Guest Blog: XX Balm

What's up YYC! Tonight we have another fantastic guest blog from Sam, owner of XX Cosmetics, talking about her love for Calgary, Calgary restaurants and her fave dishes! 

Warning: This blog will make you hungry. Please be advised to read on a full tummy. 

Read and enjoy! 


As a way of introducing myself, I am the creator of XX Cosmetics Inc. which focuses on limited, local (YYC), lip balm. Born in raised in Calgary, I am always seeking adventures and opportunities to laugh and grow. Thank you to Local Laundry for having me as a guest spot blogger on their platform and I am super happy that I have been able to collaborate and work with them.

For me, eating is a very social activity; every date or friend gathering I have is centered around food. To the point where I am semi unimpressed when eating doesn’t happen when we make plans. Calgary may have had a bland food scene in the past but it has since upped its game to impress even the toughest food critics. From the apple pie and amazing service at Model Milk to the unreal spring rolls at Golden Inn, there is something for everyone. The hardest part of eating out is actually deciding where to go. Now I don’t want you all don’t think I’m some “bougie” Calgarian who only eats out at the fanciest restaurants; some of the best talks and meet ups I have had with people have been at Denny’s, where my bacon had a side of bacon (thanks Fayaz for not judging me), or at the McDonalds drive through to grab their underrated coffee and catch up with one of my oldest friends (Stephanie, if you’re reading this I’m still laughing over our talk). For me, no matter where I am in the city, food is what brings people together and strengthens relationships with those who I love.

On that note, food aside, there is also no debate as to which part of the city is “better” because I believe every quadrant of YYC brings something unique to the table. Therefore, where you live in the city really does come down to what works for you and your family. For example, you may like living in the SW part of downtown because of the conveniences of walking to work or that Fratello coffee is always within a 2km radius. On the other hand you may have grown up in the NE due to the community aspects of others sharing your culture and that there is always family nearby.

Since this blog post will be read by everyone in every part of the city, I thought I would highlight four food gems in each of the quadrants. I went with three of my best friends, Che, Hilarie, and Brittney. After not seeing them in ages, bonding was necessary over some delicious food.

NW – Peking Garden

Peking Garden, to a lot of northwest kids, is a long time “go to” with their families. I’ve been here a ton with my old friend Stephanie, who notes this as her favourite Chinese restaurant, and with my family since I was seven. Coming back to this restaurant, albeit for me after a long time, nothing has changed. The white table cloths, the constant inflow of families, friendly staff, and the sticky plastic covered menus have stayed the same since I was a kid.

One of the reasons why I chose Peking Garden is not only because of their scrumptious Chinese food but also because of their ginger beef. This dish is notoriously known as a Calgary original. Although it’s not Peking Garden’s signature dish, it was delicious all the same. The crispy beef is bathed in a sweet but savoury sauce, which makes it addictive which makes sense as to why it’s known as a “regular” order. If you come to this bustling restaurant in the heart of the NW, make sure to also try their pork dumplings and the Peking duck which is actually their specialty.

SW- Korean Bakery

Asian desserts are underrated. These are often less sweet and but packed with flavour and texture. The Korean Bakery is no different; they offer the softest breads with the creamiest fillings which are so satisfying. I always tell myself to only get the streusel bun but ultimately pick up a few more treats for later in the week for my 3pm tea time at work.

You might argue that I didn’t go far out enough into the SW to find something more delicious but I can’t help be a sucker for friendly faces at this bakery and delicious breads. You guys need to come here and share (or at try to share) a few buns with you friends.


NE – Sahana Sri Lankan and Indian Fusion

Being Sri Lankan, I never thought I would see the day that Sri Lankan food would be in a restaurant in Calgary let alone the theme. We’re a smaller community here and oftentimes, Lanka gets thrown under the Indian food umbrella. So, I was pretty excited to say the least when I saw the “Sri Lankan” part of the sign at Sahana. I need to note that I don’t really understand my thought process of wanting to go out for Lankan food when I can eat it at home with my parents… I guess it must be the novelty of going out for it.

This place was recommended to me by my friend Azfaar who loves dosa. If you haven’t had dosa you need to get to this place and have their masala dosa. Yes this pancake like dish is massive but you’ll be wanting more after polishing one. We also tucked into something called Kottu Roti which is basically a northern Sri Lankan stir fry. I’ve been told it’s what moms make at the end of the week with all the left overs. However I have also been told that it’s a popular Lankan drunk food. Either way, this dish with a beer will make you and your mom go “wow.”


Now if I have any northeasters who think I am an imposter for thinking that this is the best place for dosa and kottu- please comment and tell me where I need to go because I am always on the search for delicious dosa and kottu. 

SE- Pho Dau Bo

When my good friend Nam and I went to Vietnam, we went on a food tour and told our guide about how Calgary has a fascination, possibly an obsession with Vietnamese food. Ask any Calgarian, they have their top three places they go to. If Pho Dau Bo isn’t already on your list… well I guess you’re making a trip out here to have their beef sate.

The piping hot soup came in green plastic bowls with a heaping plate of the standard: bean sprouts, lime, chilies and basil. It kind of reminded me of the best pho that I had in Vietnam where the soup pot was actually on the street.


I can honestly say I had never finished a bowl of pho until that day. I’m not going to get into the “balance of flavours” etc. because I’m for sure not knowledgeable enough about those things but DAMN, this was a good bowl of soup. You know that saying where they say a quiet table means delicious food? Put four chatterboxes at a table who haven’t hung out with each other in a while with a bowl of pho from Pho Dau Bo, and you have a silent table with slurping. I’m currently trying to figure out how I can justify driving 30 minutes for pho on a regular basis.

I hope you all venture out to try out these places and gather your friends from all areas of the city! I would love to hear all of your suggestions on where to go to next and why you love your quadrant of Calgary.



Back to Kathleen here! If you are someone you know would like to be a guest blogger on our blog drop us a line! Chat at chaaa next week Calgary - stay local! 

PSST! I have a brand NEW blog up on ‘That Awkward Dating Moment’ follow the link to have a look! 

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