Hot, Crisp Cutlets
Korean Plate Lunch Specials
Tasty at Dae Ji
Dae Ji specializes in Korean meat cutlets, a.k.a. Donkkaseu. They are very similar to Japanese Tonkatsu. Both are based on the European Schnitzel.
At this Dunsmuir street eatery, one can get breaded crisp pork and chicken cutlets, and hamburger steaks. These three meat options essentially form the foundation for a meal at Dae Ji. You pick your meat and decide if you want it enhanced (like with cheese or curry). The restaurant will give you rice and a set of side dishes to complete your entrée.
The options at Dae Ji are reminiscent of Hawaiian plate/lunch specials (Thanks tweeter @TheFijiWolf for the observation that was so on point).
I sampled the 3 meats via takeout, so I’m giving the food a little more leeway because nothing dampens the quality of food than a to go container.
Let’s start with the sides because they are the same for all the options I got. They are definitely not special. One gets sticky short grain rice, creamy dressing topped shaved cabbage, canned niblets of corn, pickled diakon and an orange hued macaroni. I initial thought the pasta was Kraft Dinner, but it was actually spicy and not artificially cheesy.
With the exception of the rice, I kind of have the feeling the sides serves no purpose other than making the eater feel less guilty for consuming the tasty deep fried cutlets
The first item I ordered at Dae Ji was Pork Cutlet with cheese added. The pork cutlets were surprisingly tender and crispy. The sauce was tangy/tart-ish. Unfortunately the mozzarella cheese was too much; Dae Ji put quite a lot of cheese on top. I found the cheese and donkkaseu combination overwhelmingly rich and stodgy to eat. However I was extremely impressed with how the cutlet was prepared.
On my second visit, I tried the lunch special, Curry Chicken Cutlet. The curry I got was not like Japanese Glico curry. It was loaded with squares of orange bell peppers and onions. The brown slurry was just spicy tasting without any other flavours. In contrast, Glico curry tends to be more sweet, aromatic and oniony.
For the most part, the chicken donkkaseu obviously was not crisp as it was drowned in the curry. However the few bits that managed to stay afloat stilled retained a light crunch. The chicken was just as tender as the pork cutlet I tried before but I think the poultry edition was juicier.
My third and final meal from Dae Ji was the Dae-Ji Combo, which allowed me to select 2 meats. I took the opportunity to try the hamburger steak.
The hamburger steak came in its own container, I assume so its sauce would not mixed with the pork donkatsu sauce. To be honest, it looked like a giant meatball topped with ketchup and it totally tasted like a mega meatball enhanced with ketchup.
The beef mixture contained onion. The hamburger steak was fairly juicy and tender. Overall this reminded me of cafeteria Salisbury steak.
My second meat choice for my combo was the pork cutlet. It was prepared just like my first pork donkatsu, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I appreciate the consistency achieved by Dae Ji. Whoever handles the deep fryer knows what they are doing.
I was impressed with the both the chicken and pork donkkaseau served at Dae Ji, with the chicken being my preferred cutlet. Both version I found were crispy and tender. The cutlet on rice with the tangy sauce is prefect for a quick lunch.
Dae Ji – Cutlet House
519 Dunsmuir Street
Vancouver BC V6B 1Y4
604 677 1636
Bonus Content: If you want to learn more about Donkkaseu and have a good laugh, I recommend this wonderful Eat Your Kimchi video. The girls in the back make this video. I wish there was a place in Vancouver that would do King Donkatsu Challenge for $15. I would die but the post would be fun to write.