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

Tropika, Edmonton

I recently stopped at Tropika for a meal, and picked a few things off their menu to share.

Unlike in Malaysia, these portions are quite large. An order of Singapore laksa (made with what looks like a red curry as opposed to a yellow curry) can feed 2-4 people. The flavour of it was good but it was disappointing to find that the majority of the bowl was made up of noodles. It would have been nice to have more sliced of fish cake, tofu puffs, shrimp and bean sprouts.

Singapore laksa

Singapore laksa

Their roti canai is light and fluffy; I would say lighter and fluffier than the ones I ate in Malaysia. The accompanying curry sauce is, like their laksa, more of a red curry than yellow. Their satays (chicken and lamb pictured here) are seasoned well and come with a dish of spicy peanut sauce, pineapple and cucumber. The peanut sauce is probably the best part of this dish.

roti canai and satay

roti canai and satay

Tropika is pretty much the only Malaysian restaurant in Edmonton. I wish there were more choices, but you make due with what you’ve got! I tend to stick to a few specific dishes such as the ones I ordered, or perhaps picking up some mee goreng instead of a laksa. Their pineapple fried rice, served in half of a pineapple, is a great dish for kids or for adults who are looking for something without heat. If you want to try Malaysian food, I would suggest going to Tropika (and staying away from the Thai dishes as there are better places to have Thai food in Edmonton), or try the handful of Malaysian dishes over at Matahari on 124 st.

6004-104 Street
Edmonton, AB
14921 Stony Plain Road
Edmonton, AB

Tropika (South) Malaysian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Ying Fat Food Products, Edmonton

You know how people say that fresh food tastes much better than processed? For something like tofu, I find this is especially true.

Edmonton is lucky enough to have a place that makes fresh tofu and other soya bean products daily. Ying Fat Food Products, Ltd. makes big vats of tofu and soy milk. While I think the majority of their business is through wholesale and commercial sales, they do a brisk business to anyone who walks into the door.

Ying Fat Food Products Ltd.

Ying Fat Food Products Ltd.

Along with tofu and soy milk, you can also purchase dofu fa (soy bean custard), deep fried tofu, homemade fish balls, dried soy beans, and fresh bean sprouts, just to name a few of their products. Sometimes they even have sticky rice wrapped in leaves – a less oily version that contains soy beans along with meat.

On my most recent visit I picked up a jug of soy milk, some deep fried tofu, and a quart of dofu fa.

Soya bean products

Soya bean products

This soy milk is unlike the stuff you can buy from Silk, So Good, etc. It is light tasting, and has a slight soya aftertaste. If you’ve tasted Vitasoy’s soy milk before then you’ll have a better idea of what fresh soy milk from an Asian grocer tastes like. The ingredients are simple – soya bean, water and sugar. It is available sweetened or unsweetened, and in 1 L, 2 L and 4 L sizes.

The deep fried tofu is soft and flavourful. It adds some great flavour to stir fries, and also can be eaten cold.

The dofu fa (or tofu fa, or soy bean custard) is a dessert that can be eaten cold or hot. It is very soft and very delicate – similar in texture to a panna cotta. It is usually eaten with a small amount of sugar syrup or ginger syrup spooned on top.

With this dofu fa, however, I usually just eat it straight out of the carton. It’s so fresh that it has a slight sweetness of it’s own and I find that I don’t need to make it overly sweet.

Like any fresh food product, these items can spoil quickly so it’s best to only buy a small amount that you can consume within a few days. They do speak a little English; point to what you want if all else fails. And if you go during the weekend, be prepared to wait in a (quickly moving) line. The one thing I don’t like about this place is the sketchy location. I’ve never been bothered by the homeless nearby and have always felt safe, but over the years I have seen a few things that I would have rather avoided….

Ying Fat Food Products Ltd.
10512-98 St.
Edmonton, AB

Making syrup

The best way to make the sugar syrup is to melt Chinese yellow rock sugar in some hot water, which will produce a simple syrup.

To make the ginger syrup, take your simple syrup and either stew 2-3 chunks of peeled ginger in the mixture, or use grated ginger. You may have to strain out the ginger however, as the syrup is supposed to be a clear, amber-coloured liquid.

Chinese parties

A friend asked for ideas about Chinese food her family could order for her mom’s big birthday bash. My suggestions that are under consideration:

  • crispy roast pork, possibly a whole pig instead of just chopped pieces (siu yook)
  • bbq duck
  • from T&T – cold appetizers like pickled daikon radish and carrots, spicy deep fried tofu, jellyfish and jai (Buddha’s Delight)
  • spring rolls
  • Chicken and pineapple fried rice, fried noodles, and vegetable dishes from Double Greetings
  • a cake and red bean buns from Garden Bakery or Hong Kong Bakery
  • fresh made deep fried tofu and maybe some dessert tofu from Ying Fat
  • almond cookies

Dang it, now I’m hungry.