Foodosophy Restaurant Update – November 2011

Looking at our category log, I see its been eleven months since we last posted one of these grouped restaurant updates. I’m sure we could do more and do them more often, however the challenge is to provide something new. That said, I feel they do have added value as return visits that support/rectify earlier opinions is something worthwhile striving to provide.  I hope you agree.  Going through a bunch of notes and folders with accompanying images, I tried to come up with a consistent theme, and this one will be heavy on places I’ve frequented way over in Coquitlam/Burnaby…

1. Anatolia’s Gate

Its out of the way especially if you live in Vancouver, so you’re probably more apt to visit this popular eatery in the evening, which they can accommodate with their late business hours. But I’ve been able to check it out at lunch time and finding its a lot less busy, and the wait times are shorter as a result to get your food. In fact, on one of my most recent trips, I was the only one there and had my quick meal made up for me right on the spot, as if it were my own personal kitchen!   Its really refreshing to see the lavash bread (with whole wheat option too!) made immediately at the counter before being fired in the oven, stuffed with your choice of ingredient (beef in this case) and carefully wrapped up to go.  Photo above is a cross section as I cut it in half.  I was hoping for a bit more meat but the balance with the vegetables enabled it to have a pleasing ratio per mouthful.  So much more to explore on their menu, so a place I’ll come back to again.

Anatolia's Gate on Urbanspoon

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Hee Rae Deung Korean Chinese Restaurant – Coquitlam, BC

Hee Rae Deung Korean Chinese Restaurant
#24 435 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 939-0649

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…

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Myung-Ga Sonmandoo – Coquitlam, BC

Myung-Ga Sonmandoo (Hand Made Dumplings)
455 329 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 939-8828

In an area already congested with places to eat, its always nice to discover the pending opening of yet another place to try some new food.  In the shopping complex anchored by the H-Mart Supermarket, while getting some groceries there in early-December, I noticed a place with some paper up on the windows and some temporary signage signifying something was about to occupy the place shortly.  From what I could make of it, it was going to be about dumplings.  Yum.

And so at the end of 2010 I was back as the doors were now open and I quickly had my virgin meal at Myung-Ga, which was indeed offering dine-in and takeout service for its sonmandoo (or hand made dumplings).  It was  a small, narrow space with an open kitchen up front where you can see workers making the various dumplings they have right in front of you.   A small window from the sidewalk allows you to peak inside, if they have the shade up.   The steaming is also done right there, so if its chilly outside, you can get a noticeable amount of fog indoors with the constant opening and closing of the main entrance causing the ambient air temperature to fluctuate.

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Seok Gi Si Dae – Coquitlam, BC

Seok Gi Si Dae
4-602 Clarke Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 937-0330

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.

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Foodosophy Restaurant Update – September 2010

Now that we’re rolling into the fall season and coming back from various journeys over the summer, I thought it would be a good time to do another one of these consolidated posts and provide an update on previously visited places again as a refresher.  The links throughout will lead you to original posts and/or commentary on follow up visits.  If in doubt if you’ve viewed them all, please do a search on the main page for all your queries…

Previous editions of multi-restaurant/monthly recaps: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Matsuzushi – Coquitlam, BC

403 North Road #203
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 931-3713

Things have changed since I last visited Matsuzushi.  For one, the combined space with the small grocery item store has been downsized.  Though there is a definite partition that divides the two, it still retains its very casual and almost cafeteria-like ambiance with minimal decor and fuss.  For those unfamiliar, the system is a pay-first one.  After placing your order at the cashier and paying for your meal ahead of time, find a seat and your food will be brought out to you – no need to rush back to the counter for pickup.

Outside on their handmade signboard on this day, I noticed a listing of specials.  As I’m apt to do, I decided to try something on it and given the hot weather, the summer hiyashichuka (cold Japanese noodles) seemed perfect.  There seems to be a growing number of places in town that feature this dish when the warmer weather arrives, which is just fine with me.  For something so simple, its nice to see the variety of combinations and therefore flavor profile in each one of them.  Search around the site to find some previous commentary on this Japanese dish.

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Itshoni – Coquitlam, BC

Itshoni Restaurant
505-329 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 931-8460

Itshoni (in my eyes, a misspelling of the romaji for the Japanese word ‘together’) emerged from the space previously occupied by the Blue Sea Seafood Restaurant, and is serving up a mix of Korean and Japanese cuisine. It is conveniently located in this high traffic shopping complex that is home to many other places where one can a meal – many of which reported on here at foodosophy.

The interior has received a noticeable makeover with most of the former enclosed spaces and booths removed and replaced with dark wooden tables and chairs.  The floor looked re-done as well, in addition to the similarly colored wall treatments and refreshed with new art hanging on the walls.  The mural on one of the side walls (not pictured here) really stands out.  The place was filled well with both Asian and non-Asian customers (this table of nine got filled up by a big group of women minutes after we were seated nearby).

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Mi-Ae Deli – Coquitlam, BC

Mi-Ae Deli
#240 – 329 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 939-5588

Mi-Ae Deli as the English name of this business is called, is another Korean eatery in the commercial complex near the popular H-Mart grocery store at the North Road/Lougheed Highway junction of Coquitlam, BC.  I’ve personally only been aware of it for around two years now, and its a place I’ve visited several times since for a quick meal.  My initial step inside this place was after I had discovered they offered some classic Korean-Chinese dishes and I was on the hunt for jajangmyeon (blackbean noodles).   

It can get quite hectic inside, and lineups are not unusual, especially on weekends.  Step right in though and you can generally give your order to the woman at the counter, and they will have your food ready quicker when a table eventually opens up.  Service overall is quite limited (no useless chitchat), but fast.      

