A La Saj and Skip The Dishes

This is the first Syrian restaurant that I’ve seen in Calgary. I love trying new things so this was right down my alley.  I love falafel and I think it’s a fair standard to judge a restaurant by. The falafal was packed with veggies; rich and flavorful. I really like pickled turnips.

I tried their Italian Uno, which is wrapped in Saj bread, which is used to make the sandwiches. Saj is common in Lebanon and Syria. This is an example of one of their fusion offerings. It’s a neat idea, and if you were less hungry, this would do the trick.

For dessert, I decided to be adventurous and order the Halawet El Gibin which is a sweetened cheese dessert. Unlike the last pudding I had, which was overwhelming with the flavour of rose water, this was more subtle. I generally don’t like floral notes in my food, but this was just enough to announce it’s presence, but not like an overpowering perfume. The dessert itself was chewy and the texture reminds me of Chinese glutinous rice balls.

I decided to try SkipTheDishes, a new food delivery service in Calgary.  I’ll have to admit,  my only previous online ordering experience was with Panago Pizza.

SkipTheDishes will take your order online, for a variety of restaurants and deliver the food. They are a Canadian company; based out of the Prairies. Calgary is new territory for them.  They work with  over 75 restaurants in Calgary. Most of their restaurants don’t have the capacity to take online orders or drivers to deliver. They hire SkipTheDishes to handle this part of their business. Their target market is Central Calgary at the moment, so you might be out of luck if you live in suburbia.

Their website is nicely done and easy to use.  There is no charge for the costumer. The food arrived at an appropriate temperature, and at the estimated time. If my favorite restaurants are on their list, I would definitely use their service again.

I order delivery around a couple times month. I do like the model of online ordering as in the past I’ve had issues with accents and English proficiency over the phone.

I  was asked to review their service by the company. As most of the readers of this blog will know, I am honest and upfront with my views and my opinions are not influenced by requests for reviews.


Uno / The Italian Our take on a bresaola sandwich with fresh rucola, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil and balsamic reduction   and Falafel
Uno / The Italian
Our take on a bresaola sandwich with fresh rucola, grated parmesan cheese, olive oil and balsamic reduction
and Falafel
Halawet El Gibin
Halawet El Gibin


A La Saj on Urbanspoon

Portuguese Egg Tarts

By request, here is the recipe for Portuguese Egg Tarts. I modified the original recipe slightly, by adding the vanilla bean. These egg tarts are actually Portuguese; that could explain why they are hard to find in Chinese bakeries. I found them when I was in Toronto – in a Portuguese bakery.  If I can’t buy them in Calgary, I will make them myself. The best are still made in Macau.

Makes 14 tarts


8 egg yolks
⅔ cup of sugar (or slightly less if you don’t like your Portuguese egg tarts too sweet)
⅔ cup of heavy whipping cream
⅔ cup of milk
3 drops of vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean

Optional: shredded coconut, 2 tbs

2 frozen and rolled Pillsbury 9-inch pie crust, or 2 homemade 9-inch pie crusts


Scrape the vanilla bean. Use an electronic hand beater to blend the filling ingredients. Beat for about 3 minutes and strain the filling through a strainer. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter the muffin pan.

Flatten the balls into small rounds and fit them well into the muffin pan by pressing firmly on bottom and side (do not over stretch). Fill the pie crust dough with the egg mixture (about 80% full).

Bake the Portuguese Egg Tarts at 400F for about 15-20 minutes, then broil until brown spots appear.

Cook’s Note:

If you use Pillsbury frozen pie crust, you just use it as is, meaning just cut it out into 14 rounds and fit into your muffin pan.

Recipe inspired by Rasa Malaysia Blog

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Singapore Style Noodles

I had the hankering to make these recently. I’m not sure why. Maybe the ramen craze is driving me to make noodles. Oh well, when I used to make this more often, it was a reliable, comfort food standby. Also good for potlucks.

(sing chou chow mei)

1 pkg (454g) rice vermicelli
1 ½ C sliced chicken or pork
½ C raw peeled, small shrimp
2-3 tbs soybean and sesame oil, or vegetable oil
1   small onion, cut in half and sliced
1 C  sliced Chinese mushrooms (reconstituted from dried)
1 C  grated carrot
1 small red pepper, sliced
2 C fresh bean sprouts
3   green onions, sliced diagonally
2 tsp salt
2 tbs madras curry
4 tbs soy sauce
dash, dried chili pepper flakes to taste
drizzle, sesame oil

Servings: Makes a lot, like 20 servings

Soak the vermicelli in hot water until soft (10 min). Drain and coat with 1 tbsp of oil. Grease a wok with oil. Turn heat to medium low. Cook meat until almost done. Add mushrooms, onion, shrimp and red pepper. Cook until done. Add vermicelli. Add salt, curry, soy sauce and chili pepper flakes to taste. Warning: this already makes a medium hot dish. Be careful with the chili pepper. Stir fry until seasonings are mixed through. If it starts to stick to the pan add more oil until it doesn’t. Add carrot, bean sprouts and green onion. Stir fry until heated through. Remove from heat and add sesame oil to taste before serving.


Singapore Style Noodles
Singapore Style Noodles

Additions: This dish traditionally contains sliced omelet if so inclined. Can also be vegetarian if meat is omitted.

Vero Bistro Moderne

We decided to go to Vero after seeing the lineup out the door at Lido Cafe last weekend. It’s been on my wishlist for some time; and I’m glad that I’ve finally gotten around to visiting.

By mistake, we were given the dinner menus to order from. Our server sort of did a double take on our order, when she realized we had the wrong menus. I ordered a glass of their freshly squeezed orange juice. I settle on the eggs benny with burger.  The bread was a crisp brioche that paired well with the veal meatballs and runny vita egg. I like my eggs orange and full of omega-3s.  Hubby enjoyed his Vero Traditional. I had my eye on that as well, but decided we shouldn’t have the same dish.

The food is interesting; as they advertise it, a fusion of French and Italian. They source from local suppliers as well. The service was pleasant and not obtrusive. It is a combination that works well for them.

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Eggs Benedict with Burger and Balsamic
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Vero Traditional

Vero Bistro Moderne on Urbanspoon

Avatara Pizza

Looking for some pizza to go with our boardgames, we decided to try Avatara. Their selections are quite unique. Pick your choice of pizza and optionally add meat. Their crust is also gluten free.  I found the flavors quite satisfying. The crust was good, for a gluten free crust. They also have dairy/lactose free/vegan/vegetarian options. Their pizza boxes were interesting too.

L-R clockwise: Guru with chicken, Italian Stallion with sausage and Che with pepperoni
L-R clockwise: Guru with chicken, Italian Stallion with sausage and Che with pepperoni
Italian Stallion with sausage, close up
Italian Stallion with sausage

Avatara Pizza on Urbanspoon