Myung Dong Kal Gook Soo – Burnaby, BC


Myung Dong Kal Gook Soo
103 – 4501 North Road
Burnaby, BC
(604) 420-6447

As the evening air outside begins to descend into a temperature zone that requires more layering of clothing and household duties that require preparations for the coming winter season, it marks the beginning of something that I enjoy a lot – hot food, especially those of the “soupy” category.  Beefy stews, hearty vegetable soups, bowls of noodles in flavorful broth and so on.  Autumn/winter comfort food at its finest.  Plus, with the incoming crop of this season’s vegetables, many of which over the past few years I’ve grown to actually like more of, it makes for fun times in the home kitchen or eating out.

Over the years, I’ve found on my travels abroad that those nations which have a tendency to experience harsher winters – full of freezing temperatures, perhaps suspect household insulation but with a rich food culture – do satisfy my cravings for warm/hot edible delights.  I can still remember the first time I visited South Korea over a decade ago, it was March.  But with bone chilling temperatures coupled with a heavy weight of dense, moist air which made the prevailing air temperature feel many times colder, it hit me like nothing I’ve ever felt before.  My immediate impulse was to warm up and quickly with something to eat.  And on that particular occasion, I ended up in a little spot that served up kalguksu.  Its an experience I’ve never forgotten and ever since, when I feel the chill in the air and have a craving for comforting Korean food, it reminds me of that time.

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Rice Bar – Vancouver, BC


Update – February 11, 2009

I passed by and noticed the signage had been replaced by a new one: Sun Sushi (Eat In and Take Out).  This makes it the fourth sushi place within a three block radius along this section of 10th Ave.

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Original post – January 27, 2009

Rice Bar
4512 West 10th Ave
Vancouver, BC
(604) 222 8868

Rice Bar on Urbanspoon

Housed in a space that used to be a cozy, free Wi-Fi cafe known as Think!, the Rice Bar emerged in its place and is what could best be described as a Hong Kong-style cafeteria… minus the constant flow of customers and a packed room.  When I first saw the nameplate go up outside, there was a small part of me that was hoping that this would perhaps be something refreshing for this neighborhood – such as a specialty Japanese sake drinking establishment – given the ‘rice’ plus ‘bar’ naming.  But alas, it was not to be.

On the occasions that I’ve passed by this past year, I’ve rarely ever seen people inside, either eating in or ordering takeout.  I thought it would not be long before the place was re-invented by another business on this relatively secluded, very west side shopping street.  Surprisingly, I believe its been many months now since it opened, and recently I thought I would give it a chance to see what it had to offer but I was not expecting much…

“Order Here”, the sign on the counter clearly states.  Too bad there’s no human to take my order.  All I can hear is the sounds coming from the small tv screen on the back wall, I think it was some Chinese television drama, as well as the C-pop coming out from the wall speakers.  A shame that’s the only source of noise to be found.  If not for that, I think I could have heard crickets.

After a few minutes, a person appeared and I was able to place my order.  I had hoped to get the Pork Ribs that I had heard a little about, but alas they were out.  Strange, it was still the early evening and had already run out.  In its place, I decided to go with what I thought would be a fairly safe bet in the BBQ Pork.  I know there are those who like it to be fattier, or perhaps a mix of lean and fat, but I prefer the healthier variety and find that the BBQ flavor is retained better in the leaner cuts.   I was asked for my decision on the sauce I wanted with it, and opted for a soy-based one thinking it was the most natural fit with the flavor of the pork.  As you might be able to tell from the image above, it was a simple few spoonfuls that was put on the rice, which the pork covered up.  It did nothing for amping up the taste profile.

The Chicken Wings I ordered thinking that I would easily get sick of the BBQ Pork after a few slices.  And at these prices (both under six dollars), I thought having a double dip wouldn’t be hard on the wallet.  The wings were really crispy, and had a nice salty and textured coating that I enjoyed.  I’m not sure exactly what else was in the breading but it did have some other flavor properties that you don’t get in western-style chicken wings.  I could have easily gone for another batch of three, and they could have deleted the rice.  I preferred these less greasy wings, compared to the ones I had at Wo Fung.  I’d come back for these.

Speaking of the rice, in both containers, it was pretty bland and really dried out.  I know this is more Chinese style, but I find it so lacking in flavor that I hardly eat any of it as I think its more suited for fried rice.  And the minuscule drops of “sauce” with the BBQ Pork didn’t help in this regard.  Each “main” came with the choice of a soup, salad or dessert.  I elected the bamboo shoot soup with both, as the salad would have been a boring mixed greens and I am not a big fan of Asian desserts.  The soup upon opening the lid, I thought would have a sour element, but it had none at all.  It was nothing more than average and very lukewarm by the time I got back home.

The Rice Bar has dedicated so much of its area to seating.  Tables with chairs, a counter with stools that lines one wall, another seating area by the front window, etc.  Its sad that there is no one to use them.  I am not sure what else they could do with all this space however, as their counters are already a pretty good size, and its not equipped to handle the actual cooking stations (which are in the back room).  I wouldn’t want to be the owner of this problem…

Any of you turn right around out the door after entering a restaurant that is dead empty?

And do really quiet places make you always choose to take out when you could just as easily eat-in?

Rice Bar on Urbanspoon

Hon’s Wun-Tun House – Vancouver, BC


[As with all of our posts, please click on any image for an enlarged view]

Hon’s Wun-Tun House
268 Keefer Street
Vancouver, BC
Tel: 604-688-0871‎

Looking for a quick and easy bite to eat, after passing through the downtown core that is being hit hard with a power outage the past two days, I stepped inside the well known and touristy Hon’s Wun-Tun House after finding it one of the business still open on this night.  In business now for over thirty-five years, this staple of Chinatown is a Cantonese cafeteria-style restaurant probably with its reputation built on its potstickers and noodle dish offerings.  Expanded now to five locations in the GVA, its name has certainly spread and one usually finds it listed among the Chinese listings on any of the run of the mill restaurant guides and magazines found in the city.

For cheap eats, Hon’s is up there in terms of bang for the buck and for quickness.  Taste wise, not overwhelmingly good but adequate for what you are expecting and most of all paying.  Armed with these PDA devices, waitresses all dressed in these bright yellow, Hon’s-branded T-shirts relay your order to the kitchen, where it usually comes out at a quick pace, even on those days when its quite full.  The clientele is a unique mix of locals and tourists, Asians and non-Asians, so you can see it has wide ranging appeal.  Now whether that translates to an authentic offering or one that has been ‘adjusted’ to local tastes, that I will leave up to you.

When I get tired of Vietamese pho or Japanese ramen, wun-tun noodles generally comes to mind and in Vancouver, you can find a bowl of Chinese noodles pretty easily.  Its especially an excellent choice on those cold, rainy days in wintertime.  But come summer, not really my favorite.  Rather, I’ll opt for a pretty standard combination of some potstickers and a simple bowl of steam rice, and maybe a side of some veggies.  Or throw in some barbeque duck or pork, another popular item on the menu here.

The potstickers, funny how they add the “TM” mark on their menu, like they own the term or something, come in four types: pork, beef, chicken, vegetarian.  Also, you can choose to have them pan-fried, steamed or in a broth.  Prices, $6 for twelve pieces or $3.25 for six.  I’d rank the pan-fried and steamed as a toss-up, though do tend to find the pan-fried ones sometimes a bit sketchy in terms of the doneness of the meat inside.  Though given how thinly they are stuffed, I don’t think its that big a deal, as the wrapping has a nice golden crust to it and easily handled in one bite.

Hon's Wun Tun House on Urbanspoon