Hee Rae Deung Korean Chinese Restaurant
#24 435 North Road
Normally I’m not one to wait in line. Blame it on impatience or a sense that my time is worth more than waiting for my turn at something. Especially something as mundane as getting something to eat. As a result, you’ll never find me in line at the latest, hippest joint in town despite what all the critics might be spouting on about regarding the place. It might not even be that “cool” of a spot either, just the fact that there is a queue will deter me from stopping and joining the line of lemmings. Are you the same or perhaps different (e.g. more patient)?
The photos from this meal at Hee Rae Deung are actually from a trip there that dates back a few months to early May. I’ve driven by a few times since and just like that first visit, I could clearly see some waiting customers just inside the door, and some even outside on the sidewalk. It kind of baffled me when I walked up to the doors and had to get in behind about six other people for a late dinner meal. Was there something special about this place? Was the food something amazing? Or were the prices incredibly pleasing and could you get fantastic value? All these things swirled in my head as I tried to rationalize what I was seeing…
As I’ve noted in previous foodosophy posts, there are two dishes that stand out for me when it comes to this hybrid Korean-Chinese cuisine: jajangmyeon and tangsuyuk. With the former, I do tend to tire of eating the same old noodles, especially in larger servings, so I’ve defaulted to a dish that still incorporates the dark colored sauce but with a stir fried rice pairing instead. With some side salad, pickled vegetables and a pan fried egg to complete the creation, its simple yet very homey and quite filling. Mi-Ae Deli in my books though, does this dish better as I find the rice better seasoned. A draw could be called on the flavors of the sauce however.
The tangsuyuk came out quite “dry”. By that I mean, compared to say BKBJ in Vancouver, each piece of deep fried pork was not completely coated in the sweet sticky sauce. I can go either way on this, as you can enjoy some pieces in their naked state and then delve into those that are more covered. It can break up the monotony of flavor, especially when dealing with such a sugary coating. The contrasting textures of the vegetables also helps to break the single note of taste as well, and a side of steamed rice helps tremendously I find. Leftovers are usually available to take home for a snack the next day too.
In sum, would I say Hee Rae Deung blew me away? I can honestly say no. It was good and serving sizes were just right in terms of volume. So no complaints from me in terms of the food. Perhaps its just a good flood of word-of-mouth that is creating the large crowds here or just a well networked proprietor, or maybe the food is better than I can judge it to be. The prices have faded from my memory so I can’t comment on if that’s part of the draw either. Either way, it is doing brisk business whenever I am there, so they must be doing well enough and have enough fans to remain successful, and in the restaurant business, you can’t ask for more than that…