Showing posts with label Korean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Korean. Show all posts

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mouthwatering crispy Korean pancake at Haroo, Richmond

The moment I entered Haroo, a Korean restaurant located on the second floor next to Deer Garden on Alexandra, I felt like I was invited over to a friend's house.  The humble, family-owned restaurant has a very cozy, home-feel to it.  The menu offers popular Korean dishes you often find at other Korean restaurants.  However, the ambience, presentation, and quality of the dishes all make Haroo much more unique than the rest.

We were each presented with starters which consisted of salad, congee, and dried marinated bean curd.  It was very comforting and I honestly felt like my friend's mom just cooked for me.    The sides were also the typical kimchi, bean sprouts, sweet potatoes, seaweed, and broccoli.

We didn't order much that night and were just looking for comforting dishes.  The first to arrive was a  rich pork bone soup.  And when we asked for spicy, they took it to heart.  We spent the rest of the time blowing our noses as we slurped down this very savoury, meaty broth.  B ordered chicken jajangmyeon, a savoury Korean noodle dish.  I had something else in mind.
I was craving Korean pancake, pajeon, especially after B flaunted me with an enticing portrait of a paper-thin, crispy one from Korea. I haven't had such luck finding anything that came close to that around here, let alone a slightly crispy one for that matter. They had all been very thick, soggy, bland, or even spongy. The pajeon at Haroo didn't come cheap. At $20, I had to think about it through and through. I turned to the uncle to convince me that it is indeed crispy. "It is", he reassured me. "But this one is REALLY crispy", he pointed to the seafood pajeon. SOLD.

I waited impatiently while the rest of my party stuffed their faces with pork bone soup and jajungmyeon.  The pajeon was fashionable late to arrive the table, as with anybody famous that the fans are anticipating to see.
Finally, a large stone plate arrived just as I was about to cave in and stuff my face too. It was sizzling, golden, especially on the edges. I don't think the ajusshi was kidding when he said it's crispy. Without hesitation, I dipped a slice into the vinegary sauce.   I took a large anticipated bite into layer after layer of crunch. It was so crispy and had a texture similar to vegetable tempura.  Just what I had been hoping for. Still not as paper thin as the one in Korea, but this is the crispiest one in Vancouver greater area thus far. I truly hope that it is always consistent because I am totally going back solely for this dish.

Haroo on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pre-dinner at DamSo

On one hectic Monday evening, we arrived Ma Dang Coul, a popular Korean restaurant on Denman, for a huge dinner feast.  As we were the first few to arrive, half an hour deemed too long to be waiting around with no food.  So, we decided to head over to Damso, a Korean fusion restaurant nearby known for their modern spin on traditional Korean dishes.  

There were so many appealing dishes on the menu.  Like always, we put our brains together but ended up using our gut instinct to pick out words that stood out best for each of us.  They included my preference for beef tongue, B's usual craving for dok-bokki, and P's carnivorous appetite for beef ribs.  We were really tempted to order Kalbee Osso Bucco, which seemed to be a popular item amongst the diners there.  It was visible at almost every table.  Just watching the guy next table sucking on the juicy looking meat off the bone on an empty stomach proved almost too much to bear.  However, we resisted the temptation as a bigger feast was awaiting us in half an hour at Ma Dang Coul.

The first dish to arrive was B's pick, chicken kalbee dok-bokki.  Who knew that these Korean rice cakes now a common staple were once only served as Korean royal court cuisine?  The dish was what you would expect from dok-bokki from anywhere.  The rice cakes were soft, yet chewy.  The sauce was a bit tangy and more sweet.  There were small bits of chicken in there and a lot of onion.  Size wise, it was a pretty good dish to share and very filling too.  
Now, this was a version of carpaccio I had never tried, kalbee, or beef short rib, carpaccio.  The first thing I noticed and only thing I didn't enjoy about this was the texture.  The beef ribs were nicely marbled and marinated, but when I chewed into it, the meat was also completely frozen.  I'm not sure if that's how it was meant to be served.  Nonetheless, despite the frozen meat, I was still able to appreciate the different elements that made up the whole dish.  The use of crisp Asian pear, jalapenos, sesame, and some kind of really refreshing and citrusy dressing worked well altogether.  

