From K-Pop to K-food, and so much more, Korean Cultural Week (Oct. 12 – 16) is a time to celebrate everything that Korean culture brings to Coquitlam.
Coquitlam’s unofficially-deemed Koreatown is located along North Road and is a vibrant cultural hub in the City for everything Korean including tasty restaurants and cozy cafés, book stores, salons and spas, karaoke and eclectic supermarkets. And be sure to explore the Korean cuisine hot spots spread out across the city.
Get the Foodie 101 on the Korean Cuisine in Coquitlam
When you picture Korean cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind might be kimchi, the traditional dish of salted and fermented vegetables. Or you might think of Korean barbecue or a hot bowl of bibimbap. Yes, to all of the above. And there’s also another specialty that you’ll certainly want to try: Korean-style fried chicken. It’s crunchy, delicious and full of flavours and spices.
Luke Kim, manager of Coquitlam’s Oz Korean Cuisine, gives the Foodie 101 on the Korean cuisine.
Interesting facts about Korean food
Korean cuisine is healthy and fresh, containing seasonal greens, lots of vegetables, fermented foods (there’s the kimchi again) and high-grade meats.
Let’s start with kimchi. This traditional Korean staple actually has more than 500 different types, says Kim, “and it is by far the most popular dish in Korea.”
“Almost all Korean restaurants across the world serve this dish,” he explained. “Kimchi is one of the healthiest foods in the world. It contains lactic acid bacteria, a bacterium that helps with digestion and fights harmful bacteria. Kimchi also boosts the immune system. That being said, the kimchi hotpot is the real deal.”
More on that below…
Top 3 dishes
Here are three popular Korean dishes to try, as recommended by Kim.
Korean-Style Fried Chicken
Oz Korean is known for its Korean-style fried chicken. A popular option is the Bhan-Bhan (meaning “half and half”), with half being the original fried chicken and the other half marinated or seasoned with sweet chili sauce, for example.
There are many different sweet or spicy flavours available, said Kim, including Spicy Soy, Butter Garlic, Snowing or Padak. Spicy Soy is a fried chicken mixed with chili oil, spicy green pepper, garlic and dried spicy red pepper.
‘Snowing’ is also a big hit, both in Korea and Coquitlam. “It looks like a snow mountain built up with fried chicken and tossed with variety of cheese powder and another our secret powder on top of the fried chicken,” said Kim.
Padak, meaning green spring onion chicken, is served with long cut green spring onions on top of fried chicken and poured with a homemade sweet soy sauce.
Kimchi Jjigae (Hotpot)
“Kimchi appears in many forms and is one of the oldest but still the most lovable hotpot amongst Koreans,” said Kim.
“Kimchi Jjigae does not contain a variety of other seasonal green vegetables like other hotpots but the beauty of kimchi alone can stand against them. Not only it is delicious, but it strongly helps our body with dietary and detoxication.”
Bibimbap, literally meaning “mixed rice,” is one of the most well-known Korean dishes. It is heart-warming, healthy and nourishing. While it contains many spring vegetables and a meat that can be different from restaurant to restaurant, the basics remain the same, including a fried egg (or raw, if you prefer) on top of all ingredients in a single bowl.
13 Korean Restaurants and Café’s to Try
If you’re convinced that you need to experience this cuisine in honour of Korean Cultural Week, you have plenty of options in Coquitlam. Here are 13 Korean restaurants and cafés to try in Coquitlam, in no particular order.
TOKKI Korean Café
OZ Korean Cuisine
Located in Coquitlam’s Henderson Place Mall, this Korean Café sells uniquely decorated corn dogs with creative names including ‘Monster Bat.’ These dogs are coated in potato, some are filled with cheese, and all can be dipped in an assortment of yummy sauces.
