A popular Japanese street food is now available in Winnipeg, thanks to the oddly named but utterly charming Not a Waffle, which dishes up taiyaki from its downtown restaurant near the University of Winnipeg.
Taiyaki are golden-brown hollow cakes — made from waffle or pancake batter — in the shape of a sea bream, stuffed with red bean paste or other fillings.
At Not a Waffle’s tiny shop at 353 Langside St. (north of Portage Avenue), you can order such traditional fillings as custard, red bean and taro, or you can choose from a variety of soft-serve ice cream in flavours ranging from vanilla to matcha and mango.
Then you move onto toppings: any two from a list that includes Pocky (chocolate, strawberry and matcha), wafer sticks, chocolate crumbles, marshmallow, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Finally, a drizzle of caramel, chocolate, butterscotch or strawberry syrup. There’s also the (recommended) option of coating the inside of the cone with Nutella.
The result is wildly colourful, eminently Instagram-friendly concoction, the swirling ice cream emerging from the fish’s mouth and garnished with a rainbow of sprinkles and a couple of sticks of Pocky, or a swirled wafer stick. On a recent visit, four young women were happily taking selfies of themselves with their towering creations in front of the shop’s cute cartoon wallpaper depicting a stylized Toyko street scene.
At the restaurant — which has a few tables and some counter seating along the window — owner Mu Mu makes the taiyaki fresh in a special waffle iron and cools them with a fan on a rack.
The not-too-sweet fish-shaped cones have a soft-ish biscuit texture that’s a nice alternative to brittle waffle cones (although the shop does offer those as an option).
The menu also features a short list of sandwiches — pulled pork and lemongrass chicken among them — and a long list of bubble teas, milk teas and yogurt shakes with an assortment of toppings, such as lychee jelly and whipped cream.
Hours are Wednesday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6:30 p.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday). For more info, see notawaffle.com, call 204-774-4290 or go to instagram.com/notawaffle2018.
Dedicated to eating more fresh food and supporting more local farmers and vendors? Check out the South Osborne Farmers Market every Wednesday to Sept. 26 at Lord Roberts Community Centre, 725 Kylemore Ave., from 4 to 8 p.m.
A project of the Farm Fresh Food Hub non-profit co-operative, the market offers meat, produce and crafts from a long list of Manitoban makers and farmers, including Cooks Creek Kimchi, Prairie Quinoa, Eadha Bread and Grunthal Berries. The event also serves beer and cider and features an all-ages craft tent and live music.
For a full list of participating producers, see farmfreshfoodhub.ca. The market’s Instagram account — instagram.com/farmfreshfoodhub — provides a weekly list of vendors.
Winnipeggers can’t get enough of patios: if you set up a folding chair on a sidewalk during the summer, someone would sit on it and try to order a drink.
That’s why the folks at Assiniboine Park have come up with the Pop-Up Patio concept. Every Thursday in July and August, the outdoor terrace at the Pavilion (55 Pavilion Cres.) will be transformed into an al fresco dining area. Take in a view of the park while enjoying a cocktail, beer or glass of wine, along with a full food selection.
Menus are subject to change, but feature such items as strawberry gazpacho, truffle Parmesan fries, lamb belly flatbread, bison nachos and sangria sorbet.
Patio hours run from 5 to 11 p.m.; reservations are not accepted.
The Elevated Pop Up is a chef’s table dinner series from Crème DeL’essence. The six-course dinners were originally designed by owners RJ Urbano and Ryan San Diego to pay homage to their Filipino roots, but it’s expanded into a way to teach diners a bit "about the creative process, the small details and steps in our food, or even something about ourselves and the restaurant. We want more people to understand that there is much more to the dish than what you can only see," San Diego says on the restaurant’s website.
The next Elevated event takes place on Friday, July 20, at Crème DeL’essence at 16-1833 Inkster Blvd. The six-course dinner is $65 plus tax; if you choose the cocktail pairing menu, tickets are $120. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; dinner is served at 7 p.m. For more information, call 204-694-2225 or visit cremedelessence.net.
It looks as if a West End Vietnamese restaurant is poised to become a pho dynasty.
"Coming soon" signs at 235 Portage Ave. (formerly Kim Long restaurant) and the erstwhile Desart location in Osborne Village indicate that Pho Hoang will soon be able to call itself a local chain. The popular Asian eatery’s first location at 794 Sargent Ave. serves up classic Vietnamese dishes such as pho, vermicelli bowls and salad rolls.
Owner Tom Hoang left Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, at 14 and lived in a Thai refugee camp in Thailand for three years. He arrived in Vancouver in 1990 and worked in restaurants across Canada before settling in Winnipeg and opening the first Pho Hoang in 2011.
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Senior copy editor
Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.