Best Korean Food in Vancouver 2014? You make the call!

Photo credit Abex | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit Abex | Wikimedia Commons

Vancouver is justly famous for lots of different cuisines.  There’s our fresh West Coast-style dining, with local seafood and 100-mile ingredients.  We have incredibly authentic Chinese food and, of course, some of the best sushi this side of Tokyo.  But what often gets overlooked is how good Vancouver’s Korean food is.

Take a walk down Robson or Denman Streets downtown or a drive along Kingsway and out to Metrotown and you’ll find dozens – possibly hundreds – of Korean restaurants. Many are just mom-and-pop joints, but they all seem to cater to a discriminating, local clientele who know their bulgogi from their bibimbap.  And they always seem to be packed.

But if you’re not plugged into the Korean restaurant scene, finding a great place to try Korean food can be a bit of a challenge – which is why I’m asking for your help.  Do you have a favourite Korean restaurant in Vancouver or the surrounding cities? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.  

I’ll get things started by mentioning one of my favourites.  

Photo credit: draq | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: draq | Wikimedia Commons

It’s a little hole-in-the-wall on Denman Street (at Haro Street) called Ma Dang Coul, or MDG for short.  I may not be an expert in Korean food but I do know that a restaurant that’s always full – anytime, any day of the week – must be doing something right.

The menu offers the usual suspects: lots of hot pots, several varieties of bibimbap (a mix of rice and seasoned veggies), beef bulgogi and similar dishes with marinated chicken and pork and soups served in scalding hot stone bowls. It’s all reasonably priced – around $10-$12 for an entree – and I’ve yet to try something that disappointed me.

Photo credit: Alpha | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Alpha | Wikimedia Commons

All meals start with generous servings of the familiar banchan – the shared little side dishes that Korean restaurants are so famous for.  At MDG, these include kimchi, bean sprouts with seasame oil, seasoned parboiled potatoes and other familiar suspects.

My go-to main course is the bulgogi ($10.95) – the marinated, thinly sliced beef that’s probably the best-known of all Korean dishes.  Yes, it’s a pretty conservative choice.  But it’s also absolutely addictive.  For an extra few bucks, you can also add on a Korean stew, like my favourite, the spicy tofu soup, which comes in a piping hot bowl brimming with soft tofu and mushrooms in a rich, spicy broth.

Photo credit: miyagawa | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: miyagawa | Wikimedia Commons

Throw in a few Hite or Cass beers (classic Korean pilsners) and two people can experience some exceptional and authentic Korean cuisine for under $40.

But I know there are lots of other great Korean restaurants in Vancouver.  If you’ve got a favourite, please let us know by leaving a comment.  

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