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Opening in the former Hooters location.

Appetizers at TJ Pagoda's
General Tso's Chicken at TJ Pagoda's
Beef at TJ Pagoda's
Foods from TJ Pagoda's
Comments

2007 May 21
I recently took a walk down near the byward market and I decided I would try out TJ Pagoda's. I was glad that I went as soon as I entered. My server (Alli) was very friendly and informed me of the new menu including summer choices. Some of the standouts were the 5 spice ahi tuna (Served on wonton chips), Shrimp and Grapefruit Salad, and Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa. I however am I curry man, so I had to try one of the curry options. They have yellow, green, and red thai curries. I went for the red curry with what the call the pagoda's mix (Chicken and Shrimp). It was the best curry I have had in a long time and to finish it off I had the suggested Banana Spring Rolls. The Spring roll was warm and full of sweetness. I think next time I will bring a crowd so I can try a lot more. Only thing this place needs is some better flooring.

2007 Jan 22
I have been to this Hooter's replacement a few times since it has opened and I gotta say, having tempered my initially high-expectations of a fine dining experience, I have come to quite enjoy the food.

Typically, my wife and I go to TJs before a movie and order some lettuce wraps (better than PF Changs) and share a plattter of Kung-Pao chicken (with some rice). It is plenty of food for both of us and keeps the price of the meal down.

Also, I love getting a large ice-cold Sappuro can with my meal.

Lone Star is next on my list.

2007 Jan 6
My girlfriend and I decided to try out this place tonight. From the outside it looks interesting, and we had a good experience with contemporary asian fusion cuisine in Edmonton of all places (a place called OPM).

The evening didn't bode well when we were led to a two person booth with a stain on one of the seats. A look at the menu showed higher than expected prices for a restaurant of this type.

We ordered the lettuce rolls, the "homemade gingerale", the Szechuan Beef and the coconut curry vegetables, allong with some brown rice.

The lettuce rolls were good I have to admit. Unfortunately this was the only redeeming element of our experience.

The "homemade gingerale" tastes like syrup boiled with ginger and then lightly carbonated. It was flat before we finished our meal and hardly worth $3 a glass.

The coconut curry vegetables were more coconut than curry and the server was unable to identify precisely the vegetables included in it.

The Szechuan beef was so bland and unremarkable, I wished I had gone to one of the Japanese fast food places in the mall. It would have been cheaper and spicier.

The brown rice was so dry I thought they had served me puffed wheat. It was all I could do not to ask for some milk and a spoon.

A definite thumbs down for service, food and price. There's much better value and taste experience for your money elsewhere.

2006 Dec 9
SandyG, thanks for the info! We thought TJ Pagoda's seemed like a chain but Google came up blank on that. I hadn't heard of PF Chang's until you mentioned it. Wikipedia indicates that they have 133+78 restaurants in the US (en.wikipedia.org).

I looked at the PF Chang's menu and recognized some of TJ Pagoda's signature dishes (lettuce wraps, banana spring rolls, and a few others inbetween). This really helps shed some light on the enigma of TJ Pagoda's. :)

2006 Dec 8
Live around the corner from T.J. Pagoda's and thought I'd check it out, but was skeptical when I read some of your reviews. I'm a really big fan of P.F. Chang's and was told they were involved in this franchise.

We arrived at 6:00 and could see work was still being done on the interior. The space is more modern then Chang's and looks like it still needs a bit of work. Candles were a nice touch for a franchise.

Ordered the Chicken Lettuce Wrap (my Chang's go to favorite). Wraps arrived quickly, but without the hoopla of Chang's presentation. They were actually a bit tastier than Chang's and Ali (our server) brought us extra lettuce without us having to ask.

I thought about the Pepper Teriyaki Steak from their Almost Asian menu, but decided to stick with real Asian. We ordered the Hoisin Beef and Pepper Chicken with Broccoli. Rice was $1.50, but enough for two. Waited a bit, but could see a large party had arrived before us.

When the food arrived, Ali gave us the rice on the house and apologized for the wait. The Hoisin Beef didn't look particularly appetizing, compared to the chicken which looked great. I wasn't a big fan of the beef. It was a bit sweet for my taste, although my wife really enjoyed it. (Ali had warned us it was a sweet dish.) I really enjoyed the chicken and the steamed broccoli. My wife ordered a Banana spring roll for desert, which sounded rather odd to me. We were both pleasantly surprised and will probably come back for the desert.

All in all. Not quite P.F. Chang's, but a close substitute.

2006 Dec 8
I had extremely high hopes for this place, and even checked out this place online. Interesting! Asian with a twist?

