One of the things that I want to do more of is write down reviews of some of my favourite restaurants. I think because I am Vietnamese, I am always asked, “What’s the best Vietnamese restaurant to eat at in town?” … And my typical reply is “It depends on what you want to eat.”
And so, I start off my reviews of some of my favourite restaurants with a restaurant that is actually not on my favourite list – in fact, it was on my most avoided list for the better part of the last ten years of my life.
Harbour City Restaurant is located at 302 Centre Street South in Calgary, AB. I remember going to Harbour City as a child for dim sum and there was never anything particularly stunning about it in my mind. I have also gone to Harbour City several times for a couple of weddings, and again, nothing spectacular with the food.
However, yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to a birthday party for a friend’s 18th birthday and was quite pleased with my experience.
The menu for the evening included a starter of crackling from a 20-30 lbs suckling pig, cornstarch dusted fried butterflied shrimp with a light splash of mayo and generously covered with tabiko on a bed of steamed broccoli, scallops on top of a bed of al dente asparagus, a duck and mushroom soup, Chinese fried chicken with shrimp crackers, the roast meat from the suckling pig, pineapple sweet and sour pork, special house fried rice, stir-fried hand tossed noodles with shiitake mushrooms and the evening was finished off with steamed lotus paste buns and a walnut and peanut soup (actually very delicious!).
Of the twenty-three years that I have been in Calgary, never once had I tried something from the dinner menu at Harbour City and boy am I glad to have experienced that culinary delight yesterday evening; it was by far the best birthday meal I’ve ever had!
One of the best items on the menu yesterday evening was the pineapple sweet and sour pork. The pork was succulent and tender and fried with just the right amount of batter. I typically stay away from sour foods because it is not a familiar (or welcome) taste for my palate (we do not have that much sour foods in Vietnamese cooking, other than tamarind).
However, the sweet and sour flavour for this dish was achieved by the stir-frying of freshly cut pineapples and the allowing of the pineapple to carmelize slightly prior to adding the deep fried pork into the mix and then returning the items back into a bowl fashioned out of the pineapple skin.
The dish was actually very light and did not feel heavy and bogged down with artificial sauce and sugars that are typical of most sweet and sour pork dishes.
My dining experience was superb and I would recommend that you go and give the dinner menu a try at Harbour City!