Have you heard about YYC Food and Drink Experience? It’s the new prix fixe festival in town, running this year from March 1 – 10 at restaurants all over the city. They have some fancy fine dining events going on in conjunction with the fest, but for the rest of us, we can enjoy set price meals made up of a selection of signature dishes from each restaurant – the biggest problem is choosing where to go!
What I didn’t expect, but loved about Two Penny was their list of non-alcoholic specialty drinks! Sometimes (only sometimes) Matt doesn’t want a bourbon with his pork entrée. We had the Pulp Fiction, made with orange juice and honey som (drinking vinegar) and the Spa Day with cantaloupe and cucumber. The Pulp Fiction runs on the more acidic side with the som, but I used to love having a few sips of fizzy, sweet drinking vinegar before a big meal when I lived in Taiwan so this hit the spot for me. Kombucha lovers will enjoy it! The Spa Day was more of a sweet, mellow mocktail, which went went very nicely with all the savoury food.
To start, the set menu included a little plate of fried dumplings for each diner – I’ve had my fair share of dumplings over the years, so my low expectations were smashed by these amazing pillows of creamy, mushroomy goodness. Matt and I think of ourselves as people who don’t like mushrooms, but that view has been shifting as we steadily find ourselves loving items like this sizzling hot dumpling. The black truffle mayo was incredible as well with a strong flavour and the cooling power to make these dumplings extra crushable. The only thing I didn’t like about this course was that we each only got three dumplings! I could make a meal just of these!
For each bowl, you get to choose between crispy aromatic tea smoked duck, soy braised pork shoulder, hainan chicken, crispy curry chicken and braised eggplant with “4S” sauce, then choose to nest that on a bed of steamed rice, lo mein (thin egg noodles), congee (rice porridge) or napa cabbage. Every bowl comes with scallions, peanuts, shiitake salsa , cilantro, bean sprout salad, salted cucumbers and pickled daikon (white radish).
We can’t resist pork, so that one was an easy decision to pair with noodles. The noodles were tossed in quite a bit of sauce and as a result were fairly salty, but the fresh accompaniments helped balance it out quite nicely. This one was Matt’s fave!
Hainan chicken rice was a risky order having so recently eaten it on our 2018 trip to Singapore, but Two Penny’s version lived up to expectations! They offered some chili oil for the table (customary for this dish) which packed an excellent punch and went so well with the chicken. I wasn’t sure how it would work having generic steamed rice with the chicken since the rice itself is traditionally cooked with aromatics like garlic and ginger, but they layered those elements on top, allowing me to mix it all into my rice and bringing me right back to Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore’s Chinatown.
Likely knowing their lunchtime diners would be groaning with full bellies by the end of the meal, Two Penny kept their Experience dessert simple with warm cookies. A lovely finish to a flavourful meal!
The service was excellent, with friendly staff engaging us from the moment we walked in until we walked out. They even comped one of our mocktails unprompted after deciding we’d had to wait too long for our entrées. We would definitely go back to Two Penny (1213 – 1 St SW) for lunch or dinner any time. If you decide to go with a group (highly advisable so you can share more dishes!) I suggest carpooling and arriving early as parking on that street is in high demand all week.
We’re so glad we chose Two Penny for our Food and Drink Experience lunch – the bowls themselves are usually $16, so for $20 getting an appetizer and a cookie along with it felt like a good value. There are still so many other places to try, so I highly recommend you check out this festival before it’s over on March 10, 2019!