Sampling Montréal's Korean Cuisine at Kantapia | Bite Club
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Sampling Montréal's Korean Cuisine at Kantapia

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 4:37 PM

click to enlarge Kantapia on Rue Sherbrooke Ouest - SUZANNE PODHAIZER
  • Suzanne Podhaizer
  • Kantapia on Rue Sherbrooke Ouest
Usually, upon arriving in Montréal, I head straight for a ramen shop. The thought of soft-cooked eggs and toothsome noodles in rich broth is an irresistible draw. This time, though, as we walked down Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, my friend pointed out a colorful sign reading "kantapia: cuisine coréenne."
All of a sudden, my imagined bowl of soup looked a bit different: shreds of cabbage piled in a pool of deep red liquid, cubes of tofu and pieces of fatty pork, a sprinkling of scallions.

I nodded my assent, and we headed inside. The spot was busy at lunchtime on a Sunday, but we snagged a table and scanned the laminated menus. Coming from Vermont, I have little experience with Korean food, and I was excited to sample as much as possible.

An appetizer sampler seemed like just the ticket. The platter came with crisp fried mandu (dumplings), slices of kimbap — which are nori-wrapped rice rolls that approximate Japanese maki — and a separate dish of tteok bokki, a rice-flour noodle that is shaped somewhat like gnocchi, slathered in chile sauce and dotted with white and black sesame seeds.
click to enlarge Tteok bokki, hot and spicy "rice cakes" - SUZANNE PODHAIZER
  • Suzanne Podhaizer
  • Tteok bokki, hot and spicy "rice cakes"
The tteok bokki was fun to eat. The rice "cakes" themselves had a sweet flavor, while the sauce was rich without offering a lot of heat. I struggled to keep the slippery bites on my metal chopsticks. The kimbap slices, stuffed with cucumber, fish cake, egg and pickles, left me cold: they simply weren't particularly flavorful.

Our final appetizer was haemul pajeon, a seafood pancake studded with mussels, squid, scallion and strips of carrot. Unlike other such dishes I've had, which were thin and crisp, this one was thick like an omelette, and a bit doughy. However, the bites that I had, swiped through the soy-based dipping sauce, were pleasant enough. 
click to enlarge Kimchi jjigae with rice - SUZANNE PODHAIZER
  • Suzanne Podhaizer
  • Kimchi jjigae with rice

My favorite thing was that bowl of soup I'd been craving. Called kimchi jjigae, and delivered sizzling in a fetchingly beat-up pot, it was a warming and comforting winter dish. Kimchi, slices of pork and cubes of tofu swam in the broth, and scallions dotted the top. A bowl of rice came on the side.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend Kantapia as a Montréal dining destination, but if you find yourself near Place des Arts and hungry for Korean food, head there for some reasonably priced dumplings and a bowl of soup.

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the former Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose,... more

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