Ginseng Restaurant, Edmonton

Last month, a group of friends and I headed out for some Korean BBQ. Ginseng Restaurant specializes in an all-you-can-eat, cook-it-yourself BBQ buffet.

buffet table

buffet table

About half of the buffet has a variety of marinated raw chicken, beef and pork, as well as seafood such as shrimp, mussels, clams and squid. The other half has cooked food such as rice, noodles, tempura, kimchee,  tofu stir-fry, etc.

pre-cooked food and fruit

pre-cooked food and fruit

Each table has a built-in grill set in the middle. You’re given tongs to use to cook your food, and away you go! The metal grill plate gets covered with blackened fats quite quickly, and a waitress came by often to replace our grill plate with a clean, newly oiled version.

grill and raw food

grill and raw food

I was happy with the variety that Ginseng offers on their buffet table. The marinated meats ranged from mild to spicy, and the cuts weren’t too bad. I liked that they cut up vegetables for the grill as well.

If you go, go early as the place fills up quickly. Also, be aware that you will walk out of the place reeking of meat and smoke. There are giant vents over each table (like those that you would find over a stove), but it didn’t seem like the restaurant actually turned them on. The room had a visible haze of cooking smoke by the end of our meal. It also probably didn’t help that the table behind us kept burning their food. All of us smelled like meat for the rest of the evening.

The buffet costs $29 per person and  includes non-alcoholic drinks, but not dessert other than the fruit that is on the buffet table. The restaurant also has a regular menu, but everyone there seemed to eat from the buffet.

Ginseng Restaurant
9261 – 34 Avenue
Edmonton, AB

Ginseng Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Pret A Manger, London

There are a couple of different sandwich chains that are scattered all over London. I visited one called Pret A Manger for a quick bite to eat before heading over to the Royal Academy of Arts for their Real Van Gogh exhibit (which was one of the best special exhibits that I’ve seen in a long time, by the way).

Pret A Manger

Pret A Manger

It was really, really busy inside. And yes, they sell porridge for breakfast! I found the sign interesting but I never did try it for myself.

sandwich cooler

sandwich cooler

Pret serves a number of different sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads, pastries, coffee, tea, etc. The line up was pretty long for the hot food but I grabbed a quick, ready-made sandwich instead. I had a plethora of options to choose from. Posh cheddar and pickle? Pole and line caught tuna? Crayfish and rocket (a.k.a. arugula)?

Baguette and drink

Baguette and drink

After much thought (and while sneaking photos of the sandwich cooler), I finally settled on the  Topside of Beef and Rocket on an Artisan Baguette as well as a Vanilla Bean and Honey Yoghurt drink. The baguette was filled with slices of medium-rare beef, English mustard, red onion, and peppery rocket. The yogurt drink (or should I spell it yoghurt) was made of yogurt, apple juice, honey and vanilla. You could even see vanilla bean flecks throughout the drink. Everything in the meal was fresh, preservative-free, and delicious.

And bonus, I even managed to snag a table once I paid for my meal!

Pret A Manger
Various locations throughout the UK, Hong Kong, and a few in the USA
www.pret.com

P.S. As I left I noticed the building across the street – Fortnum & Mason, a high-end grocery store, tea shop and department store that was founded in 1707. I didn’t have time go in and explore though, so unfortunately I only got a shot of the outside.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason

Sofra, Edmonton

A group of friends and I planned a night out at Sofra, a Turkish restaurant that none of us had tried before. The interior is small but interesting – lots of wood and a giant horse statue at the entrance. Each table has a charm embedded into the table surface – a glass eye as a charm against the evil eye. I did think about taking a photo of one, but I decided that it would probably give me bad luck or something and erred on the safe side.

To drink, I tried some Turk Cayi – Turkish tea. It arrived in a tiny cup with a spoon and a sugar cube. And it tasted like orange pekoe. Yeah, I felt a little ripped off.

Turk Cayi (Turkish tea)

Turk Cayi (Turkish tea)

Two people tried the pideler – traditional forno-baked pizzas.

The first was the Tavuklu Pide, a chicken, tomato, green pepper and cheese pizza.

Tavuklu Pide (chicken pizza)

Tavuklu Pide (chicken pizza)

The second was a Kiymali Pide, a ground beef pizza with with vegetables and cheese.

Kiymali Pide (ground beef pizza)

Kiymali Pide (ground beef pizza)

Both pizzas had plenty of cheese and the toppings tasted okay, but the pizzas didn’t wow anyone at the table except for the light, flaky crust. Continue reading

Mexico Lindo, Edmonton

One of my Easter meals was a dinner with friends at Mexico Lindo. I had heard a lot about this place, so I was excited to give it a try.

The restaurant is quite small, and was full when we arrived. After waiting for a short time, we were seated. Surprisingly, the later it got, the more empty the restaurant became. So if you want a table on a Saturday night, come at 7:30 p.m. Service was extremely friendly and even a little entertaining. The food also arrived relatively quickly.

To start, we ordered a jug of agua de Jamaica (Jamaica water). This is cold iced tea made from hibiscus flowers. And it tastes like liquid haw flakes (a.k.a. Chinese candy that is addictive like crack).

agua de Jamaica

agua de Jamaica

To start, I decided to go with the sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup). Soup is served at this restaurant in two parts. First, I was given a bowl of tortilla chips, cheese and avocado.

Sopa de tortilla without broth

Sopa de tortilla without broth

Then, they poured on the soup! Yum. Everyone at the table tasted it and thought it was good. Continue reading

Pho Hoan Pasteur, Edmonton

Pho Hoan Pasteur

Pho Hoan Pasteur

There have been quite a few new Vietnamese pho places popping up around the city. I recently had an opportunity to try out a new place called Pho Hoan Pasteur. Pulling up to the restaurant, I was intrigued to see “Fusion Noodle House” written on the restaurant’s sign. Not quite sure why, as the menu looks like any other pho restaurant. I was there quite early (after 5 p.m.) and was surprised there were so many patrons at that early hour. Many more people trickled in as we ate and just before we left, so it looks like this place may stick around for a while. Booths line three walls, with additional tables and chairs in the middle of the room.

Pho Hoan Pasteur - steak pho and pork vermicelli

Pho Hoan Pasteur - steak pho and pork vermicelli

Continue reading