Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Western Canada Archives >
Oct 19, 2009 08:32 PM

What is your regional food snobbiness?

Hi Chowhounders,

Let me start by saying I travel a lot... I was traveling 3 weeks out of each month from Oct'08 to Aug'09. Having major Canadian regions accessible to me have made me a bit of a food snob. There are certain types of cuisine, dishes, meat, seafood that I will only have in certain parts of the country. I'm wondering if anyone else out there has their favourite places to fulfill their snobby food desires too.

For example, for myself...

I try not to eat sushi unless I'm in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Victoria, or Winnipeg (strangely enough)... if I have an bad craving in Calgary I'll go to Shibuya or Wa's

I generally save my beef, steaks, prime rib intake for when I'm in Alberta (duh).

I eat Indian mostly when I'm in Edmonton (New Asian Village, Khazana's) or Lower Mainland (basically Surrey).

I eat Thai food usually only when I'm in Toronto... or Thailand.

Dim sum I try to reserve for Vancouver and Toronto days.

Any regional favourites?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you mention Toronto, the caribbean food there is awesome. Calgary is so-so, but you have to really drive long ways to get at it. West coast is lacking in Caribbean options.

    1. I only eat poutine in Montreal, mainly because everywhere else I get mozza instead of real curds (it's not the same). I'll eat smoked meat and bagels elsewhere if it's the same (it usually is). I'll only have uni in Vancouver but I'll eat sushi anywhere if it's fresh (just smell it you can tell). I like Alberta beef but you can get it anywhere in Canada. Lobster in Shediac, NB is hard to beat ($24 for 2lbs!! - plastic bib included) but I'll eat it anywhere if it's alive and reasonably priced. Oysters I fished myself in Malpeque Bay are soooo good but I've had them in restaurants in Calgary that taste just as fresh.

      Re. ethnic foods - I have my favourites and it's not specific to location - I've always thought with ethnic foods it's not really how good it is, just how it compares to what you're used to and like (or how your mother made it). I love Thai food, but I've had food in Bangkok that wasn't as good as Chili Club in Calgary. Same with Indian food, there are huge regional variations and I'll go to any Punjabi restaurant (Taj Mahal in Calgary is my fave) because that's what I prefer (eg. sambal and idli is OK for breakfast in Chennai but I wouldn't go out of my way to get it in Canada). I don't think there's any region in Canada that is better for ethnic than any other region, but generally the bigger cities will have more representation that will have something that I like.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hsk

        Caribbean in TO is a good one... forgot about that. And I second the poutine in Montreal.

        I agree that much of this is because of flavours I personally prefer however I will disagree about the ethnic foods being better in certain parts of Canada - I think Japanese and Chinese cuisine in Vancouver is a good example of that. For fresh sushi and authentic Chinese cuisine, it's really difficult to find the same abundance that resides in Vancouver (or in case of Chinese food - parts of GTA), I think there will be cities that have a few restaurants with good Chinese but not in the same abundance as Vancouver.

      2. I was horrified to find an American who thought Alberta beef tastes 'funny' till I read about the who corn-fed vs grain-fed controversy. It just hadn't occurred to me that anyone could not love our beef.

        On the other hand, crab outside of Maryland is crap. It isn't just freshness, I swear they simply don't export the good stuff. Lumps, not shreds, LUMPS!

        I also used to believe I had found the best butter chicken here in Calgary at the take-out place in Ranchlands, the name escapes me and I don't feel like scaring up the menu. I was wrong, the butter chicken at Punjab sweets and restaurant in Edmonton has it beat. It hurts to say that.

        4 Replies
        1. re: sharonanne

          Sharonanne -
          The restaurant in Ranchlands was called Curry Cafe. It was run by a couple who were recent immigrants from Bombay. I have the recipe for their butter chicken which was published in the Herald, around 1996. I still make it a lot.

          1. re: TSAW

            You have that recipe? I saw it in the Herald and have kicked myself since that I didn't copy it. Maybe post it in the home cooking forum?

            They sold the place to another Indian family supposedly with the butter chicken recipe but it's just not as good.

            1. re: sharonanne

              well give me some time to figure out how... And I will post it.

        2. Poutine isn't rocket science, it's dead easy and as long as somebody has access to the ingredients it's poutine. Many place in Calgary use real cheese curds and among the best poutines I've ever had was at that now-long-gone burger place in Science B at U of C.

          As to Alberta beef- it's an INGREDIENT and is available coast to coast so why in the world would you only CONSUME it in Alberta?

          Sushi places in Calgary get the same product in the same time frame, with some exceptions, as they do in BC. Nobody catches tuna off Stanley Park.

          All that said for me it's not about being a snob but about where some things are simply AVAILABLE. West Indian in Toronto has been noted. But try getting a proper donair in Toronto, or a Calgary version of banh mi, or ginger beef. Try getting an edible donair in Vancouver.

          1. Good topic!
            Caribbean in Toronto has already been mentioned... For me, it's shawarma in Ottawa, donairs in Halifax, plain lobsters in P.E.I., (doh) and Greek food in Vancouver. On the last point, Greek food is really just more bang for your buck and consistently delicious in Van.

            5 Replies
            1. re: alau2

              Points to highlight: they do actually fish tuna off of Vancouver it is called albacore. And your comment regarding a "Calgary version of Banh mi or ginger beef" is illogical, why would you look for a calgary version of something outside of calgary? ginger beef is a calgary dish not a "place x" dish.

              Sushi places do not get fish in the same time frame as vancouver as the port of entry for the vast majority of fresh fish used in sushi from Japanese markets is Vancouver.

              1. re: 300rwhp

                but doesn't all fish used for sushi in Canada have to be frozen first to kill bacteria?

                1. re: 300rwhp

                  Sushi Facts: All sushi to be consumed raw in the US with the exception of tuna must be deeply flash frozen to kill parasites. Note that that freezing may inhibit but does not kill bacteria. Ontario has the same basic rules, but I believe that tuna must also be frozen. As as result, most raw sushi consumed in Canada is also frozen, despite the province. So port of entry is almost wholly irrelevant, the quality of sushi you eat is dependent on the post thawed freshness of the seafood, the quality of the seafood, and the skill of the sushi preparer, some of whom train for up to two years.

                  The best I have ever had is in the Toronto area. There are several exceptional places. I have not eaten sushi in Vancouver though I understand there are some excellent sushi preparers there. I have not been to any of the most recommended places in Calgary-yet.

                  1. re: Scary Bill

                    There are times of the year when living out here on the west coast does have its advantages - we can get rock-bottom prices for fresh spotted prawns, oysters, uni, dungeness, and king crab. All these items are best never-frozen and pristine-fresh.

                  2. re: 300rwhp

                    Really? Right there in Burrard Inlet? I wouldn't want to eat sushi from there. But boy would it be fresh! I think the point was that it's still *at least* several hours from catching the fish to getting to harbour, so the extra hour on a plane to get to Calgary probably wouldn't make that much difference.