Dae Bak Bon Ga
1947 West 4th Avenue
One of the earliest posts that I personally wrote about here on foodosophy was for a restaurant of the same name, Dae Bak Bon Ga. Its actually the mother ship if you will of this secondary location in Kitsilano, that’s been open for a while now and I’ve tried a few times already. Among a certain circle of native Korean friends, this is their chosen favorite for a taste of home here in Vancouver. As such, I trust their word and try to remember all the Korean dishes that I ate this past summer when I visited South Korea and from my previous trips to that peninsula. Upon my first visit to this 4th Avenue spot, I did pick up that the service level was an improvement over many other Korean restaurants around town and there was a notable level of “refinement” and focused attention on customers aura that seemed to consume the place. It was though in their very early days, so perhaps that might have had something to do with it.
As this meal was a farewell of sorts for a member of this particular circle of friends, we opted to have a round of drinks to begin with. This was soon followed by our opening dish of bossam. It was a nice thicker slice cut, generously spread across the plate. A decent balance of meat and fat in each piece as well, and it had been steamed quite thoroughly and thus who like it more “well done” and less soft and fatty, this would be up your bossam alley. For those unfamiliar, its practice to wrap up a slice or two in the tender lettuce or cabbage that accompanies this, and add a smearing of the spicy paste mixture (often with some dried seafood ingredients) you see in the top left of this image to complete the flavor package. Nature’s always the best eating vessel supplier. The wrapping helps cut through the oiliness you may experience as well, and as its been steamed and cooled as well, you miss a bit of the crispiness but has the greater flexibility and malleable properties to better suit it as a foldable envelope.
This cheesy monstrosity was a first for me, a cheese layered version of buldak. Better known as that fiery chicken that I had at say Red Chicken. Only this time it was more boneless thigh meat. After a while, the cheese completely melted over the moist chunks of meat and the spicy sauce which made mixing it all up crucial. The inclusion of some mildness really helped, especially if really spicy dishes are not your thing. While nowhere near as tongue scorching as at Red Chicken, this was not too bad in terms of heat level.
Ojingeo teopbap I believe is what this was called. Another red color dominated dish, this time populated by various vegetables and sliced squid and served on a hot plate, bubbling as it was brought to our table top. This was probably the spiciest of the dishes we had this night. It helped the beer flow well. And the soju. I must admit I had to raise my hands in defeat so only had a spoonful or two of this. I found myself delving into the next dish to try and “cool” off.
Gamjatang (pork bone soup) is one of my favorite Korean stews, especially as the weather turns colder. With potatoes, this dish is even heartier. I received a bowlful from the communal pot that sat on our table and the photo is this single portioned out serving. Tenderly stewed meat, bringing out the added flavors of slow cooked vegetables and spices, this dish was a winner. Dae Bak Bon Ga and Choon Ha Choo Dong on W. Broadway both rank high in my personal books for this. I’m sure I will indulge in it a few more times now that the day time temperatures are only hitting the single digits. Tonight would have been perfect for it.
Lastly, an appropriate filler type of dish. A fried rice concoction that was made with some stir fried kimchi. I can make something similar in my home kitchen from time to time. But clearly the restaurant version just seems to win out in terms of overall flavor, each and every time. This was made on our table using the remaining sauce from the spicy squid dish we had earlier as well, bolstering all the rich flavors that remained and had benefited from the table top cooking and had remained on the hot plate. A concept that I think it lost, but I just love. Be it adding noodles to the remaining soup from a stew, or making a fried rice dish like this from leftover sauce. Why let all those great infused flavors go to waste I say!
DBBG the Sequel, a little out of place perhaps given the lack of Korean restaurants in Kits, but I’m sure it will find its niche for those in the neighborhood with a Korean craving but not interested in trekking downtown or out to the other nearby cities where this cuisine is more prominent.