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As an aficionado of Korean cooking and Asian fusion cuisine, Anju had long been on my list of places to eat. The only reason I held off from dining there was Kev’s low tolerance for spicy food. Last month, when he finally suggested for us to eat there, I was ravished with delight!
Opening its doors in downtown Calgary, in between 12 Ave and 4 St SW, Anju has received praises and recognition for its take on modern Korean tapas. As noted in its name (‘Anju’), everything there is prepared in small plates, meant to be shared with friends and eaten with alcohol.
Large bright windows surrounded the modestly decorated space, filling the restaurant with loads of natural sunlight during the day. The black pendant lights and dark wooden furniture stood out against the white and pale blue walls, giving the room a clean, modern look.
The lunch menu featured a fine selection of mouth-watering food. With the help of the server, we picked out 3 dishes to share.
The crispy tofu ($14) was a delightful way to start a meal. Deep fried to golden brown, the soft smooth tofu obtained an amazingly crispy crust. Served on top of kimchi and melt-in-your-mouth tender pork belly, every forkful was bursting with spicy-sweet flavor. Along with drizzles of citrus aioli, the dish yielded a refreshing taste. Yum…. it was unbeatable!
The spicy salmon tacos ($16) came in 4 bite-sized taco shells. In appearance, it may seem clean and tidy to consume, but as soon as we took a bite of the crispy shell, all the ingredients fell apart 🙁 The sesame slaw had a great crunch, with small pieces of raw salmon hidden within. Substituting fresh avocado with avocado mousse lent the dish its silky smooth texture. This piquant dish was especially enjoyable for those who preferred acidic taste.
The spicy pulled pork grilled cheese ($14) was a slightly heavier dish compared to the precedents dishes. It was unbelievable how cheese and kimchi made such a perfect pair! The spiciness of the kimchi was mellowed out by the richness and fat in cheese. Spread with cheese on both sides, the toasts were packed with rich, bold flavor. One thing that didn’t meet my expectation was the lack of moisture in pulled pork. On the side, the fries were a little inconsistent – some soggy, some crispy.
Overall, we loved the food at Anju. Chef Roy Oh did a great job showcasing the elements of Korean style cooking and integrating with Canadian influences. The service we received was superb. The staff took the initiative to introduce the popular dishes on the menu and explain the ingredients in every dish when it was served. Will definitely come back again for dinner 🙂
This post is part of the Fiesta Friday link-up! Click here for more cooking inspirations. Cheers!