Cheesy Spicy Rice Cake and Korean Fried Chicken – Ajuker Coquitlam

Ah, Wednesday! Just a few more days before the weekends!

My mom and her friend are here in town, visiting from Indonesia. There are two things that led me to taking them to the restaurant I’m gonna showcase to you today:

1. From day 1, my mom has been “nagging” that I have not brought her to have some Korean fried chicken that she likes
2. These 2 ajummas have been watching Twenty Again, and ended up craving for some 떡볶이/tteokbokki/Korean spicy rice cake.

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My friend offered to take them around, after work, to see the city lights and views from all over town. So we decided to have dinner before our night time drive session. What would be best to feed these ajummas cravings in one go?

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We went to Ajuker Chicken in Coquitlam. They are claimed to have the best Korean fried chicken in town. And asking Koreans where if I should go somewhere else or not was the best decision of the night.

We ordered:
– 치즈 떡볶이/Cheese tteokbokki
– 후라이드 치킨/Fried chicken
– 계란탕/Steam egg soup

My mom and her friend were super satisfied with the chicken AND the cheese spicy rice cake. I would have to agree with them – they were so gooood. I would let them use “the best Korean fried chicken in Vancouver”.

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Damaged was done, the ajummas were still curious, and we ordered one more portion of 떡볶이, this time without the cheese. T’was good, but the cheese one was better and richer in taste. We also got some fish cake soup as service *gotta love that service culture*

I would go again *well I went here several times before*, but, it’s not convenient to transit there (dear ever green line skytrain, please be operating soon).

So there you go. If you need some Korean fried chicken and cheese rice cake fix (their spicy sauce *양념 치킨* fried chicken is good too), you know where to go.

Casual/comfy dining – humble decor – friendly service – super busy on weekends *if I remember it correctly*

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Ajuker Chicken
508 Clarke Rd, Coquitlam, BC V3J 7V6
(604) 936-5527
Open 7 days/week: 2 pm – 2 am

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A bowl full of Jeong – Gamjatang


Gamjatang – Pork bone and potato soup. This dish could easily be called the staple item or one of the most known Korean food among my closest circle.

It is my family favourite too. I could not think of my fam/parents visit without us devouring on gamjatang at one of our favourite Korean restaurant in town. I remember my late Dad loved this so much he would use his most extraordinary food critic slash foodie reaction to describe the taste of it, while trying to convince our fam friends to grab some with us *100% success rate with out-of-town visitors craving for more*. Ah I miss you appa 😘.

I also remember on one of my solo trip to Seoul, my dear dongsaeng offered me to stay at her apartment. The first food that we had, right after Eun-chong and her mom picked me up near Anyang station, was the unforgattable biji gamjatang/비지 감자탕.

Not only delicious, I often crave for a pot of boiling hot gamjatang on cold rainy days or whenever I need something spicy to cheer myself up. Thus, I call it a bowl of “Jeong” as it revolves – and often served -around comfort of bonds, found when I’m surrounded with with my family and friends.

I was exchanging “I am super hungry” and “I crave for some good. . . ” with my only and super cool and kind sunbae/선배 on messengers at work. And I casually mentioned “Ahhh..I want some gamjatang”.  Last Saturday, she invited me to her place to have some makgeolli/막걸리 with her husband. And guess what! She made us some gamjatang 😍 because she remembered I mentioned wanting it. 감동 (touched) times infinity.

I helped her out by mixing the sesonings (by that I mean, listening at the instructions from her husband *I call him hyungboo – sister’s husband* and measuring it exactly as he said) and by asking a lot of questions while I watched 언니/unnie did her magic in the kitchen. Now I’m sharing you the recipe I screenshot from our chat. Good luck:

What you need:

Pork bone // potatoes // dried basil leaves // garlic (minced or whole) // green onion // onion // gochujang (고추장) – Korean chilli paste  // doenjang (된장) – fermented soy bean paste // gochugaru (고추가루) – dried chilli flakes // perilla leaves // perilla seeds powder (들깨 가루) // cooking wine – mirim style // ginger powder

How to make:

– Soak the pork bone in cold water for about one hour to get rid of the blood

– Put the pork bone in boiling water and boil it for a bit then throw away the water

– Pour some water again, dunk potatoes in,  put 3-5 dried basil leaves, garlic, onion cut in halves, green onion *important tips: include the peel of onions and the end part/root part of green onions to get rid of the meat smells*

– Scoop out the leaves and other floating objects after you boil it for a bit

– Put in the seasoning (: 1 spoon of doenjang, 3 spoons of gochujang, 1 spoon of cooking wine/mirim, 1 spoon of minced garlic, 1 spoon of ginger powder)

– Halfway after it boils for a while, pour out a good amount of gochugaru and bolit it down again until it turns yum red.

