Classics with modern
Korean fare listed on
Damso’s small menu
When it comes to food, my mind has an insatiable curiosity, the full on W5. A few months ago I decided to investigate Korean cuisine in more depth. Much like how Vietnamese food isn’t just Pho, Korean is not just barbeque and eating your kimchi. My recent visits to Damso on Bute were hands on and a necessary part of my investigation.
Korean food seems more expensive than other Asian foods but it’s meant to be enjoyed by large groups (a gaggle of family, friends, or colleagues). Korean restaurants in Vancouver haven’t really adjusted their prices or portions to accommodate the smaller dining groups of 2, common in North America.
I was hoping Damso touting itself, as modern Korean may be more suited to smaller groups of dinners. Yeah not really as Speedy and I ending up getting the $29 Korean Fried Chicken which comprised of the entire chicken.
Traditionally Korean fried chicken can be sauced or plain, and usually comes in smaller random pieces unlike the Colonel’s chicken where you get large defined white and dark meat pieces. The chicken is always served with pickled radishes as well.
Damso definitely serves a traditional fried chicken. Although I think we got a mutant chicken; there were 3 chicken wing middles and just 1 drumette. Speedy and I ate every piece carefully since we didn’t know what we getting and were worried about chomping on a bone instead of juicy meat.
The fried chicken was great. The meat was seasoned well, still very juicy and encased in crunchy batter. I loved the pickled daikon and beans we got. They helped cut down the greasiness of the chicken. There was also tangy and spicy gochu dipping sauce, which also paired well with the chicken.
I would return for the chicken but I would bring a few more people along.
Another traditional dish were got was the meatless dolsot bibimbop, which Damso just calls bibimbop (which technically is a different dish). This was a dud as it was pretty flavourless, despite the gochu sauce, and was not very aromatic. The rice was pretty mushy and as a result didn’t form the crusty crunchy bottom layer of rice I was hoping for.
The veggies were also prepared in random and somewhat large pieces which made them hard to eat with the rice. I was hoping for a raw egg instead of the poached one we got.
This was pretty disappointing but I’ve had a string of mediocre dolsot bibimbops. I think the last good one I had was 18 months ago at Hanwoori, so if anyone knows a place that serves a great dolsot bibimbop let me know in the comments below.
Bucking tradition, Damso charges for banchan if you don’t order specific dishes on the dinner menu. The small side dishes of veggies are normally unlimited and free with a Korean meal. Given the lack of plant matter in our meal, Speedy and I decided to spring for the Banchan.
For $3 we got 3 sides, two of which were good and the third not so much. The kimchi was had nice strong fermented kick. The zucchini had a nice buttery taste and texture. The bean sprouts were bland and needed some seasoning.
The chicken was good enough that it convinced me to return for lunch.
Spam in frowned upon here in the continental USA and Canada, but it’s beloved in other parts of the world like Hawaii and South Korea. I actually like Spam too but it has to be fried or cooked in someway to help enhance its flavour and texture. Eating Spam straight out of the can is just nasty.
Damso has a Korean version of a Hawaiian treat, Spam Musubi on their menu consisting of house made spam on a crispy rice platform. The made in house Spam was more beefy tasting and had a coarser feel than the signature taste and texture of classic Spam out of a can.
I did enjoy the overall complexity of the appetizer. It was savoury (homemade spam), creamy (mayo), spicy (mayo) and tart (pickled radish round), while having both crunchy and soft textures all in one bite.
My meal only improved with the arrival of the still bubbling Soondubu Jjigae. The soft tofu soup is pretty simple consisting of a spicy soup bathing soft tofu, beef, mushrooms and onions.
The soup was flavourful enough to carry the dish. It was umami rich with a nice level of spice. It could be amped up more but the broth did its job, other wise this dish would have been really bland.
I also thought Damso may have grilled the beef before putting it into the stew as some pieces had a slight charred taste.
The tofu had a perfect silken texture. It’s a hearty meal that goes well with a bowl of rice, which is provided.
Overall, I enjoyed my two visits to Damso on Bute. I still have some Korean dishes I’m looking forward to try like Bossam but I was happy to with the items I tried. I definitely would return to Damso but I would bring a larger squad next time.
Damso Modern Korean
770 Bute Street
604 806 0945