Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adventures in Canmore Part I: Korean BBQ Restaurant

I've been procrastinating, so I am still writing outstanding reviews from a while ago. My boyfriend and I went to Canmore over the Family Day long weekend. It was a well deserved break as we both needed a vacation, especially him.

Canmore has expanded immensely over the past few 10-15 years. I remember for our family vacations, we would stop in Canmore on our way to Vancouver. Back then, it was nothing compared to what it is now. With many different ethnic restaurants and unique shops, Canmore has now become a great place to dine, shop and vacation. We stayed at The Drake Inn, a very reasonable hotel with affordable rates, right in the heart of downtown Canmore. When on vacation, there's always the great question of "where should we eat tonight?" My parents had gone to Canmore during fall of last year and they had mentioned that they went to a Korean restaurant with excellent food. I was curious as to where this place was (my parents couldn't remember the name of the restaurant) so we decided to search this place out. 

My boyfriend isn't familiar with too many ethnic foods, though I've already opened many doors for him. Korean food was foreign to him, and already wasn't a big fan of kimchi. I convinced him to go for Korean for dinner that night and he didn't seem to mind at all, as long as I ordered. I figured this place wouldn't be too hard to find since there aren't many Korean restaurants in town. My parents did tell me that it was located right by the Howard Johnson hotel, just off of the Bow Valley Trail. However, when we drove down the trail, there wasn't a Howard Johnson in sight which probably meant they changed names. Instead of driving around looking for the place my parents went to, we went to the first Korean restaurant we saw: Korean BBQ Restaurant.

Wood paneling surrounded the interior of this restaurant, along with several built-in BBQ's with large hood fans. We were seated at a table without the large fan, but with a built in BBQ.  We took note of the special that night: all you can eat Korean BBQ for $24.pp/pp, equipped with all the sides (picked vegetables and rice, in case you were wondering). My boyfriend and I thought that was way too much food for us to handle, so we decided to order off the menu. Of course it was up to me to order food off of the menu; I've honestly never ordered off a menu in a Korean restaurant. It's always been a buffet. I was scanning the menu furiously to order something both my boyfriend and I will eat. Well, mostly him. I eat mostly anything. I decided if we ordered one rice, one soup, one meat dish would cover all the basics. We ordered Bulgogi, which is a must dish to order in any Korean restaurant. It consists of marinated beef strips, stir fried with vegetables. We also ordered Duenjang Chigae, a soybean based soup with seafood, and B-Bim-Baab with raw beef (we were feeling a little bold that night), topped with a raw egg yolk. It is a rice bowl dish consisting of meat and pickled vegetables.
I  love pickled vegetables!

We got started off with picked vegetables, which is traditional in Korean cuisine. Pickled daikon, kimchi, cold bean sprouts and a leafy vegetable similar to kale. Our food followed quite quickly after wards. Our first dish was the Duenjan Chigae, which is very similar to Japanese miso soup, except this one was with seafood. It was very salty; my boyfriend didn't enjoy this dish, so I had to finish most of it.

Steaming hot miso soup.

The bulgogi, on a sizzling hot cast-iron dish came out next, followed by the B-Bim-Baab dish.
Isn't the cast-iron dish great?

We both enjoyed the bulgogi very much. Sweet and salty with stir fried onions and carrots, my boyfriend this dish the most. The B-Bim-Baab dish was something neither of us ever tried. With pickled daikon, carrots, bean sprouts, lettuce, raw beef seasoned with sesame oil topped with a raw egg yolk, this dish was very "out there". I was afraid at first to eat the raw beef, but I had had it earlier that week as beef carpaccio so that was okay. Surprisingly, the dish was quite tasty. My boyfriend enjoyed it as well.
Mmmm. Raw beef topped with a raw egg yolk.

Overall, the restaurant was good. The food wasn't spectacular nor did it exceed our expectations because we didn't have any. It was the first time that I had ordered off the menu myself so I probably didn't make the best decisions, except the bulgogi. It was also my boyfriend's first time in a Korean restaurant, so it'll take a few more times of eating this food to see if he actually likes it.

Verdict: pretty scrumptious!

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