It takes me just about five minutes to walk from my hotel to Alexandra Road in Richmond. This is great because Alexandra Road is known as Richmond’s “Food Street.” They say that around a three-block radius of Alexandra Road are well over 200 Asian restaurants.
So I walk beneath the Aberdeen Centre Canada Line station, up No. 3 Road past the Parker Place Mall, and then hang a left at Alexandra and I’m on Food Street. And it is. A food street. There’s are Vietnamese pho shops and Thai noodle places and Hong Kong bubble tea cafes and Shanghai dumpling joints. But tonight I’m headed for Jang Mo Jib, a well known Korean restaurant.
I’m having dinner with Stacey Chyau who really knows the food scene around Alexandra Road. Stacey was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada a little over 20 years ago. The good thing about dining with someone like Stacey is that you can let them do the ordering.
Jang Mo Jib is an interesting place. It was a Japanese restaurant and lounge before the Moon family turned it into a Korean claypot and bbq place in 2005. But the building itself, to me, looks like a Swiss chalet.
Stacey says Jang Mo Jib means “mother-in-law’s house.”
“In the Korean culture, a husband always looks forward to eating at his mother-in-law’s home because he knows he’s going to be spoiled and well-fed.”
The first thing Stacey wanted me to try was the hae mool pah jun which the menu says is “assorted seafood pancake.” Well, it was round like a pancake but to me it looked more like crispy hash browns. Stacey sliced it into wedges and spooned on a little soy sauce with chopped scallions. Fabulous.
We also got the gam ja tahng—pork back and neck bones served in a hot pot with green onion, vegetables, and potatoes in a broth—but the main attraction for me was the hot pot with an assortment of beef, preserved vegetables, sautéed kimchi, and a fried egg on top called dol sot bee bim bahb. It was tasty but it was also quite beautiful. So much so that neither Stacey or I wanted to break the egg on top and ruin the composition of the dish. But we did.