I love Korean food – there’s just something about the flavour profile which often combines grilled meat with slightly sweet soy. So good! We introduced my parents to Korean food when we took them out to the only Korean restaurant in their community in Guangzhou last year – they loved it, so we made sure to take them out again when they came to visit up this summer.
We’ve been to Dai Jang Kum in Richmond (on Bridgeport road, near the Fujiya) several times. It’s bright and very cheery, with lots of banquets and tv’s playing a never ending loop of Korean hip hop and pop music videos. We didn’t have reservations, and despite there being a huge number of people in the adjacent dining room, we got seated right away.
We ordered a ton of food – frankly probably too much (especially since we were heading to the Richmond Night Market afterwards!) but these honestly are the best things to get to give a good representation of Korean food. First up was a Bulgogi Be Bim Bap. Loaded with veggies, minced pieces of bulgogi beef, and rice that get crispy because it is in direct contact with the hot stone of the dolsot bowl. The raw egg yolk, along with some chili sauce, creates a nice sauce when you mix everything together.
We also got some Jaap Chae which are mung bean noodles (so they’re super chewy), in a soy & sesame sauce, often with some cabbage strips or more bulgogi beef mixed in. I didn’t really notice any beef this time, and it felt like either the noodles were boiled for too long or the stir frying wasn’t done properly as the dish was too soft overall.
Now for the main event: BBQ! We ordered the BBQ Combo A for 3 people which is a lot of meat! Short ribs (galbi), more bulgogi beef, chicken, pork, mushrooms and onions. Everything is nicely marinated, and presented raw and cool.
If you’ve never gone to a Korean BBQ place, you really shouldn’t have the servers put everything on the grill at once, instead, do put the meats on yourself, somewhat crowded together to ensure they don’t dry out/burn. Use the scissors provided to cut up ribs into smaller pieces (or, if you’re lucky enough to find a place that offers Sam Gyup Sal – or “Korean Bacon” use the scissors to cut this up into smaller bits). There should be a piar of tongs and an extra pair of chopsticks that are for raw meat only. You can ask for extra tongs, a steak knife, or another plate to keep things segregated). Also, if things get a little crusty, don’t hesitate to ask for a new “hubcap” grill.
Now, thanks to my good friend Carlen, who taught me all about the authentic way of eating BBQ, we asked the waiter if we could get lettuce for the table. Out came a basket of romaine lettuce leaves, some garlic, and some pretty awesome, strong bean paste. You basically use the lettuce as a wrap (tearing the lettuce into smaller pieces as necessary), smear on some bean paste, and then add the meat with some garlic (either grilled or ungrilled). I love this, and it adds some much needed veg into our meal. As with all the banchan (the free side dishes of pickles and veggies), the lettuce service is refillable upon request, so given that the cost was $1 per person, totally worth it for authenticity’s sake!
And speaking of banchan, these were very good – I particularly like the fish cake, potatoes and kimchi raddish, while Chris likes the big slices of pickled daikon. The green salad is so-so, and the bean sprout salad was a little watery this time. Their kimchi is pretty great, though I like my homemade version a lot!
Dai Jang Kum is really good – and I find that service has always been great there, with the harried waiters doing their best to make sure we’re comfortable, and well fed. We didn’t end up paying (thanks Dad!) but the bill came to around $75, which is not bad for such a big meal.