Korean BBQ Potter’s Garden
Original post below:
Now we’ve all heard of “restaurant makeovers”, but how about “restaurant takeovers”?
Without delving deep into the ownership connections behind a restaurant, either through direct questioning of the proprietor or through word of mouth from those in the know, its often difficult to know who’s in charge and their story behind running a place or buying into one. With so many places to eat out, its this sometimes unique background that intrigues me. So when I noticed that Potter’s Garden had morphed out of the exact same location as another previous Korean cuisine restaurant, I wanted to see what was up.
With refinished signage outside, there did not seem to be much done with the interior from my previous visit to this building when it was known by another name, except perhaps for the stationing of a large flat panel screen that seemingly is on continual replay of Korean pop music videos and other related variety shows. This kind of visual/audio entertainment system smack dab in the middle of the dining space seems to be a growing trend in Burnaby’s Korean restaurant community – I’ve seen it deployed at Meok Ja Gol and Bada E-Yagi. So all in all, not much of a changeover with the ownership transfer aside from the new focus on one menu area.
Mainstream Korean cuisine here in North America remains (and probably will for the long term) one that is highlighted by their barbecue and meat dishes. I feel that it is this comfort level with grilling animal proteins among perhaps all human cultures that results in this popularity, not ignoring the fact that it just tastes so darn delicious.
Having said that, Potter’s Garden still has an incredibly extensive menu highlighting other Korean home-cooked comfort favorites. From seolleongtang, yukgaejang, sundubu, kimchi-jjigae, bibimbap, tteok-mangduguk, daegu-maeuntang, bossam, various jeongol (hot pot), hamheung naengmyeon, mandu, and of course barbecue – there is nothing that you could crave that might appear on the menu of another Korean restaurant in the GVRD and isn’t here. And for this dinner, we filtered through the pages of choices and decided on what is probably most connected to their namesake, the hangahri bbq.
Marinated for days and refrigeration-stored in earth pots filled with a flavor-infusing liquid made up of the likes of rice-based liquor, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, and other ingredients, the cut portions of pork have also been tenderized and scored to increase the transfer of flavour into the meat. While an order of the $45 pot of doeji galbi may seem daunting, trust me – with the volume contained inside (easily a dozen or more slices), it makes for a hearty meal for three hungry people and could easily stretch to four. With two of us dining out, we unashamedly took at least half of it home to be cooked and eaten the next day.
On the tabletop half-domed metal grill that enabled any excess fat to drain out into a retaining tray hidden below, the courteous server began by setting the temperature and laying out a few portions of pork. When cooked on both sides, table-side scissors were used to cut them into bite-sized pieces.
Add some Korean miso, perhaps a slice of green pepper and garlic, wrap it up in a piece of sanchu and add a dabble of steamed rice, is how I prefer to package it up before it gets deposited into my drooling mouth. The overall tenderness of the meat is what stands out for me here, alongside the fully integrated flavour of the marinating liquid. As someone who usually eschews things like thick sauces over the simplicity of salt on grilled meat to heighten the flavour, this is a close second in terms of methodology in the art of making meat taste that much better.