I feel like I’ve been indulging way too much in restaurant food lately (as evidenced by all the food-related posts), but we had to go out and celebrate last night.  Celebrate what, you ask?  Why, I got myself a new job.  So what better way to celebrate than to go have some epic delicious Korean food at Sura Korean Restaurant, right?  Besides, it’d been a long week and I was seeking something comforting and familiar.  Since it’s a 5-hour drive to Jasper to get my mom’s home cooking, Sura had to settle as the next best thing.

Sura is usually quite busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so we made a reservation to make sure we could get seated immediately (throughout the evening, there were a few groups that had to wait for a table to clear).  I wouldn’t say it’s a large place (try finding parking in their lot during peak hours!), but it’s a decent size.  I don’t know how to explain this, but the moment I walk into Sura, I just feel like I’m in Korea.  There’s something about the minimalist ambiance, the various food aromas I remember from my childhood, and maybe it’s because there’s always a few tables full of Korean families.  The decor itself is not much to look at it, but to me it’s comforting.

I wrote about Sura as part of my Calgary Asian Eats post and I mentioned the sweet chili chicken wings.  I can never go to Sura and not get these epic chicken wings.  When they first arrive, it looks like a plate full of random crispy knobs, topped with chili-pepper laden sauce.  It’s like, this is chicken?  Where is the chicken!? Just take a look for yourself:

Does that look like chicken to you?  But it doesn’t matter.  I think this is what makes them so special.  I have no clue how they manage to get this type of batter on their wings – my guess is that it’s a rice-flour based batter of some sort.  It’s tempting to dive right in as soon as they hit the table, but they’re pretty much fresh out of the fryer… best to let them sit for a few minutes.  While we wait, we pick out all the loose crispy bits, dip them in the sauce, and crunch away.  No doubt it’s packed with fat and calories, but that’s makes it so delicious.  There’s a really nice sweetness that balances out the heat of the chili flakes.  The sauce itself is thick and rich.

Yup, it’s ugly, but it’s tasty.

Mark’s dad really wanted to have the hotpot, so he ordered the Seafood Hotpot to share with Mark.  But when it came to the table, they realized that the server had put in an order for the Beef Hotpot.  Oops.  Mark actually wanted the beef one instead so it ended up working out fine in the end.  I personally am not a huge fan of these types of hotpots (I prefer the ones with the broth and you cook various meats and veggies on your own – similar to fondue).  The presentation, however, was very pleasing.

I got myself the Haemeul Soon Dubu Jigae (soft tofu soup with seafood in a spicy broth).  This is my ultimate comfort food.  It’s a combination of things I love: seafood, soft tofu, egg, and spice.  It’s cooked in an earthenware pot and brought to the table at a rolling boil.  I have no idea how the servers manage to bring it all the way to table without getting splattered.  Inside there’s a mix of various seafood (mussels, shrimp, octopus), tons of soft, silky tofu, and a raw egg that you mix into the soup while it’s still scalding hot to cook it (the egg also gives the soup a nice richness).  The broth itself is spicy and rich with seafood flavour.  It’s perfect with a bowl of rice.

And of course I can’t forget to mention the Banchan (side dishes).  It’s usually the same banchan combination, but I think it varies with the season.

I don’t really remember what they all are (I AM SO HELPFUL), but you have the usual soybean sprouts, pickled cucumber, kimchi, fried lotus root, ooh-dong (fish cake), fried beans in a sticky sauce (I’m sure there’s an actual name but I don’t know what it is), and picked daikon radish.  Mark’s dad remarked that Sura makes really great banchan.  You would think it’s easy to make, but in reality, it’s easy to screw up.  At some Korean restaurants, I’ve had super bland banchan and at others, way too much seasoning.  Sura’s banchan is nicely balanced.

As always, I ate way too much.  My eyes were too big for my stomach.  I just never learn, though.

Sura Korean Restaurant
2320 4 Street NW
Calgary, AB
Phone: (403) 569-1454

Sura Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon