Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saturday, Nov 6th - Royal Seoul House - forgettable Fairview Korean

Soon Dubu Chigae
Normally, I can make between visits home to mom and dad a couple times a year, to have some good ol Korean food. Of course, during other years, we  tend to have a larger stash of frozen goodies my mom always stows away in our luggage.  Alas, not so this year.  This year, mom sent home more 'meaty' goodness for D and less J friendly yumminess.

We decided to go up the road to the large Korean restaurant on Broadway.  We'd been there once before for Sunday brunch.  It wasn't great but buffet brunches hardly ever are.  We thought or rather hoped the a la cart menu would be better.  As is the case with the ubiquitous sushi in Vancouver, Korean food is equally easily accessible.  This leaves a very wide gamut of quality.  It is that much harder when you're very accustomed to scratch cooking.  Watery broths, muted flavours and toned down spices to accomodate more timid palates is very common.  Korean food is VERY bold.  For those who expect something like Chinese food or Japanese food are frequently surprised.  I have had alot of boring Jja Jjang Myun (Korean Blackbean Noodles) and bland Kimchee Chigae (Kimchee Stew) in these compromising restaurants.  Royal Seoul Restaurant fell into this disappointing category which was further aggravated by irksome shortcuts.

The original reason I really wanted Korean this week was because I had a big craving for Jja Jjang Myun.  It is a Rice Noodle dish served with a Korean Blackbean sauce.  The Korean version of this sauce is notably different from the Chinese.  It is equally espresso dark in colour but the Korean one has a smoother and consistent texture.  As well, the Korean sauce has a gentler more round flavour than the jagged saltiness of the Chinese cousin (which I like as well).  The sauce normally contains, Onions, Peas, Potatoes and a protein.  The protein is more often than not, Pork but mom has been making it for years with Seafood.  In many restaurants you can order it with Seafood only.  In fact, if the restaurant is not making any shortcuts, you should be able to make it to order with Seafood only.   I once ordered Seafood Jja Jjang Myun at Da Rae near Burnaby and it came with Seafood added TO the minced Pork! Anyhoo, Royal Seoul House did not have Seafood only option which tells me that they likely make a big vat of it for the day (or possibly more) and just serve it.  Disappointing.

So I ordered the Soon Dubu Chigae and D ordered the Yuk Kae Jang.  We started with the Korean Seafood Pancake to start first.  The two stews came with 3 Ban Chan a piece, Korean 'condiments' but we only got 5.   :^(  Oh well, we started with the pancake.  It had alot of seafood though skimpy on the scallions and any other veg like say shredded carrot.  It was also incredibly Oily and slightl too Eggy. 
Korean Seafood Pancake
Soon Dubu Chigae is a stew served in a stone bowl.  Soon Dubu is fresh dubu or tofu.  It has a silken texture.  The stew is spicy and flavourful; either a Milchee (dried Anchovy) broth or Beef Broth.  In a good Soon Dubu joint, the bowls are searingly hot so it is still bubbling when you are served.  Or if you order a Bibimbap the rice forms a crust on the side of the bowl and you finish the stew at the end by added boiling rice or tea to loosen the Rice.  MMMM.  The stone bowl here was mildly wam to the touch.  There was a good amount of Dubu but the broth.... blech.  It tasted INSTANT, you know that ragged, salty flavour you might get in a cheap instant ramen?  That's what the broth tasted like.  Sad. 

Yuk Kae Jang
D's Yuk Kae Jang was a Shredded Beef stew in a spicy broth.  His did not only taste instant but it was watery, very watery and not at all spicy.  He also lamented the small amount of meat in the stew as well.  Perhaps, mom has spoiled him as well with her broths always made from scratch the day of and generous amounts of veg and meat in her meals.  But really, there are better Korean restaurants out there that wouldn't take such tasteless shortcuts.  The penchant for shortcuts is also evident in the fact that they have moved to Buffet only on Weekday evenings.  

They do have at table BBQ stations which smelled right.  Though it is hard not to do that right unless you use low quality beef, sauces and/or you don't have a clue.  Because you can't take shortcuts on stuff like Bulgogi or Kalbi without it it being inedible.  So if you're looking for a bit of a kitschy meal, go for the BBQ.

The decor.... hmmm.  Well, they tried to make it look authentic or rather, in my opinion, what they think Westerners would think is authentic.  The walls and booths have that papered pane look.  There are traditional Kimchee jars in the windows with old style lamps.  They could have left it there but no.  Every spare wall was plastered with a Korean poster of some sort of tat like Soju or Dishwasher.  Was this meant to make me feel like I was in Korea? 

The best Soon Dubu place I've been to in Toronto looks like anyone's kitchen and water is served in plastic pitchers and the food is YUMMO, and that's the point right?

Cost: $$-$$$
Ambiance: Tacky
Service: Slow and slightly ditsy

Seoul House Royal Korean
1215 W Broadway
(604) 738-8285
Vancouver, BC V6H

Seoul House Royal Korean on Urbanspoon

0 Leave a / Read COMMENTs: