Asian Wok Express, St. Albert

Go to any food court in any shopping mall here and I guarantee that you will find a place selling food that is partly Chinese and partly Canadianized/Westernized concepts of Chinese food. You know the ones I’m talking about – those places that pour neon coloured sweet and sour sauces onto dough-covered chicken balls and lemon chicken covered in radioactive yellow sauce. Some friends came up with a term for this Westernized Chinese food – Chestern. (Mostly to tease me but I’m copyrighting it here so I own it now. Ha!)

The Asian Wok Express, located inside a strip mall right next to St. Albert Road, is one such place. A friend and I stopped in there to have a quick meal and I was interested to see that a constant flow of people – mostly doing take out – kept the kitchen staff busy. Service was very attentive and friendly.

Asian Wok Express

Asian Wok Express

My friend was craving some fried food, so an order of spring rolls was on the list, as well as a bowl of hot and sour soup.

spring rolls

spring rolls

The spring rolls were fried just right and tasted fine, but wasn’t anything special.

hot and sour soup

hot and sour soup

The hot and soup soup serving was quite large, and probably could have fed two people. It was nicely spiced but the texture was a little too thick and gloopy for my taste.

satay Shanghai noodles

satay Shanghai noodles

I had satay-flavoured Shanghai noodles. The flavour was great with a hint of heat, and there were plenty of chicken pieces that also held the flavour well. My one criticism was the amount of vegetables in the dish as the ones you can see in the photo plus a few more pieces were probably all I got on the plate. A dish with so many noodles need more vegetables than that.

So all in all, the food was relatively decent. Would I make an effort to go back? Probably not, but if I was in the neighbourhood and wanting Chestern I would not hesitate to stop here.

Asian Wok Express
1 Hebert Road, St. Albert

Asian Wok Express on Urbanspoon

Dinner Factory, St. Albert

While on the Easter egg hunt from Kerstin’s Chocolates, I ended up buying a meal from a meal assembly store in St. Albert called Dinner Factory.

I didn’t want to buy a whole bunch of meals without having tried any of their food before, so I was happy when they said it would be no problem if I were to just make one dish. All assembly tools (bowls, measuring cups, food processors, etc.) are laid out next to each station, all the ingredients are pre-chopped and laid out, and assembly instructions are provided. Each station = one recipe. Each entrée generally will make 4-6 servings. Menus change monthly.

All-in-all, it probably took me about 20 minutes for a quick tour of the assembly area, the assembly of my meal, and payment.

And what did I pick for my meal? Well I couldn’t pick just any old thing (although quite a few of the menu items sounded interesting).

Slice of Italian meatloaf with alpaca

Slice of Italian meatloaf with alpaca

Yes, that’s right. I bought alpaca. (Specifically, alpaca from Morinville’s Belle Valley Farms.)

The ground alpaca meat was mixed with panko breadcrumbs, onions and milk, and then rolled around a mix of spinach, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes, making a large Italian-style meatloaf.

Italian meatloaf with alpaca (unsliced)

Italian meatloaf with alpaca (unsliced)

The recipe was very tasty and my kitchen filled with wonderful scents as it cooked in the oven. Served with brown rice that came with the meal and a salad, it made for a lovely dinner.

As for the alpaca itself, I found it to be an interesting new experience. If you find bison to be gamey and are looking for a lower calorie, cholesterol and fat alternative to beef, you should definitely think about using alpaca. The meat tasted very close to ground beef, but with a slightly sweeter tang.

Now I just have to clear some freezer space so that I can go back and make more Dinner Factory meals.

Dinner Factory
#111, 1 Hebert Road (just off of St. Albert Road)
St. Albert, AB
www.dinnerfactory.ca