Calgary, AB T3E 0B7 Open Mon-Wed 11am-9pm; Thu-Sat 11am-11pm September 2008 re-visit post here Original post below:
There is something about the concept of the hole-in-the-wall establishment that most people find appealing. Maybe it’s the idea of a small, secretive place, quietly serving high quality food. The personalized service of a independently owned establishment. Or perhaps it’s the sense of superiority – the “i know something you don’t” attitude of the smug foodie. In many ways, Bow Bulgogi House qualifies as a hole-in-the-wall.
Located in a small stripmall on a busy commuter street in the residential SW, it is passed by thousands of commuters each day – many familiar with the bright yellow sign, but completely unfamiliar with the treasures that lie within. Ostensibly offering Korean and Vietnamese food, Bow Bulgogi serves up some of the most affordable, tasty Korean food in Calgary. A very small and busy location, reservations are highly recommended, lest you be faced with a very long wait.
Of all their offerings, the most popular is the ubiquitous “lunch special”. Once quite possibly the best special on earth, recent price increases to match rampant inflation in Calgary means it is “only” a great deal. For $8.95, one gets 3-5 banchan and a bowl of “mystery chicken soup” to start. The main course arrives shortly after with paydirt – rice, vegetables, a deep fried dumpling or spring roll, and more importantly, a large serve of Bul Galbi/Calbi (BBQ beef short ribs), and BBQ Chicken. To sum up the differences, a friend of mine put it best our last visit – “The flavour of the chicken is better, but the ribs are just so darn tasty, there’s no denying they are the best thing on this plate”. Sadly, this is only available at lunch, M-F.
Lunch special aside, Bow Bulgogi have what i would consider to be most of the standard Korean classics available ala carte for lunch or dinner. Bulgogi, Galbi, BBQ Chicken. Squid. Pajeon. Bee Bim Bap. Jap Chae. BBQ dishes are cooked for you and brought out, rather than cooked at the table. Their Banchan are distinctly average, and i would avoid the Vietnamese and Chinese inspired dishes on their menu at all costs. After all, when you go to a Korean hole in the wall, you should eat Korean food.
Bow Bulgogi is a small independently owned restaurant in an unlikely location. They serve up the best value Korean food in town. Compared to other Korean restaurants (Hangkang, Hikari, Sorabol, Dae Jang Geum etc…), they are also the cheapest. In many ways, they are your classic hole-in-the-wall. But what i’ve found is almost everyone in town knows about this place. And if you didn’t, you can add one more to the list of places you have to try. You’ll understand why after you go.