I love going out on Friday night. I figure I have the perfect excuse. By the end of the week, we are out of groceries and too tired to cook, and we can celebrate the end of a busy week. For this post, let’s listen to “That’s All” by Genesis.
I wanted to check out Namsan Korean Cuisine. I’ve heard only good things about the food, but a Facebook Calgary Roast and Toast inspired me to dine here, detailing how the owner of Namsan went out of his way to help a stranger in need.
I called beforehand to make reservations, as I heard it gets busy. Namsan is located in an old house on the edge of the downtown core. L wondered how this house survived when none of the other buildings remained.
We shared a large Asahi ($9), Seafood Pajeon ($17) and Cheese Dak Galbi ($42). While we waited for our food, we munched on the complimentary banchan (side dishes) and sipped on our beer after cheering each other in Korean. Geonbae!
Of the bunch, our favourite side dish was the sweet pickles. The texture was unique – crunchy yet bendy. The kimchi was red and wet from the spicy seasoning. I found the julienned fish cakes sweet and chewy. The chilled sprout and macaroni salad were standard.
Our seafood pancake was crispy, hot and a little oily. The sweet flavour of the crunchy onions and charred green onions were prominent. The batter was light and just enough to bind all the vegetables and calamari together. I didn’t mind that there wasn’t an abundance of seafood because the pancake was so delicious that I didn’t even need to use the dipping sauce. L taught in Korea for a semester and thought the pajeon was authentic. I would order this again.
I was excited when a big skillet full of spicy stir-fried chicken arrived at our table. Our server turned on the burner. We watched patiently as the cheese melted over the chicken, sweet potatoes and rice cakes. L noted the chicken was of good quality. I didn’t find the sauce spicy, though L could detect some heat. I liked how every time we went to scoop a piece of chicken or rice cakes, the strands of cheese would stretch from the skillet to our bowl. When grilled, the rice cake was chewy and gelatinous.
After we made a dent in our dak galbi, our server added a bowl of rice and made a stir-fry. I preferred the dak galbi with the fried rice because the sweet potato, rice, and cheese melded together into a tasty, Korean-style risotto.
There was so much food we made three meals from the leftovers. The following day, the cold pancake was nearly as delicious as the previous night. Namsam is popular for good reasons. The service is warm and friendly, and the portions are generous. Since it is open until 1:00 a.m., I bet it’s a fun spot with the youngins. When we left, a large crowd of customers was waiting for a table. Hitting the Sauce gives Namsan two phat thumbs up.