The last tapas dish was my absolute favourite.  The beef tongue, served in some kind of a sweet sauce, was extremely tender.  And I can't stress that enough. I loved the flavour of the sauce, a harmonious blend of sweet and savoury, which complemented the beef tongue nicely. When I think back of the other beef tongue I had, I couldn't think of one as memorable.  Next time, I honestly wouldn't share this with anybody. Y'all get your own tongue.

Damso is serious about being creative and innovative with their dishes.  I would definitely love to come back again not only to eat more beef tongue, but try out other dishes like the Osso Bucco, bulgogi burger, stuffed calamari sausage, and almost everything else on the menu.

Damso Modern Korean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nolboo Hangari Galbi

Nolboo Hungari Galbi is an authentic Korean barbecue franchise restaurant located on the second floor of K-Village.  It is spacious and the Korean owner/manager, one of the friendliest people in the world, is usually there to greet you himself.  The great thing about this place is they have a solid ventilation system that sucks 90% of the smoke out.  Best of all, you don't have to grill the meat yourself.  The waiting staff does the entire plate for you and cuts the meat up into bite size pieces once it's ready.  I feel bad at times that they had to stand there the entire time while we take our time eating.  All the staff have a plastic guard over their mouth to ensure none of their salivas get mixed with our food!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bonchon Chicken, Thailand

I finally got to cross another item off my list of things to eat in Bangkok this year. For months, I hesitated to try the Bangkok franchise version of the beloved Bonchon Chicken after reading several reviews that they are incomparable to other Bonchons out there.

The thought had totally left me until I stumbled across a brand new stand at Siam Paragon. Even though it's just a kiosk, you would expect there would be some quality control here right? Apparently not.
Despite the fact that I have picked up my dinner from trusty Thai KFC already, I was determined to give it a try.  I asked the vendor what sauce and she'd recommend soy garlic was most popular so I got 5 boneless pieces to go.

Words like "mouth watering", "delish", "extra crispy", "juicy" were some of the few that came to mind as I anticipated for the chicken.  However.....
I took my first bite into a dry, rubbery meat. That was hardly what I was expecting. The chicken tasted like it had been chilling out all day, cold and stale. The batter wasn't crispy and quite thick.  The famous sauce was overly salty and it smelled and tasted like something artificial. I could hardly finish one piece let alone eat the rest. As a devoted fried chicken connoisseur, this was utterly unsatisfactory
My experience may be different had I gone to the main location at Thonglor. Nonetheless, for an expanding establishment with 3-4 branches now, I certainly would have expected quality at this location.  I'm glad I had KFC as a plan B, which, by the way, is about 100 times greater than in North America. Stay tuned for my new post as I detail the awesomeness of Thailand's KFC!
Precisely my reaction after tasting Thailand's Bonchon Chicken..

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No brainer korean lettuce salad (Sangchu Geotjeori) recipe

I've been feeling real heavy from frequent feasting in the past few days.  I saw a small head of lettuce sitting in the fridge looking lonely and my first reaction was, "I'm going to make you into a caesar salad." After more consideration, I was looking for something that is a bit 'lighter', as in less calories.  Then, I remember chowing down on the lettuce salad frequently served at Korean restaurants which seemed pretty simple and I decided to try making it.

The result was pretty good and quite refreshing.  It made me miss eating korean barbecue meat.  My dressing has a lot of acidity from the vinegar and I used Thai chili flakes which were really spicy.  You can adjust the amount of seasoning to suit your taste.  It was super easy to make and only took less than 10 minutes.  You don't have to be a great cook to master this so please try it out!

