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May 20, 2008 10:35 AM

Philly hound coming to Calgary

Visiting Calgary for the first time in June- looking for great Asian food- exotic, spicy, authentic, and Real. Price is no issue. Please recommend additional ergional, ethnic cuisine for a first time visitor. Planning on staying downtown.

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  1. I would recommend a trip to Sushi Bar Zipang for Calgary's best Japanese dining IMHO. More traditional as opposed to wildly creative. Very good food. Omakase dining here has always been inspired.

    Others will no doubt point you in the direction of Dim Sum and other Chinese restos. We have a vibrant Chinese community in Calgary with many options downtown.

    Tons of excellent Vietnamese options, esp. in the Northeast - an easy train ride away. My fave is Pho Que Hoang in the Pacific Place center off 36th street NE.

    East Indian is done well here too, with numerous options. My favorites are Rajdoot and Surya for lunch buffet.

    For regional offerings, there are a handful of better restaurants commited to local / regional / season driven cuisine. River Cafe, Muse, Teatro, Divino and Rouge are coming to mind.

    Enjoy our city and let us know what you experience.

    1. Seconding FF- downtown and Chinatown are contiguous and while Calgary does have some of the same ethnoburb huge Chinese restos that one sees in Vancouver or Toronto, I think that there is plenty of great dining in the traditional Chinatown. My favourite is a little Taiwanese hole in the wall called Han's, but we noticed another, larger Taiwanese place called something country (Delicious Country?) has opened in the same space, a tiny "mall" at Centre and 2nd Ave SW. There are good dim sum places in Chinatown too- all walking distance from your hotel.

      In addition to the well-regarded Zipang for sushi (it's Japanese owned and operated), I'd also put in good word for Uptown Sushi, Globefish, and my recent favourite, Blowfish.

      1. I agree with John and FF, with a caveat -- If you're staying downtown and don't have a car, getting out to the suburbs can sometimes be a little challenging. For Vietnamese downtown, my favourite is Pho Pasteur Saigon, on 1st St SE between Riverfront and 3rd Ave. Right next door is Banh Mi Thi Thi, which is (if I recall) more-or-less the board's consensus pick for Vietnamese subs -- a good choice for a sunny day.

        My Thai pick is always Rose Garden right on Stephen Ave, which does a decent (if way busy) lunch buffet, and is really nicer at night. The Tom Yum soup gets me every time.

        Southwest Asia is Asian too, in my book -- Calgary has dozens of Lebanese shawarma and falafel joints; I'd recommend Tazza in Bridgeland. Sahara is downtown and sit-down; I enjoyed the one time I ate there -- if only I worked closer...

        9 Replies
        1. re: ByeByeBaby

          I think emond can get anywhere s/he wishes to get on foot or on the C-Train.

          1. re: John Manzo

            Would you go on the C-Train at night alone, if you were a woman?

            1. re: sarah galvin

              If money is no issue, then cab rides aren't either. This person is coming from Philly, I think he/she knows about the realities of a big city, with all due respect.

              1. re: formerlyfingers

                I was just commenting on John's remark to use the C-Train. He hadn't suggested a cab. But you are so right, cabbing is the best way to go.

                1. re: sarah galvin

                  Cabs in Calgary? Have you tried taking a cab recently?

                2. re: formerlyfingers

                  OP might be from the suburbs of Philly- you'd be surprised how many people say they're "from Chicago" but have never once been on CTA and never actually set foot in the city!

                3. re: sarah galvin

                  I'm not a woman, but hundreds of thousands of women take the C-Train at night, and we're talking about maybe one stop to Bridgeland or one stop to Sunnyside.

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    Sorry, folks. Didn't want to set off a firestorm on urban transportation -- for what it's worth, I live downtown and don't own a car -- I just wanted to note that while (I'm sure) there's excellent Vietnamese at Pacific Place, for someone who's staying and likely working/sightseeing downtown, it may not be worth half an hour each way on transit, nor the $20 on cab fare just for a slightly better (if that) bowl of phở than can be found for a 10 minute walk.

                    Mostly it was inspired by my own experience wandering for an hour in January '07 around Orient Heights in Boston looking for a seafood joint that, in retrospect, wasn't worth the walk.

                    1. re: ByeByeBaby

                      BBB you're my urbanist hero- and we agree, fact is that the whole cab/LRT issue should be moot since OP can have a great set of dining experiences on foot. Also the LRT is free in the core (which can make a difference if one is at the Hyatt and wants to get to, say, Atlas- that's nine long blocks west).

            2. High-end regional downtown: River Cafe, Divino if you can't get into River Cafe, Teatro can also be very good.

              Breakfast downtown: 1886 Cafe (historical building) for Kenny's Special, or Avenue Diner.

              Ethnic downtown: Jonas for Hungarian, Atlas for Persian (not open late, not licensed, but tasty I like the stews), Nawab for Indian, Sahara for Lebanese, many good places in Chinatown: I like Gee Gong for Chinese bbq pork and duck and noodles (2 kinds of barbecue lo mein so you can have all three together), U&Me, Han's, but everyone has their favourites. Also in Chinatown: Banh Mi Thi Thi for Vietnamese subs during the day.

              Get yourself out to Inglewood: Capo if you book ahead for astonishing, though expensive Italian, Sugo is also good fresh Italian, Rouge in a historical building for French, Nectar Desserts for late night sweets and hot drinks. And Spolumbo's during the day for big lunch sandwiches (meatballs, home-made Italian sausage, meat and cheese...). Inglewood is a short cab ride from downtown (or a very "atmospheric" walk through Calgary's east end - coming from Philly you might not find it particularly precarious...

              Or get out to 4th Street south of 17Ave SW, a decent walk: Mercato for high quality Italian market fare or Fleur de Sel across the street for French brasserie (cassoulet with duck confit is very satisfying); there are other good places on the same street to check out.

              Lots and lots of good Vietnamese in town: Pho Hoai if it is open again in Chinatown used to be very good. Check this link for ideas, there are others to search for on this board, finding the best Pho is a recurring subject in Calgary:

              If you are in town over the weekend, grab a cab out to the Calgary Farmer's market on the weekend (the market in the old army barracks, not the Crossroad Farmer's market, which doesn't have as interesting a selection) for a wide choice of ethnic goodies, artisanal cheeses and breads, organic fruits and veggies, game, Canadian wine, microbrew beer, ...

              2 Replies
              1. re: alley

                In reading back over my original post, a small addition. I did not mean that there is a restaurant here called "Dim Sum"; instead I was speaking to the fact that are many dim sum options. I thought it read a little misleading and I am surprised other posters didn't point it out...........that's it. Thanks.

                1. re: formerlyfingers

                  Hey FF, there isnt a restaurant called Dim Sum - you might want to correct that!


              2. Many thanks for all your suggestions. I am from Philly, walk and bike everywhere and have no problem taking care of myself. I travel often and seek out alternative neighborhoods, most not appealing to the average pedestrian- on the same note- I never go to restaurant chains or shopping malls. Will report upon my return. Many thanks.