Foreign Concept restaurant, Calgary. Asian fusion cuisine at its best

Foreign Concept's spectacular signature dish, Charsiu Pork with Foie Gras Steamed Buns

Foreign Concept’s spectacular signature dish, Charsiu Pork with Foie Gras Steamed Buns

Steamed buns for a make-it-yourself 'Charsiu' Chinese-style 'bow'

Steamed buns for a make-it-yourself ‘Charsiu’ Chinese-style ‘bow’

A young realtor in Calgary who lives in the trendy Mission district recommended Foreign Concept restaurant.  When the topic of recommended restaurants came up, he quickly spewed a list of his favourites, and Foreign Concept was right near the top.

Ingrid and I needed a break from the mundane.  We had been traveling to Calgary on family business, twice a week for 3-4 days at a time, and were fatigued from in-residence sandwiches and visiting the nearby truck stop restaurant, which has its own unique charm.

Foreign Concept restaurant on 11th Avenue and 1st Street SW, Calgary

Foreign Concept restaurant on 11th Avenue and 1st Street SW, Calgary

If memory serves me right, Foreign Concept is the location where the Santa Fe restaurant used to reside.  At 1011-1st Street SW, on street parking is free and plentiful on 11th Avenue SW after 6:00 pm.  When we arrived, a steady stream of customers had just begun to arrive.

Inside, the decor is modestly trendy and casual.  With wide windows facing onto 11th Avenue, the interior’s lighting is still controlled well enough to create a good ambiance, giving a feeling of privacy at a table for two despite the relatively open table arrangement.

Our server was excellent, with a thorough knowledge of the menu and contents of each dish when we had questions.

Miso Bake Sweet Potatos, an interesting take on Poutine, $10

Miso Bake Sweet Potatos, an interesting take on Poutine, $10

For starters, we selected from the ‘Small Plates’ part of the menu an interesting take on Poutine, the Miso Bake Sweet Potato with Quebec cheese curd and chives, $10.  The sweet potatoes were cooked soft and topped with an ooey-gooey melted cheese.  I love poutine, so the dish suited me well.  Ingrid was not as enamored with the plate as was I.

Bulgogi Imperial Rolls, $12

Bulgogi Imperial Rolls, $12

We then chose two dishes from the “Big Plates” section of the menu.

First off was the Bulgogi Imperial Rolls, $12.  This is a fusion of Korean Beef Bulgogi, (typically thinly sliced beef marinated in soya sauce, sugar, scallions, a dash of sherry, then stir fried) and Chinese Spring Rolls commonly served in Dim Sum.

The rolls arrived with a perfectly crispy wrapper, and we were advised to take a fresh lettuce leaf to wrap the roll in, add pickled kimchee and samyang sauce condiment, top it with a fresh mint leaf.  This dish was perfection, with a delightful crunch from the deep fried roll, soya sauce flavoured beef with a hint of sweetness, samyang sauce adding a zing of tangy spice, and the freshness of the lettuce and mint leaf.  This is definitely a dish to go back for, and it was Ingrid’s favourite.

Using pork belly instead of the traditional Chinese barbecued pork in Charsiu Bow, brilliant!

Using pork belly instead of the traditional Chinese barbecued pork in Charsiu Bow, brilliant!

My favourite dish was one of Foreign Concept’s signature dishes, the Charsiu Park and Foie Gras Steamed Buns, $29.

For those familiar with Dim Sum, the beloved ‘tea’ meal that’s the Chinese equivalent to brunch, Charsiu Bow are the wonderful, warm, steamed white buns filled with sweet barbecued pork.  Foreign Concept’s take on Charsiu Bow is to replace the barbecued pork with pork belly and to serve it with Foie Gras, sliced pears and a nutty Korean samyang sauce.  Here, the cuisines of China, Korea and France are artfully blended in a glorious and unforgettable way.  For me, this is Asian fusion cuisine at its best.  This is one of my favourite new restaurant ‘finds’ of the year.

Foreign Concept restaurant.  Highly recommended.

1011-1st Street SW, Calgary, AB.; Tel.:  403,719.7288

Lunch:  M-F 11:30 AM-2:00 PM; Dinner:  Mon-Sat 5:00 – 10:00 PM

 

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