Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • June-July 2022 • Circulation 5000

A Lesson in Korean Food

Bulgogi at Won Jung Gak. Paula E. Kirman

Won Jung Gak
Korean
10023 107 Ave.
(780) 705-9953

In the location of a former Vietnamese restaurant (Basil Leaf) comes the second location of Korean eatery Won Jung Gak.

Over cups of Korean tea (slightly smoky yet subtle in flavour) Distribution Manager Randy and I perused the very long menu of soups, rice dishes, entrees, noodle combinations, and numerous meals featuring beef, chicken, seafood, and tofu. We settled on sharing an order of chow mein noodles with beef and vegetables, as well as an order of bulgogi, a signature Korean dish of beef barbecued in soy sauce. 

Our meal began with a surprise. A short while after we placed our order, our server brought numerous small dishes to our table filled with a number of small appetizers: pickled daikon (like a yellow radish) with soy dipping sauce; a potato salad with peas and carrots; marinated broccoli; some kind of sauteed seaweed; kimchi (a Korean spicy delight of pickled vegetables); a mixed green salad with a thick dressing that tasted like strawberry yoghurt; and plain, white rice. The potato salad was quite unique with a sweet taste to it. I loved the dressing on the salad a lot and was thankful that Randy is not big on greens so I could enjoy it alone. The kimchi was not too spicy and went well with the rice. We were both amazed at the variety of food brought to us, and even though there were only a few bites’ worth of each, it was fun trying all of the different flavours.

After a little research, I learned that these small plates are called banchan and part of Korean meals. The side dishes can either be eaten on their own (as we did) or consumed along with the main meal.

Speaking of our mains, first came the chow mein. The noodles were piled high with beef and veggies – and very long noodles at that! Dividing the dish between us proved to be a bit awkward and a bonding experience in an awkward way. We thought that perhaps a knife would make getting the noodles from the main plate to our mini-plates easier, until our server informed us that there were no knives for the tables. Instead, she brought us scissors. Yes, scissors. This was the second major surprise of our meal. She explained that in Korean dining, food is cut with scissors instead of knives. I had a hard time picturing scissors going through the dishwasher, but was thankful for the assistance nonetheless.

While we were carefully avoiding recreating the spaghetti scene from the animated film Lady and the Tramp with our noodles, our bulgogi was brought to our table. Such bulgogi I have never seen before – and I know my bulgogi. Please don’t judge me for how weird that sounds. The pieces of beef were huge, thick, soft, cooked thoroughly, and absolutely delicious. It was accompanied with more white rice. The chow mein was great, but the bulgogi stole the show. And, it was a lot easier to share!

Prices for most dishes range from around $12 to $20. Without drinks (other than tea, which came with the meal) or dessert, our meal came to around $30 with the tip. Service was prompt and friendly, and the interior is bright and spacious. I am definitely going back for the bulgogi!

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