Korean - Vancouver Restaurants

 

H-Mart – Korean food fair downtown

H-Mart (wikipedia, website, map, 200 – 550 Robson Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada) is a Korean-American grocery store chain with many locations throughout North America. In Vancouver they are on the second floor at the corner of Robson and Seymour – a prime spot in the downtown shopping district.

From a recent press release by H-Mart Online:

As you enter the store, your eyes are greeted with a foyer full of small electrics, including rice steamers and griddles. From there, you enter a world of household necessities including ‘Joy Gloves.’ Which brings up a point. Some product names just don’t come through translation to have the same impact in English as they did in their native country’s language.

[…] The prepared foods are tasty as well. The kim-chee from the refrigerator case is top notch, as are the fried beef and sesame chicken. In the freezers are everything from squid and octopus to red bean ice cream. Try some of the gyoza or steamed dumplings for a treat. There are also frozen ducks in the case labeled ‘duck, parts missing.’ It’s best to not think too hard about which parts are absent.

I really like their gyoza and kim-chee, as well as their prepackaged sushi which becomes discounted near the end of the day.

But a little-known feature of this grocery store is the food court that is at the north side facing Robson street. Here you can get a variety of popular Korean dishes such as the spicy tofu soup, spicy beef broth, seafood pancake, and many more (menu shown below).

I tried the Item #5 which is described as “Mixed Vegetables and Rice in a Stone Hot Pot” ($8.50, pictured below) – it is called Bibimbap in Korean.

The ingredients are arranged artfully on rice in a super-hot stone bowl, and it’s up to you to mix them up and wait a couple minutes for everything to cook.

In the photos below I’ve shown what the dish looks like before and after mixing the ingredients. It tasted fabulous – the combination of rice, egg, vegetables, and meat was quite filling and satisfying but also was non-greasy and seemed healthy.

The stone bowl remains piping hot for a long time; after resting my chopsticks on it for a minute the wood became almost too hot to touch. The dish is served with some kim-chee (spicy Korean pickled cabbage) and a warm soup broth with green onions.

After enjoying Item #5 for a second time, I’ve decided to make the H-Mart Korean Supermarket one of my regular dining spots. Visiting the food fair is like taking a mini vacation to Korea – most of the other patrons seem to be talking in Korean, and many of the signs are in both Korean and English.

Bibimbap Korean food ($8.50) from H-Mart Market in Vancouver BC Canada - before mixing the ingredients.

Bibimbap Korean food ($8.50) from H-Mart Market in Vancouver BC Canada - before mixing the ingredients.

Korean Bibimbap dish after mixing the ingredients in the hot stone bowl.

Korean Bibimbap dish after mixing the ingredients in the hot stone bowl.

H-Mart Korean Food Fair Menu, located on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver.

H-Mart Korean Food Fair Menu, located on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver.

Beyond Robson has a review of the H-Mart food court from 2007.

32,497 views - Posted Monday, June 22nd, 2009

 

Seok Gi Si Dae Korean Restaurant (Coquitlam)

Seok Gi Si Dae Korean Restaurant (map, #4 – 602 Clarke Road, Coquitlam, BC, Canada, phone: 604-937-0330) is a very authentic Korean restaurant, so authentic that you can easily fool yourself into thinking you are in South Korea!

All the restaurant’s patrons were sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor, at low tables (although there are some Western-style tables as well). I found sitting this way added to the experience, combined with the contemporary wallpaper of Korean lettering, bare light bulbs (which reminded my friend of home), and some strangely familiar Korean pop music. Not to be outdone by the fact that I was surrounded by many people speaking their native tongue and enjoying food of their country.

There are some English words on the menu, but I recommend ordering the house specialty, which is the first item listed: thick strips of pork fried at a gas grill at your table (pictured below). The fat from the pork drips away into a bowl, and once cooked, you cut the sizzling strips of pork into bite size pieces. Nestle each piece into a fresh leaf of lettuce, top with a tangy Korean salad (pictured below) and garnish with Jalepeno peppers and raw garlic (if you are so brave!).

According to my friend, it is a custom in Korea to take an entire piece of pork lettuce wrap and gleefully “stuff” the whole thing into one’s mouth before munching away. This contrasts with the so-called “polite” western way of eating, where everything is consumed in small morsels with a fork and knife. Perhaps this custom of “gleeful stuffing” developed out of tough economic times when the ability to stuff down any amount of food was considered a luxury. Or maybe it’s to be able to enjoy all the flavors at once. In any case, I thought it was great fun!

The meal of grilled pork slices (as described above) also included the typical Korean garnishes such as kim-chee, and a really wonderful poached egg served in a stone bowl (also pictured below). The meal finished off with some truly awesome fried rice, grilled on the same surface as the pork where it absorbed all the flavors left behind.

We were quite satisfied with the special pork meal (which is about $15.95 per person), but we wanted to really celebrate so we also ordered a large Korean Pancake ($15, also pictured below). This was really delicious, and was similar to the Japanese pancakes (okonomiyaki) which I have tried around town.

Korean pancake

Korean pancake

Click here for a picture the name of the restaurant written in Korean, and click here for a map provided by the restaurant.

Korean fried pork

Korean fried pork (on the grill, before it is cooked)

Korean salad

Korean salad

Korean egg

Korean egg

Korean Garnish

Korean Garnish

Korean restaurant in Coquitlam

Korean restaurant in Coquitlam

Map to Korean Restaurant in Coquitlam

Map to Korean Restaurant in Coquitlam

14,042 views - Posted Monday, September 8th, 2008

 

Wild Ginger Restaurant (Tinseltown) – Part 2

Wild Ginger (web page, map, reviews, 2015 – 88 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, phone: 604-893-8608) is a Korean – Chinese fusion restaurant in the International Village Mall, hidden away behind the Tinseltown Mall food court. To find this restaurant, go up to the food court level in Tinseltown / International Village mall and look across from the center escalators for the entrance to the restaurant in the middle of the food court. (The food court is one level below the popular Cinemark Tinseltown movie theatres.)

Wild Ginger has quite an extensive menu, with a range of Korean dishes (including Korean BBQ), Chinese food, and even some western-fusion dishes. The Beef Tenderloin (around $18, pictured below), was quite a treat – tender slices of beef were served atop potatoes and stir fried vegetables, with accompanying Chinese egg fried rice that was arranged quite artfully in the shape of a fish. The restaurant is quite large and could easily accommodate a large group (but please call ahead to make reservations so that they can be ready for you!). There is free parking in the mall (upon validation by the restaurant), and the restaurant is very close to the Stadium Skytrain station (Vancouver’s subway).

One thing to note is that this restaurant doesn’t have very many choices for vegetarians. My friend wasn’t too impressed by his “vegetarian delight” ($11) which was more of a side dish. But for those who enjoy eating meat or seafood, Wild Ginger has plenty of enticing dinner selections. Check out their web site for the current menu. For another photo and more info please view Part 1.

Beef Tenderloin at Wild Ginger (with egg fried rice, potatoes, and stir fried vegetables, around $18)

Beef Tenderloin at Wild Ginger (with egg fried rice, potatoes, and stir fried vegetables, around $18)

9,960 views - Posted Monday, June 9th, 2008