Monday, June 30, 2014

Tasty Choice

There was actually a brief period when I was all caught up with my blog posts, but now I am behind with them again (as expected). Last Tuesday, I went on an unplanned shopping trip with my cousin and aunt to look for a dress for my brother's wedding. After having no luck in the first few stores we went to, I managed to find the perfect dress with the help of my mom who arrived later on. I left with my mom and other cousin and we decided to check out South Edmonton Common for some more shopping. But first, food! My mom was asking me for suggestions, and since we were heading down Calgary Trail I knew I had to take this chance to go to Tasty Choice! 

Tasty Choice ( is located down Calgary Trail and is connected to what I believe is an office space on the upper floors. I've been to Tasty Choice a few times in the past, so I thought I would try it out again! Stepping inside, there are a lot of cute, colourful posters and displays. There are also tables with regular chairs, as well as tables with big leather couches for relaxing on. 

The interior.

My mom wanted to sit at a table with regular chairs, but I obviously insisted on sitting on the huge leather couch. After sitting down, I think I would've preferred sitting at a regular chair because I found the couch to be a bit too low compared to the height of the table. It made for some uncomfortable eating and picture taking on my part. Oh well. 

The menu.

The menu at Tasty Choice is quite big, but I loved that they added pictures with some of the dishes! Tasty Choice offers a variety of appetizers, rice dishes, bubble tea and desserts. So many items to choose from! I decided I would get something sweet since I had already eaten some dumplings earlier, while my mom and cousin picked two different rice dishes for themselves. 

The poster display.

While waiting, my mom was mostly preoccupied trying to read these posters. She pointed out how Tasty Choice had extended summer hours. Monday to Thursday they are open till 12am and on Friday and Saturday they are open till 1am. This would definitely make a great late night hangout spot. 

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl. 

The first dish to come out was my cousin's Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl ($7.99). This dish is served with teriyaki chicken (of course) with vegetables over rice. I didn't try it, but I didn't really hear any complaints from him. There was a lot of steam coming from the bowl, so I knew it was freshly made and quite warm. 

Taro Bubble Tea.

I ordered my cousin a small Taro Bubble Tea ($3.99) to drink. He said he didn't want it because he was already getting full from the food, so he gave it to me. The bubble tea at Tasty Choice is really good - very similar to the bubble tea served at Dream Tea House. The only thing I didn't like were the tapioca balls! I always order bubble tea without the tapioca, so I had to put in some effort to avoid getting them into my straw. 

Mini HK Style French Toast.

The dish I chose is actually one of their appetizers - Mini HK Style French Toast ($5.50). I've never had HK Style French Toast before, so I thought I would give it a try here. It is served as 6 mini pieces, drizzled with maple syrup on top with a square of butter on the side. I thought my French toast had the perfect amount of crispiness and sweetness. I loved how it is already cut into smaller pieces which made it a lot easier for me to eat. My mom wanted to try a piece, and she thought it was yummy as well! 

Korean BBQ Beef Rice Bowl.

Next to arrive at our table was my mom's pick - Korean BBQ Beef Rice Bowl ($8.99). She said she wanted something with Korean flavours for lunch, so that's why she chose this dish! As she was eating, she was commenting on how the portion size was actually quite big for a seemingly small bowl. She let me have some of her food because she couldn't finish it all. I personally thought the beef had a flavour that was too strong and "in your face"... it's a bit hard to describe, but I just wished it had a more mellow taste. Nevertheless, I still liked the savouriness since the food I had picked was on the sweeter side. 

Strawberry Cream Crepe.

Finally, my Strawberry Cream Crepe ($5.50) was the last to arrive! I was so excited to eat this! In the past, I would go here with my sister and my cousin just to get their crepes. The Strawberry Cream Crepe is made with sliced strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. The first couple bites aren't as appetizing because you only taste the actual crepe, but as you work your way to the bottom all the flavours tucked away come together. I just wish that they added more strawberries and cream towards the top part of the crepe so that it would taste even better. Eating this crepe definitely brings back a lot of childhood memories. 

Tasty Choice is an awesome place to go for some Asian dishes, desserts, and bubble tea. They are open late if you're ever in need of a midnight snack, and the big couches are perfect for lounging on with a group of friends. The prices for food and drinks are quite reasonable - not too expensive at all. I would definitely want to come back here to try more desserts for sure! The best part about this place? The One Piece figurines inside their display cases! Coolest thing ever... I absolutely love One Piece! 

I need all of this in my room.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


One of my most favourite things to do is plan surprises for my boyfriend. And that's exactly what I did last Friday evening when I secretly planned on taking CJ to MEAT (, one of Edmonton's newest restaurants. 

I called him earlier that day to tell him that we'd be going to a cafe with a few of our friends. He doesn't like cafes at all, but he agreed to come anyways. After he was done work (I was lucky to have gotten this day off!), we headed off to our destination. 

