Danpung Momiji 310 Korean Restaurant Review

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Uncomplicated excellence

Nanaimo’s Korean cuisine catalogue continues growing with Danpung Momiji 310. This tiny shop opened up in late 2022 and is located in the Port-Of-Call Inn on Terminal avenue at Townsite. It was previously Sushi Momiji and we wonder if it’s actually just the same owners who’ve changed up the menu and rebranded. We don’t speak Korean or Japanese but a little Google Fu tells us “danpung” in Korean and “momiji” in Japanese both mean “maple” in English. We don’t know what the 310 refers to though. Let us know if you do.

Has anyone ever disliked a deep-fried meat pocket?

Anyway, we are still learning about Korean food, and have had good experiences at Haru, Horang, and the excellent downtown fried chicken joint, Nanda. We were excited to meet up with friends for dinner at Danpung Momiji and give it a whirl too.

So first things first, make sure your expectations are in check. Danpung Momiji is a very small restaurant – maybe a half dozen tables – and it’s not going to impress you with its glitz in the way a place like Horang does. Small kitchen, small menu, and you’ll probably be server by the owner in sneakers rather than some local kid in a black dress. Things here are simple.

Ssam is important because the BBQ meat is super rich.

Normally when we have Korean, we also like to have soju, but for whatever reason we passed that up tonight. We were keen to try one of the Korean beers we’d never had before and the restaurant had two: Cass, and Terra, both lagers. Over the course of the evening we tried both. The server asked our preference and all four of us preferred the Cass. The server then told us Terra was popular with young people. Ouch, lol.

For dinner, we ordered some pork mandu (or man-doo as their menu spells it) which are little pork and veggie-filled fried dumplings. Think like a deep-fried gyoza. These little bad boys were great and we had eaten almost all of them before we remembered to take a picture. There goes our cred as professionals.

We also ordered pork gal-bi (ribs) which are pictured above and were exceptionally delicious. Like most Korean BBQ, this was served with “ssam”, a selection of pickles, kimchi, and other small dishes there to cut the fat from the meat and refresh your palate between bites. This is a very fun way to eat.

Fun Korean lagers we hadn’t tried before. No soju bombs for us, though (this time).

Lastly, we ordered budai jigae, or “Korean army soup”. This is a dish we’d been aware of for a time because of it’s history. The story is that during the Korean war, money and food in Korea were tight and so families were throwing whatever they had on hand into a hot pot for dinner. Because of the huge presence of American troops at the time, it was easy for some of their food supplies to fall off the back of trucks (so to speak). As a result, simple Korean hot pots suddenly had spam, hot dog wieners, and even processed cheese in them along with ramen noodles, chewy rice cakes, and other Korean staples. The cool thing is that the dish turned out to be popular and is still eaten today in may Korean homes. We couldn’t wait to try it at the restaurant.

…And it didn’t disappoint. We had the hot pot bubbling away at our table and inside was noodles, sliced up hot dogs, spam, chewy rice cakes, baked beans (!), and ramen noodles. This was a great meal to share. It’s so basic, but so appealing. If you are the kind of person who likes Kraft Dinner with hot dogs because it brings up good feelings from your poor childhood, we guarantee you will like budae jigae. By the way, baked beans sitting at the bottom of a spicy noodle dish is a revelation and was our favourite part of the pot. Nom nom!

Service was good during our visit. Our server read the vibe at our table (four people laughing and having a good time) and knew not to be too obtrusive. Drinks were replaced as needed, the hot pot burner was adjusted for us so we didn’t wreck our food (or burn the building down) and side dishes were explained as needed. A nice touch was an offer to try some Korean beer on the house to give our opinion.

Budae jigae: uncomplicated but totally heartwarming and delicious.

The kicker here is that our meal, with a couple of drinks each, and a modest tip, was only $86. For the food and service we received we consider that to be very good value.

Conclusion

It’s funny. At the time we thought to ourselves after leaving the restaurant, “Eh, this place was pretty good.” But, looking back on it now, we fondly remember the delicious food, the good service, and the uncomplicated nature of the restaurant and its menu (not to mention the reasonable price) and we find ourselves really wanting to go back. Danpung Momiji 310 is better than the sum of its parts, even it it’s not immediately apparent, and we look forward to getting back in there in the near future. Perhaps we’ll see you there!

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