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April 2017

Featured/ Restaurant Review

Restaurant Review – Quan Ngon

You guys, I didn’t think this Restaurant Review thing through. A couple weeks ago, I realized that I don’t have the heart to write bad reviews. I had written up this review on a restaurant that will remain unnamed, and technically, it was a well-written, witty review of a not so good restaurant, but I just didn’t feel right publishing it. Also, the Vietnamese community in Regina is pretty small, and although I’m not involved in the Vietnamese community at all, my parents are and I don’t want to create awkward encounters for them. So I’ve decided that I will only write about restaurants that I love, so that I don’t have to write bad reviews. So by simple powers of deduction, if you don’t see a Vietnamese restaurant reviewed here on my blog it’s either because: 1) I haven’t eaten there yet (not likely); or 2) it’s not that great (this one).

So let’s get started with a glowing review. Quan Ngon is a small Vietnamese restaurant located at 227 Victoria Ave here in Regina. My mom and my sister, the two biggest Vietnamese culinary snobs ever, have raved about this restaurant so I’ve been so anxious to try it out.

Unlike many other Vietnamese restaurants, Quan Ngon has a very small menu, but I’ve heard that every item on their menu is carefully prepared and quite tasty. It’s also the only Vietnamese restaurant that I know of in Regina that does the “add-on” concept. With an order of a main dish, you can “add on” a pop, a fresh roll or a spring roll for $1. It’s an interesting concept and makes for a very economical meal.

Quan Ngon’s main course menu

The restaurant itself is quite small, maybe a dozen tables or so. My mom has eaten there numerous times, and she said that the first few times she went when it first opened, there were only a couple tables of customers. When we were there a few days ago, there were 4-5 tables of customers, so I think the good word is spreading around! Also, the majority of the customers were Asian. That’s how you know a Vietnamese restaurant is good, by the way, when the customers themselves are Vietnamese (especially if they are older Vietnamese women or Vietnamese families).

My husband and I went with my parents, and we all ordered pho (beef noodle soup) with fresh roll add-ons. My husband and I both ordered Pho Tai Bo Vien, which is Pho with Sliced Rare Beef and Beef Balls. Quan Ngon doesn’t have any size options for pho and the portions were quite small, which is understandable considering the cheap price of $8.95. My husband and I were still somewhat hungry after our fresh rolls and pho, so next time I would add on a side of extra beef or extra beef balls for $3.95 to make it a more fulfilling meal.

Pho Tai Bo Vien (Pho with Sliced Beef and Beef Balls)

You guys, the pho was the best restaurant pho in Regina. The flavours were authentic, the broth was rich and aromatic, and the beef thinly sliced and fresh. I found my pho to be slightly salty, but my mom said it must be a one-off, because this is the first time where she’s found it to be too salty. Anyways, it was nothing that a squeeze of fresh lime didn’t remedy. The pho came with a plate of proper accompaniments, including crisp bean sprouts, sliced jalapeño, lime wedges, and Thai basil. Making pho properly requires a lot of time, effort, and lots of expensive ingredients (brisket, various cuts of beef, beef bones for the broth, etc) and my mom only makes it on special occasions. Quan Ngon’s pho is so good that it is now my go-to place for pho when I’m having a craving and my mom isn’t making pho anytime soon.

Pho Accompaniments

The pho was great, but I was blown away by the fresh rolls. My mom and sister had raved about the fresh rolls, but I was like, “Come on, fresh rolls are fresh rolls, how great can they be?” Man, was I ever surprised. This is the only restaurant in Regina that I know of that has cucumber and bean sprouts in their fresh rolls (in addition to the noodles, lettuce, shrimp and pork). The addition of the cucumber and bean sprouts added a fresh crunchy texture to the fresh rolls. I was definitely inspired and I might start adding cucumber and bean sprouts to my own fresh rolls now! Fresh rolls may seem simple to make, but it’s the quality of ingredients that really set fresh rolls apart. Quan Ngon used big black tiger shrimp, crisp bean sprouts, fresh cucumber, and even the romaine lettuce in the fresh rolls were nice and crisp. I can’t speak highly enough of them, my mouth is watering as I’m typing this.

