Grilling with live coals is not exactly easy, or cheap. Which is probably why so many places use a gas grill instead. But about a year ago Tang Dynasty decided to implement a BBQ grill with actual coals.
And from the first skewer you pop into your mouth, you can taste the difference it makes.
The grill is an evident source of pride for the owner. A quick tour inside the small kitchen had no fewer than two people actively touching something at the BBQ at any given moment.
“It’s very labour intensive but that’s part of the charm!” The owner tells us. “But that’s also because we make our own spice blend!”
It’s clear from the patrons that anything from the grill is popular. There is a healthy number of regulars and it’s especially busy during any sort of Chinese event or holiday.
Enough staring, time for some food. We get ushered out and seated before our first dish comes out.
Rice (un)fortunately is not grilled. But this special fried rice isn’t on the menu and has to be specifically requested.
It was still delicious and full of traditional Chinese ingredients like black fungus and BBQ pork. They certainly didn’t skimp out on any of the ingredients. And it reminded me of my Mother’s cooking, which I haven’t had in years.
Our first of many noodle dishes were next.
A hot and spicy pork noodle soup with vegetables lived up to the name. It was spicy. way too spicy for my Canadian palette. Something that the wait staff found hilarious.
“We love this dish,” They told us, “We especially eat it during the winter. Helps to keep us warm.”
There was some kind of citrus in the soup to help with the spiciness. And they also provided some drinks for us too. Which kind of helped.
Finally, our first skewers from the grill arrive. A classic favourite are the beef and lamb skewers.
And then all the skewers came.
As in, we got overwhelmed by skewers. Chicken heart, chicken gizzard, pork bellow, lamb spareribs, and for the more adventurous a pork foot. For the less adventurous, chicken wings.
A word of advice, the meat needs to be quickly eaten or at least, pulled off the skewers. It’s a bit harder when it cooks down. Everything is good, but if I had to pick a favourite I’m still going to default to my safe lamb and beef skewers.
With that being said, Tang Dynasty is definitely onto something with using coals. I don’t like chicken wings, but these chickens wings are good and beat any pub’s wings.
By this point, it felt like they wanted us to try everything on the menu. Because while we were still digging into the skewers, they brought out a bowl of Cold Steamed Noodles.
Again, this was another dish that was way too spicy for me to handle. But even then, I could still enjoy the noodles, which were very springy. This was also the first vegetarian dish that we had received.
The hand-pulled noodles with vegetables was also vegetarian and thankfully less spicy. I will recommend that you mix it thoroughly though, to get the peanut butter sauce evenly spread in the dish.
“These noodles are all made in-house.” Our waitress tells us. And I could tell. There was this firmness that you can’t really replicate with prepackaged noodles.
By this point, we were getting pretty full. But I still managed to try some of the beef noodle soup.
“We insist on making it throughout the day, so that it’s constantly fresh,” The owner tells us, “I also try and source the meat locally and use bones to make the broth. No powder or MSG allowed.”
Which is probably why I went back to try more of the soup even after being so stuffed.
It’s a shame that I need to travel all the way to Calgary to get a good skewer. But it’s worth the drive. And if our experience is indicative of anything, it’s that their expansive menu has something for everyone.
Just make sure you can handle the heat. Or at the very least, let the staff know that your taste buds are like mine.