There is always a huge lineup outside this restaurant every time I go to Aberdeen. Patience is not my virtue so I’ve never gone here before. It was my cousin’s farewell dinner before she went back to Hong Kong and since we had a big group, we were able to make a reservation. However, the only time slot they were able to give us was 5-7 p.m. so it turned out to be a really early dinner.
Ambiance – 7.5/10. The restaurant has a long and narrow layout with tables that have bench seating. There is a little Korean-themed cushion for each seat. The restaurant was very dim when we sat down because all the blinds were down. However, once they lifted the blinds, it became super bright because of the natural lighting that was coming in through the tall windows. It is a good place to do people watching as there were many people walking on the streets. The restaurant was very loud as it was already a full house at 5 p.m. with booming techno music going on in the background. I felt that their music selection was more appropriate for the hipster gastropubs downtown as you would expect them to be cranking up K-pop instead.
Food – 7.5/10. Although I did not find that their quality of food were superior to other Korean restaurants, one of the things I did appreciate was the large selection of dishes they have. There were dishes here that I have not seen before.
The first item brought out was the side dishes. Other than the usual kimchi and sweetened potatoes, they had a small grilled fish, pickled radish and a raw enoki salad. These dishes were alright.
Then we were served the royal marinated galbi ($35) which is the marinated short ribs. This was my favourite dish that evening as the meat was tender and flavourful. Quality is comparable to the ones I’ve had at other Korean restaurants.
The next two dishes were the kimchi-jijim (steamed kimchi and tender pork belly – $25) and herb pork belly ($15). The pork belly had a good ratio of meat to fat and was well marinated. I don’t know if the kimchi was supposed to look like that but there were lots of black dots over it. I couldn’t tell if that was seasoning or a poor job with the cleaning so I skipped it.
The seafood pancake ($20) had more ingredients than other Korean restaurants but I found the batter to be too flaky. It was nice how they cut it into smaller rectangular pieces so it was easier to share amongst the big group.
My second most favourite dish that evening was the galbi jim (braised beef short ribs in special soya sauce – $28). The short ribs had a generous amount of meat that was pretty tender. The dish also came with pumpkin and rice cakes.
We ordered the japchae ($17) which I found was ok but with very little topping. The gingseng chicken soup ($22) was served with congee which I really enjoyed. However, I found the chicken to be overcooked and I could not taste any gingseng at all.
We ordered the seafood soft tofu soup ($12) which was a pretty decent size given the price. They were generous with the proportion of seafood. As for the pork bone hot pot ($40), everyone’s comments that night was that it was just so so as the meat was not tender enough.
Our last dish was the marinated beef and mushroom hot pot ($40). We requested for additional crystal noodles which costs an additional $3. They added instant noodles into the hotpot which I felt totally downgraded the dish. It felt like something I could make at home! There was a generous proportion of beef but I found the soup base to be too greasy.
Each dish comes with a bowl of rice so we ended up packing home a lot of the leftover rice. The bill came up to be about $26 per person which is not bad considering that we had a pretty good selection of food to choose from. However, I feel that the price was only so low given that we had so many people to share the dishes amongst so if you are coming here with a small group, you should probably expect to pay about $30-$35 per person.
Service – 9/10. Service overall was very good. The food came very promptly and everything was neatly laid out at the table. The server helped us cut up the beef and grilled it for us. They were also quick to get the things we requested and had a great smile as they served us throughout the dinner.
Good to Know! – I’ve heard from my friends that they have great deals for lunch courses! You can choose between the $15 or $20 per person option and it comes with a large selection of food. However, be prepared to wait in line as it seems like this is their busiest time.
Overall – Personally, I didn’t find any surprises with this restaurant, probably because I had a really high expectation given the constant lineups. It was definitely worth a try but I think I would be sticking to the other Korean restaurants in Richmond (i.e Dai Jang Kum) that also serve similar quality of food but without the crazy lineups!