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OPM


merlin
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It was Jamie Maw's post here that alerted me to the prospect of two more Fuller Family et. al. concepts opening up in Edmonton. We tried Publik several months ago and got to OPM last week after returning to Edmonton from B.C..

I submitted this to another site:

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Yesterday, my wife and I ventured to that chaotic hodge podge of box stores and fast food restaurants with possibly the worst traffic intersection in the city, South Common.

We went because I had heard that the folks who have brought us Earl's, Joey's, Cactus Club and the like had finally opened OPM.

I had read a column by west coast food writer Jamie Maw in the Spring that the Fuller Family intended to try out Publik Taphouse and OPM in Edmonton with the intention of building others in Calgary and the lower mainland.

Publik opened earlier in the year and I am not sure if its concept will work. I did not mind it. My wife on the other hand was less than impressed. Not many patrons the last time I was in but the "lights were still on" when I passed it yesterday.

OPM is an asian influenced effort. I have never been to the American chain P.F. Chang's but I understand that this is the concept that OPM is at least roughly based on.

It sits adjacent to a Joey's World Cuisine outlet much like Publik which is close to an Earl's at the Whitemud Crossing location. Open kitchen with a line of woks and water, waterfall-like, streaming down the stainless steel. Airy, bright lounge and comfortable dining room. The "look" is more Japanese and the food predominantly Chinese with some Thai and Indonesian thrown in.

The menu is divided into categories of :

-"Dim Sum & Then Sum" [appetizers that you will largely recognize if you have frequented Earl's, i.e. Cantonese lettuce chicken wraps {$9.50}, chicken gyoza {$7.50}, Indonesian chicken satay {$7.50}, general tsao's chicken wings {$8.50} and various other rolls, wraps, won tons and the like]

-"From The Fields" [salads including a green papaya and prawn one {$11.25} that I will order the next time I am there],

-"Curry, Noodles & Rice [sort of self-explanatory, singapore noodles, curried chicken and prawns, pad thai, chow mein ranging from $10.50 to $14.00],

-"Hawker Woks" [purporting to mirror the food vendors of southeast asia - beef, chicken, seafood and pork dishes that will be familiar to anyone who has eaten in a Cdn. Chinese restaurant - kung pao chicken, orange ginger beef, cantonese prawns, sweet and sour pork for $10.50 to $14.00], and

-"From The Sides" [garlic snap peas {$5}, Hong Kong Style eggplant {$6.50}, etc.].

The drinks list has a varied number of "exotic" cocktails, the usual "suspects", beers and a pretty decent, varied wine list.

They offer two "house beers", a wheat beer which they call [i kid you not] The Big Wang a "hefty-weisse" and a darker variation, China Black. I asked for and tried tasters of each. Not too impressed. The former might be ok in the summer but I would prefer even Big Rock's Grasshopper wheat ale or better still, Unibrue's Blanche de Chambly.

Our server explained that their concept was to share plates and that is what we were interested in.

I was going to order the wok-fired squid {$8.50} which was supposed to be flavoured with ginger, garlic, red chilies and lime. However, remembering a dish I had had at Publik and again at the Beach House at Dundarave Pier in West Vancouver I inquired if the squid was battered. When told that it was, I decided against it. I do not "get" the idea of battered squid, no matter how crispy sitting in a puddle of sauce.

We decided on the szechuan charred spare ribs, braised pork ribs wok-tossed in a sweet and spicy szechuan glaze {$8.00}, the kung pao chicken, spicy szechuan chicken wok-fired with red chilies, scallions and roast peanuts in a black vinegar soy sauce {$12.25} and the asian grilled beef salad, sweet chili dijon glazed to filet served on a bed of asian greens with marinated vegetables and a citrus soy vinaigrette {$11.75}.

The spare rib appetizer came first attractively stacked and plated. They were delicious finger food. Meat was tender and fell easily off the bone and the glaze had just the right amount of "fire" without being too hot.

The kung pao chicken [my wife's choice] was better than I had expected. A sort of "back handed complement" I know but I had initially resisted the suggestion as this a "staple" on so many local restaurant menus. Again the sauce had more spice than I expected and was thinner, less corn starch, than most I have had in the past. Both good things in my estimation.

It was accompanied by a bowl of steamed rice.

The beef salad was good as well. The beef, thinly sliced and barely cooked was delicious. The glaze worked with the flavour from the grill. The "asian greens" somewhat disappointing. More chopped lettuce than anything else with a few of the offerings from the "From The Sides" section added.

We intially wanted to try a bottle of Evolution from the Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, Oregon. We had not had it before so I went to the lounge where the bartender was more than pleased to pull a bottle from the fridge so that I could check out the label. It indicated that it was a blend of nine unspecified varietals but we ordered it in any event.

Unfortunately it was badly corked and we sent it back and decided to go the "tried and true route" with an Alsatian pinot blanc, Pierre Sparr I think, that was delicious with the somewhat spicy food we had ordered.

Service was "young" but very friendly. Server, bartender and manager handled the return of the wine very professionally.

One thing which I did find curious was that when we chatted with our server he volunteered that during his training he had not tried the ribs and other dishes on the menu. That surprised me as usually the Fuller family is pretty good at insuring that their servers try the menu items and even the wines so that they can make recommendations to the patrons.

My wife who has become "addicted" to the edaname beans at Earl's would certainly get a side of the garlic snap peas on a return visit. I spied a neighboring table having the vanilla prawns, battered prawns infused with madagasgar vanilla beans and topped with sweet pineapple {$12.75} that looked and smelled inviting.

Overall assessment. Pretty good.

