Thursday, 27 June 2013

Jeong Ga Nae (정가네)

Lately, my family has been eating a lot of Korean food. The lack of decent Chinese food within a 30 minute radius forces us to find lunch in other places. Jeong Ga Nae took over the spot of an old, failing, Korean barbeque restaurant. They serve similar dishes though. I suggested we try this newly opened restaurant when my grandma came in to have lunch with us.

On a Thursday afternoon, we were seated promptly in the small restaurant. I'm guessing there are less than twenty tables in total. Two or three other tables had customers already eating rice and noodle dishes. After placing our order, it took a while for the waitress to bring us hot tea and side dishes. Since we ordered two stews, two bowls of rice were included. The bowls are extremely hot, so be careful not to burn your hand! I was pleasantly surprised to find that they served purple rice. Now I'm not 100% sure if the rice itself is purple or the darker rice just dyed the white rice purple. The bibimbap also uses the same purple rice, so I'm assuming that there is no plain white rice served here.
Hot Stone Pot Bibimbap ($9.95)
Their 돌솥 비빔밥 is called 'Mixed Vegetable in Hotpot' on the menu. It is filled with vegetables like carrots, shiitake mushrooms, lettuce, zucchini, and bean sprouts. There is a bit of ground beef and a whole egg to make this dish a well balanced meal. I appreciate how they take care when frying the egg to ensure it's runny when it gets to your table. Some restaurants over cook the egg, and that's no fun at all. One of the two waitresses came to our table to help us mix (비빔) the rice (밥). Now you know the literal meaning of bibimbap. Mix rice. Verb object structure as my Mandarin teacher would say. Anyways, I'm not sure if it is because they always do that or they thought since we weren't Korean that we didn't know how to do anything. I was slightly disappointed to find that there wasn't much of a crunchy rice layer to be found, even though the stone bowl was super hot. The non-traditional bibimbap at Kimbap Cheonguk is much better. Either the rice wasn't actually cooked in the pot or it didn't get heated up for long enough. Besides that, this simple dish is delicious and very filling. I love it mixed with a bit of the hot sauce they provide you with. Oh, and it comes with a small bowl of broth. Very garlic-y.   

Potato Pork Bone Soup ($8.95)
The next dish we shared was the pork bone soup. There were at least four large bones with a bit of meat stuck to each of them. It's not an expensive cut of meat, but this is a common Korean stew. It's a larger size than the tofu soup below. The look of the liquid looks very similar to the tofu one as well, but the flavours are distinctly different. This one has a stronger onion and garlic flavour. It's an okay stew, nothing spectacular. I probably wouldn't order this again if I was just eating it myself.

Spicy Tofu Soup ($8.95)
Yes, it's another gif of a boiling soup. The second time is not as  cool... When ordering this tofu soup, there are four addition choices. Kimchi, pork, beef, or seafood. My mom went with beef. There are a lot of really large chunks of smooth tofu in this small bowl, I really like eating it with the rice. Diced onion and zucchini are also thrown in there. Near the end, I discovered that they had actually put a whole egg into the soup. All the white and yolk had been completed cooked by the boiling soup. I recommend this one over the pork bone stew. Plus, this one comes bubbling and the other one doesn't, not nearly as exciting.

My mom liked how the food here was not overly salty, like some other Korean restaurants we've been to on North Road. Korean food is spicy enough; there is no need for excess amounts of added sodium. Three dishes fed 4 people, coming to a total of just under $30 before tips. 

Many of the other customers in the restaurant were Korean, so that is a good sign. If I come back again, I would like to try their cold noodles or their shared stews that continue boiling at the stove built into the table. It's essentially a larger portion of a stew that feeds two or more people. 

With a small, but steady, stream of customers trickling in, I can see Jeong Ga Nae becoming an increasingly popular restaurant. They will need more waiters to clean tables and maybe a broader menu in the future, but for now, my first experience here has been positive.  

Jeong Ga Nae on Urbanspoon

Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡

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