Anju Restaurant at Test Kitchen YYC
I know what you are thinking…didn’t Dish already make us drool over Chef Roy Oh’s awesome Korean food already? What is she trying to do…annoy us? Well short story is no. I would never try to annoy anyone on purpose (except hubby).
Long story is I just couldn’t stay away after my awesome experience at the Anju Pop up. I wanted to share this experience with Hubby and anyone else that could come along. In this case it was Hubby’s cousin Jamie and his wife Elga. True story: James and Elga moved to Calgary from Vancouver and are just getting to know our city and all it’s charms. They are great people to hang out with and Elga is a teacher. Elga is also Asian…though she is the first to point out that she is the most ‘un-Asian’ Asian there is. She doesn’t know any language other than English fluently and I once had to explain what sriracha was to her. Yet she is always subject to assumptions when she goes out. Like when she goes to Dim Sum the servers automatically speak Cantonese to her…or give her chopsticks while all the Caucasian people at the table get forks. That kind of thing…anyway Friday was Elga’s last day of school so she was ready to let her hair down. I knew the couple had spent some time in Korea so I was happy to extend an invitation to them.
Hubby and I arrived really early and went for a little walk to make room for as much food as possible. When we arrived we were seated right away and were ordering cocktails when our dining companions arrived. I had my first Sidecar and I don’t really remember what was in it but it tasted very similar to apple pie. I’ll be sure to order one again. Hubby had a Pimm’s cup which he really enjoyed, especially with the extra added ginger.
After all our drinks were ordered we had a good look at the menu and immediately decided to start with four shared items. The first of the four to arrive was the Tofu and Foie Gras Parfait. I loved it! It was almost like butter and melted blissfully in our mouths.
Next we enjoyed some really amazing Wagyu Tartare. Both the texture of the chopped flank steak and the taste were exceptional. The flavour actually brought me back to Hawaii of all places. It tasted like Poke; a fresh fish dish made with a little soy sauce, chili, and sesame oil. The addition of Korean pear on top was a nice textural element. I smeared the tiny quail egg all over the top and we happily piled it all up onto the fried wonton chips and shoved it into our mouths.If there’s pork belly on the menu I will be sure to order it. This Pork Belly was simply roasted and served with the fixings to make lettuce wraps. Butter lettuce, Thai basil, chrysanthemum leaves, gochujang, rice, and the most irresistible ssamjang sauce. Sweet and Spicy is the way we like it! Soon it seemed like the food would never stop coming! I insisted that we order the Halibut Spring Rolls as it was the only remaining item left over from the pop up menu. They were just as delicious as the first time I tried them. After we successfully demolished the first four plates between the four of us we all agreed to order ‘just a couple more’. We weren’t going for the full menu but I think we did fairly well. After all, this full menu will be served when Anju re opens after Stampede. I don’t think it will take much convincing to bring Hubby down to try the rest of the dishes. One that I know he will insist on ordering is Korean Fried Chicken or KFC for short. Chicken; battered and fried, then battered and fried again. The final kick? A thorough dousing of of a whole lotta gochujang. This dish violated my ‘no messy fingers’ rule. I’m generally a dry wing person through and through but I picked up this bad boy and made good use of the stack of extra (black) napkins provided. We loved the green onion cornbread and soy maple sauce as well. Honestly we couldn’t get enough of this dish and immediately decided this was the dish of the night for our table.
We had one more dish (and dessert) for the night. The Galbi Pizza which was made with Korean marinated beef, kimchi, and king oyster mushrooms on a crispy rice base. What I wasn’t expecting was the addition of more traditional pizza toppings; arugula and mozzarella. It was a tasty combination…but really filling! Did we have room for dessert after all of that? I was surprised when our dinner companions answered in a resounding ‘yes!’. We ordered one just to keep up with them. The Korean Pear compote was nice and comforting but I was really turned off by the extremely salty pancakes. I think it may have come down to individual preference because everyone else at the table loved them. I just have an aversion to foods with a lot of salt I guess.We all left Test Kitchen YYC really full and very happy. I’m really glad I got the chance to try out the full menu intended for the new version of Anju. I do have a sneaking suspicion there may be a few last minute additions before opening day.