Asian Association YYC – A Pop-Up Collaboration to Remember

 

AssociationYYCAs I look at the best way to start up this blog in Calgary,  I couldn’t think of a better way to revive this blog than with a recap of a Calgary pop-up dinner event – the #AsianAssociation dinner hosted by The Association YYC. This pop-up dinner was a collaboration between three top Asian chefs in Calgary – Roy Oh (Anju Restaurant), Duncan Ly (Hotel Arts), and Hayato Okamitsu (SAIT Culinary Campus). Described as “No Holds Barred. No Frills Family Style”, the lengthy meal took place on Saturday June 7th and featured 14 dishes inspired by Asian family cuisine for just $35!

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(photo by Dong Kim)

There was no way I was going to miss this! The secret location for this pop-up was revealed the night before, and it was being hosted at The Loop in Mardaloop. With just one seating, the chefs would only be able to accommodate 75 people. Our group showed up around 4:00-4:30pm (Doors opened at 5:30pm). We weren’t alone in thinking we would play it safe, it was great to see many familiar faces from #yycfood at the venue. Once the doors opened, the crowds cheerfully and excitedly bounded into the Asian-decorated space in search of the best seats amidst shouts of , “Get a window seat!” and “Go to the patio!”.

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Assorted Rice Crackers (photo by Dong Kim)

We were greeted with drinks and old school Asian snacks. While we waited for the meal to be served, our group played a game of “Cards of Humanity” over mixed rice crackers, shrimp crackers, and Hennessy with Green Tea. This drink combination made us reminisce about karaoke days long ago drinking beer in tea pots or Hennessy and Green Tea.

But once the food started to arrive, it quickly became the sole focus at our table. The flavours were phenomenal and each dish concepted well. The collaboration of the three chefs worked well. Each chef bringing flavours that complimented one another but also showcased his creativity and uniqueness. How much food does $35 get you? Well when the first two dishes (Soy Cucumber Baby Squid Salad and Honey Garlic Anchovies) showed up at our table, I think we all looked at the small plates and thought, “there can’t be that much food tonight”. We were all surprised, as dish after delicious dish kept coming out and each of us took turns exclaiming at the table how many dishes we thought were left.

menu

The Menu

It would be near impossible to itemize the glory of each dish, without this post droning on and on. I’ll let the photos below tell the droolworthy story of the meal. However, I will highlight three dishes that were my absolute favourites, dishes that I still think about today (2 weeks later).

Soy Cucumber and Baby Squid – this starter kicked off our meal with so much flavour and had me in anticipation for what goodies would come with the rest of the meal. The squid was tender and the dish was really well seasoned. I could see myself eating this dish often as a banchan (Korean side dish) with some soup and rice.

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Chargrilled Salmon with Vietnamese Pickle Salad (photo by Dong Kim)

Chargrilled Salmon with Vietnamese Pickle Salad – when this salad came out, it was a true show stopper at our table. Visually it was stunning with the moist, medium rare salmon glistening on top a fresh salad of pickled vegetables and herbs. The flavours and taste didn’t disappoint. This dish was executed to utter perfection. The succulent salmon retained the flavour of the char grill. It was balanced well with the acidic salad, fresh herbs, and crunchy nuts. I could go on and on spouting the virtues of this dish, but I will just add that this salad left such a strong impression on me that I felt compelled to recreate it myself the next day, and I still dream about the flavours.

Pan-Fried Rice Cakes with Pork Floss and Tiger Prawns – another dish that showcases classic Asian flavours but in a modernized manner. As with traditional Vietnamese dishes, there were lots of fresh components in this particular dish – greens, herbs, cucumbers, chili’s, and prawns. It was loaded with salty and subtly sweet house-made pork floss. But the rice cakes were the focal point. They were so well cooked, pan fried so the exterior was crispy while still retaining the pillowy texture of rice cakes. (Update: Raw Bar has started to offer a version of this dish on their menu, I’ve already been by twice to get my fill)

After the 14-15 dishes, bellies full with delicious food, our table discussed just what a great deal this meal was. How did we possibly get so many amazing dishes for just the low price of $35?! Well for one, the chefs didn’t profit from this meal. They simply hosted the collaboration for the joy of it and to make some money for a good cause. Diners received red envelopes and were asked to make donations/tips which went to supporting the Chinatown Flood Revitalization Fund. In total, patrons donated $615 to the fund. With such a fun event and so much amazing eats, I had hoped diners would donate more generously but still it was a great cause to support and aligned well with the theme of the evening.

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Amazing Collaboration between Chefs Roy Oh, Duncan Ly, Hayato Okamitsu (photo by Dong Kim)

This post could get quite long-winded, recapping about how delicious everything was, how hospitable the chefs were, and how we rolled out of the restaurant completely satisfied after an evening of indulgence.
But I will just end off here with two thoughts: 1.) Does anyone have a tried and tested recipe for chargrilled salmon with a Vietnamese pickle salad to help me curb my cravings? 2.) Here’s hoping that Chefs Roy, Duncan, and Hayato will come together to bless Calgary taste buds again really soon!

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Soy Cucumber Baby Squid and Honey Garlic Serrano Anchovies (photo by Dong Kim)

 

tuna

Albacore Tuna Tataki with Citrus Umami Sauce

salmon

Such a delicious salad! Still craving this succulent salmon with Vietnamese pickle salad

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Pan Fried Rice Cakes with Pork Floss, Tiger Prawns, and Herbs (photo by Dong Kim)

 

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Korean Beef Shortribs with Kimchi (photo by Dong Kim)

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Singapore Noodles (photo by Dong Kim)

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Gochujang Pork Ribs (photo by Dong Kim)

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Miso Sablefish (photo by Dong Kim)

duck

Roast Duck (photo by Dong Kim)

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Oranges to end the meal – so typical of Asian family dinners (photo by Dong Kim)

 

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Categories: CALGARY, CALGARY EATS

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