We got poor condescending service from the second we walked in. This should have been the first indication.

My friend ordered the coconut curry vegetables and tofu (rice would cost extra). It came out steaming and pretty, but that's where it ends. The outside of the pile of food was ice cold! Not even lukewarm, but COLD, as if it had come out of the fridge, and the inside was hot, as if it had been microwaved. I would have paid money for her to say "sorry, but this wasn't microwaved long enough" when she sent it back to be reheated, but she took the high road. When it came back, it was still cold on the outside (and steamy on the inside, again). We also thought that there was something missing to the flavour, and decided that it was the pungency of the curry... extremely diluted. I also think that the curry powder was just mixed into the sauce and then poured over the veggies instead of cooked. It was gross.

I ordered the crispy crab wontons, peanut dumplings, and thai spring rolls. The wontons and spring rolls came with the standard bottled thai chili dipping sauce (great), and the peanut dumplings came with a self proclaimed "decadent" peanut sauce, which I thought was pretty good. My friend tasted it and thinks it may have been Presidents' Choice. The crab wontons themselves were quite nice (also cold).. but the peanut dumplings (regular pork dumplings) and spring rolls were disgusting. I have honestly had better dumplings from Loblaws, and those are a 3 on my scale to 10. The skin was tough, rubbery, and chewy. The pork was minimal, tasteless, and overcooked. Dis-Gus-Ting. I was hoping that the spring rolls would be an automatic hit.. who screws up spring rolls? This place does. Massive chunks of cabbage, carrots, and shittakes cooked in what tasted like expired oil, wrapped in a thin wrapper. The wrapper was great! Probably because it wasn't made in-house.

Our server, Jenny, was nice. Not that attentive, but if the food had been good (or even acceptable), I wouldn't complain. She was nice. Our host, although having comped my spring rolls because my dumplings took about 40 minutes to arrive still oozed "i'm better than you", and gave us the whole "i'm from California and I came here, and I think the food is great." Dude, I don't know what you're eating in glamourous California, but it's not food, and don't, please, please don't call it asian.

At the end of our dining experience, My friend said "do you smell that?" I sure did. As cute as the exposed kitchen (displaying the caucasian line cooks) was, it also doesn't do a good job of hiding kitchen accidents, ex. a suspected grease fire that filled the dining area with thick, white smoke, and an expired oil odor. Deeelicious.

Blech.

2006 Dec 3
Thanks for "taking one for the team" Mark. I was thinking of eating there just to see if my instincts were right, but I thought if we ALL go and try the food there for just that reason, then we're still playing into the hands of the people trying to manipulate our opinions.

2006 Dec 3
Thanks for the review, Mark!

Our overall impression was that this place is the "Kelsey's" of Asian cuisine: higher than appropriate prices, all right atmosphere, and variable food quality.

That's the sort of comment my husband made when we looked in the windows back when the place first opened. I am not terribly surprised that he was right, judging by what I'd seen prior to your review.


2006 Dec 2
We finally did it. Booked our sitter and went to TJ Pagoda's for dinner. I really wanted to discover a gem of a place and come back here full of praise. Unfortunately, it seems our friends who have trumpeted the virtues of TJ Pagoda's fare in this forum *must* have a vested interest in the place.

First, the good. Service was very friendly and perfectly attentive, courtesy of "Linda" (give her a raise guys, she's pretty much the only thing you've got going for you right now). Tall glasses of water (with lemon) were brought immediately to our table unasked. The optional chopsticks were the good quality disposable kind -- the round separate ones that you don't have to break apart. The tabletops are bamboo, which is a nice touch. Our leftovers were carefully packaged in those cute little Chinese takeout boxes and bagged up with fresh chopsticks, napkins, plastic forks, and even a little cup of sriracha sauce!

They have a selection of four "infused" green teas. We opted for their standard "house" green tea that isn't on the menu, thinking it would just be a regular mild green tea like what you get in a Japanese restaurant. Big mistake! I recognized the taste (and then read the label on the bag-tag) as the same Higgins&Burke junk we have at work. Green tea with lemon is just gross! A teapot with a single teabag went for $3.50! Hot water refills were free.. ;-)

The rice is $1.50 for a bowl of white or brown rice. We asked for brown and were mildly surprised to only receive one bowl and no serving spoon. Are we meant to pass it back and forth while we eat? We worked around our little dilemma by using one of the spoons from the other dishes to serve ourselves rice. The optional chopsticks aren't really very useful when your rice is long-grain brown and on a flat dinner plate. Yes, at this point we were giggling a little...