We took the bus down Whyte Ave and got off at the stop next to 104th Street. As soon as he noticed that we were in front of Block 1912 (a European cafe), he immediately had a bummed look on his face. "Aww... we're going here?" He said with a sad tone. Right after, I said "Just kidding!" Instead, we crossed the street and started walking towards MEAT. "Hey I see MEAT... we're going to MEAT aren't we? Alright!" The fact that he immediately became so happy after seeing we'd be eating at MEAT for dinner made planning this surprise for him so worth it! Ever since I first told him about this restaurant, he has always been asking me to go! CJ is a lover of meat... he doesn't really eat vegetables even though I tell him they're good for him. We only go out for dinner dates occasionally, and since I had the day off, why not go this time? 

We arrived at MEAT a few minutes after 5:00pm, which is the time the restaurant opens. It is located north of Whyte Ave along 104th Street, beside The Next Act Pub which is its sister restaurant. The interior of MEAT is very open, bright, and clean. The main dining area consists of longer wooden tables, with some higher tables next to the bar. CJ and I got a seat at the far back area of the restaurant, so we had a nice view of the entire place. The perks of arriving early?

The menus. 

The menus at MEAT had a nice and simple layout. Not difficult to read or understand at all. Our server returned shortly after and asked what we would like to drink. CJ and I went for our usual - orange juice for me and iced tea for him. Unfortunately, we were told that they didn't have any of those drinks! Instead, we both got Upson's Classic Lemonade ($3.50) - Classic Lemon for me and Rose for him. 

Upson's Classic Lemonade in Classic Lemon.

Our server explained to us that this drink consisted of club soda with a lemony taste. It is a carbonated drink, which caused the straw to actually float to the top of the drink (lol). I actually didn't really enjoy this drink too much, mostly because I wasn't really getting the lemon flavour. Next time I'll want to try one of the Boylan's Soda or even a beer! 

After getting our drinks, we were ready to order. I chose to get a Quarter Apple Glazed Smoked Chicken, while CJ ordered One Pound of Pulled Pork. We also got large Garlic Fries to share and decided on a Pecan Pie for dessert later on. 

Our food served on a large tray.

Honestly, I don't think CJ and I even had to wait more than 5 minutes for our food to arrive. It really felt like as soon as our orders were taken, we got the food immediately after. Wow. We were both surprised at how quick the food got out to us. 

Garlic Fries.

I helped myself to their Garlic Fries to start my meal. So good! These are definitely some of the best fries I've tasted. The fries had a nice garlicky taste, but it wasn't too overwhelming. They were also very crispy! CJ said that it felt like the garlic was infused inside the fries, and that he wanted to learn how to make these fries at home! I highly recommend getting these fries as a side. CJ and I had requested for a large size ($10), but on our bill it actually came up as a small size ($5). So I'm not sure if the serving we got on our tray was a small or large! 

Quarter Apple Glazed Smoked Chicken.

The meat I picked for the night was their Apple Glazed Smoked Chicken. I got it in the Quarter size ($9), which is the smallest option. You could also get it in the Whole or Half size. I really liked the taste of my chicken! The chicken itself was moist, while the skin was very flavourful. The only downside for me was that I felt like the skin was a bit dry and slightly tough to cut. Other than that, very delicious! 

One Pound of Pulled Pork.

CJ ordered a huge serving of meat for himself, specifically One Pound of Pulled Pork ($14). If you're not much of a carnivore like CJ is, you could opt for the Half Pound or even go for the Pulled Pork Sandwich. CJ absolutely loved his pulled pork! He couldn't stop eating! I helped myself to the pork and it is definitely flavourful and addicting. We'll be getting this next time for sure too! 

Housemade sauces.

Next to us were four bottles of sauces, made in house. It is labelled as Bourbon, Cherry, Spicy, and Mustard. My favourite was the Cherry sauce! Best sauce I've tried. It went well with my chicken as well as the pulled pork CJ ordered. CJ was also alternating between the Cherry and Spicy. The sauce inside the Bourbon bottle was a bit harder to get out for some reason, even though the bottle was filled to the top. Weird. Both CJ and I wished that the sauces could be somewhat easier to get out of their bottles! 

The interior.

At this point, the restaurant was getting quite packed. I was very happy that we arrived early and were seated at our own individual table instead of the longer tables in the centre. The only downside about a full house? The noise! Even though CJ was across from me, I could barely hear him! We practically had to yell at each other if we wanted to say something. I heard some people sitting near us complain about the noise as well, pointing out how it was pretty loud in the room. Please get this noise issue fixed! 

Pecan Pie.