1/2 lettuce
1 green onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. sugar or honey
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
My sloppy julienned green onion lol @^_^@

Rince and drain lettuce, then chop into smaller pieces.  Julienne green onion length wise so they are thin and shreddy looking.  In a small bowl combine all the remaining ingredients.  Drizzle the dressing over lettuce and green onion.  It is quite strong and acidic, so you may not end up using all of it.  Mix well and serve immediately.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Base Eat + Drink

Last summer, I often came to E-Hwa for late night snacks, particularly for their delicious yangnyum chicken.  This year, the restaurant has changed to Base Eat + Drink.  It was completely transformed into a lot cleaner, more modern izakaya drinking place.  I still miss the old E-Wha for its eclectic decor, the loud crowd, and comforting korean munchies to go with the alcohol.  We walked in to Base around dinner time on a Saturday night.  It was fairly quiet and it seemed they just opened.  Not quite sure if the place usually picks up later at night.

The menu offered a variety of korean and fusion dishes.  I love that they have many selections to offer such as salads, appies and tapas, barbecue meat, soups, even risotto and pasta as well.  
Let's start off with fried chicken! We ordered the smaller size ($7.50) with 6 pieces of chicken in spicy sauce topped with ground peanuts.  The chicken came with a side of salad and pickled daikon. Although the spicy sauce more sweet and not exactly spicy, but it was still pretty good.

I was torn between ordering Spagetti alla vongole (clams and olive oil, $15.40) and de mare (seafood with cream sauce).  Between the two, vongole seemed less fattening.  There probably wasn't much of a difference, but that mentality made me feel a bit better.  The dish arrived with several Manila clams with shells on, while the others did not have any shells.  I'm guessing the rest came straight from the freezer as they tasted dry and not very fresh.  The pasta also had a lot of excess olive oil and tasted very bland.  

Next up was the grilled barbecue beef short ribs or kalbi ($17.95).  While the marinade was good, the cut was much thicker and tougher than the regular beef short ribs.  When I mentioned that the beef was very thick and tough, the waitress informed us that the chef had ordered a different cut of meat that day.  I didn't like the idea that they used a different cut, which made a lot of difference in the texture of the meat, and didn't tell us earlier.  I ended up sending it back as it too hard to chew and was not at all what we expected.  Nonetheless, I do appreciate the fact that our waitress was very accommodating about it and took it off the bill.  

We substituted the beef ribs with grilled chicken skewers ($6.95 for 4).  They were tender and slightly charred.  They were not bad, but again I wish they had more marinade or seasoning. 

I wanted something to drink and ordered the Korean rice wine makgulri ($10).  When it arrived, I noticed that it had a thicker consistency than other makgulri we have had and it also had a very powdery texture.  I did not enjoy it at all and could not force myself to finish a drink either.

The verdict
Yangnyum chicken wasn't bad......................

The waitress was very attentive and asked if we were enjoying the food.  Unlike most asian restaurants, she was willing to take feedback and take the food back when necessary.  I think some fine tuning would go along way for the restaurant.  But then again, maybe Base is more of a drinking/partying spot with less emphasis on the food.

   BASE Eat + Drink on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 15, 2011

House of Tofu Soup hits the spot


As a second branch from its original location in Coquitlam, House of Tofu Soup, given its name, has a reputation for its savoury sundubu jiggae.  I always passed by this restaurant along Garden City road and it never once caught my attention.  There were times when I tried looking through the covered up windows to see if anyone eats there or if it was even opened.  The lack of exterior appeal deterred me from visiting there for months until now.  It turns out I was the only one unaware of this hidden Korean gem in Richmond.  Despite the restaurant not having an obvious sign, it seems patrons have no problem finding the place.  The inside of the restaurant is also much more spacious than it looked from the outside.   It was quite busy when we walked in around 7 pm, and I saw lots of couples and families.  From observation, yes, their portions are definitely made for sharing.  The prices are reasonable as everything is under $20.  I have not tried the Coquitlam location, but definitely would like to in the future for the sake of comparison.

