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Sooda, Gastown

Looking for food before a night of heavier than usual drinking, I navigated our group of three to Sooda in Gastown. This was given its proximity to our destination, and the fact that I have visited the Brentwood/Burnaby location a couple of times, so thought to see what their newer Gastown one was like.

They are easy to spot with their eye catching logo. One of a gapping red lipped mouth showcasing a full set of teeth, no eyes, but hands and legs on a skateboard. Its colour scheme matching their restaurant’s name in red and yellow.

Branded as a bar + restaurant, the largest difference between the two locations is the theme and decor. Here, in Gastown we get a more playful feel with neon lights, a graffiti wall plainted a pair of lips dripping in melted cheese, and a one page menu that looked like a cartoon panel.

Given the location we started with a 360ml bottle of soju to share. Easy and sweeter shots to shoot back as a trio.

The food menu presented is a condensed offerings of popular Korean classics like seafood pancakes, a hearty stew, and steamed slices of beef brisket. Plus many more dishes made bar-friendly and meant to be paired with drinks like their kimchi and bulgogi topped poutine, Korean hashbrowns made with cheese and arugula, and their house tomahawk steak.

The full menu is available for viewing through a QR code located on the top right corner of the laminated sheet. Try as we might, we were not able to access it. When we reached out to our server for help, she was dismissive and simply shrugged when we showed her how it wouldn’t scan. After sometime lingering in silence she simply walked away. I was stunned and decided to only order from the cartoons, not given the alternative of a full paper menu.

We started with the traditional Korean complimentary sides: a small dish of kimchi and another of pickled sweet radish and onion. Not a meal on its own, but both a palate refresher for in between bites. In retrospect this would have helped with our sushi order below.

Seeing as my guests were new to Sooda, we would stick with their staples, to give them a good idea of the place.

We started with their Sooda Jeyook, your choice of protein on a hot plate with rice cheese, green onions, house made egg-rolls, corn and rice. We went with the pork marinated in spicy sauce over Korean marinated beef and/or spicy chicken.

A great presentation and a fun one to watch get tossed together and then served. Similar to the Korean style rice bowl, but with the ability to pick and choose your bites. Plus the addition of gooey cheese and sweet corn adding decadence to the mix. Still my favourite dish of theirs, and the one I will always order if and when I visit.

I am typically in awe of their Sooda Box, as the city’s longest sushi roll, that requires two hands to serve. However, I think we mis-ordered the Butter Mayo Sooda Box option, and maybe should have gotten the original that I have had and remembered more fondly. The Butter Mayo was 46 cm of premium Korean steak tartar torched on top of rice with mayo sauce and dried parsley. This was served on a specialty wooden rack, like a platform. Sadly the flavour wore thin after the first rectangle. Just meat and butter, it was missing a contrasting texture, something crispy or crunchy and somethings pickled to perk up the bites. I also could have used some soy to dip this into as minimum, and/or a topping of pickled radish or kimchi to help add some tangy freshness into the mix. Disappointing. I would end up breaking down the leftovers and using it as a rice base for a future meal.

Sooda Gastown is a fun spot for Korean small plates and drinks. A funky energetic space to start a night at.

Sooda Korean BBQ
60 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1C9
(604) 428-9227

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