Dae Bak Bon Ga – Vancouver, BC

Dae Bak Bon Ga
1947 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-8259

One of the earliest posts that I personally wrote about here on foodosophy was for a restaurant of the same name, Dae Bak Bon Ga.  Its actually the mother ship if you will of this secondary location in Kitsilano, that’s been open for a while now and I’ve tried a few times already.  Among a certain circle of native Korean friends, this is their chosen favorite for a taste of home here in Vancouver.  As such, I trust their word and try to remember all the Korean dishes that I ate this past summer when I visited South Korea and from my previous trips to that peninsula.  Upon my first visit to this 4th Avenue spot, I did pick up that the service level was an improvement over many other Korean restaurants around town and there was a notable level of “refinement” and focused attention on customers aura that seemed to consume the place.  It was though in their very early days, so perhaps that might have had something to do with it.

As this meal was a farewell of sorts for a member of this particular circle of friends, we opted to have a round of drinks to begin with.  This was soon followed by our opening dish of bossam.  It was a nice thicker slice cut, generously spread across the plate.  A decent balance of meat and fat in each piece as well, and it had been steamed quite thoroughly and thus who like it more “well done” and less soft and fatty, this would be up your bossam alley.  For those unfamiliar, its practice to wrap up a slice or two in the tender lettuce or cabbage that accompanies this, and add a smearing of the spicy paste mixture (often with some dried seafood ingredients) you see in the top left of this image to complete the flavor package.  Nature’s always the best eating vessel supplier.  The wrapping helps cut through the oiliness you may experience as well, and as its been steamed and cooled as well, you miss a bit of the crispiness but has the greater flexibility and malleable properties to better suit it as a foldable envelope.

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Burgoo Bistro – Vancouver, BC

Burgoo Bistro
4434 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 221 7839

Shokutsu: Big, bold, hearty stews.  I think many cultures around the world have them in some form or another.  Perhaps, its all derived from our primitive roots when meals evolved into these one pot wonders cooked over fire, that were filled with the meat of animals that were killed on the plains, in the mountains and forests of our great planet, as well as the local vegetation that was available to help flavor everything and provide other nutrients for our human ancestors.

Skipping to the modern day, Burgoo Bistro has taken this concept to heart, priding itself on offering ‘food for comfort’.  The ‘classics’ section on their bistro menu features some current takes (some quite liberally I might add) on this stew concept with homages to variations from around the world, such as the Decadent French Onion, Ratatouille Provencale, Lamb Tagine, Butter Chicken and even incorporating their namesake in the Kentucky Burgoo. Having expanded to three locations (two in Vancouver, one in North Vancouver), as well as burgeoning retail and catering elements to their business, the empire continues to grow, and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

As described by the menu, my ordered Irish Stew was comprised of Guinness-braised lamb and vegetables, along with homemade dumplings and garlic tinged mash potatoes.  Honestly, I am not a frequent drinker of this dark beer, but could not really tell if it had added anything to the flavor in this dish.  Perhaps it was the under-seasoned chunks of lamb meat?  I mean they were not overdone, but at the same time lacking any true tenderness, as some took more effort to chew.  If there was a positive, for those who don’t like the game-y scent of lamb, there was very little of it here.  The added vegetables also did nothing to excite my taste buds as they were also very conservatively seasoned, and the dumplings, other than providing perhaps the softest texture in this bowl besides the soft mash, again did not impress and were clearly an afterthought.  Finally, I had wished they had provided more of the broth in which it was cooked and reduced in, as near the end, it was evident that the ingredients were drying out in my bowl, making the glass of water nearby seem more and more appealing.  That should never happen when having an actual meal.

And now, without any further delay, I would like to introduce to you all our newest Foodosophy contributor, and my dining companion on this day, for his thoughts on our meal together…


Prefectionist: First off, my thanks go out to Shokutsu and Foodosopher for giving me the opportunity to express my opinions on Foodosophy. I’ve come to appreciate the writing styles of Shokutsu and Foodosopher and will strive to describe my eating adventures as eloquently as they do.

