A typical Korean meal consists of rice, mains, and banchan. Banchan refers to an array of side dishes which include fresh, cooked, and fermented dishes. Usually, you get a minimum of three side dishes per meal. This includes kimchi, honey-glazed potatoes, pickled daikon, cold bean sprouts, and more. Many restaurants will refill your sides for free if you ask.
Montreal is unfortunately not huge in the Asian food scene when you compare it to Toronto and Vancouver. It’s one thing to know where are the best restaurants, but for many of us, it’s a completely different thing to know what to order without feeling disappointed. Here are some of the you-gotta-eat-this dishes at Korean restaurants.
Tteokbokki (or toppoki) is made primarily with rice cakes and is cooked in a spicy and sweet gochujang (Korean ‘sriracha’) sauce. They are often tossed with fish cakes and cabbage. The rice cakes should be soft yet pleasantly chewy and the sauce should be creamy enough to coat the rice cakes.
Haemul/kimchi pajeon is a seafood/kimchi and green onion savoury pancake. It is crispy on the outside, and soft and moist in the middle.
Mandu are Korean dumplings. They are served either pan-fried or deep-fried. The filling is similar to the Chinese jiaozi and Japanese gyoza.
Gamjatang is one of our personal favourite items to order. It’s a rich, flavourful, and spicy pork bone and potato soup. Sucking out every bit of meat and flavour from of the bone is part of the experience. Many restaurants will give you a pair of gloves so you won’t get your hands dirty.
Soondubu Jjigae is an uncurdled tofu (with a custard-like texture) soup that is usually served with mushrooms and onions, with the options of kimchi, seafood, or meat. In some places, they let you crack a raw egg over your bowl of tofu once it arrives piping hot at your table.
Japchae is a stir-fry of glass sweet potato noodles, mixed vegetables, and marinated beef that is flavoured with soy sauce.
The following two dishes are perfect for the summertime.
Naengmyeon refers to the long, thin, and chewy noodles that are served cold. It comes in two varieties: Mul-Naengmyeon is a sweet, vinegary broth that is made with chicken, beef, or dongchimi (radish), and Bibim-naengmyeon is served with a spicy gochujang sauce instead of broth.
Jjeol Myeon is another cold noodle dish. It is known for its thick and super-long chewy noodles and is served bibimbap-style. You’ll need a pair of scissors to eat through this dish.
Recommendation: Atti Bistro.
Dakgangjeong (Korean Fried Chicken) is a must try. Double-frying the batter-coated chicken makes it super crunchy while the inside is moist and juicy. After frying, it is tossed in a sweet, spicy, and garlicky sauce without ruining the crispy shell.