Best Korean Food in Vancouver? You make the call

Photo Credit: moloyna.wordpress.com

By now, word is out on Vancouver’s Chinese food scene.  No less an authority than Conde Nast Traveler called it the best outside of China.  And Japanese food here has long been stellar, with sushi to rival Tokyo’s (at least in abundance and freshness).  But when it comes to Vancouver’s Asian food offerings, one regional cuisine is often overlooked: Korean.

Now, I know my bulgogi from my bibimbap, but I won’t pretend to be an expert on  Korean restaurants in the city.  So I thought I’d throw this question out there:

Do you have a favourite Korean restaurant in the city? A place that serves the most authentic stone bowl dishes, the most succulent barbecue and the best kimchi?  Please comment below and share your secret.

I’ll start things off by listing two of my favourites.  Both are downtown, in an area near the intersection of Robson and Denman Streets that’s packed with good Korean places.  Of course, I know that perhaps the real epicentre of Korean cuisine is Metrotown in Burnaby – I’m looking forward to hearing some tips for that neighbourhood.

One choice for relatively authentic Korean (I think) in a trendy setting is Sura Korean Cuisine, on the west end of Robson Street.  Sura seems to be a bit more stylish and upscale than some of its competitors on Robson and makes a nice spot for couples.  Inside, you can opt to sit at low group tables in the centre of the room or traditional tables along the wall.

The menu has the standard selection of bulgogi (thin-sliced, marinated beef), bibimbap (rice topped with vegetables) and spicy tofu and seafood soups, as well as Korean barbecue and other items.  Owing to the ambiance and the neighbourhood, it’s a bit pricier than standard Korean fare.

A very different setting for Korean food is Ma Dang Coul, located nearby on Denman Street.  I discovered this little hole-in-the-wall type place only recently, and it’s quickly become my favourite.  No frills here.  Just a tiny and very clean restaurant with tables squeezed into every possible corner.  On weekends, there’s usually a line out front, often filled with Korean families hungry for some traditional cuisine.

The menu is extensive (and, fortunately, illustrated), going way beyond Westernized Korean food to include vegetable pancakes, noodle soups, stir fries, plenty of stone pot dishes and even some yoshoku cuisine like omu-rice.  It’s also cheap (about $10 for the bulgogi with marinated ribeye), and you get five of those little side dishes (banchan), like kimchi and seaweed, for free.

I’m sure there are plenty of hardcore Korean food fans out there laughing at my choices.  Please share your favourites and get the word out on Vancouver’s incredible Korean cuisine.

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25 Responses to Best Korean Food in Vancouver? You make the call

  1. Korean

    Madanggul is good choice. Jangmojib on robson is good as well.

  2. Henry

    My vote goes to Han Woo Ri

  3. The Westender Korean Cafe on Denman is fantastic, especially for pork belly.

  4. Tatiana

    Sura has my vote for sure!

  5. KIMBOB E RAMYUN – For Korean-style sushi. Mmm…

  6. We love Dai Jang Kum in Richmond or Cho Sun Korean BBQ on Kingsway.

    There is a great Korean snack food cafe across from Hmart in Coquitlam called Myung-Ga Sonmandoo. Fresh, hand-made dumplings, dokbokki, and kimbap.

    Dae Ji on Nelson downtown makes a great Korean fried cutlet. Try the kimchi roll!

    • Correction – DaeJi is on Dunsmuir Street

      :-D

  7. Liz

    for the best authentic korean food you have to come out to the suburbs for that! i recommend house of tofu in coquitlam (on austin avenue by the korean supermarkets), dasarang (a great chicken and beer place) in coquitlam (also on Austin avenue by the supermarkets),

    if you want good simple korean snack food go to kimbap chungook its on 1635 Robson Street also the original is in coquitlam on Austin avenue.

    • Dana

      @Liz
      House of Tofu does have awesome tofu pots, but their service is the worst. After being there a few times, I have vowed not to go ever… one of the most unhappy dining experience of all time…

      • Liz

        @dana :)
        you obviously haven’t been to korea where they throw the menus at you and have you out of there within an hour ;) now thats bad service!

        • Dana

          @Liz… hehe…
          Actually I have been to Korea. I am from Asia so I have seen all kinds of bad service :). But I guess I just feel if I were to pay tips, servers here in North America regardless of their race should be at least a little polite. :P The House of Tofu soup waitress left my table without saying anything to take orders from another table WHILE I was in the middle of ordering… awkward… But recently the worst service I got was from another Korean joint in San Francisco… They also serve awesome tofu soups!! Oh… the curse of tofu soup…
          I have heard good things about the food at Insadong Korean BBQ in Coquitlam… but now I am trying to find anther place that serves killer tofu soup XD

  8. Maggie

    Yes!! I love Madanggoul!!!
    Potter’s Garden on Kingsway is one of my favourite!!!
    Jang Mo Jib too!!!

  9. Tina

    My vote goes to Hanwoori …on Kingsway and Imperial in Bby.

