5000 Ans: Korea when it sizzles

Korea when it sizzles

5000 Ans: Korean delights
Photo: Marianne McEwen

Warm up at Korean restaurant 5000 Ans

"Hot booze knocks you out," my experienced drinker friend warned. We were sitting in a homey Korean restaurant in NDG, I’d just ordered the ginseng wine, served warm in a small ceramic carafe, poured into a cup barely larger than a thimble. I was more interested in ridding myself of the February chill then getting soused, and it was easy to cozy up at 5000 Ans on Sherbrooke Street.

The small size is welcoming. There are pale blinds along one wall, some pottery, a model ship, round paper globe lamps hanging from the ceiling and a sightline straight to the kitchen in the back where we can see the owner, Jennie Kim, bustling about, chopping greens, hovering over pans. The piano and the green guitar by the front door hint at musical evenings.

The cooking here is distinctive, the short menu has traditional favourites like sweet potato noodles (a.k.a. glass noodles), spicy chicken, dumplings. Where many average Korean spots might lean towards sweet and salty, here we find sour and tangy. The Korean miso soup to start had more going on than usual, dark, with a sour, floral note.

The seafood pancake that followed was sizzling on a round iron pan. My friend and I each reached for the medium-sized scallops within, admiring their freshness and the pajeon’s overall appeal.

Galbi (often spelled "kalbi") came next, thin slices of beef ribs, similarly sizzling. These were more tangy than grilled, chewy and sour. Flavourful, but not what we expected.

A hot stone bowl (a dolsot) arrived, filled up with rice, fresh veg including chicory leaves, and raw beef and a raw egg. I chose this yukke bibimbap over the regular bibimbap because I’m a sucker for tartare. Stirred at the table, the mix cooked up together and released murky, lusty tastes.

That day’s small accompanying sides were pale green cukes, kim chi cabbage with a stealth spice, and mild, sweet-salty potato chunks sprinkled with black sesame seeds, each made with care.

At the meal’s end, we were full and well warmed from inside to out, and not just because of the hot ginseng wine. I may have been ever so slightly pickled, but I left with an impression of freshness.

5000 Ans
5887 Sherbrooke West; 514-481-4999
Dinner for two, no booze: $30-$50

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