Friday, 28 March 2014


Kyu Bistro is, to the best of my knowledge, the first and only ramen/izakaya restaurant to have sprung up in Winnipeg.  That's not to say that some of what they offer couldn't be found before, but it did take a bit of searching in order to find it.  The restaurant is tucked into a strip mall close to the Salter Street bridge and, were you not looking for it, you'd probably miss it.  That might be the reason why it was empty when we arrived at around 6:00 PM on a Sunday.
The menu is filled with pictures, which made ordering decisions difficult.  We started with chashu pork ($7) to start our unplanned hog themed meal.  The meat was juicy and tender but could have been a bit more aggressively seasoned as the bites without the spicy mustard accompaniment were a little lacking.  Our very favourite pieces were the ones with a crispy edge.  We only wished that these sought after bits were a little more prevalent.
My dinner date, A.,  ordered the shio ramen ($9).  The light broth tasted a little too much like kombu and not quite enough like pork for her tastes.  Her bowl was loaded with goodies - roast pork, egg, bamboo shoots, cabbage, corn, nori, fish cake and of course noodles.  The noodles were rightfully the star of the show - perfectly chewy and slurpable.  Even if we couldn't finish everything in our bowls, we made sure not to leave any of them uneaten.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from A.'s soup, I had the spicy miso ramen( $10).  The cloudy broth was sufficiently porky and rich, though not as spicy as I'd expected.  My bowl had fewer additions but I couldn't complain, as the pork in my ramen was both of our favourites of the entire meal.  Slightly sweet and just as fall apart tender as the chashu appetizer, I almost wished that we could have began our meal with this incarnation of pork instead.

Despite a few minor criticisms here and there, Kyu Bistro's extensive menu has me excited to go back and try more dishes that can't be found anywhere else in this city.  

185 Isabel Street
Kyu Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I'll admit that reviewing places in a food court is a bit of a stretch.  However, somewhere within the cavernous Winnipeg Square food court, amongst the droves of business people guiltily eating greasy pizza or candy coated Chinese, there are two of the best and most affordable lunch options in this area of downtown.   
Taste of Sri Lanka has the distinction of being the only place that serves Sri Lankan cuisine in Winnipeg (besides it's sister location at The Forks).  Their options are similar to those of many local Indian restaurants (butter chicken, chickpea curry).  But their vegetable dishes and huge rotis are where they really shine.  On this last visit I had eggplant curry and chickpea curry over rice ($8.50).  This may just be the best eggplant dish in the city.  Tamarind and chiles give it a nice combination of sweetness and mild spiciness and it is cooked to the point of caramelization, taking on meltingly soft texture.  The chickpea curry is quite subtle in comparison but adds meatiness and helps to cut the richness of the eggplant.  Served over rice with a pappadum, it makes for a very filling lunch.

Taste of Sri Lanka on Urbanspoon

Unlike Taste of Sri Lanka, Vinh Long serves a cuisine that is becoming more commonplace in certain parts of this city than Chinese restaurants.  They serve a small menu of Vietnamese standards (pho, salad rolls, vermicelli bowls, several vegetable dishes) but I almost always stick to the deluxe vermicelli bowl  ($7).  There's no variation from the standard vermicelli bowl that you'll get most anywhere. It contains vermicelli noodles, shredded carrots, lettuce, cucumber, pork hash, charbroiled pork, two pork spring rolls, peanuts, and a side of nuoc cham sauce.  The spring rolls retain their crispiness and the pork usually has nice char on, though it can sometimes come in a large clump that is a little too fatty for my liking.  Compared to some other vermicelli bowls I've had in Winnipeg it's pretty average, but that may be an unfair comparison considering the high quality of Vietnamese restaurants in this city. Regardless, it's well priced and refreshing lunch option, especially considering the options down here.

