South Castle Korean Restaurant

Our Korean friends, Ana and Kay, took us to a new Korean restaurant called South Castle that had recently opened up on Austin  Avenue in Coquitlam. The original restaurant of the same name is in North Vancouver, and apparently the Coquitlam location is the second branch of this restaurant (around Austin Heights Pizza area - I didn't take down the address, and somehow there is no trace of this location in the internet!).

Our friends warned us that the restaurant is very specialized and caters to mostly Korean customers.

The restaurant is on Austin Avenue, and is the location of a string of failed restaurants. The decor is very typical for a Korean restaurant, with lots of wood, and booths. However, the first thing I noticed about this place as we walked in was how busy it was; all of the tables were nearly filled, and the servers were running around.  As a consequence, our service wasn't that great and was quite rushed.

There isn't your typical menu at this restaurant; in fact, the only menu they had was on one wall, and it was entirely in Korean. However, this doesn't seem to be a huge deal because the menu consists on variations of one dish - sausage encased in intestine, and soup with lots of intestines.

As usual, we were presented with an array of Korean side dishes. They were good, though not remarkable.

The only thing that didn't have intestines in it was the bulgogi soup, which is what Shane got ($8.99). This arrived in an impressive stone pot type vessel in full boil. In addition to the slices of marinated beef, the soup had lots of green onion, veggies,  a few strands of potato noodles. Shane enjoyed this, although for me, the soup had a bit too much sugary sweetness.

The rest of us went for their specialty, which is the intestine soup with sausage ($10.49). According to our friends, this is 'soul food' and the ultimate comfort food for Koreans. Apparently South Castle does a near gourmet version of the dish and is of a quality that you would unlikely find in Korea.  Like the other dish, it arrived in a rollicking boil. This too, was filled with onions, bean sprouts, and green onions. I was very surprised at the amount of pepper that was in the soup; it tasted overpoweringly peppery, which was a very different flavour than I'm used to.  Some of the intestines were enjoyable, and the sausage was pretty interesting, though the thick intestine casing made it a little too chewy. However, the dish had too much intestine for me. Near the end I couldn't really eat any more. 

I was very pleased that I was able to try this specialty dish. I definitely would try this again, though it's not a dish that I would crave on a regular basis. Judging from the number of customers, this restaurant seems here to stay.

Christmas Cookies!

This weekend was spent inside with a sore knee (yoga injury, if you can believe it), and lots of baking. Both Shane and I had work parties and events coming up, and I somehow felt like making Christmas cookies, which is something I never, ever do.

These are wonderful 'Triple Ginger Cookies' from one of my favorite cookery writers, Heidi Swanson from her blog 101 Cookbooks. The recipe is wonderfully healthy for a cookie (of course, I just used a mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat). These are the perfect size for a discreet gingery hit; they are crisp on the outside and slightly chewy.

These are 'Crisp Chocolate Bites' from the book Cookies by Williams-Sonoma which I borrowed from the library. I added a teaspoon of cayenne to give it a kick. It turned out pretty well, though it could have done with a minute or so less baking. These suckers are surprisingly spicy, but in a nice way.

And now, the classic Mexican Wedding cookie, from the same book (though the recipe is everywhere). These are definitely my favorite - nutty, buttery, and oh so very rich. I don't like a lot of icing sugar, so they look a little plain.

Finally, I made two batches of a sugar cookie recipe from the same book. However, since this recipe calls for a cup and a quarter cup of butter per batch, it is more like a shortbread. Indeed, the cookie cutter shapes I cut out ended up being pretty fragile. So I gave up on that and made really ugly balls / lumps instead.

The batch pictured above have rosemary as a flavouring. This really worked - it didn't taste too herby at all, but the rosemary added a mysterious depth that made you wonder.

The second batch below had the addition of citrus (lemon, orange, lime, kaffir lime leaf). This turned out pretty well, with quite a pronounced aroma.

So...the decorating. This was harder than I anticipated, and I really didn't like working with icing, which really ruins the cookie with sickly sweetness, in my opinion. So I ended up mostly 'painting' on a really transparent, colourful sugar glaze.

All in all, a pretty productive weekend. At least I got the baking urge out of my system!