Friday, January 13, 2006

Korean Restaurants in Ottawa

Korean Restaurants

Was recently in Toronto and wondering Korea-town down there. The latest craze, besides all you can eat Korean BBQ, which makes a lot of sense as you do the cooking yourself anyways …, is Pork Bone Soup (PBS) .... (is that why they call it Hog Town?)

Basically PBS is essentially a cut of Pork near the shoulder bone, including the bone, done up in a hot-pot with soup and the usual kimchi spicing. It’s very good and economical.

Of course when I got back to Ottawa, that was the first thing I went in search of. There are many Korean restaurants in Ottawa, some of them masquerading as Japanese .., essentially because the mark-up on raw fish is so high …. I mean how hard is it to make sushi!

There’s Korea Garden on Rideau … the grand-daddy of Korean food in Ottawa, where it is expensive and the service is so-so. Besides BBQ, iced noodle soup, kimchi in everything, there isn’t really a lot going for Korean food. But with such similar climates, I was always amazed that there weren’t more. Inflexibility in pricing is my main complaint.

The newest is Kwon’s Chicken House (Wilbrod). Run by a nice couple whose family in Korean owns a chain of such ‘chicken house’ restaurants. Their specialty is chicken and well, think kimchi chicken and you have it all … They have an extremely limited menu and have this interesting pork BBQ dish which was favored only by the embassy folks … so they stopped serving it!. Even with much pleading and bribing … you know how stoic/inflexible these guys can be, they still refused …. Reason given was that it was raw bacon, then BBQ’ed and was not popular with the non Asian clientele. (I know of many Chinese, European, Indian, etc dishes that especially use the bacon part of the pig because of its taste …. Latest Chinese thing is using the pork meat from the neck. It does taste much better, less fatty, but priced accordingly, but that’s another story on Chinese food …)

Seoul House on Somerset has been around a bit and thru a couple of owners. It’s next to the funeral home, so the name is a bit of a joke, but it was one of the first to mix Japanese and Korean food back in the ‘80s. Expensive for what you get.

And then there’s Arum’s on Bank at the Queensway. Originally run by a couple from Montreal, he runs the car dealership next door; it is the name of their daughter …. They run the restaurant and the Korean food market that’s attached. It used to be a bike shop and ski shop of some ill repute, but it got transformed. Quantum Meruit, it is the best Korean restaurant in Ottawa. The owners sublet the restaurant part out to another couple and the service slipped a bit, and the food got a little bit too ‘canned’. But the originals have gotten the place back and it has returned to its former glory, or so to speak … Running a restaurant is a labour of love and it shows …. Especially to ‘old hands’ like me. Anyway, I have been trying to edge them into a new place with all you can eat BBQ … before the fad passes …. And they’ve always had pork bone soup on their menu … how about that! It was not as good and cheap as in Korea-town, but hell, it’s a lot closer …

There are many more that’s kinda Korean, but when you go back to first principles, there really isn’t a lot to Korean food … except the kimchi … and the kimchi at Kwon’s is less spicy and some may like this more, but Arum’s has the best kimchi in town, in my opinion. You can also buy a six pack on your way out if you really like the stuff. But you’ll be eating it everyday and kimchi does go bad … really …

2006 01 14.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Parties are not corrupt, people are!

With all this election activity going on and all the spin doctors going nuts, I just want to state that this thought came to me in a blinding light...... 'Parties are not corrupt, people are....'.

God help us if we repeat past failures like the Mulroney era ..., or is that error?.... and elect another 8 years of social conservatives/Republicans. Harper has got to figure out that he is not the next savior.... witness the Mercedes/booze scandal ….

2005 01 12.