– Put in some perilla leaves and perilla seeds powder right before serving
It was yum and MSG free!

We had it with bossam/boiled pork wrap and shared some stories – from politics to relationship. I have only met hyungboo a couple of times. But he had shared insights for life that have helped me through some difficult curves. I honestly enjoy listening to his advices and he has a lot of jeong for his “I only have a few friends and dongsaengs”. Jeong/jung/chong is a Korean term that is really hard to describe in plain English.

Jeong is a particular sentimental attitude that goes beyond mere affection and loyalty. Jeong has multiple faces and it defined as “feeling, love, sentiment, passion, human nature, symphaty, heart”. It describes complex feelings or emotions such as an attachment or a bond – Dr. John Linton from various sources

A bowl of jeong that fills you up with warmth. Even when I was lectured by hyungboo and was given “a homework” to work on/help to solve my 고민/worry, I know it was out of “Jeong”. Man, I could never thank God enough for the jeong(s) I have in life.

Jumokbap, the Korean rice balls

Ju-mok-bap or fist-clenching-rise is a Korean snack rice balls (or meal, if you binge on more than 2 of it). There are kinds of jumok bap out there, but the most basic needs for this yum treats are:
– Rice
– Crushed seaweed
– Sesame Oil
– A pinch of salt

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Basic ingredients of jumokbap minus salt

For the fillings, you can go creative and put whatever protein or veggies that you like. You can even make them from fried rice. Anything you like.
If you choose to fill it with raw ingredients (e.g. carrots, mushrooms, ham) you might want to pan fried them with some oil.

Today I decided to make my kind of very easy version (from the already easy recipe) of jumokbap.

For this recipe you will need:
– Basic ingredients (1 cup of rice, 1 tea spoon of sesame oil, a pinch of salt, crushed seawee
– Leftover fried chicken, minced

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tips: you can use any kind of store-bought seaweed and crushed inside a plastic bag. I’m using the already crushed and seasoned one. I using this kind of seaweed makes it more easier and tastier.

How to make jumokbap:
– In a mixing bowl, put in cooked rice, salt, sesame oil.
tips:
– Some people only use the seaweed as coatings but I love em so I also mixed it into the rice.
– I also mixed the fillings all together with the other ingredients. But you have the option of putting it only in the middle of the rice balls (like onigiri).

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– Pour another serving of the crushed seaweed into a smaller bowl.

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– Now you’re ready to start your assembly line.

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– Grab a fistful (bite size or more) of the already mixed rice.

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– squiz it into balls so it won’t break a part.

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– cover it with seaweed as coatings

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– done! you can enjoy it now!

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Go ahead and follow this recipe, or free your creative culinary skills and make your own! Post your version of jumokbap and tag me on instagram!

Tealips instead of Black Bean Noodles

It’s the end of ‘Black Day’ where K-culture let single ladies and gents mourn their “single-ness” by binge eating on Korean black bean noodles: 짜장면/jjajangmyeon today.  While I have forgotten about it completely, I made an excuse to post this and create my own black day celebration. Today I “celebrate” it by going to the most-Korean-like cafe in Burnaby. It’s called Tealips. The hidden gem is located right behind Highgate mall in Edmonds. I first came to this place last Fall and I fell in love to the Korean-ness of this place.

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Tealips

It sells a variety of food and drink items, from lunch sandwiches to Caramel Macchiato.

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Drink Menu
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Waffles – Bingsoo – Sandwiches

The many times I went there, I have always sticked to the waffles and drinks. Tonight, I got Ice Caramel Macchiato, which I think tastes the same with the one I had in Seoul. The first time I had it that familiar tingled on my taste buds sold me right away. Yes! It’s Korean style!!! Super yum!

