I find that downtown Calgary is home to so many restaurants of all types of cuisines from sushi to pizza to tacos and more. For some reason, Chinese food remains primarily entrenched within Chinatown while the rest of the downtown goes without. Two Penny in Victoria Parks hopes to change all that by offering a more contemporary Asian cuisine experience.
Inside you’ll find a beautiful decorated space (completed by the amazing Sarah Ward Interiors team) filled with comfortable seating and subtle Chinese décor. Jade green tones take over the room which is a nice contrast from the red and gold Chinese restaurants that I am used to. A beautiful bar at the back of the room takes center stage. A handful of tables also boast lazy Susans, a Chinese restaurant staple for family-style meal sharing.
Two Penny serves up a variety of Chinese dishes from rice to noodles to dumplings. I found the flavour profiles to be more Northern-style Chinese cuisine compared to what you would normally see at the Cantonese restaurants in Chinatown. Overall, the dishes are very well done with delicious ingredients and beautiful presentation. The food is not meant to be a fully authentic Chinese experience, but more familiar types of foods and dishes.
Highlights for me included the mapo tofu that goes great on rice (it’s a comfort dish from my childhood that I still love when my dad makes it for me). The roast half-duck was also a great sharing platter with milk buns instead of the typical flat wraps of a peking duck dish. Fried rice is one of those dishes that’s pretty standard Chinese food fare, but has been elevated with a bone marrow you mix into the dish.
Tied in with the food menu is a robust looseleaf tea menu which includes cool flowering teas as well as well a crafted cocktail menu from the folks previously behind Ricardo’s Hideaway and the Bourbon Room. Cocktails are a bit unusual for a Chinese restaurant but a welcome addition for this modern Asian girl. There’s plenty to try at Two Penny and I look forward to going back for their late-night dim sum eats.