Midam Rice Cake House – Burnaby, BC
Midam Rice Cake House
#110 – 4501 North Road
Not a dessert man, am I. But after a hearty meal of Korean-style barbecue, we took a short walk down the stairs from the second level of this commercial complex to close out our dinner with some sweets at another establishment.
I only had a faint recollection of this place from a previous walk around and approaching 9:30pm, I wasn’t sure I’d get my chance as I reckoned that the closing hour was near. Luckily, there was still thirty minutes on the clock and the employees inside were welcoming and gave no sense they were in a hurry to wrap up.
Given the time, and on a rainy mid-week evening to boot, the place was empty except for one other couple. And with the two workers shuffling between the front counter and to the back, apparently doing some closing duties, it made for a relaxed and uninterrupted photography opportunity of this very unique business. Hence, the more plentiful than usual collection of images here.
The decor and various props made me remember some cafes in Seoul I have frequented. A mix of some traditional and modern elements in the decorations and furniture. The cases of miniature figurines and incredibly downsized versions of some of the food they serve here was quite eye opening.
Toward the side of the space where the windows are covered by an opaque material, was a slightly raised platform with a low table that you often see in Korean restaurants (back in the homeland), along with a beautifully crafted wooden chest.
Now with many traditional desserts in countries like Japan and Korea, there is a method to enjoy the subdued sweetness, by balancing it with a more neutral or sometimes bitter tasting beverage (like a hot green tea) to achieve that contrast.
The very Korean-style desserts here are called Tteok. A rice flour based cake, tteok comes in many shapes, forms, flavours and styles. Some are round, some are flat and even some that are cylindrical in appearance. Similarly, there are multiple cooking styles as well, though steaming is the most popular. Infused with some nuts, this sweet kabocha variant was cut into quarters, to make eating slightly easier. The slightly wet-chewy texture may be a new thing for some not familiar with this dessert. Paired with it was a rounder shaped item, that had a red bean center hidden inside. Again, with a restrained sugar content, typical of many Northeast Asia desserts, for some, it may not be sweet enough.
Lastly, an assortment of fresh sorbets were available, so an order of their strawberry one was made. Coincidentally, at the nearby Korean grocery store, they were having a huge sale on fresh strawberries, so I guessed that was their supply. Nicely creamy and ice cold and packed with the distinct flavour and aroma that only strawberries can provide, this was also delicious. In my haste to eat some of it, I became the victim of the dreaded “brain freeze”.
Looking around one last time before leaving, I could see that this place probably becomes a focal point for more private parties or larger engagements of celebration that would involve traditional Korean rites or performances. It certainly is big enough to accommodate larger groups.
With welcoming seating arrangements that are not cramped together, some vivid pieces of artwork and decorations to keep you eyes just as enthralled with the beautifully crafted food, and even some entertainment (board games, magazines, etc.) to keep you entertained, I envision Midam filling a niche within the local Korean community. I would be dismayed if they were in a more prominent location and serving up coffee and cakes to appease the greater populace, as then they would lose their distinct appeal. I’m quite sure they won’t fall into that trap…