Sunday, March 3, 2013

KoReAn CoMfOrT FoOd - GaNaDaRa

Aaaahhhh, nothing eases a chilly, snowy February night like a nice big bowl of... tteokbokki poutine? Cheese ramyun? What?

Nestled away on the corner of Maisonneuve and St-Marc is a quaint little Korean restaurant that serves up an interesting variety of Korean 'street food', or what I consider Korean comfort food. Here, you can find the traditional Korean fare, like bulgogi or bibimbap, but you can also find some more creative and unique dishes, such as a tteokbokki poutine. Some other blogs have coined this place as authentic, and I really wouldn't know, since I've never been to Korea, but it's definitely unique, as far as Korean restaurants go.

Accessibility - Grade: A
As I mentioned above, it's on the corner of St-Marc and de Maisonneuve, which is one block away from Guy-Concordia metro, St-Mathieu exit. 

Service - Grade: A
The service was very warm and friendly. I don't know what exactly it was, but the waitstaff made you feel welcome and happy to be there. The ambiance is pretty unique, too.The minute you enter the restaurant, there is no mistake that it is quintessentially Eastern Asian, if not Korean. The wallpaper is something directly out of a cute Japanese or Korean stationary, complete with cute cats and uplifting Engrish quotes. I like it. It felt like I was living a K-drama.

Food - Grade: B+

They started off with the typical banchan, which is the traditional kimchi and pickled radish. Not bad, well-marinated, but it's pretty much on par with the banchan from most other Korean restaurants here.

Cheese Ramyun
Yup, you're not seeing things. There are two slices of processed cheese on top of a bowl of instant ramen noodle in a metal pot. When I first saw pictures of the ramyun with the instant dehydrated noodles, I was really skeptical, and when I heard about cheese ramyun, I was even more skeptical. And yet, and yet.

I like the spicy broth in Korean ramyun on its own, but surprsingly, once you let the cheese melt into the broth, it makes it even better. The cheese thickened the broth and made it rich and creamy, which worked surprisingly well with the spiciness of the of the soup. I've always found it surprising that they serve instant noodles in restaurants, but the thin noodles go really well with the broth. And nothing says comfort food like instant noodles, right?

Spicy Tuna Kimbap
Ganadara offers a variety of kimbaps, which are Korean-style snack rolls similar to the Japanese makizushi. Instead of raw fish, though, kimbaps can contain anything from fish and meat to kimchi and cheese. We had asked our waiter what he recommended, and he told us to get the one with spicy tuna. It was pretty tasty, but the texture was a bit on the mushy side. The seaweed was also a little tough to chew through. Still, it makes for a great little appetizer!

Tteokbokki poutine
In the spirit of the recent poutine week this month, we decided to try the Tteokbokki poutine. This item is not written on any menu (unless it's written in Korean on the board), so you'll have to ask your waiter for it. And definitely do! This little creation contains crunchy, Costco-like fries, chewy Korean rice cakes, all sprinkled with shredded cheese, and drizzled with tteokbokki sauce. Although the cheese looks solid in this picture, the minute you mix it, the cheese all melts into a giant puddle of stringy goodness. Sweet, salty and a little spicy, it's definitely a concoction worth trying.

Korean-style fried chicken
Again, I'm a terrible blogger for forgetting the name of this. There are two fried chickens on the menu, one called the Dak Tuikim near the start of the menu, and the other is this, near the back of the menu. The photo on the menu is very misleading, though, as it only depicts some small pieces of fried chicken covered in sauce. Nope. Instead, you get five massive chicken legs with a side of shredded cabbage, and a large bowl of dipping sauce. The dish takes about 25 minutes to prepare, which your waiter will warn you about when you order it.

Wow, when your friend chicken is still emitting streams of steam when you bite into it 15 minutes after it's been sitting out in the open air, then you know it's quality fried chicken. The outside of the is crisp and crunchy, but doesn't feel heavy and greasy, like KFC's fried chicken. The juice and heat is so well sealed in the batter that I'm sure if I carried a piece around with me outside, it could act as a mini heater. I thought the dipping sauce was a little on the sweet side, but the chicken is good without the sauce, too. It's a huge plate, though, so make sure you have people to share it with!

If you're looking for a more traditional Korean meal, they also have more typical items, like the dolsot bibimbap or kalbi.

Price - $
You might as well hang a giant, flashing neon sign with the words 'STUDENTS EAT HERE!', because the prices are beyond reasonable. The pricing system is a little confusing, since the menu doesn't have any prices labelled in it; instead, the prices are listed on the board. Except half the board is in Korean, so it's definitely difficult to discern what is what. But the prices all range from $5 to $8 a dish. The four items we ordered came up to around $32 before tip, which, when split among three people, comes up to just over $10 per person. And we were all definitely full by the end of our meal.

Final Grade: B+
Sometimes, it's hard to explain why I attribute a grade to a restaurant. But when a restaurant leaves an impression on me, it does well in my books, and GaNaDaRa definitely left a good impression on me. The food is cheaper than your average fast food restaurant, yet so much more tasty (and healthier, I suppose), not to mention unique. So... Cheap, unique and tasty... With a friendly staff, to boot! Can a student really ask for more?

1862 Boul. De Maisonneuve, Montreal
H3H 1J9
(514) 933-2288
GaNaDaRa on Urbanspoon


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  2. Hi! I'm also a student in Montreal. I stumbled across your blog today, and was so excited to find someone who is not just a foodie, but also a blogger like me. It's interesting to see that we both visited similar places recently (GaNaDaRa, Atti, Shi Tang etc.). When I went to GaNaDaRa, I also ordered the cheese ramyun, and I remember my friend looking at me weirdly. But of course it was delicious as expected, and so was the spicy tuna kimbap. I have only tried Tteokbokki, but I definitely want to try the poutine! It looks really good.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi L,

      It always makes me extremely happy to see a comment on my blog, and from a fellow student blogger, no less! And I guess we both have a penchant for for Asian cuisine... :P

      When my friend first told me about cheese ramyun, I was that friend who stared at them like they were insane. It's just one of those dishes that you really have to try to fully comprehend the genius behind it. And definitely try the tteokbokki poutine! It's definitely one of the most interesting poutines I've tried, in a good way.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! I'd love to take a look at your blog sometime, maybe to compare foodie notes? ;)

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