Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Haroo Korean Homestyle Cuisine: Richmond's Hidden Gem

Sofia, me & Richard at Haroo
Tucked in a corner, on the second floor of a restaurant complex in Richmond, is Haroo Korean Homestyle Cuisine. Not the easiest place to find, considering there are several other restaurants surrounding the complex and sharing the parking lots. However, I can assure you it's worth the hunt to secure parking and dine at Haroo.

As you enter, Haroo's warm and inviting atmosphere quickly transports you away from the bustling Richmond streets to grandma's cozy diningroom. The country-style decor is simple and homey with bright daylight streaming through the wooden blinds.

Owned and operated by Korean couple, Sofia and Richard, they are known for not using MSG in their dishes. Sofia the head chef, taught others how to cook Korean and Japanese cuisine two years ago, now satisfies palates with her gift in cooking. While husband, Richard, runs the front of the restaurant with attentive and friendly service. 
Corn tea, fried anchovies & congee
When we sat at our table, Richard immediately brought over a jug of cold water and pot of piping hot decaffeinated corn tea. The aromatic steam from the tea was sweet while the subtle corn flavour was nutty and addictive!

Shortly after we ordered, we were served complimentary traditional Korean appetizers of warm bowls of congee topped with fried anchovies and black sesame seeds. I found the crispy and salty anchovies were a nice contrast to the soft, rice porridge. 
Banchan (Korean side dishes)
Korean cuisine typically comes with a variety of side dishes (banchan) and feel they could be a meal in itself!  We were treated to five delicious mini plates including a green salad with raspberry vinaigrette, sweet potatoes, crunchy bean sprouts, marinated seaweed and kimchi. My favourites were the vinegary seaweed and spicy kimchi because they helped to enhance the main dishes' flavours without being too overpowering.
Bulgogi (marinated beef bbq slices)
The first main dish to arrive was the bulgogi, marinated beef slices served on a sizzling hot plate. The beef was tender and had the perfect balance of sweet and salty seasonings. I especially liked the bulgogi with white steamed rice and the abundance of grilled vegetables added great texture to the dish.
Tteokbokki (rice pasta in chili sauce)
One of my favourite dishes was the tteokbokki, thick rice pasta swimming in spicy chili sauce. The soft bite of each pasta noodle held so much chili sauce that I could have easily wolfed down the whole plate if it wasn't for retraining myself to save room for the other dishes.
Bibimbap (mixed rice)
The bibimbap, was a beautiful arrangement of rice, meat, vegetables and a raw egg, served in a hot stone bowl. The fun part was mixing all the ingredients together with chili paste then enjoying the medley of flavours. The piece de resistance was the irresistible crunchy, brown rice layer that developed from resting against the hot stone bowl.  
Pajeon (Korean fried pancake)
Another highlight was the pajeon, Korean-style fried pancake. The accompanying sweet vinegar sauce helped to brighten up the crispy pancake which was jam-packed with flavourful vegetables and tender bulgogi strips.

In a city known for its vast selection of Asian cuisine, it's easy to find a delicious meal. However, to feel like you're being welcomed into someone's cozy house to enjoy an authentic Korean, home-cooked meal, is rare. So I encourage you to visit Richmond's hidden gem, Haroo Korean Homestyle Cuisine.

My Recommendations:
Bulgogi (marinated beef) $17.95, Bibimbap (mixed rice) $9.95, Tteokbokki (rice noodles) $13.95 and Pajeon (Korean-style pancake) $17.95.

Haroo Korean Homestyle Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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