To finish off our meal, CJ and I got a Pecan Pie ($8) to share for dessert. I don't normally choose pie for dessert, but after seeing people post on Instagram praising the pie here, I just had to try it! Oh my goodness. Absolutely delicious! I couldn't stop eating... I don't even think I stopped to take a drink in between. Wow. By far one of the most memorable desserts I have eaten! The pie itself was sweet and chewy, while the layer of pecans on top added the perfect amount of crunch. The vanilla ice cream made a great contrast to the warm flavours of the pecan pie. Finally, the caramel drizzle added another hint of sweetness that wasn't too overwhelming either! While CJ enjoyed this pie, he obviously liked the meat more. This was my favourite eat of the night! 

CJ and I had such an amazing experience at MEAT! Sitting across from me, CJ was all smiles. "Let's just come here every Friday!" He said. "Thank you for taking me here, this is the best surprise ever!" Aww, so sweet! CJ said that this would be his favourite restaurant of all time. We will without a doubt be coming back here! 

If you're a lover of meat like CJ is, try out MEAT! The portion size is reasonable, and the price of each food item isn't too bad (although I did think the size I got for the smoked chicken was a bit small considering the price). Service was also very quick. MEAT is only open for dinner and they don't take any reservations, so this is a good place for casual date nights. However, if you want to have a decent conversation, maybe hold off until the noise issue gets fixed! Other than that, both CJ and I highly recommend this place for dinner! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rosso Pizzeria

It seems that having a rainy day lunch on Thursdays with CJ is becoming the norm. Rain is nice and all, but I'm glad that this weekend had beautiful warm weather and sunshine! Last Thursday, we decided to check out Rosso Pizzeria ( in the Garneau neighbourhood. It is within walking distance from the University of Alberta, which is always a plus in my opinion. CJ and I have been to almost all the food places in this area, so we thought it was time to cross off the remaining places on our list, starting with Rosso Pizzeria. 

We walked in to find ourselves in a somewhat tighter space, but we were greeted with a friendly welcome. We were told to sit wherever we'd like, so CJ chose a table in the corner to our immediate right from the entrance. Shortly after, the menus were brought over to us. 

Drinks and food menus.

Rosso Pizzeria offers antipasti, insalate (salads), paninis, and red and white pizzas for lunch. "OO" Organic flour is used for their pizza dough, which is then made to become a soft, thin pizza crust in their traditional Forno oven. The idea is similar to the pizzas served at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, a pizza chain with many locations across Edmonton (and other cities). CJ and I wanted to get something small so we each got our own Pizzettas, which is a half sized pizza available during lunch from 11 to 3pm. 

Our drinks.

For drinks, CJ ordered a lemon iced tea while I got myself a San Pellegrino Aranciata beverage. I actually just wanted regular orange juice, but they didn't have any. Oh well, a sparkling fruit beverage is close enough. 

Our view.

We actually had a nice view of the central display area. I could see all their desserts lined up behind the glass display case, while I thought the drinks and glasses on the overhang above added a nice modern touch. It seems that all the seating inside are positioned to be around this central area. Rosso Pizzeria also has a patio, but since it was raining it was closed for the day. 

Our Pizzettas.

It only took a few minutes before our food arrived on our table! It looked and smelled delicious! For some reason CJ thought that the pizza would literally be half of a larger pizza, rather than a personal sized pizza. Sigh. 

Margherita Pizzetta.

The dish I ordered was their Margherita Pizzetta ($8). It is made with San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella fior di latte, pecorino romano cheese, and is topped with fresh basil. To be honest, margherita pizzas are the only kind of pizzas I order at Italian Pizzerias. When we were still deciding on what to get, I even asked CJ if I should try something different, or stick with the margherita. He said to get something different, but instead of being adventurous I naturally stuck with my go-to choice. I promise I'll try something new next time! Anyways, I thought Rosso's Margherita Pizzetta tasted yummy! The crust was warm, soft, and had the right amount of chewiness. I really liked the taste of the fresh basil along with the rest of the pizza. I just wished that there was a bit more mozzarella cheese added on top! 

Prosciutto Cotto Pizzetta. 

Next to me, CJ was busy eating his Prosciutto Cotto Pizzetta ($10). This pizza rosso comes with San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella fior di latte, Italian ham, and roasted wild mushrooms. CJ picked this dish because it had both ham and mushrooms, two of his favourite things to eat. I didn't get to try his food, but he didn't have any complaints while he eating. I knew he was still hungry afterwards though. I asked him later what he thought of his pizza, and he said that he prefers the pizza at Famoso better. Hmmm, fair enough. 

