Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Off to Korea in North Vancouver – Ham Ji Bak

on May 13, 2012

ImageMay 12, 2012
Ham Ji Bak, North Vancouver BC
[Kimchi and Pickled Turnip]
La Jo Gi (Spicy Chicken with Vegetables)
Nan Ja Wans (Meatballs with Stir Fried Vegetable)
Family Ja Jang Myun (large serving of Sam Sun Ja Jang Myun for family – Seafood, Pork and Black Bean Sauce on Noodle)


A beautiful afternoon by the water, a lovely little reunion of VMUN’s ECOSOC dais. Howard, Yeoman, and I have not seen each other for almost a year, and to celebrate all our individual achievements, we decided to visit North Vancouver – a city I have not been to in forever. Originally, we planned on eating at a Szechuan restaurant nearby, but since we were late, they were already closed for the afternoon. Just as well, since I have not had Korean food in forever as well. Ham Ji Bak certainly satisfied that craving for me and left me wanting more Korean cuisine.Image

Typical of a Korean restaurant, they gave us complimentary Kimchi and Pickled Turnips. The kimchi was also the turnip type. It was perhaps not as sweet as I like my turnip kimchi to be, but it was spicy enough to give it enough flavour. The pieces were not too consistent though, as some would be a bit drier or harder to bite into than others. I enjoyed the yellow pickled turnips, since I have not had that in too long to remember. The nice sweet flavour provided contrast to the kimchi and toned things down when I ate too much spicy stuff during the meal. 

For the first entree dish, as recommended by Howard, we ordered the La Jo Gi, Spicy Chicken with Vegetables. The sauce was indeed spicy. For me, it was not outrageous but flavourful enough to somewhat satisfy my craving for spicy food. The chicken was lightly fried but was not too oily. It was tender on the inside, giving it a nice texture, especially since the sauce was starting to soak into it. The vegetables – bamboo, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, various mushrooms, and onions among perhaps a few others – were nicely sauteed and were all in long strips that were manageable yet still full of flavour. The sauce really brought the dish together and there was quite a lot of it, ensuring the full flavour of the dish.

ImageThe second dish was also recommended by Howard – the Nan Ja Wans, Meatballs with Stir Fried Vegetable. This was the same dish as the chicken, except it was pan fried meatballs and a non-spicy sauce. The sauce had a hint of sweetness to it, making it quite nice, even though I did not like it as much as the spicy sauce in the chicken. The meatballs were less satisfying. They had a nice hard outside from the light frying, but it was still just a meatball. The ground pork was flavoured so it was very tasty. The vegetables were again well sauteed. However, it was just not memorable.


Finally, I had been craving Korean black bean noodles for years, so we ordered the large Sam Sun Ja Jang Myun. The shrimp was made from frozen shrimp, so it did not have that tenderness of freshly caught ones. It was also a tad bit overcooked, which often happens when frozen shrimp are stir fried. The squid was almost negligible as there were only a few tiny pieces here and there. The noodles and onions were great though. I love the chewy tenderness of the Korean noodles, and they were so long and sticky! The onions, along with bamboo and mushrooms, were mixed with the black bean sauce, which was sweet and extremely to my liking. The onions really brought out the sweetness of the sauce but it was still savoury and full of rich flavours. Overall, the dish was well cooked and for me, was the highlight of the meal.

Now that I have once again had decent Korean food, I cannot wait to go out for more. I am definitely glad to be back home, especially since there are so many decent Korean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants around. As much as I love western food, nothing tastes quite as comforting as a nice, flavourful Asian dish. 


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