G I LC H R I ST
A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the new East-meetsWest, Asian-fusion restaurants and chefs we’re seeing around the city — Saffron Mantra, Carino, Downtownfood and Anju. One other newcomer to this group is Lava Dining at 314D – 10 Street N.W. (403-283-1810).
Chef/owner Jason Chen defines Lava as “French influenced” and “Asian infused.” His menu includes an Asian taco of braised meat wrapped in a steamed bun with cucumber kimchee and star anise jus along with misoglazed halibut on soba noodles with a citrus-dashi broth. Plus tempura haddock and chips with a yuzu tartar sauce. There are also Western dishes such as a torchon of foie gras and a seafood mac’n’cheese.
Chen says that he and chef Motoharu Nozawa are trying to make everything from scratch, including their hamburger buns and pasta, and to source as much local product as possible. They’ve both learned the ropes from chef Dave Bohati, who they worked with at both Rush and Market.
Chen arrived in Calgary from Taiwan about ten years ago to study business at the U of C. He’d worked in restaurants in Taiwan but hadn’t considered the food industry as a profession. But after a couple of years at school he switched over to SAIT and their professional cooking program. After a stint at Sukiyaki House he shifted to Rush where he met Nozawa.
Chen owns Lava in conjunction with his mother, Kathy Lee, and some Taiwanese supporters. He’s made significant alterations to the physical look of his place — it’s housed many restaurants over the years, the most recent being Urban Rice. He’s eliminated a raised area, and resurfaced the room, giving it a fresh, open look. New chairs and tables fill the space and an all-new kitchen gives the chefs the equipment they need. One dining room wall is covered in a blackboard adorned with drawings of a cow, a pig, a lamb and so forth, showing where different meat cuts come from.
Lava is open daily for dinner and on the weekends for brunch. They may open for weekday lunches in the future.
Another recent arrival to the Kensington area is Taqueria El Charrito at 318A – 10 Street N.W. (403-457-1937). The popular taqueria has been busy at their Edmonton Trail location since the Jalisco-born sister-brother duo of Graciela and Juan Jose opened it a couple years ago. Now they’ve taken their rellenos, quesadillas, posole and tacos to the streets of Kensington. (There are numerous kinds of tacos including three beef ones — steak, shredded and tongue.)
The new place has a few seats for a quick meal but everything is available for takeout. The new El Charrito — which means “little cowboy” — is open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays till 1 a.m. They’re closed on Tuesdays.
With August well underway, it’s time for Taste of Calgary. From August 14 through August 17, Eau Claire Plaza will be filled with food booths, a beverage garden and live entertainment.
This year — the 18th annual for the festival — 27 restaurants are participating bringing a wide variety of food.
Heritage Bakery & Deli is bringing back its popular Polish sausage, perogies and cabbage rolls while Black Betty is serving up maple-bacon ice cream sandwiches and sliders. Newcomers Goro + Gun and Globefish will add to the Japanese contingent along with Zen 8, Ogam will offer Korean wings and pork belly, Pegasus will slice roast lamb into pita bread and Halo will wrap prawns in bacon.
A strong focus on both vegetarian and gluten-free options has been included this year with Coco Brooks doing an entire booth that will serve only glutenfree products.
And if you’d like a small taste of Lava Dining mentioned above,
they’ll have duck confit spring rolls and seafood croquettes available. On the drink side, fourteen vendors will be serving a total of sixty-five options from Fallentimber Meadery’s hopped mead to Wild Rose Brewery’s Velvet Fog.
Taste of Calgary’s process is simple. There’s no admission charge to the event; you buy sampling tickets for $1 each and then redeem them for food and drink. Most items cost two to four tickets.
Taste of Calgary runs 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. Go hungry!
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