cellar and a small but interesting menu. They advertise themselves as having the lowest markup on wine than any restaurant in the city, but, from what I could tell, this would seem to apply only to bottle prices rather than to wines by the glass They do, however, have ‘Happy Hour’ on Monday through Saturday between 4:30pm and 6:30 pm, during which certain wines, beers, and oysters go for a pretty decent price…

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A late lunch at Chef Abod’s Café

Chef Abod’s Café & Catering is located on Kempt Road here in Halifax, about 15 minutes walk from my new home. It is primarily a Catering Service, but the on-site restaurant serves a lovely , and eclectic range of dishes from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco , and Iraq. The café itself is a very pleasant, comfortable place, the service extremely friendly, and the prices very reasonable.

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Calamari Manko at The Curry Kebab House

Calamari Manko

On the last evening of a recent trip to Ottawa, I went on an ‘appetizer tour’ and stopped for drinks and one or two appetizers at a series of restaurants. One such stop was at the ‘Curry Kebab House’ which sits in the space in Byward Market once occupied by another Indian restaurant called ‘Haveli’. I will have to go back there sometime and do a proper review of the place after sampling a few more of their dishes, but the one I tried there on this occasion was terrific …

The dish was called Calamari ‘Manko’ …. I have no idea of the origin of the name ‘Manko’ and a search only yielded the fact that it is a very rude Japanese slang term (I’ll let you Google it yourselves). The menu described the dish as being squid ‘tossed with curry leaves and toasted coconut [and] served with a tomato chutney’. In fact, the ingredients were actually served ‘in’, rather than ‘with’ the chutney, which, in addition to the tomato, included mustard seed and coriander leaf. Toasted dried chilies were almost added to the mix, lending an almost ‘Sichuanesque’ effect to the overall taste, which was unusual, but really nicely done. The squid was cooked just perfectly, being tender, but still a bit chewy, and there was a sweetness that came in part from the toasted coconut, but, probably, also from the addition of a bit of sugar.

The curry leaves really made a difference here. I have cooked with these at home, but this was the first time I have had them served to me in a restaurant dish. The woody, slightly herby taste, really added a nice note. I want to try making this at home, sometime… Unfortunately, curry leaves are very hard to come by for me, but I think that a peppery Thai-Basil might make a very decent substitute…

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Steamed Oysters in Vancouver's Chinatown

Steamed Oysters 1

With a couple of exceptions, these oysters I was served in Vancouver’s Chinatown this past summer were the largest I have ever see, let alone eaten. Even having them steamed was something of a novelty for me as when I manage to get fresh ones from time to time, I usually can’t bear to do anything with them but eat them raw.

Anyway, you get a pretty good idea of the scale of these things from the above picture. You may also be able to tell, if you look closely, that each pair of oysters is prepared in a slightly different way. Gain Wah, the restaurant where I was served these, lets you select from three different styles. I went with all three… Continue reading “Steamed Oysters in Vancouver's Chinatown”

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Unagi at Wasabi in Ottawa

Unagi 1

Who remembers the ‘Friends’ episode when Ross boasts to Rachel of his skill in the Japanese martial arts awareness technique of ‘Unagi’?  Of course, Ross got it wrong, for Unagi is actually the Japanese word for the freshwater eel that is frequently barbecued, and often included as a sushi offering.

Saltwater eel is also found in Japanese cuisine, where it is known as ‘Anago’, but it is less common (at least in the west), and not generally cooked in the sweetish Kabayaki sauce (very like Teriyaki Sauce) common with Unagi … Eel, by the way, does not generally appear as a (raw) sashimi and in sushi, and other preparations, is invariably cooked, generally by slow-simmering, occasionally followed by grilling.

Anyway, above you see Unagi as part of a Nigiri Suhsi offering I had at Hokkaido Sushi in Ottawa. It certainly isn’t the prettiest presentation I have ever been served but it was genuinely tasty. The fish was just a tiny bit drier than it should be but the sauce was delicately used and the full, very umami taste of the fish shone through perfectly. Many people tend to shy away from eel, despite being perfectly comfortable with other fish, but this worth trying…

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Agedashi Tofu in Vanouver

Agedashi Tofu 2017-07 1

Some time ago (three years in fact), I posted my own recipe for Agedashi Tofu but, just recently, I experienced a restaurant version I thought I would share.

I had this version at a small restaurant in Vancouver that I did not review as it happened to be their opening day. It was terribly confused in its service, and the dishes were not up to scratch, so I thought it unfair to be too critical of them. One dish I had was spectacularly awful but this selection was pretty good.

I was actually expecting a few large cubes of tofu rather than the many small ones I was given but this was actually better. There were no bonito flakes included, as is usual, and promised in the menu, but this was not a serious problem. The tofu was lightly fried, with a nice thin crispiness on the outside, and the inside just properly soft. The sauce was a decent representation of the standard and went very well. Sometimes Wasabi is included and, while that might have been nice, I didn’t need it for this flavorful representation…

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Soft-Shell Crab in Vancouver

Softshell Crab 2017-07 1

This is only the third time I have eaten this particular delicacy; The first time was in Vancouver 12 years ago, the second in Ottawa (some time since then), and this last time was also in Vancouver during my recent vacation, although I can’t, for the life of me, remember in which restaurant…

For any crab lovers, the soft shell variety (those taken whilst ‘in-between’ shells during moulting) are an especial treat. There are, of course, no hard shells to deal with and the soft carapace that remains just adds to the overall flavor. Here, unusually, instead of several tiny crabs, I was served one large one cut in half and the shell had already started to harden… not enough to spoil the dish, by any means, but just enough so that it added a nice crunch and added the same, indefinable, taste that one gets from the tail section of whole shrimp after being deep-fried to edibility..

The crab itself was served atop a bed of crispy fried cellophane noodles (which worked really nicely) and was drizzled with both Japanese style Eel sauce and a sweet Mayo. Both of these were almost superfluous given the sweetness of the crab flesh but they enhanced rather than detracted from the main attraction and I though the overall effect excellent …

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Okonomiyaki at Wasabi in Ottawa

Okonomiyaki 2017-07 1

Okonomiyaki has sometimes been called the ‘Japanese pizza’ but, though the appearance is similar (and occasionally cheese is used) the resemblance is superficial at best. Rather, this particular specialty is more closely similar to the Korean savory pancake known as ‘Pajeon’. Basically, the Okonomiyaki (which means ‘cooked as you like it’) consists of a pancake base made from cabbage, and sometimes other shredded vegetables, in a batter. This maybe cooked on both sides (or one only in some styles) and then toppings are added along with a sweetened Worcestershire type sauce and (commonly) mayonnaise. Seafood or meat can be included in the pancake and shaved Bonito flakes are a common topping.

I ate the one you see pictured above at Wasabi, in Ottawa, and, though it wasn’t the prettiest I have seen, it was very tasty indeed. The batter contained both cabbage and scallions and was well cooked through. It was a little dark in places but this did not ruin the flavor at all. The topping, in addition to more scallion, included shaved bonito and little strips of toasted nori. The bonito flakes were still fluttering when I received the dish, meaning it came straight from the griddle, and the nori added a nice nuttiness.

The one thing that made this particular variety different was that cheese was used in place of mayo… I was a bit leery of this but, in fact, it turned out to be very nice indeed. I have had Okonomiyaki a few times before this (some not very good) and I am looking forward to trying many more to explore the different structures and styles I’ve heard about.