I had an evening engagement downtown at the Central Library, so my friends and I decided to try Soban Korean in the Dragon City Mall. Regarding the underground parking, I have a public service announcement. The rate is $9.45 before 5pm and $4 after 6pm until 6am next day. If you arrive at 5:30, you will still pay $9.45; you may not pay in increments. When you go back to renew after it expires in a hour, you will wait in line behind ten people that made the same mistake. Thank you for reading and back to your regularly scheduled food review.
The food was really good. We shared the seafood pancake, which had the nice slightly charred crust. The pancake also did not fall apart like some others I have eaten. The banchan (side dishes) were tasty. It’s the first time I’ve tried radish kimchi. I also liked the tempura yam. For my entree, I ordered the pork bulgogi which came on a hot plate with quite a few veggies. Yes, I could come back.
I was going through my list of things that I would get around to trying. Kimchi and Korean seafood pancake were on it. Last weekend, I made kimchi salad according to this recipe. It was quite tasty. This week, the leftovers became kimchi fried rice.
Kimchi Fried Rice
2 cups leftover kimchi, chopped
3 large eggs
1 small onion
1 lb ground pork
3-4 cups cooked rice
oil for frying
salt and pepper
Beat eggs and add a dash of salt. Scramble and chop. Saute the onions in a little oil until slightly cooked. Cook ground pork in a pan with a little oil until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of oil to a wok. Add the cooked rice, breaking up the chunks until it is warm. Add the eggs, onion, meat and kimchi to the rice. Add dashes of soy sauce to taste. Cook until heated through.
This week I tried to make Korean seafood pancake, or haemul pajeon. I followed this recipe. Well, most of it.
I used a package of small frozen shrimp and small scallops for the seafood. I actually found the Korean pancake mix at the Korean grocery store. By the way, sweet rice flour is also known as glutinous rice flour. Note that it doesn’t actually contain gluten! I think it refers to the rice being sticky.
I decided, that because the only large frying pan I owned is 12″ to fry twice instead of three times. A bit of a mistake. The pancake fell apart when I tried to flip it. I’ll need to follow the instructions with my new 8″ Calphalon pan or buy a 10″… Decisions. Oh well, it turned out tasty.
A new KFC restaurant has opened in Kensington. I love Korean fried chicken. I tried Olive Chicken, now for their competition.
The decor of the restaurant was trendy and modern. With a counter for ordering takeout. One of our party suggested that this was a chain. I wasn’t so sure, but it did seem like expensive decor for a restaurant of this type. It turns out that it is a chain alright, from Korea. I usually don’t like chains, but I can lower my standards for an unknown international one.
We ordered the half and half chicken with the sweet sauce. I love sweet sauce. It’s less sweet than Olive Chicken’s, which was overly sweet. It still had a huge hit of garlic which I love. The original fried chicken was crunchy and all of it was juicy inside.
There were some slips with the service. The service was fast; they were not very busy. But the waitress spilled the dishes when she was clearing them, and we got the wrong bill. She was very sincere and apologetic.
Their food is definitely good and I will give their takeout a try.
Looking for dinner close to our motel, we decided on a Korean restaurant down the street. The place was fairly empty on a Sunday night.
One of our party is Korean, so he helped with the ordering. We had bulgogi, spicy pork, seafood pancake, kimchi stew and spicy rice cake. I thought most of the food was good. My friend commented that the kimchi was sour for his taste (and mine as well). The spicy pork was really good. I thought the spicy rice cake was more like rice penne pasta with a sweet and spicy sauce. The service was good and we got complimentary vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Mmm… Korean fried chicken. The last time I had something similar, it was from Fritou’s in Skyview Ranch. Their chicken was pretty good. On my way home from yoga, I decided to pick up a little dinner. Olive Chicken is a small place in the Korean strip mall on 10th Ave. I’m guessing they are mainly a takeout joint as there are only a few tables of two to sit at. Menu is straightforward. Fried chicken. Hot and sweet. Or regular. And combos.
I ordered the small, which deceivingly, is enough to feed two people. The chicken was fried in popcorn, I think. If not, it was very similar in texture. It stayed crunchy, even though it was drenched in hot and sweet sauce. But that is the best part. It was freshly fried right in front of me. It was quick, it only took about five minutes from order to takeout. They wrapped it in foil, so it stayed warm for the 20 minute bike ride home. This could be strangely addictive.
