HicksBiz Blog

Hicks Weekly Dish: Drastic times, drastic measures, SkipTheDishes and Nara Chicken to the rescue By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 24, 2020

Two styles of Nara Chicken - Korean fried and soy-garlic - delivered by SkipTheDishes. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS EDMONTON SUN Nara Chicken and Tonkatsu 8712 150 St. 780-540-0088 narachicken.com Home delivery by SkipTheDishes.com SkipTheDishes – reliability and speed – 4 of 5 Suns Nara Chicken and Tonkatsu take-out food – 3.5 of 5 Suns SkipTheDishes-delivered Nara dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and $4.49 delivery fee: Basic $30, loaded $50. Drastic times call for drastic measures. Like using SkipTheDishes restaurant delivery for a Weekly Dish review! STORY CONTINUES BELOW While those SkipTheDishes TV ads aired during Oiler hockey games (remember those?) are well done and star Mad Men’s Jon Hamm as a comedian, the usual restaurant experience is still as much about ambiance and socializing as it is about food. But there we were on a late-afternoon Friday, seven of us from two houses, self-isolated together but for visits to the grocery stor ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: U of A researchers hot on the trail of COVID-19 By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 20, 2020

Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, founding director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology in a lab on the University of Alberta campus. The Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology is involved in the critical work to help stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus on February 10, 2020. Photo by Shaughn Butts / Postmedia University of Alberta researchers, as they have done before, are hot on the trail of finding both a vaccine and a treatment for the COVID-19 virus. Distinguished virologist Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, famous for developing the drug lamivudine for treating Hepatitis B, is working with the equally well-known Dr. Michael Houghton, testing anti-viral compounds for possible effectiveness against COVID-19. In 2003-04, Dr. Houghton developed the leading vaccine candidate for the SARS outbreak. SARS – also of the coronavirus family — subsided before a vaccine needed to be mass-produced At least eight research groups at the University of Alberta are working around the clock on ways to stop this global pandem ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Royale Burgers - A temporarily unavailable near-perfect burger By Graham Hicks, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 17, 2020

The Royale Burgers' Big Cam burger, simple and elegant. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Royale(TEMPORARILY CLOSED) 10145-104 St. 780-504-1180 royaleyeg.com Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding beverages and tip:  Basic $25, loaded $50 As if -18C wasn’t bad enough, the wind was whistling down Jasper Avenue during the Friday, March 13 lunch hour. Restaurant after restaurant, while open at that point, were deserted. Downtown workers were on the cusp of realizing the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. One suspects closure, or take-out-only, will be obligatory for all restaurants. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Royale Burgers itself voluntarily closed its doors on March 16 because of the pandemic, until further notice. Restaurants were empty, until I turned the 104 Street corner and walked into the still-new Royale Burgers, with the intent of trying its Downtown Dining Week special (also since cancelled), being R ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Underwhelmed by Biera By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun, March 10, 2020

Biera's Korean style ribs were not exceptional. GRAHAM HICKS/Edmonton SunEdmonton Biera 9570 76 Ave. NW 587-525-8589 biera.ca  (reservations) Wed. to Sat. 11:30 am to 11 pm Sun. 11:30 am to 4 pm Mon. closed Tues. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding beverages and tip:  Basic $60, loaded $90 Was it the particular evening? An off night? Was Biera executive chef Christine Sandford absent? Did we simply order the wrong dishes? How was it possible for our party of four to be so underwhelmed at Biera? This, after all, is a restaurant consistently listed on reputable Top 5 dining out lists (reputable meaning not open to voter manipulation, not being “bought”). STORY CONTINUES BELOW In Avenue Magazine’s just-published Best Restaurants 2020 edition, an independent judging panel named Biera as Edmonton’s Best Overall Restaurant. For years, Chef Sandford has been devising ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Oilers playoff anticipation brings March madness to Edmonton By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun, March 9, 2020

Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates a goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) at Rogers Place on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia It’s March, there’s still 13 games left in the regular season.  The Oilers aren’t guaranteed a playoff spot yet. But the city is already going playoff crazy. At last week’s Oiler away games, the bars, lounges  and sports pubs were full, even though it was mid-week, even though it’s the quietest time of the year for the hospitality business. Sales are piling up for Oiler jerseys, car flags, foam fingers, ball caps. The excitement grows. Because it’s apparent to hockey-savvy Edmontonians that the Oilers are fast becoming one of the league’s better teams – with two leading scorers, two dangerous forward lines, depth up front, a fast-maturing defensive corps and two goalies shooting out the lights. STORY CONTINUES BELOW The anticipation ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: No fighting over this food By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun, March 3, 2020

