My husband and I have been curious about Korean food, particularly Bibimbap, for a while now. I just so happen to have a niece who is somewhat of an expert on all things Korean. So when the opportunity to visit my family in my hometown of Montreal arose, I knew a venture into Korean fare would be on the proverbial menu.
My niece has been raving about GaNaDaRa in downtown Montreal and has introduced it to friends and family. Her parents (my sister and brother-in-law) have become converts. When this place first opened two years ago, it was an immediate hit with the student population due its big portions and decent prices. However, word has gotten out that this is not just a studenty cheap-eats kind of place. GaNaDaRa serves up some delicious Korean specialties. They do it well and they do in with great efficiency. When we popped in here for lunch last week, there was a mix of customers: students, business people on their lunch break and us (the tourists, so to speak).
The place is small but the tables turn over quickly. We were a group of 5, considered large for an establishment of this size, so we made a point of arriving at noon before the queue formed at the door. We were seated at the back near the TV that, as my niece explained, showed K-pop videos. This really added to the charming ambience and I enjoyed reading all of the cute sayings painted on the walls.
To the uninitiated, the menu can seem overwhelming so my niece was a great help in this regard. We started off with some Kimbap, which are seaweed rice rolls with various ingredients. We opted for the ham and vegetables rolls as well as the Gochu Chamchi (spicy cooked tuna rolls with chopped vegetables). The tuna rolls had just the right spiciness and they melted in our mouths. The ham rolls had an understandably milder taste but went well with the texture of the vegetables. This was a tasty start to the meal.
We were given some Banchan, which is the collective term for small side dishes that are meant to accompany and enhance Korean meals. GaNaDaRa served pickled cabagge and Kimchi (fermented vegetables and seasonings). I had always been intrigued by Kimchi and I’m happy to say that I will be tasting many more varieties of it!
Now came the eagerly anticipated Bibimbap from the Jib Bap menu. I wanted the whole ‘piping hot stone bowl’ experience so I chose the Dolsot Bibimbap, literally meaning mixed rice in a hot stone pot.
What a spectacular dish! This consisted of rice, ground beef and a variety of colourful, fresh vegetables. All of it topped off with a fried egg and a delicious spicy sauce. The idea is to stir the ingredients in the hot stone bowl as the egg yolk cooks and the rice sizzles and gets crunchy at the bottom. I am now a Bibimbap convert and with so many varieties out there, I am looking forward to trying them all.
However, one of us had the Bulgogi Dupbap (marinated beef with vegetables served with steamed rice) and it looked and smelled delicious. If I can tear myself away from my Bibimbap addiction, this could be next of my list of Korean dishes to try.
GaNaDaRa, written in alternating caps to emphasise the first 4 characters of the Korean language (Hangul), is truly a gem. It’s a warm, cozy place with friendly and efficient service and some really fantastic food. I’m so happy I finally had the opportunity to try some Korean dishes. Bring forth the Bibimbap!
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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