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. 

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