Monday, March 30, 2015

Damso Modern Cuisine : Denman Location

Whenever I pass Damso Modern Cuisine on either their Bute or Denman Street location, I always think "meh". But at the same time, I always look back because of their advertised $9.99 gamjatang. The gamjatang in the photo looks pretty good too, showing a large chunk of potato and plenty of perilla seeds. So I decided to make a visit with a friend on her lunch break and made sure to check out their menu online beforehand.

Damso on Denman Street is a three men operated restaurant, where there are two in the kitchen and one at the front. The man at the front was friendly and a professional. Since the tables are fairly small at Damso, we asked if the food can come out slower and not all once, and he brought over new plates when we moved onto the next dish. He was also patient when answering questions and it turns out the menu I found was from a couple of years ago, so the bossam along with the galbi steak I was looking forward to having were no longer available :(.

The restaurant is small so there are only ten tables, but the seating arrangements are properly maximized. The high ceiling promotes a better air circulation and the restaurant is fairly clean too.

KOREAN TACO WRAPS, "Hand stretched tortilla, beef, lettuce, onion, gochujang chilli sauce" ($2.50).
Rating: 3.5/5.
Korean tacos? Pfft. These were my exact thoughts, but boy did Damso prove me wrong. The taco is made to order (in our case), easy to chew, holds the ingredients well and has a light crisp. I especially like how the tortilla is pan fried without oil, just because I prefer that taste and texture more.

The beef bulgolgi in the taco is not clumped up and tastes tender while exhibiting a sweet (but not overly) marinade, along with a nice barbecued flavour. On top of that, the spicy gochujang chilli tastes housemade and is a flavourful sweet and spicy sauce. I especially like how the gochujang does not overwhelm any of the ingredients in the taco and I can taste the marinade in the beef.

Rating: 1/5.
The kimchi is pretty bad. There is a generic mild pickled flavour and no hint of kimchi or spiciness. As for the radish, there is a fresh pickled flavour and a hint of sweetness.

KALBEE OSSO BUCO, "48 hour slow cooked AAA beef short ribs, Damso signature" ($17.99).
Rating: 3.5/5.
The beef short ribs taste tender and neither dry nor stringy one bit. I actually believe that the short ribs have been slow cooked for 36 hours too and not cooked on a high boil. Other than the tenderness, there are layers of flavour from the marinade, broth, mushroom and onion. The meat tastes slightly sweet and has a rich beefy flavour, along with a hint of spiciness. The bite size potatoes underneath also taste fresh and soft.

Rating: 2.5/5.
I like that Damso's bibimbap includes a poached egg instead of a pan fried one because it provides more moisture. The restaurant also offers pork or beef and we selected the latter. Gochujang is served on the side and below is a picture of the bibimbap after all the ingredients are mixed.

The beef tastes tender and the rice is flavourful, but because I had the gochujang in the tacos along with the short ribs, the flavour ended up being a touch repetitive for me.

GAMJATANG, "24 hour broth of pork, pork on the bone, potato, wild sesame and rice" ($13.99).
Rating: 3.5/5.
Every day before 5:00pm, Damso's gamjatang is only $9.99 and the soup appears to be the full portion too. But even when the gamjatang is $13.99, the price is still pretty average. Regardless of the price however, the gamjatang is pretty good.
The soup base has a rich pork broth along with plenty of spices and a mild spiciness. I do not even care that the soup base does not taste spicy too because the broth itself is fairly good, and I have only said that about Toe Dam Korean's! The gamjatang also includes four large pieces of pork neck and the meat tastes tender, but very bland. I assume that because the gamjatang is cooked for 24 hours, the restaurant decided to separate the meat after a while to prevent them from falling off the bone. This is a shame because the meat itself tastes bland (but tender).
The gamjatang is also missing that dried vegetable flavour, but perhaps this is the fusion part? Naa… The soup could have been served with a boil too because the gamjatang got warm fast.

TOTAL: $47.20 + TIP $9.80 = $57.00.

Damso Modern Cuisine on Denman Street proved me wrong. I expected average food at best and nothing from the Korean tacos, but practically all the dishes we ordered are well above average. In fact, I enjoyed the food so much that I told the people next to us what to order! With that said however, I do not see myself revisiting unless a friend wants to try the restaurant or when Damso changes their menu again. The reason is because despite that the food tastes above average, it is not really unique enough for me to revisit. I will probably try Damso on Bute Street though just because the menu is slightly different.

- Friendly staff
- Above average food
- Properly maximized seating arrangements

- Poor banchan
- Meat in the gamjatang tastes bland
- Tight seating arrangements on a full house

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5

867 Denman Street Vancouver, BC V6G 2L9
Telephone (604) 632-0022
Damso Modern Korean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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