Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Go Gung 古宮

Go Gung was recommended by a family friend in Vancouver, and for her to rave about the galbi beef ribs at a Korean restaurant in Coquitlam? It must be a must visit. Go Gung is located in the Westwood Plateau neighbourhood which is past Coquitlam Centre, at the Westwood Plateau Village. When we arrived, we thought holy shit, this is the Korean restaurant to dine at.

Walking in, the interior shocked me. Go Gung is the nicest looking Korean restaurant that I have ever been to! There is a gorgeous water wheel fountain at the waiting area and the restaurant has window wrapped walls. Furthermore, there is a nice stonewall divider which separates two dining areas, and the restaurant has private rooms. In addition, although not pictured, there are cute little Korean figurines on the stonewall.

After seating, we took a look at the menu and the first page really got to me. I believed every single word of it, seriously, especially being big on service… I was already excited before ordering!

Go Gung means "the old palace" in Korean and it is our intention to make you feel like royalty during your time with us. Whether you are an experienced diner or new to Korean food, our knowledgeable staff witll help you discover the tantalizing flavours and aroma that will please your senses. From the moment you arrive, you will be treated to a memorable culinary experience including an extensive menu, specialty bar, spacious seating and an amazing view. And you are invited to participate! Every table has its own gas barbecue and ventilation fans [so] you can prepare our specialty meats to your liking in a smoke free environment. Experiment with a vast selection of condiments and satisfy every appetite with entrees, soups and salad from the main menu. Korean food is all about flavour! Our reasonably priced dishes are made to order using the freshest ingredients.

Moving past the first page, we noticed the prices on the menu are quite high but when looking closer, only around $2.00-$3.00 pricier than most Korean restaurants.

When we started ordering, our eyes lit from excitement and shrunk to "are we even welcomed here?". We went for the galbi ribs and when requesting to table top barbecue, our waitress mentioned there is a minimum requirement of two orders. No problem, we will add an order of pork belly. Our waitress then mentions that the specific table does not allow table top barbecuing so the kitchen has to cook both meats. Umm… then why mention there is a minimum? It sort of felt like deja-vu when the waiter at Potter's Garden did not want to change tables for us (despite the large amount of food we ordered) or to let us table top barbecue. Nevertheless, assuming she felt more comfortable delegating the owner's son to take our order, he walked up and asked "so what do you guys want?".

After we responded to barbecue the galbi along with the pork belly, he said the kitchen has to cook both meats because the "pork is too oily and can start a fire", therefore we cannot cook the meat. So, we asked if we could at least cook the galbi since we met the minimum requirement for two orders of barbecue meat. Unfortunately, he said no because the requirement is to cook two orders of barbecue meat and we are only cooking one order. Furthermore, the barbecue at our table does not work.

After literally going back and forth for ten minutes because the rules do not make sense to us, I mentioned we would be ordering additional items (which are not cheap!) such as the spicy pork bone hot pot and the steamed pork with rolled kimchi. However, he still did not allow us to barbecue the galbi and in addition, mentioned the table does not even have enough space to barbecue and order the hot pot.

I do not understand, this is the second Korean restaurant that never wanted to change tables for us when; 1. we are ordering too much food, 2; want to barbecue, and 3; the restaurant is not even busy. Fortunately though, when he overheard BF ask what I wanted to order instead and me responding "I guess just the hot pot then", the owner's son rolled his eyes, okayed us to cook the galbi, and moved us to another table.

I mean, one of the reasons we even go for Korean barbecue is so we can cook the meat ourselves. And having said that, I asked if we could order just the galbi since in the end, we can only cook one type of meat. Luckily, the owner's son actually let us after some struggling, and I was thinking darn, this will cost me a 20% tip for something we had to fight for LOL.

When the food arrived, a different waitstaff impatiently placed everything on the table and we sat here for fifteen minutes without utensils. At the time, the restaurant only had a couple of seated tables too. Furthermore, since there was no one around despite having six waitstaff on the floor and us worrying about overcooking the ribs, we had to ask a busboy for utensils.

After he finished bussing a table, seating a table of six, going back to take their order, moving some tables around and refilling a few tables' tea when requested, he finally brought over some utensils. Service aside, Go Gung's table top barbecue is a real barbecue. In some parts of Asia, people refer to this as a "five star barbecue" because only five star restaurants have these!

As stated on the menu and a standard when having Korean cuisine, all the orders of barbecue meats come with "four to five small dishes and soup". To start, the shredded daikon has a light pickled taste. Following, the kimchi actually tastes spicy and is quite tasty. Up next, the mung bean jelly has a soft jello texture and a light soya taste. Continuing along, the potato salad is actually quite tasty. The salad tastes like a generic potato salad that is not heavy on the mayonnaise, and is slightly sweet from the pickled carrot. Last up, the bean sprouts have a faint hint of sesame oil and taste refreshing. If anything, we did not receive the soup that is included or bothered to ask.

