Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

The Darkest Noodles – Koreana

February 28, 2013
Koreana, Philadelphia PA
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Jajang Myun
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ImageI had a special discount offer from LivingSocial so I decided to spend it on a bowl of Jajang Myun from Koreana. This whole in the wall is always impressive, especially since there are always so many diners inside. The noodles were a little over-cooked for my liking since I prefer more al dente, chewy noodles. However, the black bean sauce was sweet and savoury, despite being just slightly watered down. I loved the cabbage and the onions, which added to the sweetness but did not fancy the potatoes. Overall a comforting, filling dish. 

Koreana on Urbanspoon

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Squiggly Squid – Pearl’s BBQ


ImageJanuary 3, 2013

Pearl’s BBQ, Kahului HI
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Squid Stir Fry
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Pearl’s BBQ is a sister restaurant to Yummy Korean BBQ I think, because their menus are very similar, except for the squid, which is the reason I ordered it after quickly spotting it on their wall menu. While it was made to order, I waited an extremely long time, and by that I mean REALLY long.

The Squid Stir Fry was way too salty as there was too much sauce, drenching the pieces of tender squid and vegetables. The squid had a nice chew to it and were clearly very fresh, though. It also had an array of vegetables including carrots, onions, and zucchini to bring out the sweetness. I got my order with four sides: kimchi, cabbage, seaweed, and cucumber. The cucumber and seaweed were my favorites as they were slightly sweet. It was nowhere near amazing but not exactly disappointing either.

I just find it amazing how you can get any kind of food almost anywhere in North America. Long gone are the days where you can only find burgers and fries in every mall not in a metropolis. Welcome to multicultural cuisine experiences!

Pearl's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Beef It Up Fast – Yummy Korean BBQ

ImageJanuary 2, 2013
Yummy Korean BBQ, Honolulu HI
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BBQ Beef
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Mom opted for more Korean food from Yummy Korean BBQ. This time, we went with BBQ Beef. The beef was tender but could have been sliced thinner. The BBQ sauce was fantastic, perfectly savoury and sweet. I love a hearty, sweet sauce and this certainly satisfied my taste buds. The sides were again, very good. The kimchi was very sweet, though. Perhaps there was a mix up of sugar and salt? Mom did not care for it but it was great for me. That BBQ sauce, though, was by far the best I have had in a food court.

Yummy Korean Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Mahalo for Korean BBQ – Yummy Korean BBQ

December 31, 2012
Yummy Korean BBQ, Honolulu HI
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Spicy BBQ Chicken
Bi Bim Bap
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Besides ramen, the Makai Food Court at Ala Moana Center also serves up delicious, fresh Korean food at the Yummy Korean BBQ stall. Their lines are always out the door as well. With a variety of cold sides on display for customers to pick from, their meats are cooked to order.

The Spicy BBQ Chicken was absolutely scrumptious. The chicken was marinated and thus very flavour. It was so tender and juicy and the BBQ sauce, with some kochujang mixed in to give it a spicy kick, was slathered on and made the dish flavourful. We got five sides, instead of four and rice, and I really enjoyed the sides. The cucumbers were crunchy, sweet, and juicy, as was the seaweed. The kimchi was decent, as were the pea tips. The cabbage with long rice was slightly sweetened and very good as well.

ImageThe Bi Bim Bap was not as extraordinary. The beef was marinated nicely and went well with the rest of the dish. I love kochujang so that was great. The bean sprouts, carrots, and other sides on the rice were decent. I just wished the egg was runnier. It needed to completely just be liquid and mix with everything else.

With yet another place checked off on our foods to eat list, and three very full stomachs, we left the food court. Though, we would be back soon, no doubt.

Yummy Korean Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Crippling Korean Cuisine – 景福宫-Kyung Bok Palace

December 24, 2012
景福宫 – Kyung Bok Palace, Richmond BC
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[Bean Sprouts, Potatoes, Kimchi]
香辣秘制猪肉饭 (Spicy Marinated Pork Sirloin with Vegetable on Steam Rice)
香辣海鲜豆腐汤 (Assorted Seafood in Soft Tofu Soup) 
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ImageAfter grocery shopping for our Christmas Eve dinner, Mom and I visited 景福宫(Kyung Bok Palace) for a quick lunch that was cheap (food court prices!) and convenient. The restaurant was casual and large and was nowhere near filled at a late lunch hour. Being a Monday and Christmas Eve, that was expected. The service was horrible though. Mom got her dish and half an hour later, I got my soup. There were so many servers and not even that many customers that it was completely unacceptable.

We were served the complimentary side dishes of kimchi, garlic potatoes, and bean sprouts. The kimchi was sweet with a little bit of spice. The potatoes were soft but still firm and had a nice sweet flavour. The bean sprouts were a little odd in the savoury and sour flavour but were quite refreshing. While waiting forever for my order, I just munched on extra orders of these.