I love going to Korean restaurants especially for their complimentary and refillable side dishes that fill the table :) I mean, I won't mind if the food takes a little longer because I have at least a few dishes to keep busy with.
Mash potato with corn
Kimchi, very robust in flavours
Seaweed salad--collagen! yumm!!
Mixed pickled vegetables
Pumpkin soup
The meal
Mundu (deep fried dumplings) $4.99 for 8 pieces.  They were fresh off the frier so the skin is thin and crisp (crispiest I've had in Vancouver)!  The ground pork filling were seasoned and didn't need any condiment, but I still got some.  Squirt some sauces on top and eat 'em while they're hot!  I definitely would come back for these dumplings again.

Nothing warms you up to the soul on a cold, windy, and starving night like a steaming bowl of sundubu jiggae, and that's exactly what we came here for.  House of Tofu Soup offers a solid value combo with hot tofu soup and bulgogi for only $14.99, a steal considering this could easily feed 2 people.  We ordered the tofu stew spicy with seafood, which came with tons of shrimp and bits of clams.  The broth was rich with shrimp natural sweetness and a savoury and satisfying gochujang (korean chili paste) punch.  We cracked an egg in there and let it poached before stirring everything together and enjoyed this deliciously comforting stew with steamed rice.

The beef bulgogi was served on a stone plate.  It was quite delicious with a bowl of rice as it was tender and had the right amount sweet and savoury flavour.

 The rice was served in a stone pot.  The waitress scoop out a generous amount into a separate bowl before pouring tea, which tasted like toasted rice, into the stone bowl.  The rice became softened, like a porridge.  It was interesting, but I still prefer dry rice with my bulgogi and tofu stew.

The verdict
I had a good experience at House of Tofu Soup.  The service was quick, the price was reasonable, the portions and quality were worth the value.  The 2 of us were stuffed and satisfied.  There is no reason not to return!

House of Tofu Soup on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Revel = YUM!

I don't go down to Seattle that often and never got a chance to try out any good food.  I was determined on my last trip that I would try something amazing.  We drove up and down Fremont several times before discovering the spot.  One word of advice, if you are from out of town, keep your eye peeled on the left hand side and look for the number on the building instead of signage!  Despite getting lost and growing frustration, we finally made our way in and were greeted with the fume of the smoky barbecue from the outside.  

 The atmosphere was lively with an open kitchen right at the front.  The contemporary fusion restaurant opened last December and, from what I can tell, they have been very successful.

 Tuna confit salad $9 was constructed in the most interesting ways using ingredients I would never imagine putting together; butterleaf lettuce, smoked potato, kalamata olives, tuna confit, cilantro with a green curry vinaigrette.  Somehow, all of them meshed well together. The vinaigrette surprised me, in a good way.  It was pungent with curry flavours, yet not overpowering, and not spicy! I usually expect green curry to have certain degree of spiciness but the dressing was tangy with lime with no heat at all.  The tuna confit had an interesting bite, similar texture to the chinese salted fish, yet not too hard or chewy.  Best of all, it wasn't as salty or smelly.

We ordered the meat of the day, lamb, prepared as a "good way to start" $22.  It was cooked 3 ways; as a sausage, seared medium rare steak, and in a curry served with grilled naan bread and jalapeno pepper.  The sausage was smokey with a sweetness to it, while the steak was juicy and tender.  The curry, though a bit watery and subtle in flavour, was great for dipping with the naan.  It was a good variation, and a fun plate for sharing.  

 My favourite dish had to be this one, short ribs with sambal daikon, mustard green on rice $14.  It was sooooooooo delicious!!! The short rib was grilled to perfection.  It was charred, and marinaded really well.  The meat was tender, and flavourful.  Once you mix everything in the bowl together with the little egg yolk in the middle, all the flavours just come together like a Big Bang concert.  I can finish that whole bowl and everything in it by myself, and not care if I gain 10 lbs.

Someone's been traveling to southeast asia... :) This condiment set is a staple there.  No matter how great the food is, there's always room for personal flavour adjustments.  It's nice to see they have adapted that concept here.  I even notice they have a Thai chili lime sauce.

