Monday, October 25, 2010
Nova Scotia is a small province located on the East Coast of Canada. Our population is small and still fairly homogeneous so finding any kind of ethnic food (except Canadianized-Chinese) in small towns can be a daunting task. It’s not fully impossible, but it’s definitely challenging! The one place in the province that has real variety is the small city of Halifax, and I’ve decided to try and give a bit of a low-down on the Korean eats available for your enjoyment.
After doing some research I decided to check out Rich Forest Cafe in the city’s North End. Rich Forest touts itself as a Korean and Japanese restaurant, and once you’re inside, you’ll realize they also offer up some Korean-style Chinese food offerings.
My Korean food experience has been limited, to say the least. When I lived in Toronto I thoroughly enjoyed eating anything and everything I could get my hands on. During that time, I ended up trying Korean BBQ once and enjoying some bi-bim-bap the other. While at Rich Forest, I wanted to experience some new flavours. I brought along a friend of mine to assist…and by assist I mean that with two people we could try more food than with just one!
After some careful menu perusal, we decided a few things. First of all, we were both REALLY hungry. Second of all, we wanted to try some different flavours-the sweet and the spicy, so to speak. Thirdly, I decided that on my next adventure, I’m bringing more people because more people=more food for me! (And them…of course…)
So, getting down to business, here’s what we decided to order:
Let’s just start by saying this food was delicious. Everything I ate was cooked well, seasoned well and piping hot.
The bul-go-ki was tender and tasty. They served it on a large wooden and cast-iron cow with a side of rice. It got me wondering if they have similar dishes for the pork or chicken. I guess we’ll find out next time. The bul-go-ki is a great dish for someone who’s a little intimidated by new foods. The flavour is wonderful, but it’s not spicy. The portion size was excellent for the price of $15.95. While someone from a bigger city may see that as a tad pricey, keep in mind that ethnic food offerings in Halifax always tend to be a little on the expensive side due to our small population and limited choice.
The yook-gae-jang was definitely not for someone who’s afraid of a little heat. This dish was served in a stone bowl, brimming with spicy red broth, chunks of tender beef, loads of veggies, eggs and lots of crispy sprouts and it came with a side of rice. The spice was not intolerable, especially for people who enjoy a good sinus-clearing heat. The menu also mentions that you can ask your server if you don’t want it too spicy. However, for my friend and I, it was a great cold-day treat.
Besides these two main dishes, we also had some tasty shrimp tempura. The previous night we’d actually gone out for sushi and ordered some as well. At Rich Forest Cafe, the price was much more reasonable. For eight giant, fresh shrimp, it was only $8.95, whereas we’d paid $10.95 for only six the night before. I guess we’re suckers for good deals and shrimp! We also enjoyed some mandoo. These came with the yook-gae-jang for an extra $2.00, so we figured why not? They were pan-fried and full of a delicious mixture of pork and spices. The meal also came with two banchan-kimchi (or yumchi as I like to call it) as well as daikon. Both were nicely seasoned: the kimchi more spicy and the daikon with a cooler, more vinegary taste. On top of it all, we got some free tea. Not a big deal in most major cities at Asian restaurants, but in Halifax, you’re usually paying about $3.00 a pot, so getting it on the house is actually a nice touch.
Rich Forest also offers Korean BBQ, hot pot dishes, sushi and Chinese options. It’s a place I know I’ll be back to visit. The whole meal, including tip was under $50.00. And, to top things off, the upstairs of the building is an Asian grocery store specializing in Korean and Japanese products, including a HUGE selection of frozen dumplings, fish and noodles.
If all of my Korean adventures in Halifax are as good as my first at Rich Tree Cafe, I’m going to be in for a delicious ride!
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