A subtle but genuine fix of a known Asian tradition alongside nuances of Western flavors.
Dubbed as one of Calgary’s Best New Restaurants in 2019, I discovered Two Penny from an article I read on Facebook and was inspired by the photos regarding the Shanghai art deco vibe and convinced my husband and some friends to try out the restaurant on a weekend.
The first thing I noticed upon entering Two Penny? The art deco that spanned across one long wall, space, and the unmistakable Asian ambiance from having the majority of wooden surfaces.
On a more personal level, the place reminded me of an old Chinese restaurant from my homeland to which my clan (when there were still a lot of us back there) would commune together in a tradition set by our ancestors. In truth, I forgot the name of the place (shame on me) but it had become a tradition for the family to still dine there once in a while, especially when relatives from abroad come by for a visit.
Also, I grew up loving Chinese dishes from the influence of my father. My father loved this cuisine due to intense flavors he prefers. Sometimes I think the Chinese dishes he ordered to be delivered at home are full of MSG, but hey they are delicious but I hardly think they are authentic in that aspect.
Before I go any further, I deem the dishes as being admirably Chinese with a bit of Western influence that works harmoniously. This description, by itself, is worth a try.
Crispy Aromatic Tea Smoked Duck
Half duck. Crepes. Cucumber. Scallion. Hoisin BBQ sauce.
This is a must try. Unlike past Chinese duck dishes I tried before, this isn’t oily as I expected to be… and that is a good thing. Crispy on the outside and flavorful in the inside. Put a duck piece, some vegetables, and sauce on a piece of crepe, roll tightly, and you have a small piece of goodness.
Special Fried Rice
Shrimp. Duck. Pork. Bone marrow. Egg.
For us Asians, rice is a staple. Moreso when you are in a Chinese restaurant. You KNOW you have to order the rice alongside everything else. If not to make yourself more full but it equalizes the flavor among all dishes.
At least, this is something I realized from dining at other Chinese restaurants back in my homeland, when some dishes taste too salty eaten on its own. This Special Fried Rice though is unique as its ingredients don’t overwhelm each other or other dishes on the table.
Plus the bone marrow is a treat in itself. Just make sure to share though. It can be quite tempting to snatch the bone for yourself.
Baby Bok Choy
Vegan. Gluten-free. Garlic three ways. Cashews.
The garlic and cashews add a crunchy texture to an expected leafy dish. The garlic isn’t overwhelming at all.
Salt & Pepper Squid
Gluten-free. Onions & peppers.
It’s not always we get to eat squid so we took a chance despite some chilies… and I like it. The chili isn’t ‘infused’ altogether in the dish. Rather, there are pieces found at the bottom of the dish so anyone who wants more spice can just scoop up some onto their plate.
Toasted coconut, Chantilly cream
To top it all off, we had this sweet, creamy, absolutely smooth mango pudding.
So if you are looking for Chinese cuisine that has some mix of Western mix in it, Two Penny delivers. They also serve some cocktails if you want to have some, or you can have wonderful teas to go with your orders. They also have a Tea House one level down from the restaurant, which houses a bar and has live comedy during Thursdays.
213 – 1st Street SW