Eat This Now: Two Penny’s Take on a Calgary Staple, Ginger Beef

Ginger beef, a dish invented in Calgary in the ’70s, gets a tasty makeover at Two Penny.

Photograph courtesy of Two Penny.

When you hear the words “ginger beef,” what do you think of? If you’re a longtime Calgarian, the answer inevitably is going to be stingy strips of beef coated in a knobby deep-fried batter and coated in a syrupy ginger sauce. It’s a dish that was legendarily invented in Calgary in the ‘70s and is an ubiquitous fixture at Chinese restaurants throughout Alberta.

The team at Two Penny looked at the original Alberta ginger beef and decided that they could do better. The restaurant’s whole concept is based on more chef-y takes on Chinese-Western classics, and ginger beef was an obvious choice for a Two Penny makeover.

The biggest innovation that Two Penny has brought to ginger beef is the obvious presence of actual beef, and a lot of it. The dish starts with Alberta beef short rib marinated overnight in ginger, soy, sugar Thai chili, garlic and onion. The beef is then put in a sous vide for a full 48 hours. Tender, juicy and naturally flavoured, this beef is the polar opposite of the deep fried stuff.

“Rather than that sweet gloppy sauce, we make a nice jus from roasted beef bones and then fortify it with more marinade and finish it with butter,” says Two Penny chef Mharlon Atienza. “That will go onto the plate with a green onion slaw with crispy garlic and crispy shallots on top.”

The dish is hefty — it is a full 12 ounces of meat and is absolutely meant to be shared family-style alongside other dishes, both big and small. To maximize the sauce, order a side of rice or steamed pork buns, which are great for general sauce mopping. While Two Penny is best known for its cocktails, the ginger beef pairs beautifully with a glass of Beaujolais.

Two Penny’s ginger beef is available both for dine-in or take-out for $40.

1213 1 St SW, 403-474-7766,

Photograph courtesy of Two Penny.

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