If you’re a reader of Dining with Donald, and not from the area, you may not know that Winnipeg gets cold. Real cold. Periodically this cold arrives for extended stays like it did from mid-December until the last couple of days, with only a minor respite in the middle.
Over the years Winnipeg developed a downtown walkway system that helps to take some of the bite out of the real cold weather. Generally I walk out of doors, but during these cold snaps I find myself taking advantage of this system on a more frequent basis.
There are many restaurants along the way. Included among them are the ones in the food courts at Portage Place, Cityplace, and Winnipeg Square. Of the three, Cityplace has become my favourite food court. The main thing about Cityplace is that they seem to have the best mix of chain and local establishments. I rarely visit the chains with the exception of Za Pizza Bistro, which is a local chain.
Over the last few weeks I’ve visited two food court tenants. One is what appears to be locally owned LIttle Bangkok Thai, and the other a chain place, Shawarma Fusion. I say that LIttle Bangkok Thai appears to be locally owned, because it’s hard to track down any information about them on line.
Little Bangkok Thai
Little Bangkok Thai is located in the farthest corner of the food court at Cityplace, right next to “Melt”wich. Despite bright red signage it’s easy to overlook this place. A couple of reasons for this. Little Bangkok Thai has adopted a process of preparing your order to spec after you’ve order. That means the area where the trays of food sat, is now covered with pictures of menu items, instead of having containers of the actual food.
The second and bigger reason is that the operators tend to hide out in the kitchen until some comes and rings the little desk bell that sits on the counter. This means that they rarely pull in any people that are just passing by.
I don’t have a picture of the first dish I ordered from Little Bangkok Thai. This was the Green Curry with Chicken. I was a little disappointed when I received it, because it was made with frozen mixed vegetable. However, once I tasted it the disappointment was gone. The Green Curry was very well prepared, and the rice that it was served on was good and fluffy.
The next time I stopped in I ordered the Pad Thai which you see above, along with a couple of the spring rolls. The spring rolls were crispy with plenty of filling in them. The Pad Thai was quite good. One of the things I like about Little Bangkok Thai is that they have a choose your own heat scale form their dishes running from mild to extremely hot. I chose the extremely hot. I wouldn’t say that the heat was in any way overwhelming, but there was enough of it the dish to leave my heat loving self satisfied.
My third visit I ordered the Tom Yum soup. This again is a very good dish. It’s quite clear that the decision to make dishes on the spot results in above average quality in the food at Little Bangkok Thai. There was plenty of meat in my portion, and the heat was again quite satisfying leaving a nice post meal buzz in the mouth.
The prices here are very good, with good portions available at under $!0.00. As I said, the operators tend to hang in the back when there’s no customers at the counter, but the service is reasonably good, and they do answer the bell quite quickly.
I’ve noticed a trend to new Shawarma restaurants in several food courts around town. This isn’t surprising given immigration trends over the last few years. Shawarma Fusion strikes me as a cross between a wrap place, and Manchu Wok.
On my first visit I went with one of the combos that they offered. I chose the two meat with noodles. The two meats were a curry chicken and a chili chicken. I had arrived towards the end of the lunch service and they seemed to have run out of at least one meat choice(on my second visit there were three choices in the trays).
The meat in the order was very tender and the sauces quite rich and flavourful. Unlike Little Bangkok Thai, there is no choice in the spice level here. As it turned out, though, there is a good bit of spiciness in the dishes. If you are not a spice lover you may wish to ask specifically about which dishes have the least spice.
Along with the combo, I ordered a chicken roll. This consists of a crispy pastry wrapped around a sort of chicken salad filling. I didn’t find this dish overly pleasant, but it makes a good, quick, and filling kind of snack dish.
The combo also comes with a small papaddom. I found this to be good and crispy, along with being light in taste and texture. It adds a nice bit of crunch to the combo.
Yesterday I had a meeting with the other priest from the Central Deanery here in Winnipeg. The meeting was at St. Matthew’s Maryland, and was bring your own lunch. I decided I would try and stop at Shawarma Fusion again as I transferred buses to get to the meeting.
So, once I got to Cityplace, I ordered a simple wrap. I chose the medium Beef and Chicken wrap. As I was watching it being prepared the server seemed to be having a little trouble cutting the pieces of meet off of the spit. However, once I got around to eating it, I found the meat to be tender enough and there was good flavour to it.
I don’t know how large a large is, but I found the medium provided a plenty substantial meal for me. There was quite a bit of meat along with a good amount of vegetables. There seems to be a British influence to Shawarma Fusion as the beets are labeled beetroot. The prices here are as modest as the portions are generous.
One difference I notice between Shawarma Fusion and Little Bangkok Thai is in the service. The service at Shawarma Fusion is much more present, and outgoing. As he was preparing my order yesterday, the server asked me if I had enjoyed the combo meal I had ordered the previous day.
Either Little Bangkok Thai or Shawarma Fusion makes for a good, tasty, and cheap lunch option if you’re in the Cityplace area.