360 Main Street
Lunch hours during the week

Vinh Long Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

Monday, 29 July 2013


Over the past few months Yujiro has become not only my favourite sushi restaurant in Winnipeg, but my favourite lunch spot as well.  They're now open week round and their bento boxes are cheaper at lunch (albeit sans ice cream).  But best of all, they've begun to feature ramen, udon, and a daily special which usually consists of a variation on one of the two during lunch hours only.  

On my most recent visit the special was tanuki udon, a half order of chirashi, and salad ($13).  While I'm more partial to ramen noodles than udon noodles, I was sold on the clean simplicity of the soup which aside from the noodles had a decent helping of tempura crumbs and a few chopped scallions.  It paired nicely with the assortment of fish atop sushi rice.  The chirashi consisted of tuna, salmon, octopus, shrimp, tamago, and hamachi (my personal favourite).  Yujiro's fish has always been the most flavourful and freshest that I've tasted in the city.  Unlike many restaurants, if you close your eyes you're still able to differentiate the salmon from the tuna.  And, though hamachi has long been my favourite, the salmon that they've been using recently is some of the best I've tasted and worth going out of your way to try.
Clearly I have nothing but praise to give Yujiro.  Having frequented the restaurant for years, it is exciting to see them continue to expand and improve.  Hopefully the next step they take is to offer more varieties of ramen, or maybe open a second spot that serves non-sushi Japanese dishes as that is something that Winnipeg sorely needs.

1822 Grant Ave.
(204) 489-9254

Yujiro Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, 15 July 2013

FALAFEL QUEEN - Food Truck Tour Stop #3

It has been a few summers since the ever elusive Pyramid Falafel truck vanished from Broadway.  I first noticed that Falafel Queen had stepped up to fill Broadway's falafel void last summer.  Besides their namesake, Falafel Queen offers a few other Middle Eastern sandwiches as well some food truck standards.  Based on the picture on the side of the truck they're almost obligated to serve fries.
On this visit I had the falafel sandwich ($6).  I've had a few great falafels in my day (usually while traveling) and my fair share of bad ones.  Falafel Queen's falafel does not rank amongst those bad experiences but is it good enough to justify its royal status? No.  The falafel is fairly large for the price and is served wrapped in a full pita.  The falafel balls aren't much better than pre-made ones that can be procured from the grocery store and don't seem to be fried to order so the sandwich is comes barely warm.  The pita is stuffed with lettuce, red cabbage, a few slices of cucumber pickles, tahini, and most confusingly, entire slices of lemon, rind and all.  If it were not for the lemon slices, the experience would be far more bland, as the citrus sparks some much needed life into the sandwich.  However, taking a bite and coming away with a mouthful of lemon is far from a pleasant experience.  There is Sriracha available to use if you so desire, but the falafel comes so tightly wrapped that it would be impossible to apply it evenly without making a huge mess.  I would suggest requesting that they make it spicy so they can take care of this before it gets wrapped.  Overall, Falafel Queen satisfies a craving but a conservative and quickly made sandwich turns the the truck into a convenience rather than a destination.

Broadway Ave. between Carlton St. and Hargrave St.

Falafel Queen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 14 July 2013

EL TORRITO TACO TRUCK - Food Truck Tour Stop #2

The El Torrito truck has been parked on Portage Avenue in front of the Manitoba Hydro building for a few years now.  Their menu is short and simple, three types of tacos (beef, chicken, or fish) and a flame broiled chorizo sausage on a bun.  On past visits I've only tried the beef or chicken tacos (three for $5).  On this most recent visit I finally caved and ordered the El Grande which includes three tacos (beef or chicken), the chorizo sausage, and a drink ($10).  My dining partner went with the three taco deal. 
The chorizo sausage on a bun is basically a hotdog dressed like a taco.  The sausage is juicy and has a distinct flame broiled flavour which pairs nicely with the salsa verde, onion, tomato, cilantro, and housemade mayo based sauce (?) that it's dressed with.  My dining companion thought it was the best out of everything that we tried and stated that if she was craving a hotdog in the area, this would be her obvious choice.  I tend to agree, but the fact that a Mexican variation on a hotdog is the best item on this taco truck's menu is a bit of a drawback for me.  I can't help but imagine how good that chorizo would taste on a taco or what wonders that flame broiling could do with other types of meat.
The tacos are served with the same toppings as the chorizo.  The chicken (shredded) was the definite favourite over the beef (ground), although both were fairly one note, even after garnishing them with lime and salsa verde.  The tacos were double wrapped which I generally prefer, though these were neither full, nor juicy enough to warrant the second tortilla.  It would be nice if they could put that flame to use in preparing the beef or if they had a second salsa to offer.  Despite some flaws, El Torrito is doing a few things very right and five dollars is the certainly the perfect price to satisfy my taco cravings. 