As a relative newbie to Vancouver, I’m still not used the gray skies and the constant drizzle that’s associated with the change in seasons here. So indulging in something warm and hearty was definitely enticing on this rainy day. Looking at my options, I quickly decided on the Beef Bourguignon. This classic French dish is essentially a stew that calls for braised beef, carrots, mushrooms, pearl onions and garlic. Mashed potatoes, rice or noodles are secondary to the stew.

Once my meal arrived I immediately noticed the generous portion of mashed potatoes topped with the beef bourguignon. In my opinion, the key factor that makes or breaks a bowl of stew is the braised beef. It should be moist, tender and be barely holding itself together. Frankly, the beef was just cooked not braised, making for some tough pieces of meat. The pearl onions lacked any good caramelization and much like the beef, the carrots were undercooked. On the bright side, the mashed potatoes were excellent, but unfortunately, I wanted Beef Bourguignon.

Did it satisfy my initial cravings for something warm and hearty? Yes. Would I recommend it? Probably not. I’m a big fan of French onion soup so maybe I’ll give that a try on another rainy day, which judging from the forecast, shouldn’t be that far away.

Burgoo (Point Grey) on Urbanspoon

House of Tofu Soup – Burnaby, BC

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

(Pukchangdong) House of Tofu Soup
4563 North Road
Burnaby, BC
Tel: 604-420-5254
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-9:30pm; Sun, closed

When a place puts in its name, one dish that its supposed to specialize in and do very well, I tend to have high expectations.  After all, if its in the name, they better have game.  Unfortunately, the House of Tofu Soup did not live up to what I was hoping for in terms of their soondubu (Korean Soft Tofu Stew) and I came away quite disappointed.

The House of Tofu Soup is off to the side of North Road heading south coming off the Lougheed Highway, and its quite easy to miss the turnoff into the space as the building is recessed a bit from the road.  The letdown was probably amplified by the small but near-full parking lot outside the establishment, which raised my hopes thinking that if it was busy then that was a good sign.  Opening the front door and scanning inside, the place was fairly busy and even after my dining companion and me were seated, a couple more groups of people came in.  I was sort of expecting more traditional floor-style seating, but it was just tables in the main space, and some more off to the side that were partitioned off by a barrier.  I’d say about 90% of the people there were Korean/speaking Korean, and was a mix of young groups of friends, older women, as well as some families.

As those familar with Korean cuisine know, after placing your order an assortment of free and refillable side dishes (banchan) are brought to your table.  Again, this was a letdown and was our second hint that things were not up to snuff.  The cabagge kimchi was not flavorful and was lacking real taste and heat, the sweet potato/onion was again lacking flavor, and the vinegar-flavored seaweed was stringy but lacking the chewy texture that I prefer.

Thinking that the soondubu alone would not fill us up (or rather me who was in a much more hungier state having skipped lunch), we decided to order an appetizer of fried mandoo (dumplings).  As a filler, I could accept that it was just a frozen product that was deep fried and perhaps in too hot an oil bath, and the insides were just passable on taste.  My usual dining companion cringes when I order things like this, and this was one occasion that I knew they were right.

The mixed soondubu that I chose had both meat and seafood ingredients, along with an ample amount of soft tofu.  This last characteristic was the dish’s lone positive, as more often than not, many places will skimp out on the quality and quantity of tofu.  The other ingredients though, aside from the decent sized shrimp, were few and far between as I scrambled to dig out a few slices of beef, some tiny clams, bits of green onion and that was about it, from the bottom of the bowl.  As a result, none of the all important seafood flavor had incorporated itself into the broth, and now I realized why they had been generous with the tofu, perhaps an attempt to cover up the lack of a deep flavor in the soup?  With both of us unable to stomach even a half of the bowls, we had them dumped into containers to-go, and at home I tried to invigorate the flavor component of the broth by adding some clams and extra prawns, which helped a little, but probably at too late a stage in the cooking process to rectify the weakly flavored broth that I had to begin with for this reclamation project.

I hate to disparage a place based on one meal, but I am afraid if that meal is what is being advertised as the house special, then it better come fully locked and loaded.  Unfortunately, the soondubu at the House of Tofu Soup is as they say in the ad game, a complete bait-and-switch.

House of Tofu Soup on Urbanspoon