Koreana Restaurant Calgary South
Koreana is another new Korean restaurant in the south, just off Macleod Trail where Cafe Metro used to be: 17-7400 Macleod Trail SE
Besides Koreana, this little strip mall has a surprising selection of small, interesting places: a good (though somewhat expensive) Thai restaurant: Thai Nongkhai, a very good butcher: Heaslip's Venture Meats, and a decent Mexican restaurant: Los Mariachis.
Koreana has been open for 3 months or so, I have had a chance to try it out quite a few times with coworkers. The restaurant is bright and clean and nicely laid out, lots of overhead exhaust fans for the in-table barbecues so it doesn't get as smoky as some other places when the grills are fired up. The staff is friendly and helpful (just don't ask too many questions too fast unless your Korean is decent), and they have worked out most of the kinks since opening. I have yet to try the barbecue as I have only been there at lunch and barbecue is better for an evening with lots of people and time (and sochu) - although a friend has said that it was good, he found the selection and quality of meats to be better at Seoul Korean Barbecue further north on Macleod Trail: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/416992
They offer a very reasonably priced set of lunch boxes which are good for something quick. I like the pajeon (green onion and seafood pancake), the dolsot bibimbap (served in a sizzling stone bowl as it should be) is tasty, and there is an excellent selection of generously large soups, including a wonderfully spicy beef soup and some tasty dumpling and rice cake soups. My only disappointment so far is with the banchan (side dishes) which are sometimes uninspired, although once you become a regular they tend to include 1 or 2 more interesting things such as seaweed with a sweet chili sauce.
By far the best dish I have tried here is a beef, tofu and octopus hot pot (I don't remember the Korean name) for 2 people: a very substantial serving with lots of meats and vegetables, the broth is rich and spicy, one of the best Korean dishes I have had anywhere.
Wow you're right Fid, I wonder what the heck is going on, I was just there a couple of days ago no indication of any problems, nothing mentioned by the owner. Construction was done quite some time ago. Hopefully nothing serious has happened, I'll keep my eye on it and get back when it reopens.
The "construction" problem had to do with the manager getting married and taking advantage of closing for a few days to do some work in the kitchen.
Food was very good as usual: spicy beef soup, beef and octopus hot pot for 2 people (very generous serving), and an oxtail stew that my tablemate enjoyed.
When you order, speak slowly unless your Korean is good.
My husband and I went there for the first time for lunch today. We loved it! We had the bulgogi, which was tasty and the first time we've ever cooked it ourselves on the table. It came with your choice of two soups--one was spicy seafood and tofu, and the other was some sort of bean curd soup. We had the spicy one, and it was pretty good, although not my thing. My husband really liked it.
The sides that come with the bulgogi are really important, in my opinion, and today we had 9 different ones, not including the rice and lettuce! The host said that normally there are 5-7, though. There were translucent brown noodles that were quite tasty, potatoes that didn't really seem to go with anything to me, bean sprouts (I hate bean sprouts, but that's just me), fish cakes (which looked and tasted like noodles), spicy radish chunks, kimchee, shredded pickled daikon (always my favorite!), broccoli (didn't see the point to that one, either), and...one that slips my mind at the moment. I was so happy that they had pickled daikon (Hikari had a spicy pickled daikon the first two times I went, but not since) that I didn't care too much about the rest of the sides. Now I'm fond of the translucent noodles, though.
This is the first Korean restaurant I've been to that has a nice atmosphere, as well. As much as I love Bow Bulgogi House, it's a tiny hole-in-the-wall. Hikari reminds me of a cafeteria. Koreana's nice roomy booths, sliding walls that make private rooms along one side, and nice designs are a welcome change. My friend wants to go with me to a Korean restaurant next time she's in town because I keep raving about bulgogi, and after today, I think this will be the one I take her to. Not to mention how fun it is to play with (cook) your food! I will definitely be back to Koreana.
If you want to up the ante a bit (or a lot, depending on how much experience you have with Korean cuisine) Koreana is now offering agu chim: a very spicy stew of monkfish, sprouts, some mussels and mi deo dok:
A very distinctive taste. I worked for the better part of a year in South Korea and this definitely pushes some boundaries for me. I have not found dishes like this outside of Seoul or Pusan.
I have been to Koreana a few times and have enjoyed my experience on every occassion. Both the Korean and Japanese menus are prepared well, the sushi is quite good and very fresh. They also offer a tasty selection of sojus that are far from the fire water examples I have tried in other establishments around the city. I have tried many of their traditional Korean dishes that they have had on special and often bring to the table for guests to try, complements of the house. Though the service has been scattered at times I feel like its a step up in standards for ethnic dining in the city.