Portage Ave. between Edmonton St. and Carlton St.

El Torrito Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 11 July 2013

TOKYO RABBIT - Food Truck Tour Stop #1

Within just the past two years the local street food scene has begun to explode.  The presence of so many food trucks jockeying for space on Broadway and all over downtown is something I'm sure many Winnipeggers (including myself) thought would never happen.  

Tokyo Rabbit is one such newcomer that offers Japanese sweets such as crepes and tarts. Though the crepes make up the majority of their menu and look delicious, I haven't been able to venture past the one savoury item on offer, the katsu sando ($5) or pork cutlet sandwich.  It consists of a tender, lightly breaded pork cutlet topped with shredded cabbage, Tonkatsu and Karashi sauce.  Basically it's a Japanese variation on a pulled pork sandwich and is every bit as messy, simple, and addicting.  I really like how nicely the sweetness of the Tonkatsu and the nasally spiciness of the Karashi compliments the simplicity of the pork and cabbage.  An iced green tea came with the sandwich  and was so refreshing that I almost felt sorry for the droves of business workers flocking to the big name coffee joint down the street for something less satisfying and more expensive. I don't know if they sell tea by itself but they should consider it.
Because Tokyo Rabbit's specialty are sweets, I had to indulge in one of their custard tarts ($2.50).  At half the price of the sandwich and tea I figured that such a seemingly steep price for the tart evens things out a little but these are definitely worth every penny.  The crust is just the right amount of buttery and flakey and pairs perfectly with the creamy and subtle vanilla custard.  Thinking about it again makes me consider how reasonable ordering a dozen may be.
Though I've yet to try them all, Tokyo Rabbit seems a prime example of why the surge of new food trucks is something to get excited about.  Hopefully a review of their crepes will come sometime in the future.

Broadway Avenue & Donald Street
Every Wednesday from 11:00AM to 2:00PM for other times

Tokyo Rabbit on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


I'm a little ashamed of how long it has been since I last ate at Famena's.  Back when they operated out of the restaurant in the Garry Hotel they were my favourite word of mouth gem.  They've since moved right next door, occupying the lunch counter (formerly and briefly Kraut King) at the base of the circular Garry Street parkade near Portage Avenue.  

On this most recent visit I kept it simple and went with a chickpea with potato roti ($6.75).  I vaguely remembered how large the rotis were and was not mistaken.  I can rarely resist doubles when they're offered but I fear that had I not, I would not have come close to finishing my meal.  Maybe next time.  I'm pretty sure the roti shells are made in house and it shows, though seeing them get microwaved does take away a little magic.  The filling was well spiced, neither too moist nor too dry and both chickpeas and potatoes were well represented.  Plenty of also seemingly homemade hot sauce is on offer to spice things up, but be sure to heed the warning that goes along with it.  This being said, I was still taken aback by how spicy those scotch bonnets can be. For my money this is probably the best and also hottest hot sauce in the city. 
It may come in a big bottle but don't treat it like ketchup.
I've had some bad experiences eating Caribbean around the city over the past couple years but Famena's is definitely renewing my faith. All around an excellent roti which is even made better by the personableness of the owners.  I'm sure I'll be back soon to try one of their daily specials. 
295 Garry Street
(204) 414-9040
Famena's Famous Roti/Curry on Urbanspoon