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Category: Korean Page 1 of 3

Samsoonie Noodle & Rice

Richmond’s “Dumpling Trail” brought me to “Samsoonie” for some Korean style dumplings.

Located in the corner of an outdoor plaza, you might miss it, if you didn’t know what you were looking for. Luckily the map on the “Dumpling Trail” brochure is easy to navigate. On a Thursday mid afternoon the restaurant was empty. All its wooden tables and chairs left un-sat. It was a homely restaurant with hand written signs, various ads for alcohol posted throughout, and their featured menu items projected on a blank screen towards the kitchen.

We grabbed a seat by the window and began sifting through the tiny print of the fully laminated menu. It was easy to read with the names of dishes written in English, Chinese, and Korean characters.

When it came to appetizers you had your choice between dish size. A larger serving for a about $4-6 more. We started with the “Pan fried dumplings”, a crispy shell housing pork and green onion filling; just as the brochure recommended it. It was charred and chewy, best serve still order.

Another dumpling option is their “Boiled wontons”. Easy to chew and swallow in one bite. I tasted the pretty distinct flavour of sesame, which got diluted from the extra water pooling at the bottom of the dish. The sauce below helped in this regard.

Before our appetizers arrived, we were given a bowl of chicken broth soup, a side of chilled bean sprouts, spicy kimchi, and a vinegar based dipping sauce. As I mentioned, the latter complimented either dumplings well, if you wanted more zip.

To round out our meal, we followed our two appetizers, with something more concrete. The “Beef bulgogi” came sizzling on a hot plate. The crackling oil fully cooked the beef, giving it a charred essence, along side the hefty amount of onions and cabbage in this. There were plenty of flavours to enjoy with the side of rice. Although it would have been nice to have some sauce for the rice, and for it to become more crisp from its time on the hot plate.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall, a great option for Korean cuisine in Richmond; with not only Korean classics but their take on Chinese and Japanese cuisine as well. Come for the dumplings and stay for the noodle and rice. Don’t deny your cravings.

SAMSOONIE
8211 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, BC V6X 1A7
(778) 297-7798
samsoonie-noodle-and-rice.business.site

Sasaya Restaurant

We came here on a whim, looking at our original destination and turning back around, we ended walking across the way to “Sasaya”. Based on its awning and the photos of their dishes plastered on the window, I deemed it the best option in the neighbourhood.

Inside the restaurant was painted in a rose pink with an apple red detailing. Despite its colouring the whole set up felt like a cafeteria with linear tables set in rows. Stale grey rectangular tables surround by black office chairs. We grabbed a seat in the upper corner and watched the restaurant slowly fill; admiring the one lone server working the floor trying to service them all. She literally ran from table to table either delivering dishes, busing plates, or offering refills of water in to your cup.

The restaurant boasted Korean cuisine on the awning but based on the menu, signs in the dining area, and the staff greeting customers in Mandarin; this was more like a Chinese-style Korean restaurant with options like bubble tea, stewed appetizers, and other popular Taiwanese’s snacks. This had me curious over their homemade kimchi and what a pairing of mayonnaise and bamboo shoot would taste like. They were basically a bubble tea cafe hiding within this Korean restaurant front.

I ended up ordering Japanese style udon despite the Korean name and the Chinese influences. It was noodles and vegetable in a chicken broth base: cabbage, carrot, corn, shrimp, mussels, squid, tofu, sliced pork, egg, and udon. My guest likened it to an “Asian minestrone with tofu”, and now I can’t think of a better way to explain it. It was warming and comforting, with that home cooked feel, just as all the dishes to come were.

I ordered the “Deep fried black rice cake”’out of curiosity. It had a firm texture, what I imagine biting into freshly poured asphalt would be like. It was interesting enough to want to go back for a second, third, and fourth bite to try figure out what it is you were tasting. You ate it for its chewiness and enjoyed it for its instant-noodle-package-seasoning flavour.

The “Bibimbap” was very much so Korean with bbq pork, kimchi, beansprouts, mushrooms, egg, and rice. It came with the cast iron still sizzling. You stirred it all up and then added a kick with a healthy squeeze from the bottle of hot sauce that came with the set. It was exactly as we expected and just as satisfying.

I never miss ordering Korean rice cakes for their texture. This spicy one was plenty tasty, with the vegetables and meat offering contrast and some heartiness to the serving. Although, I would have been just as happy with the sauced up tubes as they were.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Maybe I came in with very low expectations, but I found everything tasty and the meal very fairly price. I was especially impressed by our earnest server, so much so that I made sure to recognize her for your hard work and level head. Once again she was tasked with serving the entire dining room, and she did so with speed and efficiency. All whilst saying pleases and thank you’s. She even ran around with two pitchers in her hand to be ready to offer either hot or cold water. You don’t see that level of service for many off the grid shoppes like this, Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SASAYA
7538 Royal Oak Avenue, Burnaby BC, V5J 4K1
604-433-3652
Sasaya Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kosoo Korean

I really enjoy fusion cuisine. The ability to take two or more things that work, and bring them together to make something new and exciting. And in this case, the outcome was the inventive menu of “Kosoo”. Korean fusion with Spanish and Italian influences, made by french trained chefs.

Today we have been invited down to their restaurant to try their new spring menu. A list worthy of printing out and posting on a banner outside their entrance.When it comes to a media event, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Their restaurant is kept fairly dark with a well stocked bar. Both make it the type of place you could gather at for a light lunch, and then have it transition into the ideal spot for date night. So naturally we started our visit with a few sangrias in white and red, stepping forward with their Spanish influences.

We took a seat on their wooden booth by the window. Our backs against the back lit, violet wall; right under the words “eat” in metal letters. It felt appropriate. The restaurant’s name would follow, a few more decorative pieces amongst a line up of vases.