Overall, I would have to say that CJ and I had an enjoyable rainy day lunch at Rosso Pizzeria. The service was great, and our food was brought out to us in a fairly short amount of time. I personally thought my Margherita Pizzetta tasted good, despite there not being enough mozzarella cheese (in my opinion). Next time I'll want to try a different pizza (perhaps one of their Pizza Bianca?) and also their gelato for dessert! If you want to go to a place that serves traditional Neapolitan pizzas, I would definitely recommend Rosso Pizzeria. It's not as packed inside during lunch time like Famoso tends to be either. Next time you are in need of a tasty lunch (or breakfast or dinner!) and are in the Garneau or University area, head over here! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hawkers Market

Last Saturday evening, CJ and I attended Edmonton's third Hawkers Market ( - an underground food market located in the basement of Mercer Warehouse on 104th Street in Downtown. Founder and market director Chris Jerome intends to "create a space where vibrant and exciting local food can be discovered. Hawkers gives local food entrepreneurs a place to conduct commerce, rapidly test ideas and meet their customers face to face". There is also a numbered list of their intentions posted on their website, but my personal favourite has to be Number 6: "Eat Eat Eat Repeat".

Hawkers Market.

The event started at 6pm, but CJ and I arrived about an hour and a half later! Oops. Instead of driving there, CJ and I just took the LRT and then walked a couple blocks north from the Bay Enterprise station. With the warm weather and sunshine, the walk to get there was quite enjoyable.

The entrance.

To be honest, if I didn't know there was a food event happening inside Mercer Warehouse, I would've walked right past the entrance. Good thing there were event posters on the entrance doors to let us know we were at our destination. 

Full house!

CJ and I walked in to find ourselves in a pretty large space. In the centre of the room were rows of tables - all of which were occupied! Along the sides of the room were the local food businesses. There was also music playing in the background, but I didn't really see anyone dancing. CJ and I decided to take a walk around the room to see what we wanted. 

Citrus Glow juice.

The first thing we picked up was our drink for the night - Citrus Glow juice ($5) by Glow Juicery (! I sampled both Citrus Glow and Earthy Glow, but I liked Citrus Glow the best between the two. There were also other juices to sample as well. The Citrus Glow juice contains orange, lemon, ginger, and coconut H2O. I absolutely loved the lemony taste of this drink, and the ginger added a surprising zing to my taste buds. Overall, a yummy, healthy drink. I already want to try more of their juices! 

"The Hulk" sandwich.

Next we picked up food for CJ. We came across the station for The Local Omnivore (, and after reading what food they would be serving for the night, CJ said "this food is definitely for me". He decided on "The Hulk" sandwich ($8), which consists of stewed spiced beef with baconed onions, Swiss cheese and salsa verde. Delicious! CJ and I both thought it had the perfect balance. This sandwich ranked #1 in CJ's most favourite eats of the night. 

Orango Ancho Pork taco.

Of course, I needed to get some food for myself too! I chose the Orango Ancho Pork taco ($5) from Orbit (, which has grilled pineapple salsa, lemon crema, peanut relish, and bacon bits. The first words that came out of my mouth after taking my first bite into this taco was "Whoa bb, you have to try this!" There was this unexpected juicy taste, and I wanted CJ to experience it too! He was skeptical at first, saying "You know I don't really like tacos." But after trying it anyways, he agreed with me! "Dammit b, it is really good. It's different." Hehehe, I told you so. The pineapple salsa and the peanut relish also kicked the flavours up a notch as well. Even though it got messy towards the end (most tacos are like this anyways), I finished the entire taco! 

You might be wondering why the lighting is different in some of the photos. That's because CJ and I actually took our food and drink and ate outside! There was no space for us at any of the tables! We tried two different spots that looked empty, only to have the people next to us say, "Sorry, we're saving these seats for some people". I don't know if it was a matter of us arriving late, or if there just weren't enough seats inside. CJ and I weren't the only people eating outside too. More seating inside for next time please! 

"1 of Each Kind" dumplings.

CJ and I went back inside for a second round of food. At this point the tables weren't as crowded, so we managed to find an empty table for us. We decided to order "1 of Each Kind" dumplings ($5) from Honest Dumplings (, which includes a ginger beef, peking duck, butter chicken, and a Thai basil stir fry dumpling. One of the dumplings that really stood out to me was the butter chicken dumpling! I thought it packed the most punch out of the four dumplings. The only negative for CJ and I was the longer waiting time for our food. But even though the wait time was longer, that can be forgiven. These dumplings were yummy and worth the wait! 

Caramel Amber Ale ice cream.

You can't end a meal without dessert right? CJ and I got Beer Ice Cream from the Cookie Love ( station as one of our last eats of the night. I actually didn't go with him to get our dessert, but he told me there were a lot of flavours to choose from. He picked the Caramel Amber Ale ice cream ($3.50). I wanted to go outside to eat our dessert, but he couldn't wait to eat the ice cream! I actually had to stop him from eating it all by himself! This ice cream was delicious! The caramel flavour had the perfect amount of sweetness. I honestly could eat a tub of this all day. 

Cookie ice cream sandwich.

The second dessert CJ chose from Cookie Love was one of their cookie ice cream sandwiches ($5), featuring Pinocchio's Italian Ice Cream. He ended up getting one with two different types of cookies, with chocolate ice cream wedged inside. I was actually hoping he'd pick one with vanilla ice cream inside, but oh well. The cookies tasted pretty good, but it was a bit hard for me to eat with the ice cream. The ice cream was still too cold for my sensitive teeth! As always, CJ was there to help me eat our dessert so I was able to enjoy the cookies and ice cream together! 

