Monday, October 11, 2010

Chungdam Ahn


After a frustrating experience at Atithi Indian Cuisine (where the manager refused to let us use 1 voucher per person when the fine print clearly states "limit 1 per person per visit"), I headed to Chungdam Ahn for a Korean Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. I realized I'm practically living off of group buy vouchers these days :D Anyway we started with bibimbap ($11), the famous stone bowl rice. We chose the bulgogi (beef) topping. The beef was not that tender, and the dish was missing a lot of common bibimbap ingredients such as egg, beansprouts, and other veggies. But the seasoning was done nicely and the rice and toppings tasted good with the sauce. The portion was very small though... there was only enough for half a bowl for each of us.


We were supposed to get kimchi as a side dish, but the waitress said they ran out of regular kimchi. So we got radish kimchi and fish cakes instead. The side dishes were ok, but I don't really like radish. I still prefer the regular kimchi. And I didn't like how all the dishes were spicy. Normally there would be beansprouts or seaweed or something else refreshing right?


We decided to try their signature dish: Ahn's roasted pork ($16.90) which came with seasoned veggies. The pork had a nice thick layer of fat, but was not super greasy. I had expected the fat layer to be soft and mushy with oil oozing out as I bit into it, but it was actually slightly bouncy with a gelatinous texture. Both the pork and veggies were seasoned with a sweet spicy sauce and topped with roasted garlic. The veggies tasted particularly good with the sauce, and helped refresh the palate after the fatty meat.


Next we had toro sashimi ($10.50). Don't ask me why I decided to order sashimi at a Korean place. It was a mistake. The toro was in very thin slices, and had very little flavour since it was still slightly frozen.


Then we had one of my favourite dishes: spicy rice cakes ($13.90). I don't know why I like this dish because I can't eat really spicy things and this is really spicy. So every time I eat this, I can only eat a few before I reach my maximum spiciness tolerance level. Yet I still order it every time... This dish came with seafood including mussels, shrimp, and octopus as well as cabbage and fish cakes. The sauce was quite spicy, but also slightly sweet.


The garlic prawn in cream sauce ($8) was a dish that was unexpectedly delicious. When I read the description in the menu, I imagined it to be soggy prawn tempura swimming around in a creamy sauce. The prawns were deep fried, but were not coated with thick tempura batter. The cream sauce was very thick and creamy (almost like mayo), and was drizzled on the prawns along with roasted garlic. The combination was perfect, but I found the roasted garlic to be a bit too bitter.


The food was above average, but the prices were quite high. I think this place is a bit too expensive for casual family dinners, but it might be a good place for group dinners.

EDIT: Mar 28, 2011

I have a better impression of Chungdam Ahn after a 2nd visit with another group buy voucher. We were supposed to get 2 rice wine cocktails with the voucher, but the waitress was nice and gave us 3 glasses so we could have one each. There were 2 flavours: strawberry and banana. I liked the strawberry a bit more, but both tasted slightly strange. I don't think the taste of rice wine blends in well with fruits.


The first improvement we noticed was the side dishes. We got kimchi this time! And beansprouts and pickled radishes that were both delicious and refreshing.


This time instead of the regular bulgogi bibimbap, we ordered the steak tartare bibimbap ($13.50) which was a lot more exciting. There were many toppings including lettuce, mushrooms, radish, carrots, seaweed, cabbage, and a raw egg on top of a generous mound of raw beef. The chili sauce was served on the side so we could adjust the spiciness to our liking.


Next we had the kimchi jeon ($8.50), a simple Korean pancake made with flour and kimchi. The portion was a lot larger than expected and we ended up taking half of it home. I found it really oily and filling, so I didn't eat much. But I liked it more than the typical seafood pancake.


Since we already tried the spicy rice cakes last time, we decided to get the BBQ rice cakes ($13.90) to see how they compare. The BBQ sauce was not as thick and rich as chili sauce, but it was flavourful enough with a slight sweetness. It was a good balance since both the bibimbap and kimchi jeon were spicy.


The food was a lot better than last time, but I noticed I was really thirsty for a long time after this meal...

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1 comments:

eeScorpius on October 17, 2010 1:52 am said...

You are more addicted to these coupon sites than me!!!

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