Last weekend I had the chance to check out Daore (or Da-O-Re, according to its menu), a new Korean BBQ restaurant on 34 Avenue and 93 Street. With so many Korean restaurants so concentrated in the southeast corner of Edmonton, I was curious to see what Daore offered that wasn’t your usual bibimbap or bulgogi.
The local family-owned shop isn’t the family’s first project, having restaurants in both the small town of Millet and a handful of restaurants in Korea. The space is clean, modern, and large with seating enough for at least 80 diners, with all of their tables complete with a built-in BBQ station for a do-it-yourself experience. TV screens throughout the restaurant display photographs of popular dishes as well as a slideshow of the menu. Browsing through their regular menu, I was excited to see the Korean “nengmyun” (or more commonly spelled as naengmyeon), translated as “cold noodle” — a cold buckwheat and potato-starch based noodle dish served during Korea’s hot and humid summers. The more common Mool-Nengmyun (or mul-naengmyeon) wasn’t new to me, but the spicy variation of BiBim Nengmyun had my name written all over it. Meat lover dishes, such as bulgogi, L.A Galbi (beef short ribs), and Bossam (pork lettuce wraps), were available as well but with only the two of us, that would have to wait for another trip!
The “new menu” or what I assume is their summer menu, had a special combo available: your choice of Mul Nengmyun or BiBim Nengmyun with your choice of GamJa-Jeon, a crispy potato pancake, or Mandu, Korean dumplings. There’s something about combination meals that make people gravitate towards them. I don’t know why. So naturally, I ordered the BiBim Nengmyun and decided to give the Gamja-Jeon a whirl. Joe ordered the Hae-Jang-Gook, a spicy pork bone soup, one of our staples when we eat Korean.
The BiBim Nengmyun came with a cold beef broth (although oddly advertised as a hot beef broth in the menu). Our server instructed us that we could slowly pour the broth in a little at a time or all at once, depending on our preference. Covered in a spicy gochuchang sauce, the buckwheat noodles were thin, chewy, and had an elastic quality that only buckwheat flour seems to have. Or perhaps it’s a combination of the buckwheat flour and the sweet potato and potato starches that gives it that texture. Topped with julienned cucumbers and radishes, a couple slices of steamed pork and beef, and half of a hard-boiled egg, the dish looked appetizing! Ice surrounded the noodles to keep the contents of the bowl cold, a pleasure to eat, especially if it was one of Edmonton’s blistering hot days. Loved that the broth mixed in with the spicy sauce made a cohesive base, and yet somehow still refreshingly light on the palate. My only disappointment with the dish was that the noodles were absurdly long (although I later learned that by eating it as such, it’s believed to give the diner health and longevity!), which made sharing the dish a little difficult. Make sure you chew your noodles quite well as one long strand going down the wrong pipe could easily trigger your gag reflexes.
The accompanying Gamja-Jeon took me by surprise as it used the Korean purple yam. Some diced bell peppers were thrown into the mix, giving the extra crunch. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the otherwise crispy pancake and could have gone without.
Joe’s order of Hae-Jang-Gook came with a variety of banchan (Korean side dishes) including a delightfully spicy kimchi, pickled radishes and carrots, a slightly sweet dish of potatoes, and pickled cabbage.
A bowl of rice accompanied the spicy pork bone soup, served bubbling hot in a stone bowl. Sooooo good. The meat was tender and fell right of the bone and the broth had just the right amount of heat. Our servers (we had a rotation of three!) must have thought we were crazy to order two contrasting dishes.
At the end of the meal, the hostess asked us what we thought about the special, the nengmyun combo. I mentioned about the long noodles and its difficulties. She looked at me surprised and mentioned that the dish was suppose to come out with scissors for us to cut. Well then. That would make more sense. Otherwise, we both enjoyed the meal and loved the dishes. It’ll be interesting to see if the nengmyun is served year-round but a printed paper menu would indicate otherwise. With so many Korean restaurant options in the area, it’s hard to narrow down which one to choose. If I was craving a small personal dish of stew, I’d hop on over to Tofu House for a tofu stew. If I was craving Korean fried chicken, Coco Deep Fried Chicken and Wing Chicx is just a stone’s throw away. Daore has a tagline of “We Are Happy When You Are Lucky.” Are they also lucky when I’m happy? Daore feels more home-y, more family-friendly and a place I’d be happy to take my whole family out for a Korean meal. Feeling lucky to have such a wide selection of Korean restaurants Edmonton, and most definitely happy! Congratulations to Daore on their opening!Daore
9332 – 34 Avenue