Overall, I had an awesome experience at my very first Hawkers Market. The food was obviously my favourite part, but the music, space, and the local food entrepreneurs were also pretty cool. The only shortcoming for me was the lack of seating inside. Even though CJ and I had already arrived late, there were still some people just arriving after us too! Here's some advice for next time: 1.) Bring cash! Hawkers Market tweeted that the main method of payment would be cash, so good thing I withdrew some beforehand. 2.) Arrive early. Then you can actually sit down at a table inside. Am I right? 3.) Bring some friends! The environment at Hawkers Market is made so you can enjoy local food, listen to good music, and hang out with good people. And according to CJ, if you have more friends with you, you can take up an entire table for yourselves (lol okay). I wish I got to stay longer and try out more food (CJ and I were there for less than an hour!), but we had another event we needed to go to. Other food businesses that were there include Long Lost FoodsTruffula, La Cantina Negra, and South Island Pie Co.. The beer was also by Hog's Head Brewing Company. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for the next Hawkers Market event in Edmonton. It's only $10 for advanced tickets to get in, or $15 at the door. You get to try awesome food and support local businesses... why wouldn't you want to go? ;) 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cafe de Tropika

Finally, the first June food post that actually does happen in June! It feels good to finally be done all the May posts! Anyways, last Saturday CJ and I were spending the afternoon together before we would meet up with our friends for his birthday celebration. We had just finished running a couple errands when we decided it was time for a late lunch. Now what happens when you have the car? You go to food places that are harder to get to by bus! I ended up choosing Cafe de Tropika (, a Hong Kong style cafe located on Calgary Trail. 

I've been wanting to go to Cafe de Tropika ever since I started seeing tasty looking pictures of their food on Instagram. The problem was, taking the bus to get here is very difficult (I don't even know if there IS a bus that passes by this area), and I never really had the time to drive here. Until now. After finally spotting this place on the road, I found myself pulling into a mostly empty parking space. Only a couple cars filled the parking space in front of the building; the rest of the vehicles nearby were parked to the side, which I'm assuming belonged to the staff. 

CJ and I walked in to find ourselves in a clean, brightly lit, modern looking establishment. Grey and red seemed to be the main colours in the entire room. It took a couple seconds before someone greeted us at the door and showed us to a table (yes, CJ and I were both awkwardly standing there). We did have a nice spot by the window towards the far right corner of the restaurant, away from the front side where the rest of the diners were seated. 

The menus.

The menus given to us looked bright and colourful. The larger menu lists all the food they offer at Cafe de Tropika, which features mainly Chinese cuisine, but also Western and Southeast Asian options. I believe the smaller menu listed their Steak and some other select foods, but I don't remember for sure. One thing I wished they had on the menus were descriptions for each food item. CJ even wished for pictures beside each food item as well! If you're trying out Cafe de Tropika for the first time, I would have to say that the menu is a bit overwhelming and complicated. CJ and I took awhile to figure out what we both wanted... and during that time our server didn't come by to see how we were doing at all. Once we had decided on our food, we had to wait awhile before someone came to take our order. 

Alright, one cool thing worthy of being mentioned. Our server took our order on his tablet! How often do you see that at restaurants? Because of that, our orders were taken down very quickly. 

Hot tea.

When we initially sat down at our table, two glasses of hot tea were given to us. CJ sipped on his while we waited for our food to come, but I didn't try it. I'm not too much of a tea person. 

Our view.

I absolutely loved the green apples that decorated the centre of the restaurant! I thought it looked very cute and added to the modern feel of the interior of the building. 

Lychee Smoothie (left) and Cold Ovaltine (right).

Our drinks were the first to arrive. I chose a glass of cold Ovaltine, while CJ ordered a Lychee Smoothie. I actually tried CJ's Lychee Smoothie ($5.50) first... and it really did taste exactly like lychee! I thought this smoothie was very cool and refreshing, perfect for the warmer weather. My cold Ovaltine drink ($4) was just as yummy. If you're not too familiar with Ovaltine, it is a milk flavouring product made from malt extract, sugar, and whey and can be served either hot or cold. My drink had a couple ice cubes in it, which I thought added the perfect extra chill to the cold milk. I actually used to make lots of Ovaltine drinks when I was younger... now I'm wondering why I stopped. This is definitely something I want to recreate at home. 

CJ's dish (left) and mine (right).

Here comes the food! The food that was set down at our table looked very simple and comforting. I couldn't wait to dig in! 

A Tossed Noodle dish.

