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Korea House
4950 Queen Mary (Snowdon Metro)

Tue - Fri 10:00 AM to 10:30 PM; Sat - Sun 10:00 AM to 10:30 PM. Tel. : 733-7823
“There aren’t many Koreans in Montreal,” breathed the sultry waitress at Korea House. Could’ve fooled me—most of them were here at Korea House the night I visited—making up 100% of the customers besides us. This was good.

Korea House, placed ignominiously in the basement of a non-descript office building on Queen Mary near the Snowdon Metro, has to be a hotbed of Korean activity in Montreal—at least from the culinary point of view. You cross from the office-building facade into a typical Seoul restaurant in a matter of paces. Korean karaoke blares on a TV set in the back. Korean families laugh and roar at various tables—and they seem to have been there before you and you have no doubt that they will be there after you.

You settle back with a smile, because you know you’ll get nothing at this place but food from the heart of Korea.

It’s not expensive food, it’s not gourmet food—it’s country food, made in the Korean family style, and it speaks for itself.

A Bulkogi was ordered without fanfare. What else was a traditional Korean meal? Well, there was the Jap Tchae (Korean Style noodles.) Fine, we’ll take it. What does it come with? Rice, and all sorts of “Korean appetizers.” Kim chee? “You bet.”

Turned out the sultry waitress was on her first day here, but she seemed to pretty much be on top of things. When I jokingly asked why the sake was Japanese, she explained that it was very difficult to get “Ch'ongju,” the Korean version, in Canada. “They have it in Toronto.” I’ll have to remember that.

At the time we visited, Korea House was 6 weeks under new management. The knowledgeable and businesslike young man at the helm nodded proudly to confirm this. His English was great. “My French is better”—he said, unable to explain a beansprout and sesame appetizer in English.

So be it! Let’s speak food.

I wasn’t complaining when the sizzling cow-shaped black iron platter of charcoal-grilled slivers of sweet, garlic-laden beef on a bed of onions arrived. The Jap Tchae, slices of prime beef in green peppers, mushrooms and vegetables in a spicy bundle of glass noodles, came shortly thereafter with the four savory accompaniments: a bowl of julienned daikon, kimchee, cucumber and oversized beansprouts, all in their own bowls of tantalizing garlic chili, pepper and sesame oil sauces.

A neatly covered bowl of sticky white rice accompanied each dish. It really was a fight of the chopsticks (forks were never offered!) to take advantage of all the bounty.

A Japanese companion at the feast murmured “this barbeque beef is fantastic!”—knowing of what she spoke, since Korean Barbecue is a national dish in Japan.

A simple dessert of impeccable orange slices and mugs of cold cinammon tea completed an experience which I’m pretty sure will come as close as is possible to one in the home country.

.—Reviewed by Nicholas Robinson

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