A pop-up dinner is a temporary restaurant that literally, pops up… out of nowhere. It’s a great way to showcase new talent or new concepts and as a result of my inconsistent social media check-age, I’ve missed plenty of pop-up events. You can imagine how excited I was to have finally gotten tickets to last month’s Korean pop-up at the Common, when I saw one of my Korean friends attending the event on Facebook. Luckily, Joe and his quick emailing skills grabbed us tickets for the 6pm seating. At $35 a ticket, I was expecting great things from Korean chefs that I had presumed were of great importance at a restaurant that I had not discovered yet.
The 4-course menu seemed simple enough. Very standard Korean cuisine that would please most palates. Although the event was listed at 6pm, the food wasn’t served until almost 6:30-6:45pm. It was my mistake to come completely starving (a rookie mistake), but the courses did finally arrive.
A trio of meat, vegetable, and shrimp pancakes came out as our first course. Beautiful presentation but I would have liked a bigger portion. As a starter course though, I figured the following courses would be bigger and ignored my grumbling stomach. The batter for the pancake was the same all around and so they all tasted very similar.
Bibimbap is not a new dish to me and I order it every time when I eat Korean food. This one was quite simple and did not nearly have as much flavor as I thought it should. I was also desperately missing the crunchy bits of the rice that would normally come on the sides of a stone bowl. And although the menu stated there was beef in the dish, neither myself or Joe could taste it or find it in our little dish.
Our main course was braised beef short ribs. The portion was a little bit bigger and I was grateful for the potatoes. The seasoning was fair but overall, the dish was less than spectacular. The kimchi was not as spicy as I am normally use to and tasted more like just pickled cabbage. At this point I looked around to other tables to see if anybody else was in agreement. It seemed that most people were enjoying themselves but I would think moreso for their respective companies, rather than the food.
When dessert came out, I knew for sure that I would be eating again in an hour. The fruit juice was very tart and the rice balls were not crispy at all, according to the menu. It had a very chewy, gelatinous texture which was at least contrasted by the crunchy honey pastry.
Having completed the meal, both myself and Joe were quite disappointed. At that price range I had expected much better food and much better portioning. It wasn’t until Chef Morrison came out to introduce us to Jake and Julie Kim that I fully understood what just happened there. Jake and his wife, Julie, have recently moved from Korea to Edmonton just a mere 4 months ago. Upon hiring Jake, Chef Morrison was impressed by Jake’s knife skills and proceeded to plan a Korean pop-up dinner fused with the Common’s usual style of cuisine. It was a pleasure to be introduced to our chefs of the evening, as I could attribute the meal’s home-style taste to a humble couple from Korea versus two well-known Korean chefs as I had originally envisioned. Although I would not return for the same meal (not that it would anyways, it’s a pop-up dinner), it was nevertheless, a wonderful experience. I look forward to the next pop-up dinner that I can catch and can only hope next time I’ll be a bit fuller when I’m done!