Dae Ji Pork Cutlet House

Like any family, mine has a couple go-to places when considering where to eat out. Usually we’ll take a trip to Hee Rae Dung or get takeout from Sushi Garden. Lately though, I’ve been feeling a little tired of our usual places, so on a very warm April evening I suggested trying another Korean restaurant on Lougheed Highway and North Road. When we arrived, though, we found that there wasn’t a single diner to be found inside…which bothered me. I always feel hesitant about going into a restaurant where no one else is eating–I usually just find the closest restaurant with at least one occupied table. (SB hates this habit of mine. He usually just drags me into restaurants). Now that I think about it, it wasn’t even 6pm yet, which probably explained the lack of customers. Still, we drove to the nearby Dae Ji, which had several tables seated despite the early time. A good sign, right?

I used to frequent this place a few years ago. Since then, the owner and the name of the restaurant has changed many times, although the main menu has remained the same: pork cutlet, and variations thereof. This was my first visit in its present incarnation as Dae Ji, which is the Korean word for pig. On entering I saw they’d kept the basic layout of the restaurant but expanded the dining area. Still, there was only one waitress on duty. She did fine and was actually quite friendly and efficient, but I’m not sure how she’d do if there were more customers.

My mom had the regular Pork Cutlet, which is served with gravy sauce, steamed rice, corn, macaroni salad, pickled daikon, and shredded cabbage with Thousand Island dressing. She thought that there wasn’t enough rice, but the sauce was smooth and complimented the pork quite well. When we used to visit this place in its previous incarnation, the pork cutlet used to be thicker and softer, and drowned in sauce. This version was thinner and much crispier. I personally thought this version was a lot better, but I suppose that’s just personal preference. I thought that she could have done without the macaroni salad and just had more rice instead, as she had no rice leftover and only the cutlet remaining, and eating the cutlet by itself ended up being a little too salty.

My brother had a variation of the dish above in the Spicy Cheese Pork Cutlet, with the same sides as above. He thought there was an excessive amount of shredded cabbage, although he enjoyed it anyways, and not enough rice. Out of the sides, he really liked the macaroni salad, which seemed to also be dressed with Thousand Island (making things easier for the kitchen staff, I guess?) His pork cutlet was less crispy than the basic one, probably due to the addition of cheese, which was melted right on top. The gravy sauce was also spicier than he expected, but it was pleasant enough to eat with the side dishes, which all had a predominantly sweet flavour.

My dad went for something a little different in the Marinated Pork Loin with Rice, which came with a miso soup, plus the cabbage and daikon above. He found it much spicier than his expectations–although the English description said it was spicy, the Korean description failed to do so. Also, he commented that he would have preferred the rice to be served separately. While he enjoyed the sides as well, he had little to say about the pork itself, saying that there was nothing much in the way of taste except the spiciness, which overwhelmed any other quality.

I normally order the pork cutlet at these restaurants but I didn’t want to repeat my mom’s order, so I tried the Hamburger Steak, which is served with all the same sides and the same gravy sauce. I found that the meat, while moist, had little in the way of flavour. I found it difficult to eat, as it would just crumble and fall apart as you cut it into smaller pieces, and became difficult to pick up from the plate. This isn’t the restaurant’s fault though, as all hamburger steaks are that way. I didn’t enjoy it much, but my parents commented that I was probably biased, as I don’t particularly enjoy hamburger steaks anyway. The gravy sauce could have had a more pronounced flavour. It was a little bland as the steak itself lacked flavour on its own (more so than the cutlets). A little pepper would have helped.

I do feel that Dae Ji is an improvement over its previous incarnations, and that the food is more than acceptable for the low prices. Although I have yet to try the downtown location, I’m sure I will when given the opportunity. Dae Ji isn’t a traditional Korean restaurant–you shouldn’t expect the usual japchae and bibimbap, but it’s one of the few places to get Korean pork cutlet in the area, and a great place for a simple and inexpensive dinner.

Dae Ji
4501 North Road
Burnaby, BC

Dae Ji on Urbanspoon

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