Korean soup and stew is perfect comfort-food for the fall weather. Specializing in smoked pork and soups, Smoking Pig is serving up Korean fusion with flavours of honey garlic, honey soy, salt and pepper, and super spice. Order one of the signature Korean fusion ramen dishes. You will be raving about the house-made noodles and flavourful soup following your visit.
Fried chicken is a Korean cuisine staple, and if the best fried chicken is what you are after, this restaurant is your best bet. Located on Pinetree Way, it is easily accessible by SkyTrain and just next to Coquitlam Centre Mall. Stick to the basics or take your pick from creative flavours including Tropical, White Cream and Citron.
Whether you are joining for lunch, dinner, or a quick bite to eat, the extensive menu at Sol Lee’s is sure to leave you satisfied with an array of Korean dishes made with fresh ingredients. Start with a Seafood Pancake and follow it with Yulmu Kimchi Soup or Nikji Bokkeum (spicy baby octopus with stir fried vegetables) for the perfect meal.
Insadong Korean Restaurant
Ta Bom Korean Cuisine
Insadong Korean Restaurant does Korean BBQ right. Sit down and design your own meal by picking form platters of seafood, sliced meat, vegetables and sides brought right to your table for you to cook yourself. Don’t want to do the work? Order a delicious, hot meal served to you in a hot stone bowl – the perfect fall warm-me-up. Favourites include Bibimbap (vegetable & tofu with rice,) Daegu Mauen Tang (boiled cod soup with vegetables) and Kimchi Jjigae (spicy kimchi soup.)
This highly rated restaurant ramps up the style esthetic, serving beautifully plated dishes with bright colours and delicate flavours. It’s quickly becoming one to watch, and conveniently located on Pinetree Way in City Centre near Lincoln SkyTrain station.
Located in the Koreatown area of Coquitlam, Kimbab Cheonguk has a cozy atmosphere and incredible food coming out of the kitchen. Kimbab, Korean-style makizushi, is othe most popular item on the menu. After all, the restaurant is named after it! Hungry for more? Order a hot meal, cold noodle dish, or snacks including assorted seafood, ramen, fish cake soup and more.
Located in Henderson Place Mall and designed to look like a food truck, this laid-back eatery specializes in Seoul-style street food. The top-quality dishes are served ready to eat on the go, with prices that are easy on the wallet. The Dak-Gang-Jeong (popcorn chicken) is scrumptious and comes in three flavours: red pepper, soy or garlic.
Passion8 Dessert Café
Big Chicken Town
Often attracting lineups out the door, Ta Bom Korean Cuisine specializes in Korean Hot Pot. Order the signature Hot Plate and be delighted with a variety of meats, eggs, vegetables and the delicious corn and cheese mixture. Order add-ons including rice cake, noodles or fried rice. The hot dish is carefully crafted and foodie-blog worthy.
Pocha Korea Bistro is located in Maillardville, just off of Lougheed Highway. This bistro specializes in Korean fish dishes including Mackerel, Black Cod Collar, Squid and Sole Fish. The choice is yours, you can order your meal from the pot, from the char grill, from the griddle or pan seared.
It is all in the name, if you are passionate about your desserts, this is the café for you. This quaint dessert café serving Korean style treats and espresso drinks is located on North Road in the Koreatown area. Order a Snow Mountain with your choice of bean powder, mocha, homemade brownie, cheesecake and more, or pick from the Toastery menu with deliciously decorated toasts.
This hidden gem in Coquitlam’s Koreatown specializes in Korean snow ice, freshly made in-house cakes, and an array of espresso beverages. There are also a variety of drinks to choose from including coffee, loose-leaf tea, smoothies, sodas and lattes.
Located on Schoolhouse Street, Big Chicken Town offers a wide variety of delicious Chicken dishes, prepared with traditional Korean recipes and ingredients. Grab a bite of the Sweet Chilli Chicken, the Golden Crust Chicken, or our signature Black Yummy Chicken.
To browse all Korean restaurants and cafés in Coquitlam, click here.