Since MH will be leaving (*ahem* ditching) me for schooling in Toronto, we decided to meet up for one last hurrah. The plan was to hit up NongBu, a modern Korean eatery situated just off of Whyte.
Awarded best new restaurant by Avenue Magazine, NongBu puts a modern twist on traditional Korean fare. The menu is small, but varied. With everything from street food to lettuce wraps, dishes are perfect for sharing among a group of friends.
The restaurant is very minimal in decoration, with gray walls and wooden accents. The space is actually quite big, and there's even a second story loft with additional seating.
We went in for lunch on a Friday, and while it wasn't very busy when we arrived at noon, it really started to pick up once we left.
As with any Korean restaurant, banchan comes complimentary. The selection changes often but we received four different kinds of side dishes, including pickled daikon, kimchi, radish kimchi, and pickled garlic. My favourite out of the four was probably the radish kimchi, but the pickled daikon was also good. Crisp and refreshing, it acted as a great palate cleanser between different bites of food.
We stuck mainly to the 'snacks and street eats' portion of the menu, and ordered three dishes to share. The first to arrive was the seafood pajeon ($11.00), a traditional Korean pancake with shrimp, squid, and green onions. The pajeon was actually quite large, making it perfect for sharing. It was packed full with ingredients and sported a nice crispy crust. The sesame soy dipping sauce that came on the side was the perfect complement -- fragrant, with a bit of tang.
The kimbap ($10.00) came next. The Korean take on sushi if you will, with rice and vegetables (asparagus, pickled radish, carrot, and mushroom) rolled in seaweed. A bit chewy, and the hot mustard sauce was definitely needed to give the rolls some flavour. With five on the plate though, it's definitely a filling dish.
Our last item was actually the reason why we came to NongBu in the first place. When MH told me that she never had ddukbokki before, I knew I had to rectify that situation ASAP. NongBu has a few different varieties but we stuck with the classic: spicy ddukbokki ($11.00), rice cakes and fish cakes in a spicy sauce.
Rice cakes aren't typically at the top of my list when it comes to Korean food, but I actually really liked the ones served here. Instead of the long and thin variety you usually see, the rice cakes were thick and round -- the perfect texture between soft and chewy. The sauce was definitely spicy, but as MH put it, the "good" kind of spicy. (The one that doesn't hurt, before and after).
While we only had a small sampling of NongBu's menu, our experience definitely left a good impression. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I'll be back.