Photo Friday: Sunrise in Whitehorse

23 03 2012


Northern Noodle Quest: Green Garden Restaurant

21 03 2011

Green Garden was one of the only names offered up when I first started asking around about where to find the best Chinese food in Whitehorse. It’s located just off the Alaska Highway in Porter Creek — one of the residential subdivisions closest to downtown — and a few acquaintances allowed that they’d heard it was better than most.

Ringing endorsement? Not quite. Still, it was all I had to go on.

A friend and I headed out to Porter Creek to eat, skipping the downtown delivery fee. We ordered vegetarian spring rolls to start (tasty, crisp and more flavorful than the other local spring rolls I’ve tried so far) and then veggie chow mein, chili tofu with satay sauce and — a temporary Chinese New Year special — shrimp dumpling fish balls. The chow mein was bland and greasy, but with an admirable variety and quantity of vegetables included, far beyond the usual strips of cabbage and carrot. (Unfortunately it also included soy-pork strips, an unexpected addition. I’m not big on the fake meat.) The chili tofu was tasty — again, it came with a nice array of veggies — but lacked the spice punch I expected for a menu item highlighted in red text.

Finally, the shrimp dumpling fish balls were… fishy. Chalk it up to a misunderstanding: We figured we were getting mixed fish/shrimp dumplings, but the dumpling wrappers themselves were the fish balls, which were then stuffed with shrimp. The overall effect was decidedly, um, aquatic.

Fishy fish balls aside, it was a solid showing.

Previously in my search for the best (or least worst) Chinese food in Whitehorse:
New Oriental Restaurant, North Dragon Restaurant, and an introduction to the Quest.

A Letter from the ‘King of the Yukon’

10 03 2011

I’ve been poking around at the Yukon Archives lately, mostly looking into the early history of Whitehorse, and last week I came across a fascinating — and nasty — letter. It was written in 1937 by H.G. Wheeler, then the president of the White Pass & Yukon Route, to an outsider named Grant McConachie who was interfering with White Pass’s efforts to control the budding airline industry.

Here’s an excerpt:

You must know, Mr. McConachie, that Whitehorse is a company town; Whitepass and Yukon owns it. They were here before the gold rush a long time ago. They own the railroad to Skagway on the ocean, they run the riverboats to Dawson, they operate the stage line. So they own the town… By ‘they’ I mean H.J. Wheeler. He runs Whitepass. He rules Whitehorse. There’s the Territorial Council, yes, but Wheeler’s the King of the Yukon. He resents your air service barging into his kingdom. So you’re being ignored. You’ll have trouble getting gas. They won’t throw you a rope, tie you up at the dock or even give you the time of day…

An ironic footnote to this bullying letter: White Pass sold its entire aviation division to McConachie less than four years later. Karma, huh?

Whitehorse=Stuff White People Like?

22 02 2011

Remember Stuff White People Like? It’s the blog-turned-bestselling humor book that pokes gentle fun at the all-too-predictable habits of North America’s white yuppie/hipster/hippie sets.

I like an uncomfortable number of items listed in the book, and, well, I like Whitehorse a lot, too. So I thought I’d see how Whitehorse’s offerings fare in a comparison with the master list.

Here are, by my reckoning, the items interested white folks will have no trouble finding in the ‘Horse. Take note:

#1 Coffee; #3 Film Festivals; #5 Farmer’s Markets; #6 Organic Food; #9 Making you feel bad about not going outside; #12 Non-Profit Organizations; #13 Tea; #15 Yoga; #23 Microbreweries; #27 Marathons [Adventure races and trail running count, right?]; #28 Not having a TV; #31 Snowboarding; #32 Vegan/Vegetarianism; #33 Marijuana; #36 Breakfast Places; #42 Sushi; #43 Plays; #44 Public Radio; #45 Asian Fusion Food; #53 Dogs; #59 Natural Medicine; #61 Bicycles; #63 Expensive Sandwiches; #64 Recycling; #65 Co-Ed Sports; #87 Outdoor Performance Clothes [Boy howdy]; #90 Dinner Parties; #94 Free Healthcare; #100 Bumper Stickers [Sample slogan: “EAT MOOSE: 40,000 Wolves Can’t Be Wrong”]; #103 Sweaters; #110 Frisbee Sports; #112 Hummus; #128 Camping; #132 Picking Their Own Fruit.