Our meal began with their “Caprese”. It is worth noting here, that their spring menu took the time to educate their customer. Each item was listed with a photo, the dish’s name and price, as well as some historical or cultural tidbit on the plate itself. Like how caprese originated from Capri, Naples in Italy. Their version was a lot more dramatic and flavourful than the traditional. It utilized savoury garlic and fresh onions in its peso-like sauce. The perfect zesty pick me up for the milder slices of fresh tomato and soften cheese.

The “Toro sashimi” by contrast needed no add-on our flavour or accentuate it. The menu made sure to note that “tuna belly is often considered the best part” of the fish. The time the chef took to present each individual slice like the petals to a rose was memorable. It spoke to the beauty of the raw fish. For me, I preferred its rich, buttery texture dipped into a little bit of soy.

Truthfully I am not a fan for leafy greens, and especially wilted spinach. Therefore I avoided the “Gomae”, a traditional Japanese side dish of spinach. Although it was interesting to note their use of authentic Korean sesame seeds to bring a different flavour mix to fragrant the greens.

Their “Spicy tuna roll’ was a California roll topped with seared tuna and jalapeños, drizzled with spicy mayo and special sauce. A little bit of heat, but mostly imitation crab meat and mayonnaise.

Very similar was their “Unagi roll”. Unagi and avocado topping another California roll. It had some tang from the brown sauce drizzled over, but nothing that had it standing out. In totality both rolls weren’t anything you couldn’t find anywhere else, nor did it speak to their theme.

Their “Cheese chicken galbi” is their signature dish and quite the showstopper. Chicken galbi is a spicy Korean style chicken. Here, it is mixed together with bean thread noodles and kimchi vegetables. The mound of which sits at the centre of their cast iron pot, which is served on a stand. The stand is home to a flame that keeps the meat warm, and melts the two dips that are served on the outer edge of this specialty pot. You can dip the chicken into either a troth of mozzarella cheese, or one yam puree with sweet corn kernels.

Sadly no matter how long we waited, we just couldn’t get the cheese to melt to the perfect stringy and gooey texture. One tug of the string lifted all the congealed cheese up and out of its metal canal all at once. Similarly the puree never got warm enough to have that smooth pasty texture. Instead it was chunky and lumpy like a hummus. As for the flavours all three elements were complimentary to one another. The salty, milky cheese was especially helpful in cooling down the spiciness of the chicken. The noodles added some chew, and the corn a bit of sweetness.

The “Tomato mussel stew”, was pretty self explanatory by its name. Tomato and fresh mussels in a stew with Korean spices and prawn. I liked this dish the least. The sour and tangy korean spices gave this dish an additional fishy and salty flavour. I felt it had a teaspoon too much sea salt.

Very similar, but more like traditional mussels and frites was the “Gambas”. This is a classic Spanish tapas dish seasoned with Korean dried chilies and plenty of garlic sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and garlic.

This was the most memorable dish in appearance and name. The “Spicy Popeye gyoza” is perfectly folded dough, surrounding a juicy prawn with spinach and creamy cheese. This crispy take on gyozas also included a chipotle-like mayo for dipping.

There is also a “Truffle japache”, which I was highly interested in trying, but we didn’t get a chance to. According to the menu truffles are called the “black diamonds of the earth”. Its presence in the dish was suppose to add a little richness in aroma and taste to the most traditional of Korean noodle dishes. Their version of the popular noodle dish was topped with beef “dduk-galbi”. “Japache” was was originally associated with Korea’s royalty, and with truffles in the mix I am sure this was taken to the next level.

 

The following are a few dishes not on their spring menu. Instead, there are some of the popular dishes off their regular menu that we got to try.

The “Tartar sampler” were three scoops worth of tuna, salmon, and beef tartar. Well seasoned, these were fun morsels to start your meal with. Thought I would have liked some starch or a stiff crostini to use as a base for texture and heartiness.

The “Sable” fish was a beautifully clean and simple dish. Authentic Korean fish broth with green onion, rice balls, and fennel.

To continue to end things on a light note, we had little ramekins of their “Green tea mousse”. It had a very strong green tea flavour, to match the stiffness of the dense mousse. A little bitter and not at all sweet, for those who prefer a more subtle dessert.

“Kosoo” also offers a pretty great lunch menu. A feast for two, with all the dishes and sides pictured above for $30 per person. Sadly I didn’t get to try it in its entirety, so won’t be able to write about it here. I guess that is as good of a reason as any to revisit.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Interesting plates with plenty of creativity to leave you learning of a new flavour combination. I recommend it for those who wanting to try something completely new and different. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KOSOO
832 Cardero Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2G5
604-563-5556
kosoorestaurant.com
Kosoo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Damso, all you can eat pork belly

It is unheard of that a restaurant gives me a reason to visit them two times (almost 3) within a month. But here we are, and this is “Damso”. My original visit was actually to “Mr. Osmad”. My guest and I were looking for for an after lunch dessert, and found ourselves here; only due to its proximity to our original destination. But it is during this snack did we find another reason to come back.

“Mr. Osmad” and “Damso” share the same space and the same letters in their names, “Osmad” is simply “Damso” spelled backwards. You enter the former through the right and the latter through the left. Though if you use the wrong entrance you can still get from one end to the other without going back outside.

“Mr. Osmad” offers two main desserts and a handful of drinks to accompany the two. The first is “Bri’Hottok”, a type traditional Korean street food. The restaurant describes it being similar to a “buttery French brioche”. I didn’t see it or taste it that way. Instead I would describe it more like a cinnamon and sugar doughy hot pocket served piping hot. Each is made to order from a raw lump of dough.

