Once in awhile we organize an “in-law dinner” where my parents and Mr.‘s parents can hang out and catch up. They always look to me for picking a unique place to go. No pressure. Well, this time around, Toe Dam in Coquitlam.
The restaurant is located in the “Korea Town” — the North Road area — alongside many other Korean stores and restaurants. It’s in the same strip mall as H-Mart. Online reviews all seem decent and I was intrigued.
On the menu was a Roasted Duck, so I thought it would be like Man Ri Sung in Richmond, serving roasted duck Peking Duck style, with crepe and all the fixing. When it arrived at our table, our jaws dropped. It was a big plate of duck meat, raw, waiting to be cooked on the BBQ grill in the centre of our table. Well now it makes sense why they removed the grill cover, I thought it was for the soup later.
And then we adapted, we changed gear, and went into grilling mode right away. The sliced duck meat all looked quite uniform, so we think they were all breast meat. And there’s easily meat of 6 duck breasts! This was our first time Korean BBQ duck meat, and you know what, it’s very good! Perhaps we should spend some more time rendering the skin and the fat, but duck naturally has a lot of flavours, and we just dipped it in the typical dipping sauce provided, and/or wrapped it with lettuce, garlic and jalapeno. Simple but satisfying.
The duck comes with a second course, the Duck Hot Pot Stew. Because it shares the same stove top, they can’t serve you the hot pot until you are done with the BBQ. So stop at anytime you think you are ready for the soup! It’s made with the carcass of a duck, plus bean sprouts and some onions. There is no noodles in the soup, so save your rice for this. (Note: It costs $1.50 for each extra bowl of rice, which is a very good price.) We thought this would be spicy but it wasn’t too bad. You can taste the heat, the perilla seeds, and the little bits of meat on the carcass was flavourful.
In addition to the two-course Roasted Duck, we also ordered the Baby Cuttlefish and Pork Belly & Vegetable with Spicy Sauce. This menu item is tricky. For all “Main Dish” items, they require you to order at least two orders of the same item, so make sure you don’t try to order two items — then you’ll end up with 4 servings of food. The food was served on a hot skillet so it was sizzling as it got to the table. And this, was spicy! There was plenty of gochujang (Korean red chili paste) with a hint of sweetness. The baby cuttlefish seemed more like octopus to us, and they were a bit overcooked and the texture got chewy. There was definitely more vegetables (i.e. cabbage) than pork belly or baby octopus, but if you can stand the heat, it was actually a really good dish. However, consider this cost us $40 ($19.95 per order, and we had to order two servings), it was a bit pricey.
Overall there was a good amount of food for the six of us. We were told the two-course duck serves 3-4 people but probably only if that’s the only thing you’re having. We basically finished everything and we were all stuffed leaving the restaurant. I personally prefer more variety in dishes so just sharing 3 items among the 6 of us got boring really quickly for me.
It was the long weekend Monday, and boy, was it busy. The restaurant was clearly under-staffed. The little buzzer that makes Korean restaurants so special just didn’t work here. We pressed the button, heard the ring, nothing happened. The servers weren’t paying attention to the calls and were all busy running around serving and cleaning tables. We basically resorted to flagging servers on their way to another table to grab their attention for some service, and even so, there’s some delay at times.
One thing that made this dinner more enjoyable was the refill of banchan. They responded to every request for refills — the moms couldn’t stop eating the potatoes and seaweed salad!
We didn’t get the Peking Duck that we expected, but we got to grill more than a duck’s worth of meat! Price wise, certain things are more pricey than others. The two-course roasted duck costs $70 and it was a good deal, but the main dish wasn’t worth $40. That being said, totaling $110 plus tax & tips for a 6-people dinner was actually not bad. You just need to know to order the right things here.
Toe Dam Korean Fusion BBQ
Hanin Village, 250-329 North Road, Coquitlam