The verdict: Yes!!!
The people at Revel definitely know what they're doing and they do it well.  The menu is innovative and I can't go back for the short rib rice bowl and try more items!

  Revel on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 26, 2011

Asianized pasta at Bistro the Home

Situated at former Bonqula restaurant on Alexandra road in Richmond, Bistro the Home prides itself as the home of "asianized pasta" in a big orange signage.  For those of you wondering, "asianized pasta" simply refers to how pasta is prepared and served in cafes all over Asia where European cuisines are popular, and most predominantly in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan.  The flavours are slightly altered to cater to Asian taste buds.  Although the European influenced variations may not necessarily taste authentic or stay true to their original version, they are still mainly delicious in their own special ways. Other favourite "asianized" western cuisines of mine include hamburg steak, croquettes, and cheesy baked rice or doria.  Oftentimes, there are Asian ingredients infused or garnished with the dishes.  To me, "asianized pasta" simply means pasta with more flavours.

We waltzed in around 5 pm when the restaurant opened.  There was already one table there and we were seated a couple tables away from them.  There was only one staff working and I'm guessing that so it would be easier for her to come around.  However, the location where we were seated was in the corner and a blind spot to the bar where the server usually spent her time.  After a while, it became a struggle to get her attention since she never came around to check and couldn't see us from behind the bar -_-*.  And since we were not in a hurry, I really didn't feel like getting up and go look for service.

The drinks here are extremely cheap, ranging from $1 for pop and tea and $2 for iced latte and slush.  My iced cafe latte was only $2, and it was mainly milk but still quite good.

A complimentary basket of garlic bread.  I love garlic bread, and these were crispy, and garlicy.  However, there was a point where it could be too buttery.  I had butter dripping out of the bread and it was way too greasy.
They alternate soup of the day each day and lucky me, I got cream corn soup ($3.50) after I had been craving it for days.  It was creamy with the sweetness of the corn.  I have to say that the way cream of corn soup is done Asian style tastes different and better that the corn chowder in North America in the sense that there is more corn sweetness and the soup is not as thick.  

Spagetti alla Vongole with manila clams for $10.50 was really yummy and flavourful.  By opting out of the cream or tomato sauce and going with virgin olive oil, I felt like it was a healthier option even though it didn't make much of a difference.  It was a light sauté rather than with thick sauce, with more natural flavours coming out from the clams, garlic and chili.  Overall, I thought it was delicious.

Oops! Unfortunately, we found a small hair on the bottom of the plate (eek..).  Sure, we could've pointed it out, but it was at the very end after the whole plate was already finished.  Based on the not-so-attentive service, I didn't point it out making the assumption that we were going to get maybe an apology and/or nothing more anyway.

A few moments after the first pasta dish arrived and before the discovery of the hair, the second plate, spaghetti carbonara ($8.50), made its way to the table.  For $3 more, I opted to gratin it up since the more cheese, the merrier.  But, there is such a thing as too much cheese after all.  At first, I thought between the 2 of us, there could be more room for a bulgogi pizza.  However, the amount of cheese baked into the pasta cream sauce pretty much total a whole pizza.  The cream sauce was nice, though I wish there was more mushroom and the bacon pieces were crispier and less of a ham texture.

I was already full after the 2 dishes and a hair, but somehow a tiramisu ($4) landed at our table as a final course.  It looked like a fluffy cheese cake with ladyfingers layered at the bottom and drizzled with chocolate syrup.  While it was smooth and creamy, I thought it tasted more like a cheesecake dusted with cocoa powder with mainly cream cheese and not much of the dark coffee flavour.  I wish the sponge at the bottom would be thicker like the one that we love from Chesa.  Sadly, all I have to say was meh, and left it alone after 2 bites.

The verdict: 
Aside from finding hair after finishing the food, I thought the food was not bad for the price (tiramisu aside).  The service was mediocre and the quality didn't go above and beyond.  While I don't hate it and I still would like to try their Nero pasta, but it will be a period of time before my return.

Bistro The Home on Urbanspoon