The dish I ordered was one of their Tossed Noodle dishes - specifically, Fish Ball Tossed Noodles in Oyster Sauce ($8). At first glance, there seemed to be a very small number of fish balls on my plate, and a lot of tossed noodles. There were also some greens to the side, as well as sliced tofu. I helped myself to some noodles, followed by a fish ball dipped in the oyster sauce. Unfortunately, I was very underwhelmed. For one, the tossed noodles tasted very bland and dry - they weren't exactly "tossed" as they should have been. As I was eating, they actually got pretty cold easily, and later began to taste a bit like flour. The oyster sauce was also too salty for me... I left it alone after the first bite I had with it. I guess the only thing that was okay were the fish balls, but just a plain fish ball isn't exactly the tastiest thing in the world.

A Noodle Soup dish.

Beside me, CJ was busy eating his dish. He ordered a Noodle Soup dish - the Pan Fried Pork Chop Lai Fan in Soup ($9). He normally gets through his food fairly quickly, so when I noticed him eating slower than usual, I knew there was something wrong. I asked him what he thought of his food, and he told me he wasn't a fan. He said that while the pork chop and the broth tasted good, it was the noodles themselves that threw him off. After trying some of the noodles, I wasn't a fan of the dish either. The noodles tasted pretty bland and they had a somewhat slimy texture to it. It was also a bit chewy (which I don't think it should have been). I don't know if that was how those noodles were supposed to taste like, but both CJ and I thought it wasn't the most appetizing thing to eat. 

I'm a bit disappointed that our experience at Cafe de Tropika wasn't as positive as I thought it would be. CJ and I just couldn't eat any more of our bland noodles. We both felt that our food began to taste more and more unappetizing as we ate. Overall, mediocre food and service. But hands down, the best part of our meals had to be our drinks. Hmmm... to be honest, I think it was a matter of not ordering "the right food" from their menu. I'm sure there are a lot of delicious food at Cafe de Tropika, but CJ and I didn't really have a lot of knowledge about their food and menu beforehand. A lot of people on Instagram seem to enjoy their food as well, so I still have a lot of hope left in this place. If I ever come back here (though I don't know if CJ would want to), I would definitely order a dish with rice. I also want to try their milk tea, a popular drink in Hong Kong. I think this place is great for casual dates or hang outs, so don't be discouraged by someone else's negative experience! The cheaper price of the food is also a great selling point if you're looking for a more affordable place to eat. It's worth checking out if you're ever around the Calgary Trail area. 

Yiannis Taverna

Hmmm... how to celebrate the end of May? By attending a stagette party of course! Hehehe. On the last Saturday of May, my brother's fiancé held her last soiree before the big day. It was an eventful night of belly dancing, dinner and a lounge. I could only make it to the dinner, but that's not a problem. Dinner = food adventure = new blog post!

The dinner was set for 8pm at Yiannis Taverna (, a restaurant that serves Greek food located on Whyte Ave. I've walked down Whyte Ave numerous times (I'm sure many of us have), but I've actually never noticed Yiannis until now. I parked one or two blocks north of the restaurant in a Public Pay Parking area. One thing I hate about these types of parking lots is that I'm always so confused about the specific times you are able to park in that area and how much you really have to pay. Ugh. If only it was Sunday, when Whyte Ave parking is free.

I walked into a dimly lit restaurant that seemed very busy. The restaurant was also open to the outside, but I wasn't sure why they would do that since it was slightly raining. My sister and I were taken to our table located on an upper level of the restaurant closer to the backside. There were about 20 seats reserved for the stagette, and we were the first ones there. And yes, I do realize that this is the first food post I've written where CJ is not with me! It is a stagette after all, no boys allowed (mwuahahaha).

Our reserved table.

Even though my sister and I were the first ones there, we didn't order our food until all the guests and bride-to-be had arrived. While we waited, everyone talked with each other, took pictures, and sipped on their drinks. I didn't really get a chance to look at my surroundings and completely take in the atmosphere of the restaurant.

The menu.

The menu at Yiannis features a variety of Greek food. I've never really tried Greek food before (beside from fast food), so I wasn't too sure what to get. I decided to go with something small since I wasn't really that hungry and chose a Chicken Souvlakia Appetizer. This item doesn't appear on the online menu. My sister went with Solomos - Fresh Atlantic Salmon that is oven baked with oregano, garlic, and lemon. We decided to share our food.


My sister's food actually came out first, even though the dish I ordered was just an appetizer. Everything on the plate looked delicious! The Solomos ($27) was served with rice, cut vegetables and a dip that is often paired with Greek food (I believe it is called tzatziki dip... I'm not too sure though! Sorry!). I could tell that the salmon was fresh out of the oven when I first cut into it. It tasted very nice and refreshing with the dip, followed by some rice. 

At this point, all the other ladies at our table had received their entrée dishes. I was left wondering what had happened to my appetizer. Good thing our server was quick to realize about my forgotten food! While waiting, a belly dancing performance began around 9pm. I've never watched anyone belly dance in person, so I thought it was a neat experience. You are even free to dance with the belly dancer if you want (like what the bride-to-be did haha). 

