I have wanted to get out and try Anju Restaurant for quite some time and we finally got our chance this past Saturday. Anju serves modern Korean tapas and subscribe to the small plate concept. This is great because they have so much food to try that the tapas style allows you to try a little bit of everything.
Anju is located in a house in the beltline area of Calgary. The cozy dining room is downstairs and the bar is upstairs. We were welcomed to our table in the dining room. Our very friendly server told us the specials and I was immediately drawn to the blood orange cocktail special for the evening. When he brought it to the table I knew I had the made the right decision.
We decided we would order a few tapas and if we had room afterwards we would order more.
The first thing that came to our table was the yam fries with truffle oil served with a gochugaru aioli. They were hot and the aioli was so good. It gave the fries just the right kick. The other thing we really liked is that the truffle oil didn’t over power the fries, there was just a hint of it and that gave it the right flavor.
Just as we were finishing the fries the next two things came to the table. In the long dish was the panko breaded crispy tofu with sautéed kimchi and citrus aioli. Accompanying that was our order of Korean fried chicken wings, half flavoured with salt and szechuan pepper, the other half flavoured with gochujang. We didn’t know where to start but the tofu was calling my name. It was such a unique blend of flavours, the kimchi added a good spice and the citrus ended the whole bite perfectly.
The wings were amazing. The salt and pepper were great but the real star was the gochujang, it was spicy but not burns your mouth spicy. In fact if I could say one thing about this whole meal was that there was an overall good spicy flavor but it was not to the point where I needed to reach for my water. There are a lot of restaurants that don’t understand this balance and I really appreciated it here.
Next up were the oxtail tortellini with soy sauce, truffle oil and grana padano and the pork belly steam bun sliders. I have heard about the oxtail tortellini before and this was one of the reasons why I wanted to come to Anju in the first place. I was not disappointed. If I could have licked the sauce out of the dish I certainly would have. And then I followed that up with the sliders. The best thing I could say about these was how fresh they were. Inside was the pork, a healthy dollop of hoisin sauce topped off with a slice of cucumber.
Believe it or not, after we ate all this we still had room for more. At the suggestion of our amazing server we decided to go for the kimchi fried rice with onion, zucchini, slow poached egg and pork belly. He wisely told us that if we couldn’t eat all of it we could always take the leftovers home and use them for an omelet the next day. We were sold and I’m glad we got it. As with the whole meal, it was a healthy balance of all the flavours in the dish. I think my favorite thing though was having the pleasure of breaking that egg over the rice and tasting the yolk. I loved that.
Finally we finished with the dessert special for the day. It was an anjou pear pie served gyoza style with vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate. It was a light but sweet ending to an amazing meal.
There are few more things I wanted to mention about this restaurant that I loved. Even though I didn’t directly ask I know that the ingredients in the kitchen were locally sourced. A lot of the names on the menu were from farms that I recognize from the area. It gives me great pleasure to support restaurants that source their food locally.
Another thing we noticed was how knowledgeable our server was about diet restrictions. I have some friends who need to eat gluten-free so I asked about it. He said with some of the fried dishes there are problems with cross contamination but otherwise there are options. They definitely would be able to accommodate those needs, all you need to do is ask.
The last thing I wanted to mention was how economical that whole meal was. I wasn’t allowed to look at the bill but my husband told me that the value for the meal we had was amazing, he was shocked to see how low the total bill was when it arrived.
On Anju’s website they state, eat to drink, drink to live, live to eat. I couldn’t agree more.