By Brett McKay
Prolific food bloggers Linda Hoang and Sharon Yeo have been exploring the city's restaurants and dishing out recommendations for years. Now the pair have compiled their top choices in the Edmonton Food Faves We Crave list as a way to openly share the advice they frequently find themselves giving to indecisive Edmontonians.
"We both field a lot of questions from Edmontonians who want to know where to find good food," Hoang told Taproot. "It really was more just born out of the fact that, instead of answering the questions and thinking about it every single time someone asks, we can give them this neat little directory or list that they can make their way through instead."
The list is not meant to be exhaustive, Hoang said, but the 15 categories do capture a diverse selection of food as well as types of restaurants and businesses. Lists like this don't always include mom-and-pop shops or places in Chinatown or hole-in-the-wall gems, she said.
"Those are places that we visit quite a bit, and those are places that I think a lot of Edmontonians love to frequent, too," Hoang said.
Hoang and Yeo made no claims of objectivity in their evaluations, which is part of the reason they chose to call it a list of faves rather than presenting their picks as a numbered ranking of top restaurants. Dropping the pretense of being critical judges also gave them the freedom to include trickier categories such as "Favourite Place to Take a Tourist" and to consider the harder-to-quantify elements that shape their opinions.
"I feel like this is not a scientific term, but just a really good overall vibe," Hoang said of what makes a good place to take someone from outside Edmonton. "We factor all of that in. So the food has to be really good, the service has to be great, but just the feeling, the vibe, the atmosphere when you're there, it's a place that you want to show off."
To celebrate the Food Faves We Crave launch, the list is available to download as a "passport" that people can check off and share online as they go for a chance to win prizes from the featured restaurants. The passport is a way to make the list more fun and lasting, Hoang explained, and reflects one of the reasons she and Yeo continue to write, blog, and post about local food culture.
"When we are trying different food and restaurants and when we are posting about it, one of the big reasons we're doing it is because we're also trying to support that small business owner," said Hoang. "So if the passport spurs a bit more takeout, a bit more dining, a bit more business for that restaurant, then we'll be happy with it."
So far there is no grand prize for the adventurous foodie who manages to black out the food passport before Nov. 16, but Hoang said they might have to put something together if someone pulls it off.
Photo: Kazoku Ramen is the shared pick for Favourite Date Night on a food favourites list compiled by Sharon Yeo and Linda Hoang. Yeo is a longtime contributor to Taproot and is married to co-founder Mack Male. Hoang has also written for Taproot.