Okay, before I go on let me get one thing out of the way…
Fantastic. Now, onto the review.
As some of you may know, I’m a HUGE fan of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival (which starts Aug. 11 and runs until Aug. 21. Check it out because it’s one of the biggest festivals of its kind in North America…/endpromotion). For the past 6 years, I’ve been a box office volunteer and have seen countless amounts of shows since I first started “fringing”. But there was always one question I constantly ask myself every single season: What should I eat?
(For some of you rolling your eyes right now going, “of course the foodie is always looking for places to eat!” Just work with me on this one okay?)
Yes, that’s a question we ask ourselves everyday. But at festivals like the Fringe that are located in busy hot spots like Whyte Ave, you have a TON of a options and sometimes you become indecisive about what you should eat. Whenever I’m on Whyte, I usually gravitate towards 3 places:
The Next Act
These places have always been safe bets for me, but I can only visit these places so many times during the Fringe before I begin to crave a change in scenery after repeat visits. Plus, one can only consume so much taco-in-a-bag before the shame settles in.
But thankfully, I stumbled up on a neat little brew pub called Situation Brewing.
First off, let me say that I was a little hesitant checking this place out. When I think of pub food, I often think of places like Hudson’s or Elephant and Castle (RIP December 2015) and “okay” burgers and fries that you wash down with whatever beer was on special that afternoon. But let me tell right now that the food here is *SPOILERS* SCRUMPTIOUS. *SPOILERS Over*
Their menu is very straightforward:
As you can see, you can get a variety of pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, and mains that range from mac and cheese their “Swine and Succotash”. It may look like your average pub fare, but take a closer look at the ingredients for each dish. For example:
The Angry Bison (which is what I ended up ordering)
6 oz. bison patty
Spicy cheese croquette (THIS. MY GOD. MANA FROM HEAVEN.)
Angry BBQ sauce
Oh and perfectly seasoned fries
Here’s a photo of it:
If your mouth isn’t watering after that…I have no words. I don’t often wolf a burger down, but I did when I went to Situation. Every single bite out of this thing was god tier levels of delicious. The bison patty was succulent, the cheese croquette had actual cheese in it and was super gooey, and the sauces were flavourful but not overpowering. Hell even the fries were great and well seasoned!
Alright I gotta ease up on the praise because I’m getting super hungry talking about this place. If there was any criticism I had about Situation Brewing, it’s that the service was a little slower than I expected. It could be due to the fact that the place was pretty busy when I went there or because was super hungry and I was just being impatient (I may have missed out on lunch at the time). Other than that there isn’t a whole lot of negative things I can say about this place. It’s that good.
But that’s it. I had a really positive experience overall. Although I didn’t get a chance to try out any of the beers they had on tap (I was driving), I highly recommend that you give this place a shot. The food is good enough to warrant a visit AND you could check the place out between shows at the Fringe because it’s a hop, skip, and a jump from the main festival grounds! 😉
I know I’ll definitely be going here more often now because this place has definitely earned a spot on my Whyte Ave list:
Pizza. It’s the one food that can be eaten during any situation. Birthday parties, parent/teacher interviews, staff parties, funerals, you name it. It’s that versatile and is always a safe bet when you’re hungry.
Which brings us to today’s post: My journey to this little pizza joint called Love Pizza (10196 109 St).
I came across this place as I was driving down a busy street along 109 St during rush hour. While I was waiting for traffic to move again, I noticed this sign that simply said, “Love Pizza.” My immediate thought was, “Yes. Yes I do love pizza.” But then I began to realize that I have never noticed that sign before because I tend to drive down that stretch of road quite frequently. It was then I made it my mission to give it a shot. Seeing as though I haven’t really gone out to try new restaurants over the past few months (being a full-time student is hard okay…STOP DEMANDING PERFECTION FROM ME), I figured I would take a small break from my busy life and give Love Pizza a go.
