UPDATE – July 5, 2010: In a strange twist, Korean Village has closed its location near the Calgary Tower and taken over the one formerly occupied by Dae Jang Geum at 1324 – 10th Ave. S.W.

Korean Village, Calgary

I was really craving some Korean food on Friday night, so we headed out to Dae Jang Geum, which I always eye when I pick up Korean or Japanese ingredients at the Arirang grocery store next door.

Alas, we barely got past the front door.

A nice young man said “Hello I’ll be right with you,” as the two of us walked in. He was helping someone pay with debit.

A female server then came and we told her we needed a table for two. A group of four then arrived behind us and said they had a reservation so she seated them. She didn’t say anything to us so we stood around some more.

Korean Village, CalgaryThen she came back and started discussing something loudly with another female server in Korean. Not once did they look at, or acknowledge, us.

Finally the young man said to us in English, “We only have a table for four available right now, so we’ll seat a group of four before you.”

There was no one waiting for a table except the two of us!

I don’t need to explain the displeasure and even bewilderment we felt at being treated this way. We just left.

We drove straight down the road to Korean Village, which is a bit more dated in a strip mall behind the Calgary Tower, but at least it knows what being in the service industry means.

The place was packed but we were greeted right away. The server kindly explained the booths were all reserved but he could clear a table for two in a few minutes.

Korean Village, Calgary

Korean Village does the traditional barbecue of delicious marinated meats on gas burners brought to your table, but I was in the mood for a nice hot dolsot bibimbap ($13.50). (Dolsot means ‘stone bowl'; bibimbap means ‘mixed meal.’)

The blistering stone bowl did not disappoint. I mixed up the bean sprouts, spinach, and julienned daikon with the finely chopped beef, rice and a raw egg that got cooked against the hot stone.

The rice touching the bowl turned golden brown, giving it a great crunch. My only quibble is I would have liked more meat.

Korean Village, Calgary

Jason got the dwejigogo yachae bokkum ($15.95), a big plate of stir-fried spicy pork with vegetables. It looked like nothing more than a stirfry but had a nice spicy kick to the marinated pork.

As usual, banchan — the little side dishes — came with the mains. I could eat those endlessly. There was kimchi, bean sprouts, pieces of turnip, marinated zucchini slices, and some kind of egg quiche I’ve never seen before. All good.

Bottom line, I have no idea how the food at Dae Jang Geum is because it left a bad taste in our mouths before we could even sit down, and I doubt I’d go back to try. On the other hand, Korean Village has been around for years and we got the satisfying meal that we were looking for.

Korean Village, 101-10th Ave. SE, Calgary (403) 269-7940. Moved to 1324-10th Ave. SW, Calgary, (403) 228-1120.
Dae Jang Geum, 1324-10th Ave. SW, Calgary, (403) 228-1120.
(Now closed.)

UPDATE – July 5, 2010: In a strange twist, Korean Village has closed its location near the Calgary Tower and taken over the one formerly occupied by Dae Jang Geum at 1324 – 10th Ave. S.W.

Korean Village on Urbanspoon