Northern Noodle Quest: New Oriental Restaurant

21 02 2011

After my first foray into the local Chinese food offerings, I was braced for another unpleasant lemon chicken-esque surprise. But New Oriental didn’t inflict any further trauma on me — in fact, my meal was downright tasty.

A friend and I ordered the vegetarian spring rolls, spicy squid, tofu with black bean sauce and vegetable chow mein. The spring rolls were large and hot, definitely on the greasy side but the veggies inside still retained distinct flavors — a rarity and a major plus. The squid was fried in a light, crispy batter, with a nice, accessible level of spice, a slow-building burn. The tofu with black bean sauce had plenty of flavor, and its veggies remained crisp-ish, not cooked to mush. Finally, the chow mein was bland, but surprisingly non-greasy.

Chinese food purveyors of Whitehorse, you are on notice: The bar has been set. Thanks for reviving my faith in the quest, New Oriental.

Northern Noodle Quest: North Dragon Restaurant

3 02 2011

I had big plans when I first started to consider the Noodle Quest. I had notions about choosing “control items” that would serve as standard orders at each restaurant, to provide some vague, porous, pseudo-scientific overlay for the whole enterprise.

Those notions lasted until the first brown paper bag of take-out arrived, courtesy of North Dragon Restaurant.

I had chosen vegetarian spring rolls and lemon chicken as my two controls – lemon chicken because it’s nearly as commonplace as that great Ameri-Chinese standby, sweet’n’sour chicken balls, which I really, truly can’t stand. I’d also ordered tofu with black bean sauce and (for my dinner companion) sweet’n’sour shrimp.

The spring rolls were decent, bland and stuffed with indecipherable chopped veggies, but hot and crispy. The tofu dish, too, was enjoyable enough as these things go, with a tasty sauce and large chunks of damp, oily tofu mixed with limp mushrooms, snow peas, cauliflower florets, baby corns and water chestnuts. (I always give big props for veggie dishes that don’t fill up on celery bits and skimp on the good stuff.)

But the lemon chicken? I’m not even certain it warranted the name.

Read the rest of this entry »

February is Festival Month in Whitehorse

31 01 2011

February is always a special event- and festival-packed month here in the capital; if you’re planning on visiting the Yukon in winter (which, by the way, is something that far too few visitors do), now is the time to do it.

Here’s the 2011 schedule:

  • The 1000-mile Yukon Quest sled dog race kicks off in front of the White Pass rail depot in downtown Whitehorse at 11am on February 5th.
  • The Available Light Film Festival screens Canadian and international documentaries and feature films at the Yukon Arts Center from February 7th to 13th.
  • The Frostbite Music Festival takes place across several venues at Yukon College from February 18th to 20th.
  • Finally, the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous closes out the month. It runs from February 24th to 27th, and features chainsaw chucking and axe throwing, fiddle shows, pancake breakfasts, dog sled races and general debauchery.

All of these are annual events, but the Yukon Quest only starts in Whitehorse every second year; every other year, it starts in Fairbanks and the big finish happens here, a couple weeks deeper into the month.

Update: This CBC news story includes a couple of events I neglected to mention — first, Hockey Day in Canada is taking place in Whitehorse this year, on February 12th. I buried it deep in my memory as soon as I learned (sniff) that tickets were sold out. Second, the Yukon Arctic Ultra is a go on February 6th. If you aren’t familiar with it (I wasn’t), it’s a winter marathon. Winter. Marathon. In the Yukon. Dang.