Let me start off by saying that Love Pizza is one of the most aesthetically pleasing restaurants I’ve visited lately. The minute you walk into the place, you’re hit with this very “hip” and “modern” atmosphere. It works for the downtown area and I liken it to places like The Burger’s Priest (which is located a few doors down from LP). The decor is simple and the walls are lined with large black and white photos and a list of “rules” you’re supposed to follow (and occasionally break) while you’re visiting. Everything about the interior is just bright and inviting and would easily make for a great place to take a date to. I dug it.
Now when it comes to the food, things are done a little differently. It has a similar structure to Quizno’s where you get to see your food built from scratch and gets shoved into an oven where it bakes for minutes and you can watch it all unfold as you move down the counter. You walk up to the counter to order your food, where at this point you could either order a signature pizza or build your own from scratch. If you choose to build your own pizza, you get a wide variety of ingredients to chose from such as:
Farm Fresh Egg
Basil and Spinach Pesto
And the list goes on…
I was quite impressed with the selection overall, although I was a little bummed to see that gluten free options were not offered at the time (wouldn’t recommend this place if you can have gluten). I ended up building my pizza from scratch, topping it off with tangy tomato sauce, pepperoni, jalapeños, and roasted mushrooms. Don’t judge, I’m a man of simple tastes.
Cooking time was relatively quick, but that’s mostly due to the actual size of the pizza itself. With regards to the size, I was surprised to see that my pizza was a little smaller than I expected, especially for the amount I paid for (pizza was about $11). But this can be easily overlooked because the pizza was actually quite good. It wasn’t the absolute best pizza I’ve ever had but it’s a definite step above places like Panago or Famoso (Full disclosure: I’ve never been the biggest fan of Famoso. I like my pizza to have a consistent texture thanks) The crust wasn’t too doughy, nor was it overcooked. It wasn’t incredibly oily and the sauce was evenly spread out.
It was a good pizza.
The only criticism I have is the price. For the amount money I paid (pizza + drink came to around $14), I can’t help but feel like I could’ve gotten more for the amount I paid. But I think this detail is very minor. I mean overall Love Pizza is a solid choice if you’re in the downtown area looking for a place to chow down and if you’re with a couple of friends. But if you’re looking to feed a large party, maybe shoot for a place that will give you more bang for your buck.
Overall I was quite pleased with Love Pizza. You should check it out because food definitely lives here.
I take Star Wars and pho very seriously. Hence the awesome title for this post. Also, I found that I tend to get into HEATED arguments with regards to Star Wars and pho…Oh god, especially over pho…
If you were wondering how my talk with Linda ended, we mutually agreed to disagree with each other. But at that point, I started to think: There are so many place to grab a bowl of pho in Edmonton, but which place offers the best? It was at that moment I figured I go out and find that place! So without much further adieu, let’s talk about a small noodle house near the UofA called “Phobulous.” (8701 109 St NW)
I discovered this place a few years back when I used to go school at the UofA. It was in the middle of winter and after a lengthy “study session” at Remedy (back then, study sessions comprised of me highlighting my entire textbook), I started hankering for a warm bowl of soup and noticed that there was this small restaurant with a funky name called “Phobulous” next door. At this point in my life, I wasn’t as stoked as I am today to try new food, but I was knocking back several cups of coffee back at Remedy (hey man, highlighting an entire textbook is hard work) and I literally told myself, “screw it, what’s the worse that could happen?”
My memory of my first visit here was a positive one, but to be honest I don’t remember much of that first visit other than it being a positive experience. So let’s jump cut to present day for the sake of this post and let me tell you about my most recent venture to the restaurant. To paint a picture for you guys: My girlfriend and I are SUPER hungry after shopping around at the Butterdome Craft Sale so we decided to head to Phobulous because it was super cold and I always remembered Phobulous as a good place to chow down. There picture painted, now onto the review…
First off, let’s talk about the building itself: It is REALLY easy to miss this place…
Now while the place is awkwardly tucked away in the side of the building, inside looks aesthetically pleasing! It’s well lit and well furnished for a place that some might consider to be a “hole in the wall”. Although some might feel a little cramped inside, but that’s mostly due to the size of the building itself and the owners other place really make it work. Personally, I think the size of the building really adds charm to the place and believe me when I say that this place is a ridiculous amount of charm. Seriously, just look at the fabulous (HAH see what I did there?) name of the place. One of my favourite things about the place is their menu:
The owners of the place do a lot to help you familiarize newcomers to pho and provide a lot of information about what pho really is so people know what they’re in for. This adds a really fun personality to the place which honestly a really nice touch and kind of enhances the experience there.
