Monday, June 30, 2008

Bulgogi Gardens or the best kimchi in Ottawa

Bulgogi Garden or the best kimchi in Ottawa?

Will report more on this place in Chinatown, but if you liked the kimchi at Arum’s, you will find the ex-owner has moved to the Bulgogi Garden, on Somerset, between all those Chinese establishments.

(There are actually two more Korean Jap places opening soon, besides the Seoul House. Can Chinatown really handle it? Traditional Chinese usually do not like Korean or Japanese food. They don’t like raw, cold and spicy things, despite what the common knowledge is. But then you know my opinions on Szechuanese food in Ottawa…)

The reason why the kimchi is so good is that the ingredients are good. And the ingredients at this place are so good because the owner is from Montreal where she ran a Korean grocery. She has all the right sources of supply and when they moved to Ottawa, they started Arum’s, which is the restaurant, with an attached grocery store. The stuff is more expensive, but the input is good, so the output quality is very good indeed. She has sold both the restaurant and the grocery on Bank Street…. And each (Arum’s and the attached grocery store) now make their own kimchi. And I have tried kimchi from all three places as well as all the other Korean restaurants in Ottawa and quite a few in Toronto and MontrĂ©al. (Besides other provinces, countries and continents.)

And my opinion is that Bulgogi now makes one of the best in Canada. But then it is somewhat a question of taste. I have to add though that other ingredients, such as soya sauce at Bulgogi is first class as well, as is the dried kelp used to make futomaki, the radish pickles, etc. But can they cook….. Ummmm, I am still trying other things, but cooking is not a strong point at Bulgogi as in all Korean food…. BBQ and kimchi and iced noodles soup…. What else is there? The cooking at Arum, where the old cook is still at is still reasonably good, and a 20% price differential… you be the judge… is it quality of taste, or quantity of food for price….? Even the miso soup is bigger and better at Bulgogi, but gotta say that the squid and octopus’ sauce was great, but needed more infusion into the rubbery meats…. Arum’s cook still can do that.

I am going to try their ‘cook your own’ dinners for two, but split for one… the advantages of knowing the owner…. Lim is her name, and the waiter’s Eddie. Tell them Richard sent you…. Maybe they’ll do it for you too.

Buffet to come soon plus all you can eat ‘cook your own’, which was something very big in Toronto a few years back and I had been suggesting to Lim to try since.

No booze license and they will sell you the kimchi separately if you like and ask. They are thinking of having a small store upstairs in the near future. For a place that has been open 8 months now, they sure move glacially. Maybe that’s a good thing in this time of tumultuous change?

2008 06 30.