Monday, May 09, 2011

Sunday, March 27th - Dan Sung Sa - Korean secret in the West End

Dansungsa - Seafood Soon Dubu Chigae
I used to live near the West End a couple of years ago.  I used to pass this place all the time.  It is a tiny standalong building with a snazzy looking exterior.  That, oddly, turned me off trying it.  I'm used to Korean restaurants being much more homey and ... well, dumpy.  That and I was a little suspect of the one random Korean restaurant in the West End.  You see, there are so many Korean joints all over town it's really hard to find a good one.  I've tried a few very disappointing ones.  I really do mean disappointing. i.e. the Seoul House on Broadway. 

I longed for one 'best kept' secret without my having to go out to Lougheed where all the Koreans cluster.  During my few weeks of being tied to St. Paul's Hospital, I finally find a ready reason to pop in to Dung Sung Sa after having exhausted the sushi and sandwich places. :^D.

It is a cozy little place with heavy wooden tables.  Surprisingly, chic humble.  It smelled right though the prices were higher than I would have expected for Korean AND the West End.  Anyhoo, we were already through the door and I was not yet too too mobile.  I was happy to be siting even though I had only really walked two blocks :^P

We ordered one Hot Stone Bowl rice Dish and a Squid Chigae (stew).  I was doubtful yet hopeful.  When doing Korean food properly, it's important to get the base right.  It's rather simple, perhaps considered time consuming in a restaurant environment so alot of them will use instant broth.  The thing is you can usually pick up the MSG immediately. Blech, like at the Royal Seoul House on Broadway.  Well, pleasant surprise, the broth was not instant or at the very least not clouded with the lingering taste of MSG.  It was loaded with Squid and Soon Dubu (fresh Tofu or Silken).  It is served with a bowl of steamed Rice.

Dansungsa - Squid Stone Bowl
We also ordered a Hot Stone bowl.  A very popular restaurant Korean dish.  Rice, vegetables and protein are served in a searing hot stone bowl.  They're variations of Bibimbap.  This one was a spicy Seafood bowl.  There was quite alot of Seafood and the dish was sufficiently spicy so as not to scare off non Koreans and not to bore the Koreans.   It was served with a bowl of Kong Namel Guk aka clear Mung Bean Soup.  I hadn't had that since I was a kid.  It is the simplest of clear Milchee broths with cooked Mung Beans and Green Onions.  I always thought of it as a 'home' dish. Yum.

They have some oddly included non Korean dishes which are probably good but I would recommend you stick to Korean.  I never understood why most Korean restaurants served Japanese dishes while I was growing up.  I guess Korean food had less mass appeal back then.  Anyhoo, I don't order fries at a Pizza place and I don't order Nasi Goreng in a Korean place. 

The service is a bit airy fairy but nice enough.  The decor reminded me of small hole in the wall restaurants in my home town in Korea.  Nothing spectacular and not why I go to eat somewhere so long as it's clean and, for Korean, 'smells right' when you walk in.:^D  It is slightly more than other popular regular joints on Davie but as far as taste and quality, well worth it. So get out of that stupid line at Stephos fried food emporium and mushy sushi at Samurai and take a peek down Thurlow.

Cost: $$-$$$ (more than you'd pay on Davie but worth it)
Service: Friendly
Ambiance: Typical Korean diner: dark wood with random cheesy Korean alcohol ad posters

Dan Sung Sa
Robson Street/West End
1221 Thurlow St
Vancouver, BC V6E
(604) 609-7095
Dan Sung Sa (Vancouver) on Urbanspoon
Good authetic food &acceptable service


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