ImageMom ordered the 香辣秘制猪肉饭 (Spicy Marinated Pork Sirloin with Vegetable on Steam Rice). The slices of pork were nicely marinated with a sweet and savoury sauce and had a spicy kick. However, there was a somewhat pungent flavour that made us question the quality of the pork. It was also a little too tough. The vegetables, which included onions and a few other things, were okay. There were a lot of rice and was not the best Korean lunch dish ever. Thankfully, it was cheap.Image

I had the 香辣海鲜豆腐汤 (Assorted Seafood in Soft Tofu Soup) that took so long to arrive. The egg was overcooked by the time I ate it, or at least not runny. There was so much soft tofu instead of seafood. It was already a small pot. There was only one large shrimp, and it was not even that large. There were two dried, tiny shrimps, and perhaps a (VERY) few other pieces of assorted seafood.

I do not think Mom or myself will be returning any time soon. The food is mediocre, even for the low prices, and the service just bad. Either that or the kitchen is very inefficient. It really makes me wonder how they have stayed in business for so long.

Kyung Bok Palace 景福宮 on Urbanspoon

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Home (Food) Sweet (& Spicy) Home (Food) – Koryo

ImageDecember 21, 2012
Koryo, Richmond BC
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Koryo Steak
Seafood Udon
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Finally back in Richmond, one of my first stops with Mom was unquestionably Richmond Centre. They now have finished the work on the new food court, called the Dining Terrace. It is a very modern looking, spacious, light, and casual space on the second level where the food court was. With a couple of new concepts and some of the old, Mom and I decided to stick with some comfort food in the form of Korean BBQ from Koryo.

Their special was the Koryo Steak. For under $10 after tax, we got a medium rare steak served with three sides since we asked for no rice. The steak was cooked great, a little on the medium side, but with a wonderful barbeque marinade flavour. The sauce slathered on top also added to the great flavour. It was one of the best steaks you can ask for from a food court. The sides we got were Garlic Potato, Kimchee, and Green Beans. The kimchee and green beans were quite generic and refreshing. The fried potatoes were so crispy on the outside and had a lovely sweet flavour.Image

The Seafood Udon was a disappointment. It was very expensive for just a bowl of noodles. The broth was light and good but there were just endless noodles with some broccoli, green beans, and bean sprouts. There was one measly slice of fish cake, one shrimp, and a few pieces of calamari. Clearly, more seafood was needed to justify the price.

All the prices in Richmond Centre seemed to me on the high side and Koryo was certainly no exception. Definitely go for the daily specials or you will be dishing out a lot from your wallet.

Koryo Korean Barbeque (Richmond Centre) on Urbanspoon

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The Korean Kick – Koreana

ImageOctober 21, 2012
Koreana, Philadelphia PA
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Mol Mandu

Deok Boki
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I had a $10 voucher for LivingSocial about to expire so I decided it was the perfect time to use it at Koreana. My plan was to eat in but the guy in charge, I think he was either the manager or the owner, did not pay enough attention and so they made it as a take-out order. On a Sunday night, the little hole in the wall was so crowded I was quite surprised to get my food within ten minutes.

To start, the Mol Mandu were just okay. They were boiled a little too long that the dumpling wrappers were already very mushy. I think they were supposed to be vegetarian but I definitely tasted some ground pork mixed in with the vermicelli rice noodles and cabbage among other vegetables. It was quite bland and oddly wrapped, unlike traditional dumplings. The sweetened soy sauce for dipping was generic but good.Image

The Deok Boki was a dish of rice cake with cabbage, processed fish slices, and vermicelli noodles in a sweet and spicy sauce. I loved the sauce. It was amazingly sweet with a very strong spicy kick. Not watered down, it was so bold and flavorful – just splendid. The cabbage and vermicelli were nice additions to the dish in my opinion. The cabbage was still somewhat hard and crunchy while the vermicelli was stretchy with good texture. The processed fish was just the generic Asian fish ball-type of food but sliced up and pan-fried before added to the dish. It was bouncy and soft. The rice cakes were sticky and slightly undercooked. Perhaps a little too undercooked in some cases, as it was kind of hard like it gets when it is frozen. I hate mushy rice cake so I would rather have it a little harder but I would have liked it if tasted more like the fresh ‘hard’.

A little pricey, the flavors at Koreana definitely make up for the value. Everything before the discount online came to $11.88, which is certainly not cheap for such small portions. However, it is hard to find something so comforting and more authentic than what you get from food trucks. 

Koreana on Urbanspoon

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Korean ‘K’ravings – Koreana

ImageSeptember 26, 2012
Koreana, Philadelphia PA
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Soon DuBu
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A drizzly, dreary evening was just screaming ‘hot pot,’ ‘spicy,’ and ‘soup’ at me. I could not resist, so I headed over to Koreana. I heard about this hole in the wall a while back and after checking it out online, decided the menu was legit and it was a great place that is super close by for some satisfying, spicy Korean food. I was not particularly hungry but needed something to warm me up, so I stayed away from noodles and rice cakes.