Chicken Souvlakia Appetizer.

My Chicken Souvlakia Appetizer ($8) finally arrived! This appetizer is served with the tzatziki dip and some lemon on the side. The chicken had a nice tang to it, and I thought the dip was a perfect pairing. My sister said it tasted "fresh off the grill", and I have to agree with her. I think I liked the Chicken Souvlakia better than the Atlantic salmon dish. This dish doesn't leave you feeling "heavy", so I was able to eat all the pieces of chicken off the skewers. 

I loved the food I had at Yiannis. It's a bit on the pricier side, so I would only come back here if I really wanted to treat myself to some great tasting Greek food. I thought our server was super friendly - she was so organized with keeping track of everyone's food and drink orders. The stagette was a lot of fun - getting to talk to new people, taking pictures with everyone, and of course, experiencing food I've never tried before. I would recommend Yiannis for fancier dinner dates with your loved ones, and also if you want to splurge a bit on traditional Greek food. Try coming by on Fridays or Saturdays in the evening - you'll be able to witness an awesome belly dancing performance as well! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Waves Coffee House

Sometimes going on food adventures is a lot of hard work. Having to travel to different places all over the city... planning the bus route, finding parking space if I'm driving, or even accounting for the hours of operation for the food place I go to. There are mainly fast food and chain restaurants in my neighbourhood at the moment, so I've always wished for more locally owned food places nearby. That's when a new coffee place recently opened up near mine and CJ's house - called Waves Coffee House ( It is located in South Edmonton down Rabbit Hill Road, just before you exit onto the Anthony Henday. 

Last Saturday, I went over to CJ's house after work to hang out for a bit. We both wanted to grab a snack, so we decided to go to Waves Coffee House. It was nice outside, with only a mild wind. So instead of driving there, we walked! I love the fact that this place is within walking distance from CJ's house. 

The interior.

We walked in to find ourselves in a bright, open space. The inside is actually quite big for a cafe, but that's not a bad thing at all. There's also a decent number of seating in Waves - both couches and tables with chairs. I loved the light fixtures above the front counter, and the round shape of the menu display on the wall added a unique touch. This place definitely makes a great hang out spot. 

Inside their display case, they had a variety of pastries as well as some sandwiches and wraps that could be toasted. I wanted something sweet, so I chose a Triple Chocolate Brownie. CJ also got a brownie, but he chose the Dutch Brownie instead (though I'm not too sure if I got the name right). For drinks, I decided to get a Blended Beverage - specifically, a Mocha Frappe with milk chocolate topped with whipped cream. CJ got an Iced Chocolate with milk chocolate, which is one of their Iced Beverages. CJ paid around $15 for everything (unfortunately, I don't remember the individual price of each item!). 

Our drinks and brownies.

We decided to sit next to the window on some single couches. I really wanted to try my Mocha Frappe, but I obviously had to take a couple pictures first! 

Mocha Frappe.

The Mocha Frappe consists of Belgian chocolate blended with espresso and ice cream. I got milk chocolate blended into my drink, but you can also choose from dark or white chocolate. I also had a nice dollop of whipped cream on top. The taste of my drink wasn't too sweet at all - in fact, I would say that the flavour stayed true to the real taste of all the ingredients the drink is made of. Don't expect the overly sugary goodness like what Starbucks or Second Cup offers. 

One thing that I liked about our beverages were the words written on the side of the cup. It says, "The movement of the hand to say hello" / "A gesture to welcome a friend" / "An act that creates a sense of connection" - these are all definitions of the word "wave". Waves is a place where we can make connections with our friends and make good conversation. Very neat story behind their name. 

I asked CJ how he liked his Iced Chocolate beverage... and I don't think he was in love with the taste. The Iced Chocolate is made up of melted Belgian milk chocolate served over cold milk and ice. He told me it was like drinking a cold version of a hot chocolate. After a sip of his drink, I have to agree with him. 

Triple Chocolate Brownie (left) and Dutch Brownie (right).

After trying our drinks, it was time to eat the brownies. They tasted like any ordinary brownie, nothing mind blowing. A good amount of sweetness. The Triple Chocolate Brownie and Dutch Brownie had chocolate chips and nuts, respectively, baked inside of them as well. I always appreciate that extra crunch to add texture to the pastry. I'm pretty sure these brownies weren't made in house though... most likely made elsewhere and ordered in. Second Cup probably orders the same types of pastries as well. Interesting. 

CJ and I both liked this place. We even started talking about how we'd start running in the morning and plan our route so that we'd end up at Waves. I definitely want to come back here to try more of their Blended Beverages. If you're more into having a simple cup of coffee, Waves uses 100% Specialty Grade coffee beans that are fully washed and sun dried. 

