Where: At the epicenter of Notre-Dame de Grace, this restaurant can be found nestled between many other cute multicultural shops and restaurants. Located at 5908 Sherbrooke Street West, serving all of your Korean cuisine fantasies in one location, Hwang Kum is a cozy little place, so keep a lookout when passing by!
Kind of Food: Hwang Kum takes on the role of a traditional Korean rice house, yet serves your meal like no other restaurant will. Although rice houses are known in Korea to be a quick & cheap meal, here in Montreal our rice houses can be considered as more of a special night out. The owners of Hwang Kum know how to make a menu GLOW with amazing choices that render you physically unable to stop devouring and savouring all of the flavours. From warm soups, ‘haemul pajeon’; which are Korean pancakes, kimchi infused dishes and the cute side dishes served for you to incorporate in your meal, there is nothing that won’t look absolutely delicious.
Usual suspects: The owners have ‘unique’ hours for their restaurant, you should expect to feel disappointed if you don’t check their opening and closing times before heading out. They are closed Monday to Tuesday (I was unfortunate enough to experience this sadness), and are open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch from noon to 3pm. For dinner, they operate from 6 pm until 9. You will expect youngen’s in their 20′s munching, couples casually on a date or parents on their night off, and friends having a good time eating and drinking.
Why I Love it: Other than my obsession with Korean culture and cuisine, their Kimchi is one of the top three in Monreal, of course, on my own personal list. Other than their unexpected waiting lines, the flavours are like no other in the city. My umami taste buds go bonkers for Korean dishes!
Why you’ll love it: The aroma of these dishes will haunt you until you are served. The food gets cooked at the front corner of the restaurant, so while you are waiting to be seated, you will be jonesing for your first bite. If you are a hot and spicy lover, their kimchi is for you. Kimchi is fermented cabbage, fyi, but it is not the only flavour-packed component to your meal. All types of peppers are used, mustard, vinegars, sesame, ginger and other phenomenal spices can be detected. Hwang Kum has an authentic taste, yet the portion size and prices are not as accurate as I had hoped. An average meal will cost ~$10-20. Depending how deep your pockets are, the appetizers can cost ~$5-10, and a bottle of Korean Soju (rice wine) will get you at $15. FEAR NOT, because I promise you will enjoy your meal so much, it will tempt you to revisit or try other delicious korean hot spots.
Who to take: Their adorable tea cups lined against the wall and smushed-seating sets the tone for a nice date. Other than bringing that special person you fancy, I would honestly bring my parents to this place, to upgrade their pallets and get them interested enough to hopefully whip up some Korean food at home. Bringing Co-workers, new friends and old, Hwang Kum is pretty welcoming. There is hardly a moment while sitting there that you will be concious about your dress, food spills or being too loud.
I ordered: The marinated beef, called ‘beef bulgogi’ is what I ordered and it was accompanied by bean sprouts, kimchi, cold potatoes and a wonderful secret Korean sauce that they refused to dish out the recipe for! I highly recommend this if you are a newbie in Korean food! It’s cooked with soy sauce, sesame, ginger and scallions and served on top of a hot plate. If you want to take this meal to another level, order the ‘ttukbaegi-bulgogi’, beef bulgogi in soup form with vegetables! My boyfriend ordered Kimchi jjigae, essentially “Kimchi Soup”. It’s cooked with tofu, kimchi and scallions which is then brought to you in a hot ceramic bowl, keeping your dish hot from start to finish. It’s a nutritious bowl packed to the brim. It will also activate your taste buds with its spiciness, and its bright red color and sharp smell will instantly bring you to a nose drip. To bring home, I ordered Gimbap-maki. Essentially a sushi filled with cabbage, egg, carrots and crab, packaged with that secret sauce!
Staff recommendations: I was fortunate enough to have the owner serve my table, where he recommended that hot and spicy lovin’ Kimchi jjigae that my boyfriend was seduced by. The owner also gave me an excellent tip to share with all of you. He explained that to get the most out of any soup or saucy based dish, I should add rice once my bowl is almost empty and contains only sauce. This with some seaweed mixed together can create an entire new dish with a new delicious tasty twist.
Rating / Price: 4/5 $$