I got the Soon DuBu, a spicy seafood soup with soft tofu and an egg. It was served with a bowl of white rice and a side of kimchi. The egg was a little over-cooked for a hot pot soup, considering it should be eaten as soon as it is cracked into the stone bowl and the outside has barely hardened. However, the inside was still runny and delicious. There was not a whole bunch of seafood, just a handful of tiny mussels, a few small shrimp, and some pieces of squid. However, they were tender. The soft tofu was so soft and blended well with the soup, which was quite spicy and perfect. It was served while still bubbling and continued to do so for a couple of minutes. The bowl of spicy, hot liquid was heavenly and totally worth the wait. It is no surprise the little rundown shop was filled with customers. I cannot wait to go back and try literally everything on the menu!

Koreana on Urbanspoon

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Spicy Squids – Koja

ImageSeptember 19, 2012
Koja, Philadelphia PA
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Squid Stir Fry
Kimchi
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My previous attempt to get dinner from Koja food truck, one that I have passed innumerable times on my way to satisfyingly sweet macarons, was unsuccessful. They were sold out for the day so this time, I went for a late lunch and no, they were not sold out and I got what I wanted.

Squid sounded extremely appetizing, as did vegetables and spicy sauce, so that is what I got – Squid Stir Fry. The squid came in long, circular pieces and were extremely tender. The texture was wonderful as it was made to order and came out piping hot. The vegetables were nice, mostly cabbage with some onions among other ingredients. Everything was coated in plenty of the special spicy sauce, much like kochujang but with ground red chili peppers and other spices so it was not smooth. It was very flavorful and had a good kick, very bold in flavors. I was disappointed in the ratio of stir fry to steamed rice, though. For $6, I expected a least another half of a portion of squid and vegetables, and there was not much squid compared to vegetables to begin with. The rice was also inconsistent and slightly soggy in parts. I did enjoy the two pan fried dumplings on the side. The wrapper was still chewy due to them being only slightly fried. The filling of pork and vegetables was decent enough.Image

I also got a side order of Kimchi. It came out of another container and put into a small bowl for take out. For $1.50, the portion was not too bad. However, the kimchi was a bit too sour and not spicy or flavorful enough. It was certainly store-bought and by no means some of the better kimchi I have had.

I think Koja is a bit overpriced to be sure. Despite a lack of Korean food trucks, there is certainly no shortage of Asian food trucks around. For $1-$2 more, they give less food. There is also Koreana down the street, which I will try very soon. Unless I am around or craving Korean food, I will not likely go back – except perhaps on Friday afternoons when everything is only $4.50. 

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Authentic Korean in a Supermarket – H-Mart

ImageJuly 16, 2012
H-Mart, Richmond BC
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Seafood Soft Tofu Hot Pot + Bibimbap
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About two months ago, Mom and I received a $2 off coupon for the little restaurant inside H-Mart on one of our receipts. I guess there is something to be said about not using a coupon until just before it expires. Just like homework, I procrastinate with discount coupons! I guess I just never got a chance within two months to try it out, even though the food looks quite tempting. It is not exactly fast food, as each dish is made-to-order and takes quite a while. The wait was actually pretty long, but we did not mind as the bread was just going on sale and so we picked up a few of those for the next day.

The spicy red of the hot pot looked extremely tempting and someone before us ordered it so we went with the Seafood Soft Tofu Hot Pot + Bibimbap. It came with three side dishes of kimchi, pickled radish, and macaroni in a slightly sweetened and pink creamy sauce. I think it was perhaps a little chili sauce mixed with mayonnaise. The hot pot was still boiling when it came out, with a freshly cracked egg on top. Sadly, the yolk was runny but cold, so I had to mix it into the soup. The soup was extremely delicious though! It was very spicy but not too oily. There was plenty of soft tofu inside, which was very slippery and good. I liked the shredded cabbage and some other vegetables inside. For a seafood hot pot, however, there was only one shrimp, which was quite tender, with two squid tentacles. In addition, there were two mini pieces of beef. That was quite disappointing. The flavour made up for it though.

The bibimbap was quite disappointing. It was not even that warm. There was some cabbage, sauteed onions, carrots, and other vegetables, along with seaweed and the sweet and spicy kochujang. The kochujang was good, but there did not seem to be enough to cover all of the white rice, which was sprinkled with some sesame seeds. You also cannot really screw up something like kochujang. It was not that the ingredients were horrible, just that is was somewhat carelessly assembled and not special in any way. Finally, the side dishes were okay. I liked the pickled radish the most. It was quite sweet and crunchy. The kimchi was alright. The macaroni was very bland and cold. It was clearly taken out of the fridge, which means the pasta was hard.

The best part was definitely the soup base in the hot pot, along with the tofu. For $7.65, it is quite pricey for a meal inside a supermarket. With $2 off, it was definitely more worth it. Would I go back without a coupon? Probably not. But for the average person, one combo is certainly enough for one satisfyingly spicy meal. The dining area was quite clean and quiet, without too many people, even around dinner time. That reflects the priciness, I think, but makes for a quiet ambiance with a lot of lighting from the huge glass walls.

H-Mart 韓亞龍超市 (列治文) on Urbanspoon

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