Quite the name. This is a good case of not to judge a place by its exterior or the restaurant by its name. The name its not wholly descriptive and it is a lot nicer inside than out, especially given the presence of the large red dumpster right by the entry way. There is not much going on from the exterior, driving by you wouldn’t give this place a second look or another thought. A few parking stalls right out front, a shared space with the other small shoppes it calls neighbour. Yet all parking stalls were occupied, and even most of the additional complimentary parking in the underground was taken. We eventually found a stall then proceed to walk our way back up.
Stepping inside the restaurant, the space is renewed. You can’t tell how spacious and nice it is from the outside. Grey walls paired with glossy waxed wooden furniture. The walls were dressed with menu options. Blown up photos of their most popular dishes: stone bibimbob, bulgoghi, tofu soup, Soo rah, and oh jing uh. Their names didn’t mean anything to me, but their photos all looked familiar.
An effective and easy way to order, and thankfully the menu had similar photos as well. They helped us to place order, especially with the lack of description written. In general the menu was made without the need to read, the table of contest told a story in pictures. Animal head icons used to identify the different options: pig for pork, cow for beef, a shrimp & clam for seafood, and a lettuce leaf for kimchi. Vegetarian options were marked with a green leafy “V”. And a colour code was given to indicate degree of spicy heat. From a white not spicy, transitioning to a yellow mild, an orange hot, and two shades of red for the hot and extra hot.
The tables were set further apart, enough room to easily allow a cart to come whizzing past. As majority of their dishes are served hot in heavy stone dish ware, most still sizzling or bubbling; they needed an effective away to transport each order, and this was a good one. Server pushing carts in and out of the kitchen. Given how many servings were ordered and that it was their name sake, we should have ordered tofu soup, but it was so hot outside that I couldn’t stomach sweating inside out. Though from on top of our neighbour’s table, it looked like an impressive display that we missed out on. Stone pots, bowls, cauldrons, and plates. I was most intrigued to witness a fellow diner crack a raw egg into his bold red soup.
As is the tradition with most Asian meals this one too came with several sides. The expected kimchi, marinated cook seaweed, a teaspoon sized scoop of mashed potatoes with a couple of peas, and a dish of pickled root vegetable. A sauce dish was also included, but we didn’t know its intended use, so left it alone until below.
I ordered the “mamdeukee”, recognizing the oversized beef-a-roni like tubes for the chewy rice cakes that I like. I enjoy it for its texture. We went with the mild version and still found it a little spicy. The bonus was finding that the dish also came with “fried dumplings”, another appetizer. The meat filled dumplings were deep fried and coated in a sweet and tangy sticky sauce. It evened out the chilli sauce spice of the rice cakes.
The “Seafood pancake” reminded me of onion pancakes offered at Taiwanese bubble tea place. It also looked like a pizza and was loaded with just as much toppings as one. Crispy fried dough made savoury with vegetable and shrimp, with an even ratio of dough to ingredients. Thick cuts of leek and cabbage and large chunks of shrimp were clearly visible. We ended up eating half of it without its dipping sauce. It came separately and earlier, and we didn’t know its intended purpose was to be paired with this dish. The waitress observed us eating the pancake as is, with the dish pushed aside; so redirected us accordingly. It was much better with the sauce. This ate like a meal, with us two struggling to finish it. Thankfully our third dish never got processed, as we were already very full. Otherwise it would be a negative note for the staff to not have remembered our request for “Japchae”. My trying to cancel it, revealed that it was never punched in to their system to be prepared. A fact I only realized when a wait too long had me wanting to cancel the dish.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I found everything we had good, but none of it worth revisiting as something you can only get from here. Our food was all very flavourful and all very salty, I needed so many glasses of water that the staff couldn’t keep up their filling with my drinking. I would like to return on a cold and rainy day to try their soup in stone bowls. It must be their name sake for a reason and there must be a good reason why so many Korean guests came here just for it. Don’t deny your cravings.