Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

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,

Rose­mary Gin

and Tonic

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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