We had quite the snowstorm today. Stayed in until it was over. Cooked up a storm as well. This weekend, I made: sayur lemak, bok choy and pineapple salad, spicy Korean pork and meyer lemon curd tart.
Sayur lemak is a Malaysian dish. Specifically, it is vegetables cooked in coconut gravy. I fell in love with this dish when there was a Tropica in Calgary. I found that this version is a bit watery, not like gravy should be. Next time, I will add some cornstarch.
Looking around the web for some inspiration, I found a bok choy and pineapple salad. It is similar to gado gado, but the veggies are not cooked. I quite liked this dish. I added some fresh mango and it was tasty.
I felt like making a Korean dish to go with this, but didn’t feel like spending a lot of time. This spicy version of pork bulgogi was perfect. I served it on top of roasted spaghetti squash. I’m trying a mostly veg and meat dinners this week (and last). Starchy carbs make me hungry and fat.
I’m pretty sure this restaurant is flying under the radar. High expectations because of it’s pedigree, but not a whole lot of buzz. The reviews I read were mixed. I can definitely say that the food was fantastic.
There were three of us and we ordered for sharing. The server was helpful in suggesting dishes to balance our selections. The smoked cod taro tacos were bursting with avocado flavor with a touch of heat. The cod got a little lost in the dance . The tuna and watermelon ceviche was exceptional. Strong spicy flavors with delicate watermelon to stave off the heat. Did I tell you I like my food a little spicy?
The dungeness crab salad was a good way to tone down the tuna and the tacos. The most interesting thing was the toasted burdock root on top. The dish was not flashy, but did the job of cooling off my taste buds for the next dish.
The dumplings had strong flavors of and mushroom and sausage that reminded me of a Chinese style chicken and dried mushroom dish. The dehydrated tomato slice was a nice textural contrast.
I really liked the gravlax for both the presentation and taste. The seaweed, capers and creme fraiche were a nice contrast the salmon wrapped in tamago. They were served with a side of buckwheat pancakes and lime in cheesecloth to squeeze over the salmon.
I did not try the short ribs as I do not eat beef that is not hormone and antibiotic free. The roasted potatoes however, were hot and very tasty. Ditto with the rare marinated beef. The beef was served with a side of cheese toast.
Dessert was complimentary. Although I was too full to eat another bite, I had to sample. There was a Chinese style sesame ball filled with peanut satay on a caramelized miso sauce. The sesame ball was a bit rubbery and difficult to share, but I haven’t had one that wasn’t. Also fruit salad topped with a minty panna cotta which was very good.
Strong complex flavors that flowed well from one dish to another. Possibly too strong for some, but that’s the way I like it. This is one of the best Asian fusion restaurants that I have ever tried. Service was attentive even when they got busy. Attention to detail such as wiping off the table between dishes and providing fresh cutlery between courses.
Atmosphere is upbeat urban. Hallway to the washrooms is rather eclectic.
Anju serves Korean tapas meant to go along with drinks. Similar concept to an Izakaya in Japanese cuisine. Korean fusion with a nice dash of urban vibe. The charming house that is home to this restaurant has changed hands over the years. When I last lived downtown, it was a coffee and tea house called Caffeine and Leaves. Tuesday night, early, we had no problem walking in without reservations. We sat upstairs in the lounge with a table facing the window. Cozy. Music was being piped in the other room, but it was not so loud that we couldn’t chat. It’s probably not like this most nights.
Onto the food. It was fantastic. The service was a little slow to start, but was good. I asked for a virgin cocktail based on a mojito. The bar put together something sweet, tasted like guava juice, infused with Thai basil. Lovely and a nice counterpoint to some of the spicy dishes we would have. I love their liberal use of gojujang, a red chili paste in their recipes. The base flavor was in many of the dishes we ordered, but tasted different enough for my liking. I loved the KFC, much better than Colonel Sander’s version. The fried anchovies were a nice trip back into childhood where Mom would serve fried dace with steamed rice and black beans. Except these are honey garlic. Mmmm. The salmon tacos were delish and I loved the gojujang sauce with the pulled pork tacos.
This place is popular. Reservations highly recommended.