Strolling along St Denis Street in Montreal is a perfect place for any solo traveler visiting the city. There are boutiques if you like shopping, coffee shops with Wi-Fi, art galleries to browse, street art, and dozens of restaurants to choose from – many with outdoor terraces to sit and watch the people go by on St Denis.
Staying at the Hyatt Regency on Jeanne-Mance Street I hadn’t wandered over to St Denis the first two nights in Montreal. I had barely made my connecting flight on the way to Montreal and arrived at the hotel around 9 pm. Feeling the need for a cocktail and dinner without having to make any effort I plunked myself down at the SIX Resto Bar and ordered some wine and an entrée of grouper.
Within a few minutes I was engrossed in conversation with two vacationing students seated next to me and the following night we met at the same bar for drinks and continued our conversation. My bar stool companions left town the next day so I wandered over to my old favorite St Denis Street in search of dinner. I wasn’t sure what type of food I was craving but I knew I wanted something tasty, something different.
I perused several menus but nothing really caught my eye or convinced my belly that I had found the right place to appease the grumbling. Then I spotted Koreana. There was a dish on the menu called dolsot bibimbap with an accompanying photo.
Greeted with a big smile by the proprietress I sat on the small patio to enjoy the cool evening weather. I looked at the menu to see what other offerings might entice me but ultimately ordered the dolsot bibimbap with shrimp. And a beer to quench my thirst.
I enjoyed my beer and I was also served a selection of tiny plates with flavorful appetizers. I tried the bean sprouts first because I knew I would like them. Next I tasted the pickled daikon radish and carrots which I also liked. Finally I let my chopsticks reach for the little dish of kimchi. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the taste. I had heard that kimchi was an acquired taste and could have an unpleasant aroma. I quite liked the spicy and tangy flavor.
I later learned that the little side dishes are called bachan and these are part of a typical Korean meal. When there are several diners the bachan are placed in the center of table for everyone to share.
My main dish of dolsot bibimbap arrived at the table in sizzling fashion. You see dolsot bibimbap is served in a hot stone bowl with the ingredients sizzling for minutes afterwards. Oil is placed in the bottom of the bowl to allow the layer of rice to become a little crispy. All the other ingredients are placed upon the rice in a neat arrangement.
I added some hot chili sauce and stirred up all the ingredients in the bowl as I had been instructed to do when the dish was served. Then I noticed the raw egg on the bottom of the bowl and I stopped stirring. I let the egg sit on the bottom and cook a little. Raw egg is just not my thing. I find it quite repulsive. Thankfully it was not placed on top of all those delicious vegetables and shrimp!
I gobbled up my bowl of tasty veggies, rice, and shrimp – avoiding the egg – and was very happy with my meal. The combination of vegetables with rice would have been sufficient as a meal I think.
I looked up the words dolsot bibimbap and found out that dolsot means stone pot and bibimbap means mixed rice in the Korean language.
I am pleased that I finally tried Korean food and will be looking to try more on my travels – perhaps a trip to South Korea is in my future?
What are some of your food adventures?
Do you like to try new foods when you are traveling or do you prefer to stick with familiar favorites?
A journey through the alphabet with ABC Wednesday Project where people from around the world create and share a weekly post.