Thursday, September 5, 2013

Vancouver: Haroo Korean Homestyle Cuisine

tried to stay down

There is no Koreatown in Vancouver, I get that. There is no Yonge + Finch in Vancouver, I get that too. But how is it that in a city where Koreans are the fourth largest majority, more often than not I'm not feeling what these restaurants are throwing down.

Might you argue that I don't know what I'm talking about? Well, you would be wrong. This is one point I do not equivocate. 

I think it's time you all know I'm Korean. Contrary to what I may or may not have implied, I am no other Asian race but Korean and 100 percent proud of it. Someone wave a flag and blow a horn.

I am the youngest of two highly traditional, old-school, immigrant Korean parents. At one point or another all the generalizations you're thinking about held true - my family owned a convenience store, my parents drove a mini van, my dad values education above money, my mom makes kimchi, and everyone is scared of my dad.

Course my parents also embraced Canada and the promise it brought. The sister and I learned everything we know now from them. My dad in particular. Everything was a lesson and it always came with a philosophy. He was the first to teach me the difference between honest food and everything else. He showed me that real food, from any culture, is easy to spot and always tastes better.

Had he come to Haroo with Momma GG and the sister, he would have left all crotchety. It's shallow Korean food. Which isn't to say it was bad, but I wouldn't go back. It started with promise:

Jook - My people's congee
Familiar and tasty.
The best thing about Haroo is their side dishes (banchon). The worst thing about Haroo is their side dishes - the menu says these can only be refilled once. Well, in my experience, Koreans never explicitly state that because Koreans would not take that sh*t. That was the first sign that this place is frequented by more non-Koreans. That is not indicative of good Korean food. Even my non-Korean friends know this. In fact, is it strange that my non-Korean friends refuse to eat at restaurants they know non-Koreans like? You think I'm tough, meet them. I dare you. 

Non-Koreans seem to think these side dishes are free appetizers and some take advantage of that.
The rest of the food was simply okay. Their seafood pajeon (a pancake) tasted more like teegim (which literally means fried and refers to a dish that is well, deep fried). I prefer traditional pajeon which is pan fried so that it's crispy on the outside but still has the texture of a pancake. Haroo's was different and while the flavours were good the vehicle was not my favourite:

soondubu jigae -Spicy soft tofu soup
I've had this soup thousands of times. This was somewhere below average.
It's a shame isn't it. Especially since my bubble is completely burst. I was super excited after reading all the reviews. Momma GG was underwhelmed, though she didn't say it. 

Let this post be a lesson. More for me than you. May I always remember to put Urbanspoon and Yelp reviews IN CONTEXT. Sometimes, it takes one to know one. In this case, I know my country's food. I grew up on it, I eat it on the regular, so there is a threshold. For restaurants serving traditional Korean eats it meets it or it don't. Haroo is Korean food for non-Koreans. That would be a don't.

Haroo Korean Homestyle Cuisine on Urbanspoon 


  1. Was thinking about trying this place until, "Haroo is Korean food for non-Koreans. That would be a don't."

    Do you have any suggestions for gamjatang? Like REALLY good ones and actually spicy? Also, why is the service at many Korean restaurants… so miserable?

    1. Hey Miss Piggy - There are a few hole in the walls on Denman, unfortunately I don't know the names. You could also try Sura on Robson - one of my faves!

  2. Actually, there is a Koreatown in Vancouver - called Burnaby/Coquitlam area that can offer you "traditional Korean food." You were at a wrong place - Richmond is dubbed as "Chinatown" of Greater Vancouver. The restaurant needs to cater towards Chinese people's tastes to survive as there are lots of competitions in the area. Also, having limits to the number of side dishes is not a sign of good Korean food? Hmm. As far as I know many "legit" Korean restaurants do that, and I think all Korean restaurants should because it's too costly and wasteful. Lots of Korean people end up not finishing their side dishes! Next time you go to "legit" restaurant, see if Koreans finish all the dishes they refilled. I am 100% Korean like yourself, but I live in Richmond and appreciate that Korean restaurants offer delicious food in Richmond and promote our culture. Just because it is visited by "non-Koreans," it does not mean that the food is bad. It may taste a bit different from what you are accustomed to, but I still enjoy them! I like Haroo's food and their fresh ingredients. I also appreciate the owner couple's efforts to provide yummy meals. So there. This was another Korean person's counter-review.

    1. Thanks Anonymous! I appreciate your feedback and you made some valid points. Just a difference in opinion but true that it's never bad to promote our culture. The more it's out there, the more people eat and enjoy.


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