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Caramel Macchiato

I also had their mixed berries waffle with liege waffles. Here, you can choose one of the 2 types of  Belgian waffles they have. Before tonight’s visit I always had the brussels, but because I felt a bit adventurous, I went for the liege which I regretted a little bit. It wasn’t because it tasted horrible. But the liege type isn’t my cup of tea. The texture is soft and chewy (which I appreciate better than the other type), however, it’s too sweet to my taste and it felt like there were grains of sugar in the waffle dough (which I would prefer not to have).

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Mixed Berries Liege Waffle

My friend had the Green tea bingsoo/shaved ice. I wouldn’t say it’s the best because they did not put bean powder (LOVE this in my bingsoo) and put a lot of bananas, but I gotta say it’s Korean style.

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Green Tea Bingsoo

Then, I had to teach my friend how to eat bingsoo properly: mix and crush everything including the ice cream (which partially rejected for the ice cream part). Good time!

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How to eat you bingsoo!

One more striking Korean-ness is this:

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Buzzer

I won’t argue which country invented/had it first, but to me this is so Korean (and it was printed on the buzzer that it was made in Korean too). It is not the only place in Greater Vancouver that sells Korean style waffles and shaved ice. The drink options are also simpler than other bubble tea places. But there are hints, style, items, and tastes of Korean-ness that never fail to bring me back to this place to hang out/dessert time/random visit time to time again whenever I miss going out where I could imagine myself being in Seoul instead of Vancouver (plus if it’s raining and filled with Korean chatters)

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Sweet Black Day!

Fish-Shaped Pastries

Have you ever tried this pastry snack shaped like a (crucian/carp) fish which filled with red bean paste? I first saw this snack when I read Japanese manga back then when I was still in elementary school. Fast forward a few years, I found this food item in the Korean culture. Well, I don’t want, or rather, I don’t know whether this snack is originated from Japan or Korea; nor do I want to raise the debate. I just want to raise this yummy thing to your attention ㅋㅋㅋㅋ…

Bungeo-bbang
Fish shaped pastries

붕어빵 is literally translated as carp (fish)-bread. It is a pancake like snack which is usually sold at an open air vendor on the street, usually during winter. It is traditionally filled with red bean paste. However, there are more varieties these days: You can have the one filled with custard sauce with different flavours or even the one with some veggies in it.

Some other alternatives and variations of bungeo bbang are as followed:

(credit: wikipedia and The Voice of Korean Entertainment)
  • Gukhwa bbang/국화빵:  chrysanthemum cake – it is essentially identical to bungeoppang, only it is a flower-shaped pastry.
  • Gyeran bbang/계란빵: lit. “chicken egg cake – it  is filled with egg and it has a shape of rounded rectangle.
  • Hoddeok/ 호떡: Korean sweet crispy pancake – it is stuffed with brown sugar, peanuts and cinnamon. Hoddeok derived from the Chinese style savory pancake, modified to adjust the Korean taste

If you’re in the Greater Vancouver area, you can find a food vendor that sells bungeo-bbang and hoddeok. *yes, you’re very welcome*

The hoddeok and bungeo-bbang vendor
The hoddeok and bungeo-bbang vendor

The food vendor is located in the Lougheed area, on the lower level of the North Road Mall Center, out side the Korean Plaza and the Hannam Supermarket. They are open Monday to Saturday 11 am- 6pm. If you will ever have a craving for this snack on Summer time, they usually open a stall at the Richmond Night Market.

menu and business hours

They sell 2 kinds of the Korean pancake: sweet rice pancake and the vegetable pancake; and 3 kinds of bunge0-bbang filling: red bean, vegetables and custard.

Hmm what else do I want to inform you with? Oh.. I’m not in anyway endorsed by them. I just want to share good food. umm yumm. All you in Vancouver, better try this yummy snack as the weather is still perfect! Warm and sweet pancake on a cold day?! What can be better?!! kkkkk.

heoddeok in the making
F.L.T.F

Okay.. I have to run and catch my lecture now. But I promise to post some pictures later on tonight.

Until then,

xoxo