I remember a few years back I went through a crazy Korean drama/K-pop phase. That was a few years back and I mean few. Several even. If you remember who Shinhwa was - yeah, that's how long ago it was. But while my love for Korean pretty boys and complicated love quandruplangles has died down over the years, my love for Korean food has grown. Oh, that line was so cliche but oh so true. There we go with the cliches again. Ha. What I really looked forwards to in those Korean dramas were the parts where I get to see what they eat. In the drama "Full House", when Song Hye-kyo made bimbimbap? Oh yeah. I was craving that for days. And all the dinners she cooked for Rain? Oh man. It all looked so good. Early attempts to recreate what I see my favorite drama characters eat was a failure mainly because I didn't know what to order. For a few years I only ordered what I knew was good. It was all so foreign to me - until I made a Korean friend who introduced Korean Hotpots to me.
Out of all the places I have tried, Jang Mo Jib on Robson has got to be the best one and I'm not the only one to think that as they won readers choice gold for "Best Korean" 2011! I have tried the Richmond one a couple of times and it's not the same. Out of five possible hot pot choices, I have tried three: Gam Ja Tang (pork-back & neck bone in homemade soup), Dduk Bok Gee (Rice cakes, noodles & fishcake in spicy sauce), and the Boo Dae Jzi Gae Jun Gohl (Rice cakes, bacon, ham, sausage, cheese, vegetables etc. in soup). While the names might be difficult to remember because they're in another language, they have really appealing pictures of each hotpot - that actually looks like the actual dish - next to it's name. This time, I was lucky and got the chance to try Gahl Bee Jim (Beef short-ribs stewed in a sweet and savory marinade) with B because all the other times I went, they didn't have it in stock or were already sold out. Oh yeah, and we also ordered a coke because it came in a glass bottle and looked cool. Not long after ordering, we got our complimentary side dishes: sweet potatoes, two kinds of kimchi, and marinated seaweed.
When the hotpot came, B and I both kind of went speechless because we forgot how big these hotpots are. I would say each hotpot could comfortably feed four and we we were just two. The stone pot was shallow but filled to the brim and more with beef short-ribs, rice cakes, green and red peppers, sweet potato noodles, and julienne egg for garnish. The meat was so soft, it fell right off the bone - but it still had that bite to it like a good rib should have. It was seasoned well - full of flavor and went great with the sweet and savory sauce that it was cooked in. The noodles came uncooked, as were the rice cakes, so we let those sit for a while and soak up all that sauce. The noodles were able to absorb most of the sauce, the rice cakes however, were still a bit bland - but I loved the chewiness of it nonetheless. This dish was flavorful and had ton of different textures. If you are a person, like me, who enjoys the texture of food as much as taste, then these Korean hotpots are really something worth trying. It was so good, that B and I basically finished half of it and we weren't even that hungry to begin with. It was so good. No wonder it gets sold out.
Oh, and our coke? Gosh, it was the best coke ever. Probably because it came from a bottle and not a can. Mind-tricks, you say? I think not. Definitely has something to do with the glass.