109-12445 Lake Fraser Dr. S.E., Calgary
Dinner & drinks for 2: $60
Among the cluster of restaurants in the southeast Avenida Village mall lies Aladdin’s Casbah, run by a Lebanese family transplanted from Quebec.
The Middle Eastern delights have a genie’s touch.
You could get stuffed on meza (a seemingly endless parade of appetizers) alone. They go from simple in the dips — fresh hummus, tzatiki, and baba ghanouj ($6.99) that taste nothing like grocery store tubs — to exotic in hot Lebanese and Armenian sausages (maanek and soujouk).
Some more uncommon plates are worth trying: kebi nayi ($12.99) is a spiced, finely minced variation of steak tartar; frog’s legs ($12.99) are cooked with garlic, lemon juice and cilantro.
Entrees showcase Aladdin’s wood charcoal barbecue. Classic shish taouk ($18.99) are huge skewers of impossibly moist chicken breast.
The best bang for your buck comes with the set menus. The Sultan’s Feast ($45 per person) fills your table with 10 appetizers, then a heaping platter of shish taouk, beef tenderloin kabobs, two quartered quails and jumbo shrimp, ending with dessert and coffee/tea. Service is haphazard but full of character. Belly dancers are featured on Saturday nights.
Calgary has its first higher-end Vietnamese restaurant in Colonial Fusion (163 Quarry Park Blvd. S.E.) The new restaurant showcases French-influenced dishes and features those alongside familiar pho and bun dishes.The most common meats used in Vietnamese cuisine are pork, chicken, fish, and various kinds of seafood.
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