Ay Caramba took me out for lunch for my birthday. She surprised me in the morning with two beautiful blue bowls along with some coconut, almond and chocolate mix. She also ordered me to take a lieu day on Friday, so I could prepare for Beep Beep’s visit. For my birthday weekend posts, I’m going to play my favourite tunes. First up is Yo-Yo Ma – Bach Cello Suite No.1 Prelude.
I wanted to keep our group small, so I invited Asian Persuasion, Office Dad, and Pak_to_eating. Lam Jam emailed us earlier in the week and wanted to meet for lunch on the same day, so I extended the invitation to him as well. When we left the office, a coworker mentioned that we were a homogeneous bunch and wondered if it was a prerequisite to be Asian to join our lunch. I thought that was funny because whenever other people go for lunch, I’m sure no one would think – “Wow! That group has something in common – they are all Caucasian!”
As with most Korean restaurants, we received complimentary banchan – tiny side dishes that compliment the meal. When we asked for a refill, our server gave us double the amount. I liked the pungent pieces of kimchi, marinated mung bean sprouts, and musaengchae (white radish).
We ordered Gamjatang – a boiling pot of pork bones, potatoes, and cabbage. I asked for only a little spice because Ay Caramba can’t handle the heat. I know this is a popular dish, but I find it too cumbersome and messy to eat the meat still attached to the bones. I wouldn’t order this on my own.
I specifically ordered the Spicy Squid and Pork Sizzling Plate ($32.99) because of Bruce K. He raved about this dish on Yelp. He’s quite the intense foodie, so I wanted to see what the big deal was about.
This dish is a winner. The toothsome slices of soft squid and the tender pieces of pork were delicious. Make sure you eat this dish with rice, as it soaks up all that yummy sauce. I didn’t find this dish spicy at all. I wonder if it was because I told the owner that Aycaramba doesn’t like spice.
Asian Persuasion wanted to order the Pajun – a savoury seafood pancake ($19.99). Considering how thick the pancake was, I surprised the batter was so light and crispy. I’ve had pajun that’s gummy and heavy.
The pancake contained squid, shrimp and greens. I thought it was a tad light on the seafood. Still, very tasty and I would order this dish again.
One of the best dishes was the Japchae ($18.50). The sweet potato noodles were bouncy, sweet and savoury from the sauce. I liked the combination of the crunchy vegetables, beef and assorted mushrooms. Asian Persuasion said it is easy to make japchae, as it’s just a few key ingredients. I have made japchae before but it didn’t taste nearly as good as Bon-ga’s. I think I don’t put enough sesame oil and sugar in my version.
Persuasion wanted to try the Asian Beef Bone Soup ($13.99). The broth was milky white and cloudy. The meat was soft. Office Dad shared a piece with me, as the bowl was pretty small.
The flavour of the broth was mild. I thought this was the weakest dish, it just lacked the vibrancy of all the other dishes. However, a hot soup is nice as it rounds out the meal and warms you up.
I would return again with a group to try the Korean BBQ combos. Just a heads up – Bonga is a small mom and pop operation. During our lunch, the restaurant filled up with other groups. The owner and one server were kept busy. The owner would still checked in on us and whenever we needed anything, there was a buzzer at the table. Thanks Ay Caramba for setting up this lunch date and treating me. Hitting the Sauce gives Bon-ga two fat thumbs.