Meok Ja Gol – Burnaby, BC

Meok Ja Gol
4992 Newton Street
Burnaby, BC
(604) 436-5005

May 2010 re-visit post here
December 2009 re-visit post here

Original post here:

On the prowl in my car for new places to eat, I find that strong visibility from the road always plays a strong role in first my ability to spot them, and also my decision to actually check them out.  The major artery of Kingsway is probably one of the best examples of this…

Way back in 2005, I can remember dining at Meok Ja Gol and having the barbecue.  With those faint memories in my mind, during a weekday out in Burnaby for some meetings, I came across this restaurant once again.  As I alluded to earlier, had it not been for the sight lines from the road, I probably would have missed it and not recalled my first visit years ago.

Funny thing is, customer parking is in the back and I had to loop to the backside and it was here where I gazed upon the bold lunch special sign.

Despite having an incredible amount of flexibility in when I take my lunch hour and where during the work week, I admit I don’t often take advantage of that freedom.  So whenever I happen to be out and in places near restaurants that seemingly cater to the office lunch hour crowd, I am intrigued by what could possibly be on offer.

At this establishment, as the banner inside showed, it contained a fairly standard and popular list of Korean dishes such as bulgogi, bibimbap, and reimyung.   With most at the advertised $6.95 price point, I thought it was a very reasonable value for lunch, and if I lived/worked in the area, I’m sure I’d frequent it more often.

Perhaps it was because I was there well after the lunch hour, the place was not as busy as I had expected it might be.  A few other tables were occupied and I had noticed the interior had changed since my last visit.  It was much more brighter and seemingly cleaner in physical appearance.  Previously, it reminded me more of the smoky and somewhat dimly lit Korean barbecue joints I have frequented in Seoul.

The day was still a hot one and keeping with that, one of the dishes ordered was the summer season-favoured kalguksu.  These hand-cut noodles are of the chewy variety and are often very long.  I believe there is a Korean custom that is related to this (perhaps to symbolize long life or long love).

The rich, somewhat salty broth is usually a mixture of seafood (from anchovies) and chicken stock.  Given the relatively simple ingredients, you can see some other variations of this, which include other haemul (seafood) items, as pictured above.  This is probably one of my favourite home-style, comfort foods and I often request it when I am back in Korea.   And Meok Ja Gol does it well.

Now I know that I saw just a trio of young, twenty-something employees shuffling in and out of the kitchen area.  But my guess is that there is a magical wand waving older Korean woman who prepares these dishes, as I can’t believe it could have been these kids who brought me this wonderful tasting soondubu jjigae (soft tofu stew).

With a strong spicy flavour, the broth was richly enhanced as well with a strong seafood essence.  The volume and texture of the tofu was excellent as well, not too delicate but not too firm at the same time.  I have to say, this version here ranks right up there in my personal favourite list for this dish in B.C., with Insadong.

Meok Ja Gol on Urbanspoon

7 thoughts on “Meok Ja Gol – Burnaby, BC

  1. Isn’t this place the one in front of a gas station and the entrace is partially blocked by a fence? If it is, I have heard really good things about their galbi, as they use charcoal rather than gas. (Add mental note: Must visit this place!)

    • I think you’re thinking of another place, as this place had no such sign and could be seen clearly from Kingsway that passes right in front. Indeed, I believe they do use charcoal, which makes BBQ taste so much better!

  2. I almost always order soondubu now after learning about it from you shokutsu. And now every time you write about a bowl, I start dreaming about my next Korean stop.

    • Oh dear, does that mean little old me has some influence? 🙂 Glad that you’re getting to explore this dish a lot, I know that I’ve gone on some pretty lengthy tears having just that alone for weeks/months at a time when hitting up some Korean restaurants.

  3. Have you tried their charcoal grilled food? They use really unique looking charcoal and they do everything for you, which is just fine with me as I don’t trust my bbqing skills. Unfortunately, you can only order grilled meats at dinnertime.

    After reading this entry, I’ll be going tomorrow to taste some more of their lunch specials. Can’t wait.

    This is definitely a hidden gem of korean restaurants and it doesn’t hurt that the cook is a very cute looking twentysomething.

    • Hi Holly, many years ago on an earlier visit I did have the BBQ. If you come in from the back door, you will see a fellow who’s job it seems is to heat the charcoal and bring it in to diners. My preference for grilling is to do it myself. Must be a control thing. 🙂

      Hope you drop back and let us know your thoughts on the lunch specials. I’ll be sure to give them a go too, next time I am in the area.

  4. I ordered 2 lunch specials, the bulgoki and the spicy cold noodles. The bulkogi is a great value with plenty of meat and rice. The cold noodles is refreshing with a nice balance between the vinegar and spiciness with nice crunchy vegetables and apples on top. It’s great on a hot day.

    I was a little disappointed that they did not have their famous soondubu on their specials menu. We also ordered the beef kulguksu and their hand cut noodles are excellent. They have also made a spicy champong version of kulguksu for me which is delicious.

    While this is a bit far for me to go as there are korean restaurants located closer to me, I would definitely return for their bbq.

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