Waves Coffee House is an awesome place to go if you're looking for a quick coffee fix (they also have a drive thru!) or a cool hang out spot with a relaxing atmosphere. There are a lot of Waves locations in British Columbia and Calgary, but only two in Edmonton. I'd love to see more of Waves throughout my city (it is a coffee chain after all). Can't wait to come back here! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Upper Crust Cafe

How do you like to spend a rainy day? I normally like to stay at home watching anime or playing video games, but there are some occasions where heading out is unavoidable. That was the case last Thursday, when CJ and I had some things to take care of at the University. We finished our errands just before noon, so we were trying to decide on a place to eat for lunch. I suggested a couple cafes in the Garneau area (within walking distance from the University), but of course CJ said no to all of them. He doesn't like cafes at all! He thinks the food there isn't very filling and is more expensive than at an actual restaurant. Even though I tell him some cafes serve "real food" and not just light snacks, he still never agrees to go to one. Sigh. You're so silly CJ!

We decided to go to High Level Diner. Walking in however, there was a line up to be seated. I wasn't sure how long the wait would be since it was lunch time (it seemed like a full house!), so I suggested to go somewhere else. After taking a minute or two to think about a different place to eat, CJ finally agreed to go to a nearby cafe! Yay! We stepped out into the rain (sadly without an umbrella) and headed over to Upper Crust Cafe (, located just off 109th Street in the Garneau area. 

Upper Crust Cafe first opened their doors in 1986. Even though they've been around for awhile, I actually didn't really notice this place until my friend told me about it. We walked in to find ourselves in a fairly large room that was just as packed as High Level Diner. Fortunately, we were able to snag the last two seats!

The lunch menu.

The lunch menu at Upper Crust Cafe offers soups, salads, sandwiches, side orders and entrées. They also have a variety of red and white wines, beer and hot and cold beverages. Everything on their menu is reasonably priced, with every food item (including the entrées) being under $15! I decided to get their Spinach & Feta Quiche of the Day, while CJ got their Pan-Fried Chicken Breast. He also ordered their Soup of the Day. 

Waiting for the food to arrive gives the perfect opportunity to take in your surroundings. I noticed that our table wasn't really in the best position in the restaurant - CJ and I both felt that we were in the way of the servers and the other diners passing by. We even had to reposition our table and seats altogether. CJ also pointed out a blackboard that was behind me, which listed their Daily Specials including the specific Soup and Quiches of the Day. Instead of just a single flavour of quiche, they actually provided 3 or 4 options (Spinach & Feta being one of the options). Coming into the cafe, there is also a display to the right side that was filled with an assortment of pastries. Overall, this cafe gave off warm and inviting vibes. 

Quiche of the Day.

Our food arrived fairly quick despite the large volume of people coming in to eat. The Quiche of the Day ($12.95) is served with coleslaw and bread. There were also some cut vegetables on my plate as well. I went for the coleslaw first, and it was nothing special. It tasted like any regular coleslaw you could eat pretty much anywhere. I tried my Spinach & Feta Quiche next, and I thought it was okay. Like the coleslaw, it wasn't anything special but it was still very warm and hearty. The first couple bites of the quiche were good, but it slowly began to taste a bit unappetizing as I was working my way towards the crust. In between bites, I would help myself to some of the coleslaw to cut the rich taste of the quiche. Last but not least, the piece of bread. I really wish it was toasted! Having just a plain slice of bread on my plate wasn't appealing at all. Good thing our server gave us some butter!

Soup of the Day. 

While I was eating my food, CJ was busy with his Soup of the Day. Unfortunately, I'm not too sure what the Soup of the Day was! The blackboard behind me had it written down, but I didn't really take a second look at it. CJ ordered his Soup of the Day in a Bowl ($6), which came with a slice of bread. I asked CJ how he thought the soup was, and he said he wished it was more creamy. He let me sample some of his soup, and I agree. The soup was quite watery, rather than the creamy taste we were both expecting. Nevertheless, CJ finished all of it. 

Pan-Fried Chicken Breast.

With the soup gone, CJ started on his lunch entrée. The Pan-Fried Chicken Breast ($13.95) is served with rice, grilled vegetables, and sautéed mushrooms in a cream sauce. CJ offered me a piece of the chicken and the mushroom together in one bite, followed by some rice. I actually really liked how the chicken and mushroom tasted! The chicken was nice and moist, while the mushroom added that extra dimension of flavour in my bite. I would consider this dish to be a lot heartier and more comforting than the Quiche of the Day dish I ordered. 

Overall, I had a positive experience at Upper Crust Cafe. The food arrived at our table in a relatively short amount of time, and even though the taste wasn't mind blowing, it was still pretty decent. I thought this place was perfect for a rainy day lunch - something simple and comforting to warm up your belly. The main selling point for me would definitely be the price of the food! Obviously not cheap, but still not as expensive compared to some other cafes I've been to. If I were to return here, it would be for a light lunch. Maybe next time I'll even try some of their pastries!