The whole show is done before yours eyes, at their counter. One staff member sets to the above, squeezing out a round of pre-made of dough over a hot buttered pan. They do this using a metal stamp with a flat bottom. A series of squishes and flips is done using this paddle until each side is a crispy golden brown. It may not look like much, but with the first bite you know this is something special. I have never had anything like this. It was chewy and squishy, like mocchi dough surrounding a lake of cinnamon and sugar goodness within. Though sadly I couldn’t finish one round in one seating, as it does get a little too sweet mid way.

But it is the “Soufflé cheesecake” that has everyone coming through the doors. These too are made to order, or rather made every 30 minutes. And if you are lucky, you walk in at the right time for a fresh batch. We saw ourselves waiting 7 minutes for the timer and getting ourselves a whole cake (you can only order them as a whole, not by the slice, so bring a friend to help you finish). It delivers on the menu’s description of it being “Super addictive”. It is a light cotton-like cheese cake with a mild savoury flavour with the notes of cheese coming trough. It has an airy texture that still retains the creaminess of a cheese cake; melting from a spongy cake texture to an eggy pudding one. A texture like no other and one I would order again just for the mouth feel. However, it was disappointing that it didn’t shake and wiggle like the Japanese cheesecakes do. But it does let out a large puff of steam when you first cut into it.

It was as we waited for our made to order desserts that we noticed a poster in the corner advertising their two all you can eat options. The first, an all you can eat pork belly happy hour special; and the second, all you can eat Korean style chicken wings during reserve happy hour (in the evening, later at night). We immediately made plans to visit both. But unfortunately, upon writing this post, I have only tried the former: $17.99 all you can eat pork belly, available Monday to Friday between 4-6pm.

But first, there are rules. Everyone at your table must order this AYCE (all you can eat) combo and you all have 1.5 hours to eat your fill then leave. There are no doggy bags and you are penalized for everything you don’t finish. Leave one slice of pork belly behind and you are fined $5. Forgo the soup (that is included in the set) and you are charged an additional $10 for wasting food. And don’t be surprised when you notice a 15% gratuity fee automatically tacked on, no matter the size of your party.

However, even if you didn’t eat more than the initial serving, the $17.99 price per person set is still a deal. Ordering this special is pretty much like ordering several dishes on their menu at a flat rate. The “barbecue pork belly lettuce wrap” set, the “Korean miso stew”, and a bowl of rice on the side.

So having made our intentions known, we hunkered down on their large wooden tables and began eating to our heart’s content. Our goal to truly eat as much as we can and see how much we save in doing so. To watch the vlog version of this, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Not to ruin the conclusion of how much we manage to get through, what I will say is, on the first round, the pork belly is leaner and it does get a whole lot fattier the more you order. My belief is that, this is so that they can keep you eating less and their costs low. Let’s just say this is what got me in.

 

 

The “barbecue pork belly lettuce wrap” set includes ssamjang (sauce) and an onion salad, just like the AYCE combo does. And because it is all you can eat, you can order as much of the above as want. Also, as long as you eat 28oz of pork belly you are already ahead. The 14oz set will set you back $20 and the 28oz of pork belly, $30.

It was most refreshing to eat the slices of pork belly like this. The fattier cuts of meat do get dense and all the onions, jalapeños, spicy sauce, and lettuce help to brighten up the dish with some sourness and tang.

You also get unlimited servings of their “Korean miso stew” with beef, tofu, and potato in a dwenjang broth. It was a warming soup with heat from the cast iron pot it peculated in, and heat from the spices used. It was best used as a dip to soften up the tough and chewier pieces of pork belly. The meat was so tough that we joked that it was like we were having all you can eat pork chop instead. Luckily scissors were provided with our meal and the helped to cut down the thicker slabs down to bite sized morsels.

Overall, flavour wise this were impressively thick cut piece of pork. And the sides included, were well thought out and ideal in giving you many options in which to enjoy the fattier meat with. Tangy and sweet onion, crisp refreshing lettuce, spicy sour soup; and rice, the best base to carry it all.

 

Now calculating the value! At the end we figured we ate about 14oz worth of pork belly each, so are already saving already $2 each. This is because we got the entire set for only $17.99 for all you can eat, and it is regularly $19.99 each. Then you add in two servings of the miso soup at $15 each, and the 3 bowls of rice we shared at $2 a serving; and we saved $58 total. We saved $29 each going this route, having an happy hour dinner.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great two restaurants in one offering plenty of reasons to try them and return again after you do. Dessert or full meal they have options, and I like them enough to want to come back to try their all you can eat wings next, and then a few dishes off their regular menu after. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DAMSO
770 Bute Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2L9
604-806-0945

Damso Modern Korean Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jang Mo Jib, Kingsway

The requirements for this dinner was a restaurant serving family style dishes that isn’t a Chinese one. One that proved difficult, so we ended at this Korean chain as our best option. Their’s a venue that offered plenty of seating, larger tables, and the possibility to order a handful of different dishes to feed a larger group of eight. So this became our destination to enjoy a belated Chinese New Year dinner with extended family at.

Located on Kingsway, a few blocks from Metrotown, driving to and parking is a breeze. Except that the lot was surprisingly filled this Sunday.

The restaurant is divided into two parts. The seating on the left paired smaller parties and couples together. We were seated on the right with other large groups who needed tables pushed up against booths (like our party did), in order to seat them all. The extended room glows with the red accents that highlighted the ceiling. Wooden dividers gave privacy between tables, and provided extra surfaces for posters and signs advertising their specials. Although the menu did a good enough job tantalizing us with all its colourful and vivid photos. The walls were decorated with Asiatic art. Pandas at play, dipping valleys and rushing water ways, twisted trees and spiral-ing streams, and a dragon gliding between the clouds.

