There is a new Korean restaurant located on a lovely side street (Cardero) about ten steps away from hopping Robson street. A welcome-chalkboard beckons as you turn your back to Robson’s city sounds and walk the few steps toward green trees filled with birdsongs.
You have arrived at Kosoo – Korean Kitchen + Raw Bar.
The interior also brings a sense of peace as was precisely the goal of Designer and co-owner James Lee when he drew up his blueprint. James Lee has been designing restaurants for many years and he relies on his military training when it comes to order, with Kosoo he incorporated his spiritual philosophy for flow and his artist’s passion for nature and natural wood.
Artwork of pure white boards meticulously calligraphed with sweeping black ink instil images of nature. To complete the welcoming feel of the room, authentic Korean pottery sits on walled shelves. There is also a framed Korean costume with gorgeous detailing on a feature wall.
The wine rack is constructed of natural woods that looks like intricate art but is completely functional.
The handpicked team of chefs says:
Chef Han sums it up in one line, “I use my first honest mind to master the basics of every ingredient and cuisine to find new taste and I put my every effort into serving dishes that may move my guests’ minds.”
Chef Paul said, “A sincere and serious mind determines the taste of the dishes I create so when people feel happiness with my food it motivates me to keep cooking.”
Chef Joon said with profound clarity, “Cooking is not simply an occupation but the purest and noblest working process.”
Kosoo roughly translates to “Master of the First Principle” and also means “To Sustain”.
Meet Chef Han and you will quickly realize that he exemplifies the word Kosoo, in all its translations.
Chef Han’s fascination with food began in his early childhood days when he was allowed to sit in the kitchen to watch his mom prepare family meals. It was not just the daily meal-making he was enthralled with, he was intrigued by the more time labouring ingredients – the making of kimchi, soy sauce, and chilli pastes. Today Chef Han makes his own kimchi and chilli pastes, and if he could he would make his own soy sauce, just like his mama did.
The menu reflects his passion – he trained in Japanese and French cuisines – combined with love for his Korean roots. Chef Han describes their concept as “Modern Korean”; food that is created for guests to experience true Korean foods with a western flair.
Always Local and sustainable:
Fresh ingredients, from local BC producers, are delivered daily at the kitchen door. Vegetables arrive in the morning, fresh kimchi is uncovered, fresh fish is delivered directly to the kitchen door. Chef Han said he loves working with the consistency of local, fresh products.
Try the lunch specials, or bowls of noodles and soups. Or, oh goodness me, the Raw menu‘s mouthwatering items.
For lunch I had:
Bocconcini Wrap – soft, creamy bocconcini wrapped with prosciutto and topped with tomatoes and a crisp parmesan tuile. Served in a fragrant and light Korean kimchi and made-from-scratch tomato purée.
Salmon Caprese – Smoked salmon with bocconcini, tomatoes, and balsamic reduction. There is a sense of familiar and surprise in this dish. I love how Chef Han can harmonize the rich cuisine of Italy with the soft lightness of Asian cuisine.
Matcha Crème brûlée – pure creamy custard topped with seasonal blueberries and presented beautifully. The best way to end the meal should always be like this – it should be pleasing to all the senses, light enough to keep the tummy happy, and of course it should instil one with the firm resolve to return as often as it takes to taste through the whole menu.
The rest of the menu will take you on journeys you have never tasted before. For me everything I tried seemed familiar yet pleasantly surprising, There is nothing jarring about Kosoo Korean Kitchen + Raw Bar – from the location to the space, and the people, to the plates and bowls of lovingly created foods.
Do the entire menu with a group of friends or opt for à la carte. There are so many dishes to choose from – every single dish is carefully built from the ground up with 90 percent local ingredients, love, and beautiful energy.
Until next time keep up with my local community/sustainable/gluten-free travels on twitter @glutenfreesam and for even more stories check out the province.com