Blue Stone Grill Korean Barbecue
4501 North Road
For those readers in the greater Vancouver area, what a great sunny pre-spring day we had today! As the old joke goes with Canada having two seasons – winter and patio – I was completely in the mood for being outside in nature and thus spent the majority of the day in the mountains. And then had a craving for some barbecue action later in the night. Perhaps in preparation for what I hope will be a wonderful summer…
With most of my familiarity of the Korean restaurant zone along North Road being more on the eastern side, this time we visited a location in the shopping area on the opposite direction. Nestled in the far end corner of the second level of this complex, is the Blue Stone Grill. Parking is quite dicey in the day time as the area also houses a popular grocery store, but in the evenings you have a better chance of securing a spot on the upper floor parking space.
The instant you open the front door and step inside, you are consumed with the overwhelming scent of grilling meat. Nothing more mouth watering, albeit some might cringe at the possibility of meat fueled aromas on your clothing (mine didn’t really carry any when I got home). Greeted promptly, we were led to an empty booth towards the back of the dining area, passing by several parties already with proteins grilling on their tabletops.
Since meat was on my mind, it was a quick task to scan the choices and get the two-person quantity of saeng kalbi (non-marinated beef ribs) It came with this hot bowl of doenjang–guk (Korean miso soup) flavoured with the usual ingredients such as onions, tofu, and zucchini. After some drinking the night before, this kind of thing really hit the spot as a delayed dehydration recovery meal.
Having been disappointed too many times with the marinated version in restaurants around town, I wanted to see if the pepper/sesame oil and ssamjang (a thick, fermented soybean paste) dips would give me a different perspective, as well as allow me to judge the flavor of the meat on its own. It had been prepped in the kitchen to allow for easing rolling onto the grill, as well as to help break up the meat fibers with some cross cuts.
Completing the picture was also the requisite banchan (side dishes), and some pieces of sliced tofu and mushrooms for the grill. Lettuce leaves for the wrapping of the grilled meat, and some peppers and garlic slices rounded out the table.
As the waitress rolled out the first two beef rolls, I noticed that they were slightly longer then the length of the gas heated grill top. No trouble as some provided scissors to cut the meat resolved this problem.
Although the word stone is mentioned in the restaurant’s name, the table top grill was actually metal. I’m more of a steel grill & hot charcoal kind of Korean barbecue fan, but this worked out just fine, with the adjustable gauge to adjust the strength of the flame underneath. Tender and cooked to how I like it, the kalbi was both plentiful and tasty. Perhaps we’d ordered too much for just the two of us. Though in that you have no choice as a minimum two-person order is required. In hindsight, perhaps I might have enjoyed the marinated version more. I think what I missed most was some salt. The pepper/sesame oil, as well as the ssamjang did give a different dimension and taste profile – especially when I would wrap it all with some steamed rice, a slice of kimchi, some pepper and garlic.
We followed this dinner with a bit of dessert downstairs in another establishment. That will be a future post…