We ordered as a group and were surprised by the speed in which it all arrived. The food came one after another, starting with the complimentary sides and rice. These, we were informed that we could have as much as we wanted. They all helped to provide a nice palette refresher with their tangy tastes, chill temperature, and their use as a neutral base for all the stronger flavours to follow.

A green salad with vinaigrette offered freshness. The chilled soy beans, crunch. The sweet chilled potatoes and the spicy daikon gave you a base for all your tasty meats. And the kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine with its pickled tang. All together, five great sides to enjoy atop rice.

“Goon mahn doo”. Pan fried Korean style beef and pork dumplings, served with house special soy sauce for dipping. They were chewy with a good crispy skin from the pan fry.

“L.A. Gahl Bee”. Korean traditional BBQ beef short ribs marinated with house special BBQ sauce. It was described as being rolled on charcoal, which gave it its nice char, but it was very hard to eat. We didn’t realize that, that is what the scissors on the table were for. And that we were suppose to cut it down to smaller pieces, to have everyone be able to pick from it. In smaller bites it was delicious.

“Bool Go Gee”. Korean traditional stir fried beef rib eye and vegetables marinated with house special BBQ sauce. Served in a sizzling hot plate like teriyaki without all that sauce and sweetness. I felt it had way too much onion compared to meat available.

“Go Dung uh goo wee”, grilled Norwegian mackerel. Salty white fish with crispy skin. I am sure there are tiny bones to be aware of, but I lucked out by missing most of them. Flavourful, yet fragrant enough to enjoy as is.

“Yang nyum chicken”. Deep fried chicken wings tossed in house special spicy sauce. larger pieces of wings and drumlets battered heavily with your choice of spice level. We requested it only a little spicy.

The “Jab che” was one of my favourites of the night. Stir fried sweet potato noodle with assorted vegetable and beef cooked in a house special marinade sauce. I like the noodles the most, so was disappointed to get more onion then slippery strands. But the flavour was great and all the other julienned vegetables offered a great texture to chew through.

The “Gam ja tahng” was most impressive of our seven dishes. Korean traditional pork back and neck bone soup with green onion, regular onion, vegetables, and potato. Available in either a small or large size, this is the large served in a hot pot, kept boiling over a camp stove. The broth was full of flavour, lending plenty of it to the large chunks of meat on bone, the large potatoes halves, and onion quarters. Although I was only partial to the tender cuts of meat, taking it in as I sipped spoonfuls of the peppery soup. A great dish to warm up to on a cold day.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A standup place for Korean cuisine with a large group. A great meal, where everyone left with happy bellies, no complaints. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

JANG MO JIB
5075 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 2E6
604-439-0712
jangmojib.ca
Jang Mo Jib Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yook Korean Grilled BBQ & Bistro

I have been attending large scale media events lately, so today it was nice to be able to sit down with three other tell-it-like-it-is food bloggers to enjoy some Korean cuisine and conversation. I was invited by Sherman of “Sherman Food Adventures” to join “Grace Cheung 604“; Amy, ” The Food Queen“; and himself for the soft open of “Yook” on Nanaimo. This would be the only Korean representation in the highly trafficked area.

Getting to it was easy enough, and pin pointing the building on the drive to was even more effortless. They advertised with a large corner sign, and stood out with their all black exterior and newer finish, on a street lined by older buildings. And parking was a breeze with plenty of street side and back alley spots available.

Inside, the restaurant had a very modern look. All new decor and furniture from that of the Vietnamese restaurant that existed in the space once before. The setting was simple and clean with black chairs and white tables, a mirrored wall on one side and tiled panels on the other for decoration. There was no look into the restaurant, nor did you have the ability to enjoy the light from outside streaming in. You couldn’t see much through the black blinders, but they added enough mystique to have those passing by, popping in to see what this new addition to the area entailed.

Planters partitioned with real calla lilies, creating some cover and privacy between rows of longer tables. Each setting was equipped with a buzzer for the calling of staff. This was especially useful if you needed some help during a busier service, and it proved difficult to track down a server; as was the case a few times during our stay.

There were no table-side coils or ventilation fans above for the self grilling of marinated meats at each table. Something I assumed would be included when reading their subtitle: “Grilled BBQ & Bistro” on the restaurant’s door and on each of their menus. All the barbecuing would be done at the back of the kitchen, and then served to order.

The modern aesthetic of the place was furthered by top 40 pop songs in Korean and English playing overhead. It went from the bubble gum girl bands of k-pop to Beyoncé in a smooth transition. It also made the place feel more like a lounge, or an after dinner spot, instead of a restaurant where we would be able to enjoy a traditional Korean style meal. More a place for Chinese style desserts, bubble tea, or even tapas style small plates for snacking and sharing. We would later learn that we would be right in our first blush impressions.

As for the service itself, everything felt precise and exact. From the way the black stone dishes and metal chopsticks were laid out strategically before us, to how the server poured the tea into each metal cups and placed the pot gingerly at the end of the table for self serving after. There was even a perfectly polished, yet casual air to the general manager that received us. I liked how she and her staff made us feel in this comfortable and inviting space.

We asked for the general manager’s recommendations, but ultimately pooled our collective food blogger experience, to select a few dishes to give us a better understanding of what they offer. This would prove to be a wrong decision.

