Monday, June 1, 2015

Stories Behind the Chopsticks Inaugural YEG Food Crawl - May 30, 2015 Part Two

This blog post is Part Two of my recap of the Chinatown YEG Food Crawl. Don't forget to read Part One of my recap by clicking here if you haven't already!

After our meal at Zen Sushi, we headed over to our next stop of the food crawl... Golden Szechuan Restaurant (10508 101 Street)! This restaurant was next just door to Zen Sushi, making for a super short walk.

Our table.

I've never had Szechuan cuisine before, so I thought I'd do a little research. Szechuan, or Sichuan, is a province located in southwest China. Cuisine in this region is characterized by its bold, spicy flavours. One of the signature ingredients used is the Szechuan peppercorn, a fragrant and numbing spice with slightly citrus overtones. Other common ingredients include ginger, spicy herbs, and chilis which were introduced later on in China's history from South America. Typical preparation techniques include stir frying, steaming, and braising. 

Our plate of food!
Shredded pork with Szechuan sauce.
Sliced beef tendon dipped in spicy sauce.
Boiled sliced fish in hot sauce.

Each participant of the food crawl was given their own plate featuring smaller versions of food served at Golden Szechuan. We were served these dishes very quickly (just a few minutes after we sat down), so everyone got to dig in right away. Yay for speedy service! Freya went around to each table to explain what was on our plate and that the level of spiciness in the food was toned down to be more mild and enjoyable for us. I started with the shredded pork with Szechuan sauce, which was mildly spicy and had a distinct sweetness to it. The thinly sliced beef tendon was tender and the sauce it was dipped in was bold and a bit spicier compared to the pork. Last but not least... the boiled sliced fish in hot sauce. I hadn't even gotten to this part of the meal yet when CJ started coughing beside me, reaching for his glass of water while commenting how the fish was so spicy. Thanks for making me scared to try the fish lol! Eventually, I was brave enough to try it... the fish itself was soft and the sauce was indeed hot and spicy, perhaps even a little numbing but still delicious. Later on, a server went to our table and told us that the type of food served at Golden Szechuan is traditional with authentic Szechuan flavours. I really enjoyed everything on my plate because each food item had its own complexity and level of fieriness. 

I also got a chance to meet and chat with Sharon Yeo, the blogger behind one of my favourite Edmonton-based food blogs titled Only Here for the Food. Sharon was helping co-guide the tour with Freya during Saturday's food crawl. It was so nice to meet you! 

Now onto our next destination! There was initially going to be only 4 stops on the food crawl, but one more stop was added in between Golden Szechuan and our last location of the day. Our group walked over to Ruby's Bakery (10642 98 Street), which was approximately 5 minutes away from Golden Szechuan Restaurant.

Ruby's Bakery.
The inside of Ruby's Bakery.
Ruby (left) sharing her story about her bakery with Freya (right).

Stepping inside Ruby's Bakery, we were greeted by a warm, sweet smell of baked goods. Our large group managed to squeeze inside to listen to Ruby's story about her bakery. Ruby's Bakery has been in Chinatown since 2011, but she previously had a location in West Edmonton Mall. Ruby specializes in Hong Kong style birthday cakes and wedding cakes but also sells buns, cookies, tarts, and more! Custom cake orders usually take her 1-2 days to complete. We also got to see a few pictures of cakes she's made in the past, including a cake with a peach design on it. We were told that in some Asian cultures, peach-shaped cakes or cakes with a peach decoration are given to seniors on their birthday because the fruit symbolizes longevity and good life. Neat! 

Our box of treats from Ruby's Bakery.
Coconut tart.
Tulip cake.

Shortly after, each of us were given a box from Ruby containing two desserts: a coconut tart and a tulip cake. I reached for the coconut tart first, which was a nice golden brown on top and a warm yellow colour inside. I don't really go for tarts whenever I want a sweet treat, but my first bite into this tart was amazing! Each bite was soft, fluffy, and a little crumbly. Not too sweet at all. I'm already craving more of this buttery pastry as I write this! Afterwards I tried the tulip cake. This cake was light and airy with a sponge-like texture. Also super tasty! This treat didn't taste too sweet or sugary either, so I wouldn't feel guilty eating tons of it all day along with the coconut tart. I would definitely return to Ruby's Bakery for more of these desserts! 

Finally, our fifth and final stop of the Chinatown YEG Food Crawl: Tea Bar Cafe (10640 98 Street)! Located right next door to Ruby's Bakery, our group headed here for bubble tea to conclude the crawl. 

Tea Bar Cafe.
Freya concluding the YEG Food Crawl.
Taro and Mango Bubble Tea.

While we were still in Golden Szechuan Restaurant, Freya wrote down what bubble tea drink each person wanted so that the drinks would be ready by the time we arrived at Tea Bar Cafe. Everyone headed towards the back of the cafe to sit down and talk with other food enthusiasts, all while sipping on our bubble tea. I went with taro, while CJ went with mango. The drink was nice and cold and tasted exactly like how it should be. The crawl was finished around 4:30 PM, just half an hour past the scheduled 4:00 PM ending time. Before everyone went their separate ways, we all completed a feedback survey of our experience of the crawl.

Personally, I thought the Chinatown YEG Food Crawl was a wonderful learning opportunity for me: I got to learn more about the neighbourhood and try new cuisine that I probably would not have considered trying on my own time. I also want to try more food places in Chinatown now, a neighbourhood that previously I would not even consider travelling to. One of the best parts of the food crawl was that at each restaurant we visited, CJ and I sat with different people every time. Both CJ and I are usually kept to ourselves when we're around people we don't know well, but it was easy to chat with other people at this event because of a common love for delicious food. Also, when you're with other food lovers, everyone just seems to understand the idea of taking pictures of your food before eating it. To all the food lovers who sat beside or across from CJ and I, thanks for making our food crawl experience more enjoyable!

Hand print wall at Tea Bar Cafe featuring Marshmallow.

For $35 per person, I would say this event was totally worth it. We got to try so much food - way more than I had expected! Gratuities were not included in the cost but luckily I brought some cash with me to tip the servers for all their hard work. I would love to visit the restaurants and food businesses from the crawl sometime in the future. Lots of good conversation was made during the event as well. I'm looking forward to future YEG Food Crawls... I wonder which neighbourhood will be next? Be sure to check out the YEG Food Crawl Facebook page and follow on Twitter (@YegFoodCrawl) and Instagram (@yegfoodcrawl)! P.S. Don't forget to click on the photos if you want to view it as a larger image.

No comments:

Post a Comment