So after browsing through the menu, my girlfriend opted for the Pho Real and I settled for the Mother Pho with a plate of spring rolls to share, because I love me some tripe and the spring rolls are actually really good here. In terms of the service, it was great as far as I could tell. We didn’t have to wait too long (which was a bonus because people started pouring in after we arrived) for our food and the staff was super friendly.
But how was the pho? I gotta be honest, it was good. Not great. But just good. Visually, the pho looked great:
They gave you a hearty portion of protein and noodles for what you paid for and the broth tasted good. Again, not great, just good. I honestly thought that the broth just wasn’t as flavourful as other places I’ve been to in the city and it doesn’t help that the soup did cost a little more that other places as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that the pho was still delicious overall! I’ve had terrible pho in the past and the pho I had here doesn’t come close to being remotely bad. It’s just that it if given the choice between this or pho I’ve had at places I tend to frequent more, I would choose the latter.
But with that said. Phobulous is definitely a place I would go to if I was in the area and needed a warm bowl of soup. It’s a super charming place and the food won’t disappoint you. If you’re hankering for something other than pho here, I would definitely recommend the vermicelli bowls and their Bo Kho, which is this amazing beef stew with a bolder taste and really hearty broth. Overall I dig this place. Now while it’s not the best in terms of pho (we’ll get to that place in due time my friends), Phobulous does offer good food, good service and is definitely a place you need to check out if you’re in the university area because food definitely lives here!
118th Ave in Edmonton has a notorious reputation for being that “sketchy” area your mom has warned you about. Which sucks because I know a fair amount of people that live in that area and there’s a TON of hidden shops and restaurants down there that not a lot of people know about. So after years of being told to visit this restaurant called Lan’s Asian Grill, located at 11826 103 St NW, I was weary of taking the trip down there…Even though I’ve been going to NAIT (which is literally down the road) for the past four years.
But after years of avoiding the place, I finally decided to give Lan’s a shot…
I remember the day I went to Lan’s for the first time like it was yesterday (it actually happened a week or two ago). I woke up early (and by early i mean 5:30 AM) to see a screening of Spectre with a couple of friends, but after the screening we needed a place to chow down. I recommended dim sum, but my companions recommended we head to Lan’s. As soon as they brought up Lan’s I immediately thought, “Dammit I’m really not in the mood for a new place…Scratch that, my BODY isn’t in the mood for a new place.” This was mostly due to fact that I had to wake up at 5:30 AM and drive to the Southside for a (mostly) mediocre James Bond movie that waspoorlywrittenandwastedChristophWaltzasavillain*sigh* /rant over…Sorry about that, I get REALLY upset thinking about that movie.
What I was trying to say was that I just wasn’t having a decent morning (although I did get to hang out with some great company mind you). But it was 2 against 1 and I thought, “oh what the hell. Let’s try Lan’s.” So as we drove to the restaurant, I wanted to get some information on Lan’s to prepare my body and from what my friends told me due to the fact that the friends I was hanging out with have been regulars at Lan’s. What I’ve heard from them was nothing but good things:
The food is AMAZING
Pad thai is authentic (okay you have my interest)
The service is SUPER friendly
The manager, Tom, makes an effort to remember your name (keep this one in mind for later)
And they serve drunken noodles (okay now you have my attention)
(For those of you who have never had drunken noodles, order up a plate and thank me later.)