It is worth nothing that during our visit, it was only their second day that they were open to the public. And that they planned their grand opening to be on the day after. This is a rarity. Where most restaurants rather give themselves a month or two before entertaining any plans to advertise to the public and/or host media to review. As a new business you want to work out the kinks of the kitchen, service, and cuisine fully and you need time and experience to do this. Whereas the service was well run and the food came out in a timely manner, what we were served lacked excitement. Some more time collecting feedback and applying it would have helped in presenting a much more memorable meal today. None-the-less, let’s begin.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

The “Bossom” came highly recommend to us. This is tender boiled pork wrapped in radish kimchi. Despite what the menu advertised, the meat and kimchi were presented separately. And without instructions when serving, we assumed we were to take the grey pieces of pork and wrap them with the thinly sliced rounds of pickled vegetable, and enjoy them with the other spicy pickles vegetable. It was just okay this way, but I much rather prefer each element eaten alone with one riding the flavour coat tails of the last. The colour of the boiled pork wasn’t the most appealing. It was salty and fatty, relying on the sauce dish provided in conjunction for flavour, and pickle on the side for freshness and the missing zing. All in all this was cold pickles and room temperature meat.

Theirs’ was a unique interpretation of Bibimbap, a popular Korean mixed rice dish. They had their rice and its toppings served separately, in separate containers; and no egg to pull it all together. “Gochujang samgyup bibimbap” with Gochujang marinated pork belly. The dish was bland with flavourless crisp vegetables and dry crumbles of meat. There was no way I could tell pork belly was used in this. Disappointing as I love a good rice dish.

At least I got some of the carb-y rich chew I wanted from the “Dduck mandu gook”. This was rice cake and dumplings in beef bone soup. The former two offered a nice chewy texture in the thicker murky broth. Although stuffed full, I wasn’t a fan of the taste of the overpowering herbs used in the dumpling’s filling. But, at least it offered more flavour where the soup they sat in fell short. I would have liked a brown salty and sweet sauce to dip everything in to, to treat the ingredients more like a hot pot.

Similarly, the “Ddook baegi haemul soondube jjigae” lacked depth of flavour. This soft tofu in seafood stew had the colour of spice, but its chillies only when surface deep to give you a tingle of spice. Each bite starts off and ends the same; one boring, tangy taste through out. And the chopped jalapeños added nothing to help.

The tables’ favourite was the only grilled dish we ordered. It came sizzling on a cast iron plate. The “LA Galbi” were thin cut ribs in a sweet soy. The meat was served in large bone it strips, and we were given cooking shears to cut them down to size ourselves. Points for presentation and making an entrance. In hindsight, considering the word “grill” is featured in their title, we might have been better off following the manager’s suggestion and only ordering the pork and beef off their “off the grill” section of the menu. It seems like their specialty. And everything above fell short.

And despite this being the best dish of our meal, I am still not without critique of it. I had three pieces, and each was dry and hard to pry meat from bone. Whereas the others found cuts that were more tender. And when I tried one that “looked tender”, it proved to be just flaps of fat in my mouth. So I gave up. The sauce at least tasted good, although I wanted more flavour and seasoning from it too.

With all of this we were also given a bevy of traditional Korean spicy, cold, and pickled sides. However I didn’t have much of any, and was told the kimchi, wasn’t all that exciting. Just as well, as I am not a fan of stewed cabbage any way. I was told by my co-diners that it was all pretty average.

After trying everything, I didn’t know what to go back for. I wasn’t excited for seconds. Sadly, nothing felt like it was worth revisiting, there was nothing I wanted more of. I struggled yet found myself still picking because there was still food in front of me. In short, I liked the newness of the space more than the food within it.

 

Would I come back? – No
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
As is, I cannot see myself returning. Not the worst, but below average. What we assumed would be traditional Korean style meal might actually be a listing of fusion Korean, given the way everything tasted. Softer approaches and milder flavours for those unfamiliar with Korean spices and its bold flavours. They certainly would make a great safe space for first timers to the cuisine, or those with particular palettes. Yet their menu didn’t cater to this, or speak to this experience. It was all written, each option came with its Korean names and a brief description in English. There weren’t high resolution photos to help a novice navigate the ordering terrain. Overall, have some work to do to align themselves and set up their business. The space would do better as a after dinner spot in my opinion, some thing the area also lacks. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

YOOK
2408 Nanaimo St, Vancouver, BC V5N 5E4
604-428-9292
yookkoreanbbq.com
Yook Korean Grilled BBQ & Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sulmida Dessert Cafe

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Korean style shaved ice was the dessert trend of 2016, and it continues into the beginning of 2017, even despite the snow and cold Vancouverites saw.

There are actually two new Korean shaved ice restaurants that have open across the street from Metrotown Mall this year. This just so happens to be the one we past by first.

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Although the colourful banners were eye catching enough to lure anyone passing by in. The bold colours of their fruit topped toast, shaved ice, and flavoured drink against a black background. I found myself revisiting them after I had already entered, as they made better menus to order off of, than the tiny print displayed across the two flat screen televisions by the service counter.

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Inside it was a simple cafe. The walls were kept relatively plain. White paint with the restaurant’s name in lettering, and a shelf home to some plastic green plants in mugs. Down the length of the restaurant hung photographs of a few of their menu items printed out on canvas.

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But what was most striking was the counter showcase of fake food. Each variety of snow milk and lava bread represented in plastic realism. It certainly helped those who are visual diners like myself. It gave me the ability to order with reassurance. You make your choice and pay for it at the counter. And when ready it is delivered to you, at the table you claim. Each dish was brought over on a wooden tray with enough utensils for both my guest and I. I especially liked the gold of the spoons presented with the dessert below.

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I might have chosen the wrong guest to visit this one with. Today my plus one has milk allergies and everything on the menu featured milk or cream in some way or form. Although he had his fill and came out walking away just fine.