A Filipino Kamayan/boodle fight feast is a treat for the eyes and the stomach. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Kamayan/Boodle Fight Festival Filistix Restaurant (special occasion) 10621 100 Ave. 780-716-4708 11 am – 2 pm, 4 pm to 9 pm (seven days a week, closed Sunday evenings) filistix.ca Kamayan Feast food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Festival dinner: $57 per ticket When is a fight not a fight? When it’s a boodle fight feast. This rural Filipino tradition has been around for a very long time. Whenever an occasion so warranted, large, flat banana leaves would cover the tables, serving as a combination serving platters/tablecloths. STORY CONTINUES BELOW For what was originally known as a Kamayan feast, food (other than soup) would be dished on to the table centre.  Guests on either side helped themselves, using their hands and rice as utensils. The tradition evolved into a handy way of feeding the troops, somehow tak ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Lots more oil still to come By Graham Hicks, first published Edmonton Sun, February 28, 2020

The Aspen Oil Sands Project, Imperial Oil’s $2.6 billion, new in-situ oilsands project will eventually produce 150,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). It is under construction. Foster Creek Oil Sands Expansion Project — Cenovus — $2 billion, adding 40,000 bpd — under construction. Lewis/Meadow Creek East/Meadow Creek West SAGD Oil Sands Projects — Suncor — $2 billion, around 200,000 bpd from different projects — proposed. Narrows Lake In Situ Oil Sands Project — Cenovus — $1.6 billion — 130,000 bpd — proposed, currently deferred. What is our problem here? Why the tears and teeth-gnashing over the indefinite postponement of the TECK Frontier open-pit bitumen mining proposal in the oilsands, when environmentally acceptable in-situ oilsands projects are lined up around the block? STORY CONTINUES BELOW A quick oilsands refresher: There are two ways of extracting heavy oil (bitumen) from the oilsands, open-pit mining a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Japanese Dining – one good, one bad By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun February 25, 2020

Veggies, shishito peppers, and braised ribs on the Gyu-kaku Edmonton table grill. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ 10404 Jasper Ave. 587-416-0957 gyu-kaku.com 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Fri. and Sat. to 11:30 p.m., Sun. to 10 p.m.) Reservations, Open Table Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding gratuities and beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $50 STORY CONTINUES BELOW Kobachi Japanese Cuisine #125, 200 Festival Lane, Sherwood Park 780-570-5858 kobachi.ca Dinner, Wed. to Sat. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Sun. to 8:30 p.m.) Lunch, Wed. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Closed Monday Reservations by phone Food: 2.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding gratuities and beverages: Basic, $50; loaded $75 Two Japanese dining experiences, with paradoxical outcomes. One was a long-awaited treat that was disappointing at best. The other restaurant was entered with low ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Fact is it's a Goldilocks economy By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun February 22, 2020

Crews walk past the polypropylene reactor and the giant crane being used to raise it into position at the Heartland Petrochemical Complex in Fort Saskatchewan on Thursday, March 7, 2019.David Bloom / Postmedia, file Do we laugh or cry over the state of Alberta’s economy? We are so swayed by the latest headlines, especially the enormous conflict between Western Canadian oil and natural gas versus the youthful/progressive/protest cry for a no-carbon-fuels world. Our bitumen, and now B.C.’s natural gas, has become symbolic of a global fight to the death between unspoiled nature and evil global capitalism. The captains of Alberta’s No. 1 industry are the baddest dudes of all. On the one hand, despair. The global energy companies, huge pension funds, and our fellow Canadians want nothing to do with our No. 1 industry, if only because they will be blocked by climate warriors and our federal government at every turn. On the other … The Alberta government has an excelle ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Pe mitso! Let's eat! By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 19, 2020

By GRAHAM HICKS It was the simplest of ideas, taking much work. Mackenzie Brown — a young Cree artist/musician/activist who describes herself as having a “moccasin in both worlds,” was chatting with food entrepreneur Brad Lazarenko in his Culina To Go within the lovely, fully re-invented Oliver Exchange retail/hospitality centre. Why not, she suggested, an evening of First Nations food, culture and stories here in Edmonton, introducing the wider community to a rich culture that has always been here, but usually presented within a political context rather than pure cultural enjoyment. Lazarenko, being Metis himself, thought this a splendid idea. Planning for Pe Mitso — Cree for “let’s eat” — began in earnest.  Two other indigenous chefs happily joined in, the renowned Shane Chartrand of the River Cree Resort’s SC Restaurant, and a newcomer to the Edmonton culinary scene, Scott Iserhoff of Pei Pei Chei Ow Catering. He ... Read the rest of entry »