Tag Archives: Ottawa

Eating in Ottawa

A few weekends ago, a friend and I drove to Ottawa for a nice day trip. We headed straight to IKEA for some interior inspiration – for her new apartment, and for our too-small office space. It was wonderful, and I have my eye set on some vika alex desks and grundtal rails. We were starving and ate a quick meal of meatballs at their restaurant before blazing through the store.

Really wanted these sheets, but Kelvin was not so enthused by them

Now, as much as i love IKEA swedish meatballs, I must admit that they don’t leave you full for very long. We consulted my trusty urbanspoon app (thank you iPhone!) and settled on Oz Kafe for our dinner plans. We had some time to stroll along Elgin Street (though it was more like puddle jumping…in the rain), have a quick drink at the Lieutenant’s Pump, then hop over to the restaurant for their dinner service that started at 6 pm.

Now let it be known that for the most part, Kelvin and my dining experiences in Ottawa have been hit and miss. Some of the restaurants we’ve tried have been pretty brutal, including this one place in the market. That being said, we have found a few gems (ZaZaZa Pizza in the Glebe and Murray Street Grill and Side Door in Byward Market). Oz Kafe is a place that I will definitely be bringing Kelvin to next time we are in town.

On Sundays, they have only their snacking menu, which is a selection of food from their regular menu, plus a few specials that they add in. My friend and I ordered four dishes to share, and it was an explosion of delicious flavour with some Korean influence. We loved their Oz Poutine, which was a really interesting twist on the regular poutine, using scalloped potatoes and old cheddar (we got it with the duck). We also ordered the Taipei corn (grilled, spiced, with crushed peanuts…delicious) and the Beef Tataki (seared beef with two different dressings, which was still nice, but the least impressionable of the four dishes). The heartiest of all was their “Seoul Food”, which I venture to guess is a staple in their menu. The Korean version of a Mexican taco, this dish utilized (butter?) lettuce leaves as a shell to wrap up juicy sirloin strips, pickled veggies and kimchi. Spicy paste optional.

What makes this place amazing is their value (all this for under $30 including tax and tip) and their ability to serve such delicious food without making you feel like you’ll have a heart attack. It’s clean, refreshing, and definitely a place I will visit again.

Oz Kafé on Urbanspoon

Wontonmama – Pan-Asian?

K and I love Ottawa, so we decided to head up to Ottawa on Family Day for the last day of Winterlude (yes, this post is long overdue =P). After a day of fun and a lot of skating on the canal (we went from the Rideau Centre all the way to Dows Lake!), we were really hungry, and were hoping for some delicious, hot Asian food. I had found Wontonmama on urbanspoon, and it was lacking in reviews, but we thought it might be worth it to give it a try. Now, before you read on, know that K and I are normally quite forgiving with dining establishments, but we are being entirely honest with this review.

atmosphere

According to their website, the restaurant had recently undergone a reno. The atmosphere initially was quite nice, with the typical crossed-wood pattern feature on the wall that you find in many Asian restaurants in Markham. However, the music was very odd, and the TV at the bar was really large and was the focal point of that end of the restaurant, which I didn’t feel really worked with the rest of the space. Also, despite the recent renovation, the door to the male bathroom had been completely smashed in, and thus the single female washroom became the only usable facility. The tables were oddly placed, and with everything, it made me think that this place doubles as a lounge or bar or something else after restaurant hours are over.

The service was terrible, and the people who owned the place (or who knew the owner) continually walked in and out of the restaurant. They spent more time talking to each other at the bar than waiting on the tables. On the up side, the food did come very quickly (which was great considering how hungry we were).

what we got

We were really quite hungry, so we made sure to order some apps along with our mains. We started off with the Tom Yum soup and the tempura.

This was the Tom Yum soup ($5). It was pretty flavourful, and not too spicy. The shrimp was very succulent, but there weren’t very many in the soup. They were strong on the coconut milk, which we both like, but it could have used more of a kick. Not the best Tom Yum soup we’ve had, but definitely a contender.

This was the tempura shrimp ($8). By far the worst dish we had that night. If you ever come to this restaurant, do not get this. They gave us soy sauce to dip our tempura in, and the tempura itself was a little soggy, instead of crispy like we like it. It contained a few zucchini and shrimp, and was definitely not worth the $8.

I had the Pad Thai with chicken ($13), which you can also get with beef, vegetables, or seafood. The flavour hits your palatte initially, but it is merely a fleeting taste. It wasn’t at all infused into the food, and it left me a little sad. However, it had a good meat to noodle ratio, and K ended up eating a bit because his meal was not very good.

K got the “Ramen” ($12), which definitely was not Ramen. It looked more like pho, they used the wrong noodles, and altogether it was really lacking flavour. The wontons were okay, but they weren’t anything that you couldn’t make at home with some beef broth and msg. The portion size was really small – it wouldn’t even suffice for lunch.

overall

2.0 (out of 5) for food

3.0 (out of 5) for atmosphere

It is unfortunate to say, but K and I had a thoroughly unsatisfying meal here. This was compounded with the fact that we were still hungry when we left. Perhaps the owners of this restaurant are a Thai family trying to break into the Pan-Asian market? Our Thai dishes were fine, but everything else just fell flat. In the end, we left and went to Beavertails to get our favourite Ottawa snack for the drive home.

This is the second big disappointment we’ve had dining in Ottawa, and we are hoping that this is an inaccurate representation of the food scene in our nation’s capital. If any of you have suggestions as to where we should eat on our next visit to Ottawa, please do let us know!

Wontonmama is located at 109 Clarence Street, in Byward Market, Ottawa. Their website is www.wontonmama.com.

C

Wontonmama on Urbanspoon