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We got the small size of the “yogurt berry milk snow”. Frozen berries placed with precision over a mound of milk flavoured snow, topped with a condense milk drizzle. The first bites were the best with all the sweetness of the topping. After, it was just a milk slushie. A small container of condense milk to use at your own discretion would have been nice. I guess we could have also asked for more too.

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To warm up with, we ordered one of their toasted bread desserts. They had two varieties that we asked for clarification on. The “Injeolmi toast” featured Korean style rice cake and powder and the “lava bread” was the combination of sweet bread and even sweeter custard.

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We got the latter, and little did we know, it’s name would be literal. There was “lava” in the form of chocolate at the centre of our “choco banana lava toast” block. Cutting into it caused a river of chocolate milk and melted vanilla ice cream to come pouring out. This pool made it easy to dip the toasted bread, in order to sop up the excess liquid and flavour the toast. There was also an extra drizzle of chocolate sauce over top, and some banana slices to add complexity to the dish where bread and ice cream was too simple. This was my favourite of the two, but maybe only because the day wasn’t warm enough to enjoy the former without a down coat on.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I definitely recommend them more as a cafe for a hot day. Refreshing drinks and melted creams to help cool you down. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SULMIDA
4697 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 2B3
778-379-8935
Sulmida Dessert Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ta bom Korean Cuisine

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Photos of this restaurant and their signature dish have been coming up on the activity feeds of some prominent food bloggers, enough to have me planning a trip down myself.

But first parking and getting there. They are located in an area of Coquitlam that I am unfamiliar with. A stretch of block that has opposing traffic separated by a fence and sidewalk parking that you have to pull up and into at an angle. And then have to pull out of by reversing into oncoming traffic. This proved especially difficult with the snow on the asphalt, that hadn’t been shovel and was now a large mound of slippery ice. At least there wasn’t also the addition of a meter charge to have to contend with.

We came before 6pm and found the early bird dinner crowd wrapping up, and would only have to wait 10 minutes for us to begin our meal. They are often busy and don’t take reservations, so you run a risk of having to wait, if you choose to visit during peak dinnering days and times. Considering the need to wait, it would have been nice to have such an area, at the threshold of the restaurant, to do so in. But their square footage went into the dining room and the ability to give those sitting, ample elbow room and enough space in-between tables to offer the feeling of privacy. That and the select tables that came with wooden separators that functioned similar to cubicle walls.

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Here decorations were minimal. The far wall that separated the front of house from the back was painted brown and labelled “Ta Bom”. Below the protruding lettering you could make out the movement of those working the kitchen from their literal hole in the wall window. In celebration, an LED lit birch tree and some festive figurines showed unanimity for the season. Other than that, only restaurant adverts for their new dinner special and Korean ones for beverages graced the walls.

The menu was a heavy folder of laminated pages. Each item listed in English with its Korean name in alphabet and characters. There were lots of delicious sounding dishes to pause on and photos to steer you in the right direction. However we would focus on the first page, as we came for the visual nature of the hot plate and could not afford to be distracted given the amount of food that would come with it.

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The menu lists each “hot plate” option by serving. And with a minimum order of two you are basically doubling the listed price by two. So at $14 or $15 for each, you are paying $28 or $30 for the entire portion. And that price is if you don’t request any of the add-ons, which I suggest that you do.

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You choose your main protein. We went for the newest addition: “Stir fried spicy small octopus and pork” because it would give us a taste of two proteins for the price of $15 each person. Each “hot plate” already comes with rice cake mixed in to the main, and corn and egg as sides. For $5 dollars more you also get cheese, which ends up being the best part of the plate, in my opinion.

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A wooden pedestal gets brought over to the table first. It is meant to prop up the cast iron plate. There is the possibility to light it with a flame, but the option isn’t exercised. Instead it is used more like a trivet. With pot holders and a steady hand, an employee brings out your meal. Everything you have ordered it laid out in this specially designed dish. The meat at the centre is still sizzling, the cheese is happily bubbling, and the egg is turning from a clear liquid to an opaque solid. But you don’t get to eat just yet. Next the server pulls out a pair of scissors and tongs and begins cutting the meat at the centre of the dish down to size. This helps with a more even distribution of food between you and your dinner mate. It also makes it easier to dip things into the cheese troth. Although I suggest doing this first, as without an additional heat source the cheese is quick to congeal and harden to a waxy solid in the shape of the mould. Much like the egg which basically becomes an omelette, but is still a little runny at its centre. Although when it comes to cheese, crispy and oil cheese is still good cheese.

To see the described above in action, click the link.

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As for the main it is throughly coated in a sweet and salty sauce, a taste very familiar in most Asian cuisines. And perhaps repeated in our dishes here? My guest swears that our side of spicy chicken below, tasted similar, if not the same as our hot plate of octopus and pork. Lots of salt, and an overall sweetness. A one tone flavour that was given breaks thanks to the help of the sweet corn, salty cheese, and light egg.

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The complimentary dish of three familiar cold Korean sides helped as well. This came first and well before the hot plate. Potatoes, bean sprouts, and kimchi.

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But the bowl of rice we added on was ideal. Everything was so saucy that the rice was a great base to balance things out. Also I just like enjoying protein with carbs.

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As mentioned, we also had their “Mom’s pop chicken”. Spicy Korean style popcorn chicken with green onion and sesame seeds sprinkled overtop. When asked, our server recommended this as their most popular dish, next to their spicy soup. I found it and our hot plate above different. This had more heat to it. Crispy one biters with plenty of sticky sauce to colour it red.