More likely to go back if it was not in that "gulag" of South Common. Like Publik would be better to go with a group and be able to order a lot of dishes to share.

At least I know that there is a lounge where I can eat some ribs and have a drink when my better half just has to shop at IKEA or the like

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I was asking my brother how well these concepts were being received the last time he was in town. He said Publik was OK, but wasn't really doing what they were expecting. They have more hope for OPM and it also looks as thought Vancouver will be getting an OPM soon. He wasn't to sure about Publik.

I'm certainly more intriqued after seeing the offerings. I'll have to find out if the prices will be different for the Vancouver market.

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It was Jamie Maw's post here that alerted me to the prospect of two more Fuller Family et. al. concepts opening up in Edmonton.  We tried Publik several months ago and got to OPM last week after returning to Edmonton from B.C..

Thanks for the quite literal feedback on OPM, Merlin. Vancouver will indeed be getting one shortly, hopefully to anchor the Yew/Cornwall nexus of dining opportunities.

Chris Mills is the head development chef for Joey's Global and OPM and I was impressed by the separate and distinct flavours on the trial menus (PF Chang's tends to get muddy after several platters--and many dishes rely too heavily on sweet and salt) that we tested months ago. Mills headed Canada's Bocuse d'Or team and was formerly executive Chef at the Metropolitan Hotel/Diva, which says something about how serious this company is in getting it right.

Needless to say, the challenge is to translate those to a volume application and train the chefs and the servers. I was surprised by your reference to the server not having tested them though.

Thank you for the thoroughly compiled update--it sounds as though it's rolling well and hopefully we'll be the local beneficiaries of that start-up experience soon.

Jamie

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I would love nothing more than to see the Fuller group do it again...but I seriously think they are venturing out of their own comfort zone.....OPM...not good!!.. been there as a guest of the "BIG F" and it was so terrible...I don't even know what to say to him when he calls on Friday....as a very smart man once said...

"Stick to what you know...."

I think those were his last words, but they say so much.....

John

Quote is attributted to the incomprable.......George Tidball...

no snickers!!....

and NO...they weren't his last words... but if he wants to use 'em....

Send a check to the "Save the Naugha" foundation....haven't we taken enogh of their hides????

J

Edited by dodger (log)

It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.

Hunter S. Thompson ---- R.I.P. 1939 - 2005

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

--Mark Twain

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I would love nothing more than to see the Fuller group do it again...but I seriously think they are venturing out of their own comfort zone.....OPM...not good!!.. been there as a guest of the "BIG F" and it was so terrible...I don't even know what to say to him when he calls on Friday....as a very smart man once said...

First off Dodger, welcome to these hallowed boards.

As a new member we hope to hear more from you in due course. One can’t help but notice your unbridled opinions, enthusiastically rendered, and impressive geographic range—from Edmonton to Whistler to Coquitlam, with a stop at 562 Beatty Street for good measure.

Not incidentally, I’ve recently completed a lengthy essay about eGullet that will be published next month. It encapsulates my first year’s experience here, concluding with the recently convened—and delightful—Big Night Dinner.

At the pain of quoting myself, in it I say, “Anonymity, even if it allows for the exchange of frank opinions, comes with responsibility.” By that I meant that it’s not good enough to blithely spout nocturnal emissions about an unsatisfactory restaurant experience, whether or not you were the guest of the owner.

For instance, compare your one-shot comment “and it was so terrible,” to Merlin’s more thoughtful, blow-by-blow commentary, to judge for yourself what other members might find the more useful. Had you elected to post a more thorough discussion (dishes/flavours, prices, good/bad/ugly and why, décor, crowd/scene, service, wine and drinks, comparisons with other Pan-Asian experiences, etc.), you would have painted a more vivid (and responsible) summary of your experience.

You would also, needless to say, be better prepared to speak dispassionately with the owner tomorrow as to where you felt the experience fell down and where he might effect improvement. That’s responsible too, especially as you were his guest. And I would have thought twice about posting your remarks here before having the conversation with the owner. Presumably you’d like to be invited back by “Big F”, whom I presume to be Bus Fuller.

As you explore this and other forums more closely, I believe you’ll soon see that substance is the dough of credibility, leavened liberally by the yeast of humour.

All else is merely crummy.

I hope that you find this helpful.

Sincerely,

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Yesterday, my wife and I ventured to that chaotic hodge podge of box stores and fast food restaurants with possibly the worst traffic intersection in the city, South Common.

Hi Merlin, I must agree with you on this one, this was the biggest and worst change in Edmonton in the four years since I was last there, this whole area is just become one big mall with the Biggest free way in Alberta running through the middle of it, I know that the population will catch up to this development, the whole southern Edmonton district is going to double in population and I am sure will fill up this whole South common area but where is the common sense and traffic planning, the freeway is going to get more congested and they do not have any over passes and it will be impossible to get in and out of this area as time passes, the mall concepts are destroying urban life and downtowns all over Canada, when will Urban planners get this out of their heads, Look at Nanaimo, this is a great example of the Urban mall gone awry, it has helped in destroying downtown Nanaimo, which is doing something to improve itself; I am quit happy with what they have done (Downtown Nanaimo).

Back to Edmonton, why would any one go to south common when you could go to Old Strathcona and get some great restaurants and street experience that is as good as any place in Canada has to offer, it cranks my brain trying to figure out what all the excitement of this kind of Suburban development, do they really go to school to design this type of Communities, when I do the math it does not add up.

As for Fullers new concept, I am sure the family and company will move this Concept in the right direction, it could be the location?..; I hope they got a good deal on the land.

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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