16 Jarvis St.
As my sister L was heading to Hamilton from her trip to Quebec City, she suggested Korean BBQ for dinner. Having just been in Seoul for a few hours the previous week, I thought I could try more Korean food and I knew just the place to go. Baramibunei is a little Korean restaurant in downtown Hamilton. It's right by a parking lot on King St. which makes it very convenient to visit.
The restaurant is in an old building. I am digging the old vault. Tables are set up with a hole in the middle for BBQ'ing and walls are adorned with Polaroids of customers.
I do not have much experience with Korean food so I let my sister L lead the way. She absolutely wanted an order of the bindetuk (Korean pancake). In fact, my mother also loves this dish and often orders it as take-out. Our family just cannot resist fried food! The pancake was very good and it reminded us of turnip cake (that I am planning to make next week when I go to my mom's!). We also ordered steamed dumplings that were ordinary. L stated that her friend's mother makes much better Korean dumplings. If only I was so lucky!
Complimentary banchan (Korean side dishes) - our best guesses (starting top L, clockwise): stir fried vegetables, kimchi, gelatin flavoured with soy sauce and scallion, seaweed and fish sticks.
Bindetuk (Korean pancake), $3.99. The pancake typically contains seafood, most often squid as in this case.
Mandu (steamed dumplings), $4.99.
The restaurant offered different table top BBQ and hot pot dishes. We decided to go for BBQ in the form of bulgogi (marinated beef served with vegetables and potato noodles). The meat was very well seasoned and took a very short time to cook. L had the good instinct to take it out before it overcooked. The potato noodles were clear noodles like glass noodles but were very chewier in texture. This dish was served with lettuce and Napa cabbage to roll. We rolled up the beef, vegetables, kimchi and Korean chili sauce ssamjang (that I forgot to photograph). I loved the ssamjang which had a hint of fermented taste; with some research, I found out it's due to the doenjang (fermented soybean paste) and gochujang (fermented hot sauce). The kimchi had a hint of sweetness that I thought was lacking in the kimchi I had in Seoul.
Bulgogi (marinated beef served with vegetables and potato noodles), $14.99.
We also ordered a noodle dish at my request. The bokkumguksu came with shrimp and a choice of beef or chicken. We picked chicken. L and I enjoyed the fat noodles. If you're wondering, all this food was for three people: myself, my sister L and her boyfriend D.
Bokkumguksu (fried noodles with shrimp and chicken), $7.99.
At the end of our meal, the cute waitress came with complimentary rice cakes explaining that it was Korean Thanksgiving, i.e. the Moon Festival. Searching on Wikipedia, I found out that the Korean Moon Festival is called Chuseok and the rice cakes are called songpyeon, which are "half-moon-shaped rice cakes filled with sesame seeds or chestnut paste steamed over a layer of pine needles, which gives them the fragrant smell of fresh pine trees." The white cake was very bland and had a tiny, tiny bit of sesame filling. The black one had a more generous bean filling.
Complimentary songpyeon for the Moon Festival.
I am so glad I visited Baramibunei; it seems like a hidden gem. Hopefully, it can attract more customers as it was only half full on a Saturday night. If you want good, affordable Korean food in a nice and interesting setting, this is the place to go. Admittedly, I have not eaten at many Korean restaurants, and none in Hamilton until now. They also offer a lunch menu that is very affordable.
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