The best fresh rolls ever!

I can’t wait to eat here again. I want to try some of the other items on their small menu. I saw that they have a salted fish fried rice, and I’m curious to see if it’s as good as the one that I’ve written about from Peking House.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not involved in the Vietnamese community at all, so I’m not writing this glowing review because I know the owners of this restaurant or anything like that. The owner greeted us when my husband and I arrived, and she didn’t even know I was Vietnamese until my parents arrived. And the owners likely won’t even know this review exists (unless one of you guys tell them about it!). This is a completely unbiased, uninfluenced review and you can trust me when I say that this is Regina’s hidden Vietnamese gem!

With their limited but focused menu, Quan Ngon is able to deliver well-prepared, well-executed, authentic  Vietnamese dishes at an excellent price point. If you haven’t already, give this restaurant a try!

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Slow Cooker Ribs

Slow cooker ribs

I think I’ve said it before but I’ve always been doubtful of slow cooker meals, especially batch cooking in slow cookers. I find that they are usually lacking in flavour and/or texture that can only be achieved by more ‘proper’ cooking methods. I mean, I’ve posted a slow cooker apple cinnamon oatmeal recipe before, but I will admit that I don’t make that recipe anymore. Now that my baby is old enough to play on her own and/or sit and watch me make breakfast for a decent amount of time, I prefer to make individual servings of my morning oatmeal on the stove. However, my sister recently shared with me that she makes ribs in her slow cooker. The secret to her recipe is that she makes her own dry rub for the ribs, and then does not add any additional liquids to the slow cooker – she lets the ribs release and cook in their own juices. If you look up other slow cooker rib recipes, you’ll find that almost all of them tell you to add some sort of liquid to the slow cooker (root beer, water, stock, etc). If you add liquid to the slow cooker, you’re going to get soggy ribs and diluted flavours!

Easy dry rub for the ribs

I gave this recipe a try, and I will admit that this is probably my favourite slow cooker recipe. I like the fact that I can put the ribs in the slow cooker and not worry about it for 6 whole hours. The meat literally falls off the bones, the flavour is strong, and when paired with a quick salad, it makes for a super easy meal. I’ve made this probably half a dozen times already, tweaking the dry rub recipe each and every time and I think I’ve finally got it perfect (thank god, because I think the husband was getting tired of ribs, Caesar salad and potatoes for supper every other day!). I buy the pork back ribs from Co-op and I can usually find a decent sized rack of ribs for around $20.

I haven’t found a wine pairing for these ribs yet. The ribs have a pretty strong flavour due to the dry rub, so I think your best bet will be a cold light beer with this one!

Slow cooker ribs

Slow Cooker Ribs

Print Recipe
Serves: 2-3 Cooking Time: 6 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of pork back ribs
  • Your choice of barbecue sauce
  • FOR THE DRY RUB
  • 1 tsp chipotle cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Mix together the dry rub spices in a small bowl and set aside.

2

Cut the rack into portions of six ribs.

3

Rub the dry rub on the ribs with your hands, evenly on both sides of the ribs.

4

Grease your slow cooker (I just use a little olive oil and coat the slow cooker with a paper towel), and arrange the ribs in the slow cooker standing up on their rib ends (the thicker end of the bone on the bottom) with the meaty side facing out. It's okay if the some of the racks overlap one another if you have a small slow cooker.

5

Cook on high for six hours.

6

After six hours, line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place the ribs with the meaty side facing up on the tray. Baste with your choice of BBQ sauce and broil in the oven until caramelized (about 5-7 minutes). Careful not to burn them!

7

Serve with a salad and some potatoes!

