Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
Helloooo from Hong Kong! B. and I were supposed to make our way to the Philippines today, but unfortunately B. had to fly back home for a family emergency and I’m here spending a little more time with my family.
The Philippines is probably the least well-travelled South Asian country. Even guidebooks boast of pristine, white beaches that have yet to be discovered by tourists. However, it is becoming a more popular destination thanks to growing Filipino populations in the West, and the promise of amazing diving (if you’re into that) and the aforementioned quiet beaches.
Since food is a huge priority for us when we’re travelling, B. and I tried to do a bit of research in Calgary before we left. Enter Pacific Hut.
Pacific Hut is arguably the most well-known Filipino restaurant in Calgary, with a location on International Ave, one in Riverbend, and another in Shawnessy. We went to the International Ave location, which is in the same large strip mall as Hong Kong Supermarket. The location is spacious and colourfully decorated, and includes a small bakery on the side. B. and I arrived later on a Friday night and the place was still hopping, while a musician played live music – albeit not particularly well – in one corner.
We arrived armed with a few names of foods to try, though we weren’t particularly sure what they were. Sisig… kare kare… adobo… halo halo… The waitress helped us navigate the large menu a little bit, and in the end we made out with three dishes.
First up was the kare kare, which was actually recommended to us by CIA reader Maggie. Kare kare is a peanut-based oxtail and tripe (“honeycomb”) stew, served with eggplant, green beans and bok choy.
We loved the tender beef and the nutty sauce, which was thick without being too rich or decadent. The vegetables were OK – it seemed like they were cooked separately from the stew so didn’t “go” as well.
Vegetables don’t play a huge part in Filipino cuisine (as per our guidebook), so we weren’t surprised to find that the “vegetables” section of the menu was quite short. We settled on the adobong talong, aka eggplant adobo.
B. and I love eggplant dishes and always find ourselves gravitating toward them when we see it on the menu. I must admit we prefer the Chinese preparation of cooking it in large amounts of hot oil, which helps to preserve their purple colour and leaves the insides nice and soft. Here, the eggplant was a dull brown and had a rubbery, almost undercooked texture. The adobo sauce was so vinegary that it was quite harsh, though it was good when mixed with the other dishes.
To sop up all the sauces, we ordered a side of garlic fried rice.
We were expecting something more similar to Chinese fried rice, but the rice
Unfortunately we didn’t have any room for halo-halo, the famous Filipino dessert with shaved ice, evaporated milk and assorted toppings like taro, fresh fruit, beans and jellies. It seemed like every table had an order of it! Instead, we headed over to the bakery, hoping for a sweet treat that we could enjoy at home. (And also because it took forever to get our bill, so we figured we should get up to pay it.) Unfortunately most of the buns were sold in multiples, which made it difficult to just choose a few things to try, so we settled on some sweet-and-savoury chicken and pork adobo buns, which we had for breakfasts and lunches over the next few days.
Despite its three locations, Pacific Hut still has a family-owned “mom-and-pop” vibe. The service is friendly, though a little amateur and not always efficient. It’s too bad that my Philippines trip got cancelled, but at least I know where I can have a little taste back at home in Calgary!
Pacific Hut Restaurant (Riverbend)
308 – 8338 18 St SE
Calgary AB T2C 4L5
Pacific Hut Express (Shawnessy)
627 Shawcliffe Gate SW
Calgary AB T2Y 1W1