Kangsanhanwoo – Gyeongju, KOR


Kangsanhanwoo
220 Shinpyong-dong, Gyeongju City

North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea
Tel. 054-776-9200

Okay, now we’re finally getting to the literal ‘meat of the matter’ from my trip to Korea this past summer.  One of the key locations on our hit list was this Korean barbecue joint recommended by many Seoulites to us.  Kangsanhanwoo was situated in its own large building at the intersection of some major roads in this resort town, with its brightly lit signage there was no trouble in finding it.  A huge parking lot directly in front provided ample spaces as well, as we made our way in after nine pm and a long day of sightseeing…

While most of the diners were already fully engaged in their meals and were Koreans by and large, we did spot a few tables of foreigners so its appears this is on the international food lovers’ radar when one comes to this popular tourist location of Korea.  To aid everyone coming in, there is a large display case of various types and cuts of beef, much like a butcher shop, immediately as you come inside.  I’m sure there is a lot of pointing and gesturing to get what one wants when language is an issue.  All part of the joys of international travel I say.  With the hot temperatures and the air conditioners running full blast, there was a huge barrier of condensation on the glass, which the two fellows behind the counter would wipe across with a hand-held windshield wiper like tool (similar to those you see at gasoline stands) to give you some visibility.

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Mavericks – Calgary, AB


Mavericks Dining Room and Lounge
Calgary Stampede Grounds
Calgary, AB
(403) 261-0108

Large scale gatherings and events of the commercial variety are usually an impersonal affair.  Interacting with strangers, in big crowds amid long hours of making introductions and face-to-face networking result in meals being forgotten about until your stomach growls in protest.  Fortunately (or perhaps not) often tied to these shows and meetings are facilities to feed countless individuals on-site, mainly latching onto the captive audience who is seeking out convenience in order to get back to the work at hand.  At a recent one, I was faced with this dilemma of being shepherded into the closest and easily accessible mass feeding zone on the Calgary Stampede Grounds.  For $21.95, the lunch buffet at Mavericks drew a long lineup through the 11am – 1pm time period, resulting in at least a ten minute wait time just to get to the front of the line and seated.

On this particular day, the all-you-can-eat menu was: soup, salad, AAA carved Alberta roast beef, penne chicken alfredo, barbecue beef ribs, Swedish meatballs, teriyaki chicken, and baked lasagna.  After being led to our table and announcing that we were all-in with the buffet, we made our way down to the main floor and got into yet another queue for the feast.  Given the huge dining contingent, I would have figured they would have expanded to accommodate at least a pair of routes through the heated-up food pans, but alas it looked like how it is set up on a normal capacity day.  I think this helped explain why there was a lineup to just get in, despite the obvious sight of unoccupied tables.

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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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Potter’s Garden – Burnaby, BC


Korean BBQ Potter’s Garden
5599 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
(604) 431-0208

December 2010 re-visit post here

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.

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Blue Stone Grill – Burnaby, BC


Blue Stone Grill Korean Barbecue
4501 North Road
Burnaby, BC
(604) 415-3443

For those readers in the greater Vancouver area, what a great sunny pre-spring day we had today!  As the old joke goes with Canada having two seasons – winter and patio – I was completely in the mood for being outside in nature and thus spent the majority of the day in the mountains.  And then had a craving for some barbecue action later in the night.  Perhaps in preparation for what I hope will be a wonderful summer…

With most of my familiarity of the Korean restaurant zone along North Road being more on the eastern side, this time we visited a location in the shopping area on the opposite direction.  Nestled in the far end corner of the second level of this complex, is the Blue Stone Grill.  Parking is quite dicey in the day time as the area also houses a popular grocery store, but in the evenings you have a better chance of securing a spot on the upper floor parking space.

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Nando’s Chicken – Burnaby, BC


Nando’s Chicken (Burnaby South location)
5761 Marine Way
Burnaby, BC
(604) 451-0020

It was out in my familiar Kerrisdale neighborhood where I first saw the sign for Nando’s Chicken.  At the time, I was completely unaware that it was a chain of part dine-in, part take-out food enterprises.  From the outside, that particular outlet on W 41st Ave. looked to me like  a regular restaurant and so it wasn’t until I saw it later in a few other places that I began to wonder about its setup.  As an aside, a visiting friend from the UK told me upon seeing the store front that they have these in the UK and he was surprised to see them here as well.

The south Burnaby franchise where I had my first ever Nando’s meal is in a shopping area along Marine Way, which bears a striking similarity to the commercial area known as South Edmonton Common in the provincial capital of Alberta.  Kind of lost amid the big box stores and rows of business, it has set up shop in a smaller part of the strip malls in the area, with a Starbucks (surprise, surprise) nearby as well.  Getting a quick meal while driving in the region, I got caught up in the obvious lunch hour rush of customers, and was surprised to see a decent crowd eating inside as well as those waiting for take away orders.

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Gaucho Brazilian BBQ – Calgary, AB


Gaucho Brazilian BBQ
Review @ 3605 Manchester Road SE
New location @ 100 – 5920 Macleod Trail SW
Calgary AB
(403) 454-9129

I remember one of the first times I went for Rodizio. I spent the entire day sitting in a dark, curtained off room, drinking water to expand the stomach (it doesn’t work in case you’re wondering), playing xBox to keep my mind off the impending gorge.  All you can eat. Meat. Churrascaria. We rolled in at prime time, 7:30pm, and ate a few nibbles of Pao de Queso, and called on the meat. Needless to say, 4-5 lbs of meat later, we had the sweats, a stomach ache, and were barely able to roll ourselves back home. Thanks so much Fogo de Chao.

Needless to say, I’ve grown up significantly since then. But I did learn several things from that experience – primarily, Rodizio should be about the selection and the quality of the meat, period. Side dishes, salads and salad bar, and other filler are nice touches, but don’t add much to the experience. And if i have a choice, i’ll sacrifice some selection to get the quality i need.

Gaucho Brazilian BBQ is one of three Brazillian BBQ, and one of two Rodizio restaurants in the city of Calgary. Based on how busy both Bolero and Gaucho are, there is no doubt Calgarians like their meat.

Churrasco involves barbecuing meats on skewers over open heat. They are rotated slowly to ensure even cooking, and racked based on cooking time and where they are in the cooking process.

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