The staff were incredibly attentive and polite. They wore black tee shirts with the restaurant’s thumbs up logo on the back to identify themselves. They stand at the ready to refill tea and clear plates. And when a table vacates, they swarm to bus and clean with great teamwork. This so that the next group in wait is able to be seated as soon as possible.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This, I full heartedly recommend. Their one of a kind hot plates are worth the traffic ridden drive during rush hour for. This is an interactive and unique dining experience with some great Korean flavours. I would love to come back to try other plates and some of their impressive looking soups and noodles too. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

Ta Bom
C-1046 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam BC, V3K 3P3
778-355-1717
Ta Bom Korean Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Daeji Cutlet House

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One day to pay day and I was looking for something quick and easy for dinner. I have passed by a few of its other locations in and around Vancouver, five in total. Each with its trademark orange accents and mascot: a chubby orange piggy with more stout than face.

Inside, the cafe is orange and white, with each table ready for seating, set with their double sided menus. The menu is divided between cutlets, specialty cutlets, hamburger steak, rice, pork hocs, chicken, and sides. It is a visual list to guide you. I tend to steer away from pork as if it is slightly overcooked its dryness reminds me of chewing saw dust, and if it is undercooked it isn’t any better. So I was looking to see their take on the protein and hopefully enjoy some now. However, as a visual diner, each photographed option didn’t look like much, but at least they tasted a lot better.

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The restaurant is famous for fusion Korean style cutlets, made using only 100% vegetable oils. They celebrate their food as comforting with these cutlets and homemade hamburger patties taking centre stage. If pork isn’t for you, the also offer their cutlets in either chicken or fish. And if you are looking for something completely different they also have pork hocs (slices), fried chicken (nuggets), and even a vegetable curry on rice.

My guest wasn’t hungry enough for her own serving so we decided to go with one of their combos to share. With it you choose any of their cutlets or hamburger steak options, paying a $1 more for the mix and match possibility of the proteins with your sides. Two pieces of cutlet or hamburger steak with rice, salad and soup. Not mentioned is that you also get pickles and a macaroni salad. Your choice of soups is between a miso or a kimchi, given the cuisine we went with the latter.

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The bowl of kimchi soup was simply the preserved spicy vegetable soaking in a bowl of its own brewed juices. I didn’t prefer the wilted vegetable, but liked the neon red broth just fine. It reminded me of a spicy and tangy minestrone soup, with a fishy after taste.

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Normally regular entrees are $9.99 to $11.99, depending on your protein choices and their toppings. You pay minimum for the basic pork with gravy, $1 more for it with garlic or curry, $2 more to have it with cheese and kimchi, and $3 more if your cutlet is to be topped with cheese, shrimp, and jalapeños. With more fulsome toppings, the hamburger steaks were like burgers without the roll or bun. $10.99 for the basic, $1 more for cheese or pineapples.

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So at a $1 more to try two different menu items, it is a good deal. We took our server’s recommendation on the “Mushroom hamburger steak” and it ended up being my favourite of the plate. It reminded me of mom’s meatloaf with its home cooked and comforting quality. The seasoned beef patty was moist through and through, and made only more so with the thicker gravy coating it. The gravy wasn’t too salty, and tasty enough that you wouldn’t think twice about shovelling spoonfuls of it straight into your mouth, as I did. The mushrooms added some texture, and both it and the meat was best taken in conjunction with the steamed rice side.

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The pickles helped transition between the warm and savoury of the beef and gravy, to the light and tangy flavours of the “pizza pork cutlet”. Our server deemed this one the tastiest of the cutlets. With a heathy serving of onion, corn, peppers, marinara sauce, and cheese; I can see why. For additional flavour the serving sat in a pool of gravy which also paired well with the pork. The pork was crispy and well cooked. It was best eaten as is, like a pizza served over a cutlet instead of bread dough. They were giving us carb free versions of our favourite fast food flavours and they was just as good. Here the macaroni salad offered nice creamy breaks between saltier bites.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not necessary the place I would recommend for destination dining, but when looking for a fast food meal that fills you up a bit more, and leaves you feeling a lot less guilty, this is what I would direct you to. Especially as it runs at the same price as a fast food burger combo with fries and a soft drink. This is a healthier and tastier choice, where you get more value for what you are asked to pay. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DAEJI
4883 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5H 4T5
778-379-3088
daejifood.com
Dae Ji Cutlet House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Midam Cafe & Bistro

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Today we couldn’t just go to a restaurant, we had to travel across four cities, to only end up at a place I have already been to a handful of times. After attempting dinner at two other places, that proved to be a bust; I wasn’t willing to leave my meal to chance.

This is one of my favourite Korean restaurants. So when looking for a sure fire meal, I knew I was in safe hands here. What I have yet to figure out is the theme of the place and why it exists. For those who have been it is easily described as, “the one with the basketball theme”. You either get it or you don’t. We didn’t, but we liked the food just the same. I imagine the decor as part of the owner’s personal memorabilia collection. But either he ran out of showcase space at home, or his wife demanded that he find a new place for all his action figures and jerseys. Either way, they found their way here to be admired and appreciated, and expanded upon. To give you a taste: Kobe Bryant cut out greets you mid dribble at the door, spot lit Michael Jordan posters hung over the coffee bar, NBA branded showcases were home to high tops and ball caps, and we were seated under the net of a court regulated basketball hoop. Even the washrooms were themed. The divide between men’s and women’s was “NBA” and “WNBA”, with balls crowning the individual stall’s toilet, and posters and decals covering its walls.

Seeing as they seemed to be Michael Jordan fans, my guest wondered why there was no mention of the role he played in “Space Jam”? And he felt that given the decor, they were better dressed to offer stadium fare like hot dogs and hamburgers with fries, instead of shaved ice desserts, rice cakes, and hot and spicy soups. But if that was the case, we wouldn’t be here.

