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.
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.
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.
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.
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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The @tabom_korean_cuisine hot plate is like a cross between #bbq, raclette, and fondue; with the melted #cheese. All together worth getting for the sounds of sizzling alone. We went for the spicy small octopus and pork main. It it came with egg and corn, and we paid $5 more for the melted cheddar and mozzarella side. #magmeieats #korean
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.
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.
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.
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.