  10. Phil

    Sura kets my vote for authentic however Chungdam Ahn on Cardero just off Robson does Korean fusion and they do it very well. It pays to bring someone with you who knows what to order and the staff make great suggestions too. Easily a “must try.”

  11. YUJIN WON

    Hello~ I’m Tourism English Interpretation Department senior YuJin Won from Korea Tourism Senior Highschool. My English name is Rachel. I will introduce one of Korean culture for my school assignment. I’m not good at English. So please understand me and read my writing. Jeonju where I live in is famous for ‘Bibimpap’. Therefore I want to introduce ‘Bibimpap’. Do you know ‘Bibimpap’? It is Korea traditional food. Basically it need to put various vegetables, rice, a soft-boiled egg, and Gochujang(red pepper paste). Each region is slightly different ingredients. You can adjust spicy level as much as you want to put Gochujang. Because a lot of vegetables to enter, it is Good for your health as well as vegetarian also can enjoy without worry. Also many international airlines offer ‘Bibimpap’ as in-flight meal. It is one of the food that lead globalization of Korean food. When you mix ‘Bibimbap’ is recommended to use chopsticks. Because spoon make grain of rice smash. I’m proud of ‘Bibimpap’, Korean culture. I am very pleased to be able to inform the ‘Bibimbap’ to foreign friends. I’m proud of ‘Bibimpap’, Korean food culture. If you want to know more about Korean food, please send me mail(gil5327@hanmail.net). Thank you for reading my writing. Have a nice day~:)❤

  12. Tristan

    I am from Vancouver but have spent the last 11 months in Korea teaching English. The Korean food I ate in Vancouver from places like Apgujung, Red Chicken, and the unfortunately mentioned Kimbob e Ramyun, is pretty bad in comparison (both price and quality) to what I’ve eaten here. I am returning to Vancouver in a month and would like to know if anyone knows of places to eat dakgalbi or jimdak? I will totally miss these dishes.

    • Steph

      Shin Po on Bute and Robson (833 Bute) has really good Dak Galbi. I’m hoping to find a place that serves it closer to New West. :P

  13. Bea

    I’m looking for the best Korean BBQ place with a nice atmosphere in Vancouver….can anyone help?
    I only know of House of Soeul and Shabusen….are these the only choices and which one is better?

  14. eleanor

    the kitchen in kerrisdale has really good, like your mom made bibimbap. i’m korean, was brought up with my mom’s food, and this is where i go to remind myself of what home cooking is like. compared to H-Mart, The Kitchen in kerrisdale has lots of toppings. In fact, most of H-Mart’s dishes are really skimpy on the veggies and meat, and mostly noodle or rice. yuck!

    The Kitchen in Kerrisdale is the real thing!!!

  15. Pingback: Kimchi for Dummies

  16. SURA just updated their menu and the website! Worth checking out for sure!! http://www.surakoreancuisine.com

    • Jung

      Cool website!

  17. Jung Shin

    SURA Korean Restaurant is now my #1 Korean cuisine in Downtown Vancouver. Bar none. Unlike all the other Korean restaurants, this one seems to actually care for the quality of their offerings. The food is always consistently tasty and fresh. I know there are other places on Robson Street, but SURA seems to be the only one that satisfies every aspects of my dining out experience. Dare I say, SURA is the best Korean restaurant in Vancouver!!! Hahaa. Seriously though. special or casual, highly recommended.

    • Hang

      W00t! They just won Best Korean of Vancouver Magazine’s 2013 Restaurant Awards! Well deserved I’d say!

  18. michael leung

    I went to Sura for the first time recently when a friend of mine and his wife from Los Angeles came to visit and they wanted some comforting and flavourful Korean food for dinner and I sort of wanted to impress and sort of wanted to relax in a more upscale setting than most Korean restaurants in Vancouver.

    I’ve passed by the place many times and had always been impressed by the modern earthy décor. Having been to just about every Korean restaurant downtown as well as in Coquitlam and I must say that my verdict is that Sura is the best Korean restaurant in Vancouver. Their menu is not your usual casual Korean fare, though they do have the staples of BBQ, bibambap, soups and stews, as well as a large selection of noodles for lunch. We opened with a crispy vegetable pancake and the edamame. They wanted a soup and I wanted to try something you can’t get at other places so we all shared the tteok mandu-guk, the bossam, and galbi-jim . I loved the dumplings in the mandu-guk as well as the satisfying but not-too-meaty broth saturated by all those vegetables. My friends really enjoyed the full, rich flavour of the galbi-jim but I found the highlight of the meal to be the delicate of bossam pork belly. It’s something I’ve never had before and I can assure you I’ll be going back just for that.

    All in all, I was satisfied with the service and the presentation of the dishes was beautiful. It’s not any more expensive than the other Korean restaurants in the area and I think they could easily charge more because it’s simply the best Korean restaurant in Vancouver that I have been to. The others all seem to serve the same fare, which I still love, because I love Korean food in general, but this place is just one step beyond.

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