I was reminiscing about my trip to NYC last summer, and suddenly I began craving Korean food. You see, during my stay I feasted on some seriously delicious Korean cooking. I know that nothing in Montreal is remotely on par, but if I didn’t tame my appetite, I’d be thinking about it for days on end. So, I dragged a friend to La Maison Bulgogi for some “okay” Korean cuisine.
Every Korean meal comes with a set of side dishes (Banchan/Panch’an). They're not to be confused with appetizers; they're supposed to be eaten with the meal. They vary from restaurant to restaurant, but kimchi (fermented veggies) is always a sure thing. Here, we were presented with napa cabbage Kimchi, bean sprouts, potatoes and seaweed salad. Everything was just all right. The kimchi in particular was disappointing; it was really dull in flavor.
The Shrimp Tempura was a little bland. A little more salt would have made all the difference. They taste way better when hot, so be sure to eat them as soon as they get to the table. If you let them sit for too long, they’ll lose their crispness.
Next came the Seafood Scallion Pancake (Hae Mul Pa Jun). Essentially, small chunks of seafood and sliced scallions are added to the batter, then pan-fried like a pancake until its surfaces are golden brown in color. It had a crunchy exterior and chewy center, but the chef really skimped on the seafood and salt. It was nothing special, just ordinary and forgettable.
The Korean BBQ (Bulgogi) is what really prompted my visit. We sampled the beef, chicken and pork. The raw meat was thinly sliced and coated with a sweet marinade. It was prepared by our waiter (but you can DIY) on a gas grill built at the center of our table. The finished product looked a lot like a stir-fry rather than BBQ, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. Our waiter encouraged us to wrap the meat (and whatever else you want) in fresh lettuce leaves - doing so added texture, lightness and freshness. It was tasty, a little too sweet, but tasty.
Keep in mind that there are only a few Korean restaurants in Montreal, and authentic ones are virtually non-existent. That said, is La Maison Bulgogi the best I’ve ever had? No. Is it the best in the city? Unlikely. Did it satisfy my craving? Um, since quick voyage to NYC or Korea is out of the question, sure, it did the trick.
La Maison Bulgogi
2127 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest | map