CUISINE: Korean-Japanese ADDRESS: 1332 Huron Street DATE: May 21, 2014
I’M GONNA GO AHEAD and say that nothing great ever happens to me on the corner of Huron and Highbury.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
My student was doing a “gig” with his band once, and invited me to come. I love to support my students’ and their music, so I happily agreed.
I agreed before learning it was at NORMA JEANS, the diviest dive bar in London; a place where I believe most dreams go to die.
Or at least where dreams become despondent and just watch, like, Judge Judy all day.
Not only was this gig at NORMA JEANS, it was on a SUNDAY. At 5 PM.
So, one of those daylight band gigs that are so popular…
Not only that, this gig featured performances by other underaged bands, and was attended, it would seem, mostly by their families, giving that SUNDAY AT 5PM NORMA JEANS SHOW the vibe of an even-more run-down Chuckie Cheese, without the hilarious animatronic mice performers, or the skee-ball. They did however, have giant cokes and pathetic cheese fries, and probably lots of parents who were rethinking that whole marriage-and-kids thing.
What I’m saying is that it wasn’t really my thing.
The wait staff was nothing to shake a stick at, either: my friend Andrew (he of the non-sequiturs and threatening glares featured in such winsome AZ RESTO blogs as #10 BUDAPEST, #14 CRAVE, #23 EL RANCHITO and #28 GUSTO) and I pulled out high-backed bar stools into the middle of the floor, in order to get a better view of the stage.
When the waitress noticed us, sitting away from any table, I almost thought we were going to get in trouble for moving the chairs. But with no more than a cursory glance, the waitress looked at Andrew and I said, “would you Ladies like a drink?”
Just a brief reminder of what Andrew, the human man, looks like…
After she left, Andrew noted in his deep baritone: I literally have chest hair showing.
I tried to assuage him by saying that she had such a passing interest in us, that she saw my body, his green scarf, and just took us for two middle-aged women there to see our children perform.
(NOTE: my student that I was there to see DID play a great set: a mix of cool originals, a Bowie cover and a Beyoncé tune that was KIND OF EVERYTHING.)
Despite the fact that I’ve gotten the odd good deal on costumes at Talize across the street, Huron and Highbury hasn’t often had a lot to offer me.
And unfortunately, I have to say that our dinner at Lee Ga did nothing to repair that reputation. It only solidified it.
At first glance, Lee Ga didn’t look that bad. Sure, it’s in a plaza, next to Norma Jeans and a “CASH 4 YOU” operation, but it was well-lit and neatly appointed inside.
Ian and I had a private room off to the side, which we love.
And our room had cute lamps, a table buzzer, and only one weird food poster.
I don’t think the APTLY NAMED pork cutlet is the menu item that people would have problems identifying…
Here I am, posing with…no one.
Oh, yeah, for the first time since #25 THE FIRESIDE PLAZA, it was just Ian and I for a blog dinner. And the reason was pretty much the same: nobody else wanted to go to this restaurant.
This is the third Korean restaurant in about 6 dinners, and even Dylan, our stalwart blog dinner companion, said that he and Rebekkah the Skeptic were in for dinner on Friday, “as long as it wasn’t Korean”.
IAN: So, can we go somewhere else? Bekk, Dylan and I have the Evan Dando concert at 9 on Friday.
(NOTE: Despite the above reference to the lead singer of the LEMONHEADS, this conversation took place THIS WEEK, and not sometime in the mid-nineties.)
MEGAN: But it IS a Korean restaurant! We can’t change the restaurant to suit our WHIM! That’s antithetical to the entire PREMISE of the AZ RESTO TOUR!!!
I get very uppity when someone tries to compromise my blog values. It’s the one moral code I can adhere to.
So, to make the Friday evening blog dinner more palatable to our friends, Ian and I did a rare mid-week blog outing to get Lee-Ga off the list.
Ian bought this BLOG SHIRT all by himself. I would wager it is the first clothing item he has purchased in maybe two years.
To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to this one, either: I have found Korean restaurants to have huge menus, which I usually find overwhelming, but I was happy to see that Lee Ga also offered sushi, which I feel like eating on the regular.
They also had some more UNUSUAL offerings. Have you ever been making chicken stock at home and thought, “you know what? I’ll just boil this whole chicken, throw some onions on for colour and call it a day!”
Ian and I decided to split bulgogi to start, and I went for some spicy tuna and salmon rolls, as well as something under “special rolls” called a “tuna avocado spring roll”. Ian picked a bento box with ribs, dumplings and sushi for $13.
Like many Korean restaurants, we had multiple servers throughout the meal; all were friendly and prompt. Our female server asked if we had any allergies as she served us a complimentary veggie pancake with the traditional kimchi, bean sprout, fish cake and pickles, along with their house-made soy sauce.
A lovely gesture, the complimentary appetizer. Unless the pancake is a glutinous, unappetizing flavourless disk, and the soy sauce may be the single saltiest thing I’ve ever tasted. One taste of that soy sauce dried my mouth out COMPLETELY, as well as several nearby mouths and any nearby standing water, I’m sure.
THIS: not a thing I ordered OR wanted, as it turns out.
Our bulgogi came out shortly after, and I had two immediate thoughts:
- That meat looks GREY.
- Thank God we only got the SMALL.
POSSIBLE LEE-GA SLOGAN: We got meat, we got ONIONS, we got wet stuff…
Bulgogi is grilled, marinated meat, and one of the signature dishes of Korean cuisine. I only needed two bites of THIS bulgogi to know three things:
- This was boiled, not grilled.
- And soggy, yet dry.
- Those would be the last two bites I would eat of THAT.
As I tried to finish up the meat I had already committed to in my mouth, I had the “overripe-banana sensation”: I didn’t think I was going to be able to swallow it.
BLOG FIRST: The food I was eating was so bad, I literally gagged on it.
The rest of our food came out very quickly after, so we set our magical wet/dry meat to the side to focus on our entrees.
Ian’s Bento box looked pretty attractive:
These food pics come with bonus LEG SHOTS.
Ian found the ribs tender, but overly-sauced with a sweet and sticky glaze. The dumplings were deep-fried and saturated with grease, leaving behind a wet stain on the doily that Ian and I usually refer to as “Dr. Nick Riviera’s Window to Weight Gain”.
Ian did mention that his salad came with the standard Asian salad dressing, which he highly enjoys.
I am always happy when my sushi selections come out on a fun tray:
I like my skirt much better than what’s above it.
My first confusion was about the spring roll: ok, yes, that’s what a spring roll looks like, but this was listed under “special sushi rolls”, along with Philly Rolls, and other cool variation on Maki Rolls.
But this was just a spring roll, with carrots, avocado, cucumber, a little tuna, and some weird, white, flavourless sauce. And it was $10. And tasted like WET. I would say this is the worst spring roll incident since the overpriced BUNGALOW rolls of ‘13.
MEGAN: I like the FLAVOUR of the sushi.
IAN: Yeah, the rice is good.
MEGAN: This spicy sauce is definitely house-made. It has an interesting flavour. It’s like, red peppers…or…roses? These rolls kinda taste like flowers??
Ian pointed out that some sushi rice is made with rice water, so maybe I wasn’t full crazy.
The sushi tasted fine, but was very small, and I didn’t find had a lot of content to it. Mostly rice and sauce.
In the end, Ian and both left a bunch of stuff on our plate: sushi rolls, for sure, the spring roll, and an entire wet plate of bulgogi. And after we sat with the plates for a few minutes, Ian asked me “are we allowed to press the buzzer thing to get the bill?”
We tried it. A waiter came and said, “all finished?”
We replied we were, and instead of clearing the plates, he said “Gotcha”, and went to get our bill. Our $70 bill for 12 pieces of sushi, a spring roll, bulgogi and a bento box, which certainly seemed expensive when compared that price to the amount we enjoyed it.
So, YOU’RE WELCOME, FRIENDS, for doing that one without you. And Talize is going to have to offer me some pretty sweet thrift store deals to make me want to head to the corner of Huron and Highbury anytime soon.