Our overall impression was that this place is the "Kelsey's" of Asian cuisine: higher than appropriate prices, all right atmosphere, and variable food quality. Judging by the lack of patrons at 7:30pm on a Saturday night, it will not be around for long.

I'll post the remainder of my review under the food items themselves. We didn't stay for dessert for a couple reasons: the main dishes were quite sweet enough already, and frankly, we just didn't want to risk it. I think this experience, combined with our experience at MHK Sushi (MHK Sushi), has made us turn our backs on pan-Asian fusion restaurants forever. Other people say they like MHK Sushi -- maybe they'll like TJ's too...

2006 Dec 1
Hehe.. yeah, I talked to RJW a bit after he joined and looked a lot like a TJP's employee. He convinced me that he was just a regular joe who lives in the Market and wants this great restaurant to stick around. That said, he hasn't accessed his account since, so he'd be first on the chopping block in half a year or so! :-)

The thing to remember is that if a restaurant is put up on a pedestal by some reviewers, then the rest of us will go there with high expectations. TJ Pagoda's is at the top of my list of new places to try because of this. If my dining experience isn't wonderful, I will roast them badly (but fairly) in this forum. Undeservedly positive reviews have a way of seriously backfiring on a restaurant review site.

So don't worry, everything will work itself out over time. :)

Older


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2006 Nov 3
A good selection of excellent Asian beers including:

Tiger, Tsingtao, Asahi, Saigon, Sapporo and Singha

There is also an awesome selection of beer on-tap:

Heineken, Stella, Keiths, Bud, Coors, and Ricards.

They also have: Guiness, Ex, Moosehead, Blue, Bluelight, Sleemans, and Corona by the bottle.



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2006 Dec 9
$21.99 for this platter! A huge ripoff!

Let's look at the website menu.

Crab wonton - $8.99 (Yangtze dim-sum price for this is less than $3)

Pot Sticker - $7.99 (Again, Yangtze dim-sum price for this is less than $4)

Steamed Edamame - $5.99 (Many Japanese restaurants sell this for less than $4)

Sorry. I am not going to pay more for chain restaurant food.

2006 Dec 3
We opted for the "Pagoda Platter" so we could sample as many appetizers as possible. At $21.99 we thought it might be too much food, but we were hungry and went with it. As you can see in the photo it was actually quite meager but was beautifully presented.

The Grilled Chicken Skewers had a kind of dry powdery texture and an overpowering taste of lemon. The "Vietnamese" Spring Rolls were thick, full of very non-Vietnamese cabbage, greasy, and without flavour. The Crispy Crab Wontons were kind of bland -- no taste of crab and a too-rich cream cheese filling. The Potstickers were really quite good. We fought tooth and nail over the third one. Wifey got it of course, so I angrily doused the third Crab Wonton in sauce and choked it down. ;-)

The three sauces were diverse but a little disappointing. The peanut sauce was a slightly thinned peanut butter -- not too bad, since I love peanut butter! The soy and ginger sauce was exactly that. The sweet chili sauce was very sweet.

This plate was nice to look at but overall a big ripoff!

2006 Nov 18
Great selection of appetizers--Crab Wontons and Lettuce Wraps were very tasty. I was also told that everything is made in-house, no frozen spring rolls or dumplings etc.



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2006 Dec 2
I make a point of trying General Tso's Chicken at any restaurant that serves it. This was a bit pricier than usual ($13.99) but the Market location makes that understandable.

Overall, I enjoyed the flavour, although eventually the sweetness of the sauce got to me. Yes, the batter was too thick, the chicken was too thin, and the chopped up peppers were very... North American. But I was hungry and I liked it.

Wifey said it reminded her of Manchu Wok (mall food court "Chinese" food). I didn't disagree.


Beef -6

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2006 Dec 2
At RMG's suggestion, we tried the "Caramelized Hoisin Beef". It's marked as a signature dish and costs $14.99, so it *must* be good, right? ;-) Wifey took one bite and was so put off that she didn't touch this dish again. I've seen this happen only once or twice before, and we've been dining out together for almost 17 years!

As for me, I'm a forgiving diner -- I try to enjoy whatever I'm given as much as possible. With this dish I was able to temporarily ignore the cloying sweetness and the overpowering soy sauciness so I could enjoy it. I ate several helpings, savouring the beef that was (for the most part) very tender. Mushrooms do go well with soy sauce and the strong tasting asparagus were able to hold their own against it too. But it's a shame that some of the asparagus had their tough stems left on.

2006 Nov 18
Try the Hoisin Beef--great flavor and contrast with the asparagus and mushrooms.