As is common with a Korean restaurants, calling for help is as easy as pushing a button. The red one at the edge of each table triggers a light above the kitchen to illuminate with your designated table number. Typically a free server will approach you to help or answer any of your queries. However, they seemed especially busy this Saturday night. We had arrived just before the dinner rush, and mid way, our steady meal with attentive server was quicken by abrupt communication and the increase waiting for dishes to trickle to us. The manger seemed apologetic as he rolled up his sleeves and helped the floor in his high tops. Although our female server seemed annoyed at all the questions we were asking her, surrounding the menu. It made sense given the big rush that entered all at once, and the lack of a hostess to greet and maintain the flow of traffic by the door. There was no one to set the pace and give the kitchen time to prepare in between seatings. With only tree bodies working the room, tables were also left un-bussed and eventually the people who were waiting at the door seemed annoyed that the staff we not able to seat them. It also didn’t help that a few patrons were lingering, and others left the restaurant to smoke, only to come back and reclaim their seats.

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But at least the menu was straightforward and inviting. We were able to order what we wanted visually, and knew exactly what we would be getting.

Our table was dressed with metal utensils and metal serve ware. We were equipped with a metal canister of water and our own metal cups to pour into. Metal spoons and chopsticks followed, and somehow the latter felt more sanitary then the lacquer chopsticks used elsewhere.

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We began with some of their specialty lattes. The “Black bean latte” turned grey from the inclusion of the milk. It was slightly salty, but mostly sweet. Like a red bean brewed drink with the added flavouring of black sesame. I wish my local coffee shop offered this, or that they were part of my commute, I could see myself order this daily, if either of the above came true. We had a similar appreciation for my guest’s hot beverage choice below.

His “Purple sweet potato latte” took longer to come. When we inquired about the pause, we were formed that this was prepared in the kitchen, with the boiling of the yam, and then purée-ing it for the drink. Like the black bean it was a lighter purple with the addition of milk. It tasted a lot like the hot version of taro bubble tea, equally starchy, but a lot smoother. There were no lumps, and what you had was like drinking velvet. Though given both latte’s beauty in flavour, we wished for some latte art to finish them off with. Especially given how everything else they served was so ornate.

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It was a colder evening and I wanted the warmth of some hot soup. The “Spicy seafood hot pot”, served in a cast iron, single serve bowl was the ticket. It was a bold orange broth covering a collection of mussel, squid, scallop, shrimp, and tofu; and a soft boiled egg with runny yolk. The soup was plenty flavourful and spicier than we thought. By comparison, the boiled ingredients settled at the bottom was bland and on the tougher side. A side dish of hoisin sauce or a garlic based dip would have been ideal and helpful to rejuvenate it. But the bowl of rice and chilled vegetables made available were appreciated. Although, given that the soup was already spicy, more heat in the sides didn’t exactly help to change the flavour of the dish. Though the pickled tang of the cucumbers were a nice refreshing touch. The purple rice was a nice visual, but I found its kernels hard, and would have opted for a nice bowl of tender white steamed rice instead.

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My guest literally ordered the exact same meal and drink combination, as I did during my first dinner service with them. The “marinated beef rib patty wrapped in rice cake bento box” was exactly as I remembered it to be over six months ago. It was a unique dish, I have never heard of rice cake being stuffed with beef or anything else, anywhere else, it was an interesting combination that just worked. The salty garlic sauce just tied the hamburger meat, cabbage, rice cake, and purple rice together. The chewy and gummy texture of the rice cake had an opposites attract relationship with the gritty minced texture of the dry beef. The meat was on the chalkier side, but the pool of sweet and tangy sauce at the bottom was helpful in improving this. The box set was served with a green side salad, and the same side of cucumbers in a light vinaigrette, spicy jalapeños, and purple rice; that my combo above came with. Though during my first taste of this dish a spoon of kimchi and a bowl of miso soup was also included. Each side acted as a great break in between bites, to keep the meal interesting. This was a combo that grew on you the more you ate from it.

In hindsight, I wish I allowed my guest to tap into his Italian side, in order to have the “Rice cake pasta with a tomato meat sauce”. He was curious of this dish, that I wouldn’t otherwise think of trying myself.

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But he did stay true to his childhood with the “banana split” for dessert. It was just a regular banana split, but green tea ice cream instead of strawberry, with the scoops of chocolate and vanilla. And it had the inclusion of rice cakes, along with the banana, strawberries slices, blueberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. It tasted exactly like how we expected it to be. It was good and he enjoyed it, where I couldn’t help but question his choice given the authenticity of this Korean restaurant, and the ability to order rice cake desserts, that they specialized in.

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That is why I went for the “Red bean fondue with three kinds of rice cake”. This took a while to come. The red bean was a hot dip, with a few lumps from the whole beans left in tack. I found it too sweet, and the rice cake better on their own. Especially as they were already flavoured in powder: green tea, black sesame, and roasted grain powder (which tasted a bit like ginger). My guest loves red bean, so ended up pouring the rest over his sundae like an additional topping.

Had we had more room I would have also liked to try the “Grilled ricecake with cheese”. The photo in the menu showed a cheddar and parmesan mix, topping a white sheet of rice cake. But based on our server’s facial expression, this might have been a good one to miss. My guest thought it sounded gross, I considered it more like Korean crazy bread (“crazy bread” is the Parmesan cheese covered bread sticks from “Little Caesar’s” pizza that is best when dipped into ranch dressing)

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I love rice cake, and with some many more rice cake inspired dishes to try, I can definitely see myself returning here for another guaranteed good meal. Definitely one of my favourite Korean restaurants to recommend and go to. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MIDAM
4501 North Road, Burnaby BC, V3N 4R7
604-568-5357
Midam Cafe & Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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