Beer and Wine Pairings/ Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Sunday Supper Roast

Sunday Supper Roast

Oh man, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Sorry guys! My husband was working for the past 5 days, and we’ve had some great weather, so I’ve spent most of my baby’s awake time going on walks with her and then doing some spring cleaning during her nap times! I’ve been enjoying the walks though, and I am looking forward to daily walks in the summer. However, I’m not one to walk without a destination in mind so we don’t walk around our neighbourhood park. My favourite stroll is to the nearby library where I return a book and pick out a new one (I’m still reading about a book a day!) and then to our neighbourhood coffee shop to pick up a coffee for the jaunt home. I can see this becoming an expensive habit though. I’ve already told my husband that I would like a massive gift card for the coffee shop for Mother’s Day, because I won’t be able to afford these daily summer strolls on my mat leave income!

My husband is off work for the next five days so we have a jam-packed weekend ahead of us. Last night, we relaxed and caught up on Survivor together after our baby went to bed, today we have to go buy a high chair for the babe (starting solid foods!), tonight we have supper at a friend’s house, and tomorrow I have church in the morning and then I’m planning on making a Sunday night prime rib roast.

Do some families do that, have certain meals on certain days of the week? Like meatloaf Monday or Sunday roast? I don’t know. We definitely don’t, but there’s something about Sunday night roasts that sounds so domesticated and homey to me! With my husband on shiftwork and me on mat leave, days of the week don’t really have any significance to us. The only reason we need to remember what day of the week it is so that we don’t forget to put our garbage bin or recycling bin out for pick up! But regardless, I like doing this roast on Sunday nights for no other reason than to call it my Sunday Supper Roast.

You’ve probably seen some version of this roast online before. It’s usually posted under the name “Poor Man’s Prime Rib” or “Easy Prime Rib Roast” or something like that. I’ve made some tweaks to both the recipe and cooking method to how I like it prepared. I’ve made this numerous times, and I’ve had times where it’s too rare, too well done, or not enough flavour. The recipe posted below is what I’ve finally settled on as the perfect recipe for our family. For the cut of meat, I buy the eye of round roast from Costco, it comes in a pack of two.

Also, other recipes will not tell you what wine to pair it with! Whatever roast recipe tickles your fancy, I highly recommend that you pair it with the Chateau D’Aigueville. This is the perfect wine to pair with Sunday night roast dinners. You can find it in the France aisle for just under $20 in Saskatchewan.

Chateau D'Aigueville

We usually have leftover meat from this roast, and it is perfect to make leftover roast beef sliders for dinner the next night. With the thinly sliced leftover meat, I sear them quickly in a cast iron skillet to heat them up. I sauté some sliced onions in some butter until they are golden brown, then build the beef sliders on buttered, toasted buns with dijon mustard. This is my favourite leftover dinner!

Leftover beef sliders

Give this recipe and wine a try tomorrow night. It will be the perfect cap to your weekend!

Sunday Supper Roast

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 3 hours

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 lb, boneless eye of round roast
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups beef stock

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F

2

Mix together the butter, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl.

3

Rub the herb butter all over the roast, then place in a roasting tray or Dutch oven.

4

Bake at 500 degrees F, for 5 minutes per pound of meat. (Using a 3 lb roast, I baked mine at 500 degrees for 15 minutes).

5

Without opening the oven door, turn the heat down to 200 degrees F and let the roast sit in the oven for 2 hours. Do not open the oven door at all during these two hours!

6

Once the two hours are up, remove the roast from the pan, place it on a big plate and tent it with aluminum foil to let it rest.

7

Strain the pan drippings into a saucepan over medium heat.

8

Whisk the flour and the beef stock together in a measuring cup until combined. Then pour the mixture into the saucepan containing the pan drippings.

9

Bring the saucepan to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes until slightly thickened.

10

Carve the roast into thin slices, and serve with the gravy, horseradish, mashed potatoes and your choice of salad or vegetables!