Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQPosted: 11/04/2012
From July to August of this year, my nine-year-old cousins were visiting from Korea. Five weeks is quite a long time, and often I felt like Vancouver didn’t have enough attractions for the two of them. (There’s only so many times you can go to Stanley Park or the Vancouver Aquarium, huh?) Having these kids around didn’t really add to my culinary experiences–there is a real limit to what kids will eat, especially when they’re from Korea and not really open to trying foods from other cultures. One Saturday night though, it was so swelteringly hot that my dad basically decided he couldn’t stay in the humidity of the house, so we ended up having dinner at Toe Dam, a Korean BBQ joint, part of North Road’s Koreatown.
We saw duck on the menu and happily ordered it. The restaurant had some sort of summer special going on, which included raw duck meat for barbecuing and duck stew. So here is the Half Duck, which comes with potatoes, squash, mushrooms, and onion, as you can see. There was a large amount of meat, but once it got on the grill, the pieces all shrivelled up and were much too fatty for us to enjoy anything. It definitely was not a lot of food for the price we paid. On the plus side, though, the veggies did taste fresh. Also, we only received two bowls of steamed rice as accompaniment to the meat, which we didn’t think were enough for the set at all., especially considering that the set included both the barbecue meat and stew.
We also ordered Tofu with Kimchi, which is a type of Korean “anju” (a type of dish that generally accompanies alcohol). We simply ordered it here because the kids love tofu, and there weren’t a lot of other options for them. The kimchi contained a lot of fatty pork, with the pan-fried kimchi itself being sweet and sour. The tofu itself was simple and uncooked, which is the way this dish is served, in order to compliment the strong flavours in the kimchi. We found that there was way too much kimchi in relation to the amount of tofu, and in general, I found that the pork grease made the kimchi unpleasant to eat without the neutralizing effect of the tofu. I probably would not order this again.
Besides the half duck above, we also received Duck Stew as part of the combo. (I guess that’s where the other half of the duck went?) Actually, there was a lack of duck flavour. The only real flavour I could distinguish was that of potatoes. The soup itself was a typical Korean one, both spicy and savoury, with lots of flavour from the sesame seeds and chili powder. It was an unmemorable stew at best.
The kiddies had never had duck before and I wasn’t sure they would eat it, so we also ordered Mul Naengmyun, chewy noodles in a cold, beef-based broth. This was a pretty standard version–although the noodles were very, very hard to break off, especially for the kids. The broth was predominantly sweet, a little overly so, although it was nicely cold. Considering the headache and sluggishness I felt later in the night, the sweetness was probably a result of MSG. This wasn’t exceptional, and, to be honest, the kids didn’t really enjoy it, so I ended up having to eat most of it.
All in all, Toe Dam wasn’t anything memorable. It’s simply another Korean restaurant on North Road. The food was okay, but I wouldn’t recommend the duck, and we did have issues with every plate. Also, the service was friendly, but rather incompetent–we had to repeat our requests for water way too many times. Plus, I did not think non-Korean customers got the same quality of service. I guess that’s inevitable, but it was noticeably so here–not that they were outright hostile, but they were a bit indifferent. I would rather visit another of the many Korean restaurants on North Road than come here again.
Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQ
250-329 North Road