The galbi has a slightly sweet flavourful marinade and the meat tastes tender. The barbecue cooks the meat evenly and the heat is high, no BS boiling the meat here. In regards to my family friend's rave about the galbi; to be honest, the ribs taste average. I have never been to any Korean restaurant (excluding Insadong because the waitstaff puts the meat on the barbecue before it is even lukewarm) that serves chewy galbi when table top barbecuing, and this one is no different. Galbi is something that seems to be quality meat at if not all, then most Korean restaurants. Hence the higher price tag.

As if wanting to table top barbecue was not being an annoying customer enough, we asked the owner's son if the hot pot could be actually spicy and emphasized actually spicy again. He mentioned the hot pot is not usually spicy but will add "more", which I assumed would be gochujang, a spicy paste. In addition, I am glad we asked because it surprised us when he mentioned the hot pot is not usually spicy, despite that gamjatang is originally a spicy dish and is stated on the menu, as spicy. When the gamjatang arrived, the hot pot looked so… plain. No chilli powder or perilla seeds on top?

After trying out the hot pot, when the owner's son mentioned "more", he was referring to kimchi. Fortunately, the soup base only has a light pickled kimchi taste compared to Potters Garden which tasted extremely sour. However, the broth does not taste very flavourful and there is not much taste asides from the kimchi, which does not even taste spicy. As for the price, atmosphere and the first page introduction to the restaurant on the menu, it is unfortunate there is not even a mild flavour of a pork broth. I do not understand, the restaurant had only Korean clientele at the time and they serve gamjatang like this? As for the pork, the meat tastes tender as always. 

The bossam is definitely the highlight of dinner. The steamed pork belly tastes tender including the lean portion, and is one of the better ones we have had. The dish would be pretty much perfect if the slices of meat were even and thin, but either way, it tastes good. If anything, we only received a bit of cabbage and could have used more, considering the amount of meat. As for the rolled kimchi, it is more like shredded daikon which tastes sweet rather than spicy and we would have preferred actual rolled kimchi.

TOTAL: $94.35 + $10.00 = $104.35.
I had the option of grabbing $10.00 back instead of $5.65, why did I not do the latter? Idiot. Was too chicken shit because I walked up to pay and the owner was waiting for me while holding onto the black tray.

Royalty? This must be a misunderstanding. Are they the royalty and we are the peasants paying to be served by royalty? Where is the new palace? Overall after ordering, it was extremely hard to wave someone down; from needing utensils, more drinks, turning the barbecue off and grabbing the bill, no one was around. Furthermore at the time, there were only a couple of seated tables so perhaps the staff was more relaxed? But, there were six waitstaff on the floor. As for the food, the bossam was pretty good and the galbi ribs were tender as always. However, the spicy pork hot pot was a fail. 

I rather even give Cho Sun's gamjatang another chance because at least the staff was friendly. Although to be fair, if the service was friendly or average at Go Gung, the only issue about the restaurant would have been the poor gamgjatang. Furthermore, the staff was not just unaware of their surroundings or miserable towards us, it was to everyone at the restaurant which made me feel a bit better, like we did nothing wrong or were not that annoying.

- Bossam (3/5)
- Menu has a large variety of items
- Quality barbecue and is the only one I have seen in Vancouver
- Good looking and spacious interior (although could use some dusting)
- Only Korean restaurant in the area

- Gamjatang (2/5)
- Staff is not welcoming or alert to customers' needs
- Prices are higher than most Korean restaurants
- Food and price does not justify the overall experience 

- Make the fifteen minute drive to Burquitlam, Toe Dam Korean serves better food at a lower price
- We visited on Father's Day because our parents went to Whistler and although the "holiday" may not be that big of a deal to some, the staff should still be friendly. At first, I thought we only received crappy service because we were a table of two, but every family around had troubles waving someone down. Furthermore, I am OCD and when I noticed a few tables with empty bowls of banchan and plates stacked up nicely waiting to be removed, the empty plates stayed like that for quite while! The people at those tables kept waving someone down to remove the plates and the staff… kept forgetting or were slow
- I gave my family friend shit for recommending this restaurant and telling me to go here. Her response, "oh, well, the service is very rude but the ribs are good and the grill is fancy". Then why did you not mention this earlier?! It is really true that without trying good as well as bad food, you will never know what the good stuff is. If this was our first time having Korean cuisine, we would assume Go Gung serves really good beef ribs, without knowing in general that galbi cuts are always good! Furthermore, if this was our first time trying gamjatang, we would have mistaken it as a light kimchi stew than a spicy pork broth

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 0/5

Go Gung 古宮 on Urbanspoon

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