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Toe Dam – Coquitlam, BC

Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQ
#250-329 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 939-5515

September 2010 re-visit post here

Original post below:

The further and deeper that I explore Coquitlam’s exploding community of Korean restaurants, the more I realize there are still hidden spots yet uncovered and also some that I’ve seen many times but have yet to venture inside.  Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQ was one of these latter types, until I finally made a dinner visit this month after missing the dinner cut off time at nearby Mi-Ae Deli (another recent favorite haunt of mine here)…

It is located in the same shopping complex as the mega H-Mart grocery store, as well as a few other places reported about here on foodosophy.  So parking is generally ample, if you make your way further down into the lot away from the entrance of H-Mart and avoid the many shoppers there.

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Ku Wol San – Coquitlam, BC

Ku Wol San
535 Clarke Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 931-5535

As a change of pace from my exploration of the predominantly Korean restaurant hub that surrounds the Lougheed Highway and North Road intersection along the border that splits the communities of Burnaby and Coquitlam, I recently ventured northbound to where the road changed into Clarke Road.  In a split second decision, I veered sharply into the parking lot of Ku Wol San Korean Restaurant, not knowing at all what to expect…

With a few other cars already parked in their lot next door, I hoped I wouldn’t be alone inside and thankfully I was not.  Already a few young couples were having meals, a five person family, and a group of four young men.  All seemingly speaking Korean, so I took that as a good sign.

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Kimbab Cheonguk – Coquitlam, BC

Kimbab Cheonguk
3A-341 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 936-0222

Sadly at times, a country’s cuisine gets condensed down to a single dish or style of cooking, when in fact the truth is that it holds many different elements and is comprised of great variety of ingredients and a diverse use of them.  As I scan the various message boards and blogger sites when it pertains to posts about Korean cooking, I most often see the dominating theme of barbecue.  With a strong meat culture here in North America, it probably makes sense that Korean grilling makes the top of the list when it comes to the popularity of this Asian country’s cuisine overseas.  For it holds many similar traits: heat/fire, red meat, and sauces/marinades.  All very easy to understand, even though the exact flavours may be different.

As years pass and a country’s cuisine establishes a familiar beachhead among the local populace, there comes a moment when the menu can open up to more and more dishes that showcase that nation’s food culture.  For sure, there will be those early adopters who readily accept the new food “challenges” immediately, while those in the majority often lag behind until they feel those around them are also comfortable and ready to move further up the ethnic food ladder.

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Honey’s Bistro – Coquitlam, BC

Honey’s Bistro
101-403 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 936-2131

Yangnyeom Chicken is something I’ve discovered previously at Mexican Chicken Hof, and had neglected to follow up on at another nearby establishment that I was aware served it as well, until now.  Honey’s Bistro is literally just up the street on the other side of Lougheed Highway, and I would say is a more visually common setting of what one might expect of a Korean Hof, albeit a slightly dated one. Part western, part eastern, it strides that unusual balance between these two worlds, though Honey’s leans slightly more to the west, and my guess is that it used to formerly be a more Canadian-style pub or eating house.  The main thing though that gives the Korean-ness of it away are the flat panel displays on the walls, showing popular Korean tv and music programs.

Despite already haven eaten dinner nearby (a future post), I decided to pick up a box of fried chicken wings and drumettes- minus the sauce – to go.   I wanted to first taste their chicken straight-up before considering coming back for the Yangnyeom version. Not surprisingly, I ended up eating some of it when I got home (and the rest the next day) despite having had dinner already.  So much for dieting.

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Bukchigo Jangguchigo – Coquitlam, BC

Bukchigo Jangguchigo Korean Restaurant
Unit c-341 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 931 – 7400

In an instant, transported halfway around the globe.  That’s how I felt when I stepped inside this completely Korean enclave, that was essentially a minsok jujum (Korean-style drinking spot) and called Bukchigo Jangguchigo.  Tucked in the corner of an L-shaped strip mall on North Road, driving into the lot southbound is a virtual impossibility, given the high volume of traffic coming the other way and the not-so-friendly Burnaby/Coquitlam drivers who always seem to be in a hurry to get home…

With some tables occupied by some younger twenty-something groups as well as some older gentlemen, all speaking Korean, it reminded me of my experiences eating out on the streets of Seoul.  On previous visits to this mall, I had always been curious to step inside, as I could make out boisterous customers all seemingly have a good time, much in the mold of the crowds at Guu in downtown Vancouver.

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Won Jo BBQ and Noodle Restaurant – Coquitlam, BC

Won Jo BBQ and Noodle Restaurant
105-508 Clark Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 931-1004

View Larger Map

The chill is definitely in the air in the Lower Mainland now after our fantastic summer.  Perfect time to switch my focus onto hot stews, soups and hearty, filling meals.  Thankfully, Korean cuisine has many choices when it comes to dishes like this…

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Mexican Chicken Hof – Coquitlam, BC

Mexican Chicken Hof
A1-341 North Road
Coquitlam, BC
(604) 936-1444

H.O.F. Those three letters mean nothing on their own.  Unless you happen to be in South Korea and your eyes are swimming around looking at an unfamiliar language and fonts.  Especially if you are in a busy commercial zone full of restaurants, bars and other entertainment establishments in busy areas such as Kangnam in Seoul.

Derived from the German word hoffbrau meaning ‘royal or court brew’ which originates back in the days when beer was only available to the elite, its now often associated with German taverns.  The Koreans have adopted part of the terminology as their own, and in the modern day, a hof could be described as a Korean pub or drinking spot.  Incidentally, one of the very first hof’s I visited in Seoul over a decade ago was very much patterned after a German brew house, complete with huge beer steins, and delicious sausages on the menu.

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