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.
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.
Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodle House
Taiwan, one of the few countries that I have not visited in Asia. As such, my exposure to the island nation’s cuisine is still a bit hazy in my mind and my only experiences have been here in North America. Through the years and particularly in the Vancouver area, I’ve been taken to a few places that feature Taiwanese beef noodles. Lao Shan Dong is one of them, and I can count at least five trips to eat their variation of this dish.
Nestled in a commercial building facing the busy Kingsway road right across from Metropolis at Metrotown, there seemingly is always a decent crowd inside. Perhaps the constant opening and closing of the door results in the constant chilly temperature inside the glass window enclosed eatery – I never feel quite comfortable in there. Alas, a steaming bowl of noodles in hot soup can remedy that, but the initial waiting time is always killer. With the beef noodles taking longer than other dishes, such as the various mini appetizers that are marinated, pickled, etc. (pig’s ear, anyone?) that are displayed on one of the counters, I’ve on some occasions ordered these dumplings that seemed more boiled than steamed judging by all the water on the bottom of the plate. With a thicker skin, and a not so flavourful interior, I get these more for filler than anything else.