Culture  Beyond kimchi

GaNaDaRa serves up some Korean comfort food

For those of you daring enough to venture into the land that lies west of campus, fear not, you only have to walk until you reach the Concordia area to find a plentiful selection of culturally diverse eating options. This is where you’ll find GaNaDaRa, tucked neatly away on the dimly lit block of de Maisonneuve between St. Mathieu and St. Marc. It’s where I come to get my Korean food fix.

As you enter the restaurant, you’ll see the cute little stencilled sayings on the wall behind the bar such as, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Inspiring, right? Almost like all those emails McGill sends right before graduation. Also, if you appreciate the androgynous-looking glamorous pop stars of K-pop, you’ll be quite content with the selection of music videos playing on the TV at the far back.

Looking at the clientele, you’ll notice that most of them are students, but GaNaDaRa manages to draw in a varied crowd. It’s not just a student’s cheap eats go-to spot; it’s a serious contender for business among the several Korean restaurants in the area and by far the busiest one.

GaNaDaRa serves the type of comforting food that you just can’t get enough of. It is founded upon its simplicity, and it’s as real as food can get.

For starters, opt for the kimchi pajeon, a variation of the seafood pajeon; a Korean crispy pancake with kimchi and slices of pork. It’s served with a soy sauce and sesame dip, an intriguing variation on a classic.

If you have a weakness for fried food, the tonkatsu (a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside) guarantees mouth-watering success. It’s served with a Worcestershire-type sauce, a creamed corn salad, and tangy coleslaw with mayo dressing. The vegetables help make you feel a little less guilty for this deep-fried indulgence.

Another must-try is their bulgogi, a Korean marinated-beef classic, traditionally grilled, but more popularly sautéed in a pan, which is GaNaDaRa’s choice of cooking. It’s extremely tasty with just the right hint of sweetness.

Lastly, it’s imperative that you order jeyuk bokkeum, my personal favourite, which consists of hot and spicy stir-fried pork with mixed vegetables. The resulting combination is mouth-watering heaven. Need I say more?

GaNaDaRa is a sure winner for the price-conscious looking to reap the pleasure of a Korean meal with homey touches. The quality-to-price ratio is great, since the restaurant offers large portions and most plates are under $10. You may have to wait for a seat, but usually not for long since there’s constant turnover of tables.

Helpful tip: if you’re really in a hurry, do takeout and your order should be ready in less than ten minutes. Service is prompt and courteous. The servers seem genuinely happy to be working at this establishment. Owner Hong Sook Kim doesn’t seem to be bogged down by the bumps in the road that many newcomer restaurants (it’s been open for a little over a year now) often have trouble working out. She runs her restaurant tightly and ridiculously efficiently. GaNaDaRa’s definitely a good bang for your hard-earned bucks.

GaNaDaRa is situated at 1862 de Maisonneuve.