Seok Gi Si Dae
4-602 Clarke Road
Out of the way. Strange road access. Limited parking. That kind of sums up the location of Seok Gi Si Dae, situated far up the road from the major Korean cuisine epicenter of the Burnaby/Coquitlam border that has received much coverage here on foodosophy. To make this place even odder was the fact that part of the dining space appeared to be an attachment to the original building. Less insulated inside, the roar of traffic could be heard clearly, making it seem like you were dining outdoors on the roadside as if this was a pojangmacha.
Alas, thankfully its not always the ambiance that matters when eating out and with those expectations tempered, finding great little hole-in-the-wall joints is another allure of all this food blogging we do and sharing these kinds of experiences is what makes this all so much fun. And hopefully enjoyable for you, our dear readers.
Over the years, I’ve gotten used to eating while sitting on the floor as opposed to on chairs and higher set tables. Especially when it comes to Asian cuisine. It just feels more natural and comforting to have a soft cushion as your contact point with the floor, as if you are just chilling in your own living room. Both setups exist here at Seok Gi Si Dae, but the elevated floor seating section is more spacious and seemed to the more popular option among those around us. I think the larger tables help as well, especially when you are grilling meats. After all, tables space for six but seated by two certainly does make a huge difference and a much less cramped dining experience.
The standard lettuce and perilla leaves for wrapping up the samgeopsal were quickly brought out after we made our order. As well, the dipping sauces, and the usual green onion salad, and even some daikon kimchi done two ways.
Furthermore, a very bare bones but still fish-based broth and airy egg soup was served in a steaming hot pot. Generally, I’m not overly excited by this dish as I think of it as a very low priority side, but this one came infused with delicate but still delicious flavors in the background that made scooping it up to balance the other saltier and spicier flavors from our meal achieve better balance.
Doenjang jjigae is also a stalwart of a Korean meal, and this was delivered on as well. Pungent, deep flavors abound. I know its an acquired taste for those more accustomed to the subtler tasting miso shiru of Japanese cuisine, but I hope you don’t give up on giving this a fair shot and assessment should you encounter it. Even for me, it took some time, but now I thoroughly enjoy its richer taste and spicy kick.
Here’s the main event. Beautiful and generously thick cuts of pork belly. Only four strips shown here but given their thickness, this was more than plenty for the two of us dining on this evening. Some kimchi was also sauteed on the hot plate – which I learned would be incorporated into something else and not to be eaten as-is. On the right, you can see how the pork was cut by our server into more edible-sized portions. Again, the quantity is more apparent, though I’m sure there are those of you out there that could easily put away this much meat. Without a doubt, the pork served here was of the density that made you feel like you were getting great value and would not walk away still feeling hungry. Sure, thinner slices of pork does have its benefits, but for hot plate grilling, I would much rather prefer these broader cuts.
And as I had mentioned, once the pork was all cooked and consumed (or at least the last few bits were on our serving plates, the friendly older woman who appeared to be the manager, while her son was a server, came over and asked if we’d like our rice dish prepared. A blitzing fast act of mixing some steamed white rice with the cooked off kimchi, led to this beautifully colored concoction which she instructed us to leave for a while, so that it could build a crispy coating and stopped steaming. Watching it just sit there for a few minutes was pure agony as I couldn’t wait to dig in. If you are a fan of say dolsot bibimbap, then you will be familiar with that smoky crunch, that really makes this dish. A perfect end to a heartwarming meal, full of fantastic eats and a definitive Korean cuisine experience all in very average surroundings.