Quest for the Best: Here's the top ginger beef in Calgary, says restaurant critic

The Calgary Eyeopener's restaurant reviewer, Elizabeth Carson, went on a hunt for the best ginger beef in Calgary and the results are in.

Ginger beef originated in Calgary in the 1970s

The Calgary Eyeopener sent restaurant reviewer Elizabeth Carson and two aficionados to find the best ginger beef in the city. (Elizabeth Carson)

Ordering Chinese food for dinner would not be the same if it didn't come with some saucy ginger beef.

Some say it makes the meal, so it's strange to think of a time when the dish didn't exist.

And what's interesting is that the popular item didn't come from some far away part of the world — it is believed to have been created in Calgary.

It is said that George Wong, a chef from northern China, invented it at the Silver Inn Restaurant on Centre Street North in Calgary in the 1970s.

His daughter, Michelle Wong, says that it all started from a stir-fry beef recipe.

"Dad was trying to find some sort of recipe that would bring a little bit of the Western cuisine to Chinese cuisine," she told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"He kind of lightly battered the beef and tried this recipe out and that's how ginger beef was born."

The dish became so popular that it is now available in some form all across Canada.

And because of its hometown roots, restaurant reviewer Elizabeth Carson has been on a quest for the best ginger beef the city has to offer.

Her judges this week are self-acclaimed ginger beef addicts Michaela Marchand and Danielle La Banc.

The panel of judges set off across Calgary and rated the ginger beef at four restaurants.

Ginger Beef Winners!

When trying the saucy beef, the judges looked at a variety of features for their critiques.

Carson says they were looking at beef-to-batter ratio, spice and sweet level, crunch, stickiness and the presentation.

4. Central Grand Restaurant — 295-1623 Centre St. N.

Central Grand Restaurant was rated fourth, according to Carson. (Elizabeth Carson)

Carson says she thinks the spice in this ginger beef tasted like cinnamon, which she wasn't a big fan of.

However, she says the dish did have a solid batter-to-beef ratio.

3. Ginger Beef Bistro House — 388 Country Hills Blvd. N.E. and 9629 Macleod Trail

Restaurant reviewer Elizabeth Carson says the ginger beef made by Ginger Beef Bistro House has a good crunch. (Elizabeth Carson)

The critic says not only were they the fastest to the table when serving the ginger beef, but that it had a good crunch.

"It had dark glossy sauce and no ginger in it, but it was way too sweet and had questionable beef-to-batter ratio."

2. Kam Han Szechuan House — 2318 Spiller Rd. S.E.

Kam Han Szechuan House in the southeast was voted second. (Elizabeth Carson)

"They had a nice kick spice level, not too sweet," said Carson.

As well, she compliments the restaurant on having a nice beef-to-batter ratio and ginger in the sauce.

1. Silver Inn Restaurant — 2702 Centre St. N.

Silver Inn Restaurant was voted the best in Calgary by the judges. (Elizabeth Carson)

Carson says the original ginger beef spot is still the best in her books.

She says their dish was not too sweet and had superb beef-to-batter ratio.

"You can see the beef and it is tender with a fabulous crunchy batter," she said.

She says it came with a deep red hued chili oil sauce, which had a fantastic depth of flavour and a perfect heat kick.

"You gotta make your way to this mecca to get the real thing. It will be a revelation."

Do you have favourite ginger beef that isn't on the list? Tell us where in the comments below!

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


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