Fresh off our interview with CKUA, I convince Siu to join me for lunch. I had been meaning to try The Underground’s “Green Onion Cake Sandwich”, especially after Linda Tzang suggested she wouldn’t consider green onion cakes Edmonton’s signature dish until she saw it on local bar and restaurant menus. You don’t get more local than The Underground.
The place is located literally underground. Escalators transport you into the belly of an old bank building right on Jasper Avenue. The space used to be for storage, but now it’s a trendy watering-hole offering countless craft beers on tap. We aren’t here for the beer.
I want Siu to see how his green onion cakes have permeated Edmonton’s evolving food scene, in case he has any doubts.
We walk in and I introduce him to our waiter: “I would like you to meet Siu To, bringer of the Green Onion Cake to Edmonton,” I say with as much fanfare as I can muster. “We will have two of your green onion cake sandwiches, please. No pressure. ”
Fortunately, our waiter is down.
“It is an honour, sir. I will inform the chef. ” I think he bowed. Kinda. He takes our drink order and retires to the kitchen.
I like to think that Siu and I are becoming friends. We chat about why China has risen to the ranks of superpower in less than 30 years (they’re out of land!); about the Chinese in Africa (did you know you can find Chinese restaurants in even the most remote corners of the dark continent?); about Edmonton’s new mayor (yes, Don he is a supporter). It’s all very light and easy. That is until the food comes.
Siu takes food very seriously. He seems to be very clear of the role I am asking him to play: both judge and jury of all things green onion cake. Fortunately, he is visibly impressed with their presentation. The Asian-inspired pulled pork is served on a deep fried green onion cake, different than the style Siu has perfected. The chef makes the cakes in-house.
He dives in with the enthusiasm of a teenage boy.
The green onion cake has to do some heavy lifting. The juicy filling is piled up high, along with some Asian veggies and tomato. But these cakes hold up better than even a traditional bun might. They manage to maintain their crispiness through to the last bite. The slight onion flavour of the green onion cake complements the sweetness of the pork perfectly.
And what says our master: “Excellent. It has a very, very good taste and crispy.” Well said Siu.
He does however give one note: “Maybe, because it is so juicy, you could wrap it in paper like they do the donair. Easier to eat for your customers.” Ever the consummate host.
This green onion cake gets sky high marks for originality and ingenuity! If you’re looking to see the green onion cake in a whole new light, look no further.
5 stars out of 5