So I pulled up to parking lot in front of Lan’s and took a look at the exterior. I’m going to go ahead and say that it is REALLY EASY to miss this place. I mean the stores located in the immediate vicinity don’t exactly scream “classy” with the Dollarama and the Value Village drawing your attention over the other stores. I wouldn’t blame a person for barely noticing the stores in this lot because it’s located on 118th Ave. But when we walked into the restaurant, I didn’t see a run down dive, instead I was treated to a clean, well-lit, surprisingly cozy restaurant.
One of the things that definitely caught my eye walking in was a sign that emphasized the fact they they believe in using local, fresh ingredients. YES. PLEASE.It’s one thing to provide authentic dishes, but to see that you’re not cutting corners in terms of the quality of ingredients? That’s a solid win in my books.
So I haven’t even ordered my food yet and I’m already impressed by Lan’s. Looking at the menu, you have what one would normally come to expect from a typical Thai restaurant as well as some other additions as well:
Tom Yum Soup
Thai Green Curry
Thai Red Curry
Tom Yum Fried Rice
Savoury Steak Bites
When I walked up to order my meal, I was greeted by a fellow named Tom, who happened to be the manager of the restaurant. What stuck out while I ordered my meal is the level of genuine service and attitude I received from Tom. You can tell he’s really happy to see customers try the food and have a good time. I ended up ordering some pad thai with a mild level of spice and my friends ordered up a plate of the steak bites and pad thai.
After dropping my name (I really wanted to see if he remembered my name when I leave) and taking a seat, I began to soak in the scenery. Like I said, the overall interior atmosphere of Lan’s is cozy and well-lit. Numerous accolades take up a portion of the wall beside the cash register to give you a sense of what you’re in for and to really emphasize that fact that they can talk the talk AND walk the walk at the same time.
Then my food arrived…In a timely manner too!
My food was served in a small plastic container which kind of made me go “umm what?” because I thought I ordered my meal to stay. I honestly can’t remember given my state of mind at the time, so for all I know I could’ve said I wanted my stuff to go. But then I noticed the plastic lid had a label saying, “Not fake or fancy. Just a whole lot of fresh food & tasty. Lan’s Asian Grill. Casual Restaurant Fare.” At that point I understood what I was in for and dismissed the fact it wasn’t served on a plate (now that I think about it, that is a SUPER trivial thing to pick on…Mostly due to the fact that there’s next to nothing negative I can say about this place) . One of the things I appreciate from Lan’s is that they want to focus on the quality of the food, over everything else. If they can serve up some high quality dishes for you, you will end up having a positive experience overall. Like their said, “it’s all about the food anyways…” So kudos to Lan’s for that!
At this point, you’re probably wondering: How was the food?? I’m gonna be blunt with you guys, it was f***ing delicious. My pad thai had just the right amount of sauce and everything, from the noodles, to the vegetables and chicken, was cooked to perfection. My dish wasn’t swimming in a sea of peanuts, but had just the right amount to compliment the rest of the flavours in the dish. For the $14 I paid for the dish, I can’t help but feel as though I got more than I paid for. I was full by the time I finished my plate and the pad thai itself was flavourful. When I finished up, I immediately began to regret not getting another dish on the menu. I was hungry for more. That’s how amazing the food was.
When we got up to leave, Tom greeted us on the way out and actually called me out by name, which was a really nice way to end off a delicious lunch.
Overall, this place is fantastic. If you’re a fan of Thai food, please show this place some love. They’re very accommodating for people with different diets (ex. gluten free, vegan/vegetarian, etc.) and I can guarantee that there’s something for everybody on the menu. The service is classy and they make you feel welcome from the minute you walk through their door. Sure the place is located in a sketchy area, but don’t let that scare you away from Lan’s. That restaurant is anything but sketchy and I have nothing but praise for this place. So if you’re in the area (especially to all of my NAIT friends), show this place some love.
With that said, food DEFINITELY lives here.
PS I visited Lan’s a couple of days ago and Tom actually remembered my name. I have now made it my mission to try out the Tom Yum Fried Rice because Tom describes it as “legendary”…The food I ordered was also still f***ing amazing by the way.