Through the website of Dine Out Vancouver Event which was organized by the Tourism Vancouver, we got the information about the Hwaro Korean Steak House & Raw Bar. When we logged into the restaurant’s homepage, we were attracted to the food gallery pictures and their reasonable price. If you are a big fan of barbeque with Asian style, you should not skip this amazing restaurant. It is an authentic Korean cuisine & it serves combo meals featuring premium beef or pork, including starters, main dishes and ice cream for dessert. It’s just located right at Henderson Place, Coquitlam city.
The owner of the restaurant is Ray Lee who is an executive chef with an advanced background in culinary. For example, he not only achieved a Master of Business but also a Culinary Degree in Sydney (Australia). Besides, he also got the Food Safety 2 and Red Seal Certificates. Moreover, Ray Lee has a lot of experience in cooking with many years working as Sous Chef in Hilton Hotel (Sydney) and in Pan Pacific Hotel, Sheraton Guildford Hotel, Coast Coal Harbor Hotel (Vancouver).
He creates a very high standard for the quality of the restaurant, especially in food sourcing. The beef which is selected must be prime rate or above in Canada & stored at in-house cooling for 21-42 days to increase its optimal flavours & tenderness. And the restaurant owner only buys meat from local pork certified farms with dignity & care. Furthermore, he also has a particular cooking methodology. The cut-meat is pre-sliced & cooked individually and its surface caramelized to increase the delicacy
Hwaro shows its presence on the Korean newspaper, Facebook, Instagram and on internet sites. By using Social Media channels, the restaurant can reach to their customers easily. On the homepage of the restaurant, there is an advertisement for its Instagram handle “HWARO 2048”, and this is a good strategy of marketing for customers to start following its page.
Hwaro is also a member of “Groupon” which is a website where you can pay before going to the restaurant for a better price with the same menu. For example, Hwaro was offering 33% off on one of its barbeque combos. This could be a great advertisement source for people who like getting discounts but quality meals.
The restaurant is receiving 3.5 stars from Groupon.com & 4 stars from TripAdvisor (“HWARO KOREAN STEAK HOUSE & RAW BAR, Coquitlam – Updated 2020 Restaurant Reviews, Photos & Reservations – Tripadvisor”, 2020), with positive comments & feedbacks from its customers.
The restaurant not only focuses on online channels, but it also has a lot of celebrity pictures and banners for liquor advertising in their facility. Hwaro can obtain benefits if they agree to sell the liquors that celebrities are advertising or sponsoring. This can attract more customers to have a drink.
Additionally, the restaurant is also offering plenty of promotions, such as combo menus, special lunch menus, etc. which are much cheaper than normal ones from $10 to $40. These offers are pretty good deals, especially to potential customers who want to try authentic Korean food. Especially, customers will get 15% off for every item on the barbeque menu every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm. The restaurant is open seven days a week and offers food delivery as well. The Hwaro restaurant also is near Douglas College in Coquitlam, it just takes 7 minutes to get there. Therefore, this Korean restaurant is an ideal venue for a meal that we are looking for.
With all the above exciting points, our group has decided to visit this Hwaro restaurant to taste their food with the lunch combo for 4 persons with sharing family-style, including:
- Daily Congee with mashed Tofu
- Green Salad with home-made assorted fruit dressing
- Shrimp Cocktail with Gochujang cocktail sauce
- Beef Bulgogi – Pan-fried marinated beef w. Korean special soy-based sauce
- Wild Mushroom japchae
- Fermented Soybean Paste Soup with rice
- Miso Creme Brulee.
The combo is also served with traditional Korean side dishes.
At first, the daily Congee would make you unimpressed due to its boring presentation, but it turned out it had quite a good flavor, and it made you feel better while keeping you waiting for other dishes. Next was the Green Salad with green lettuce, tomatoes, slices of apples. All ingredients were mixed perfectly together with the home-made sauce. You could taste the authenticity of the sauces and side dishes. Serving together with the salad was the Shrimp Cocktail. We had to admit that the dish was super delicious with fresh shrimp, displayed with the special sauce – again – their secret was THE SAUCE, with a bit of sweet and spicy. It was the right combination.
We continued with the main dishes, including 3 courses: Beef Bulgogi, Wild Mushroom Japchae, and Fermented Soybean Paste Soup. Starting with the Beef Bulgogi, what is it? Generally, bulgogi means “fire meat” (“Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)”, 2020). It is made with the most delicate parts of the beef. And it is one of the most popular traditional Korean foods, and it has a long history of more than a thousand years. Different regions also vary the cooking method of this bulgogi in Korea. The next highlight of this dish is Bulgogi sauce. It has a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, Asian pear (or red apple), garlic, ginger, ground black pepper, and sesame oil. This beef bulgogi is very delicious with a combination of salty & sweet flavors.
The next main course was Wild Mushroom Japchae. Like Kimchi, Japchae is a typical dish in Korean food culture. Korean people often enjoy this dish during their festive holidays and also on an ordinary day. It is a mix of glass noodles, which are made from sweet potatoes, along with colorful vegetables and well-seasoned meat. There is no Korean restaurant that does not serve this popular and special dish. The dish is cooked straightforwardly, with glass noodles stir-fried with chilis, soya sauce, lots of colorful vegetables and sesame oil.
The last main course was the Fermented Soybean Paste Soup. It is cooked in Korean stone stew and also is one of the popular dishes of daily home-cooking in Korea. It has a variety of ingredients that you can add in to fit your specific taste, including tofu, mushroom, or kinds of seafood (clam, squid, shrimp, crab meat, etc.) or eggs. However, if you are the 1st eater for this kind of soup, it may not be easy to get used to it due to the heavy flavor and its salty taste. This soup is usually served with steamed rice so that guests can try it more easily.
The last one of the combos was the dessert. It was the Miso Creme Brulee, a perfect combination of the sweet & the salty taste. The top layer with burned sugar was quite interesting to enjoy. Even though it was still too sweet for me & Alex, it strongly appealed to Amy & Cynthia, and they enjoyed it immensely.
In summary, the taste was so delicious, especially with the fresh & quality of food compared to the price at only $15/combo per person. However, the food presentation was not impressive as their website photos & it was the minus point for the restaurant. We assume that this restaurant is not a fine-dining one and it is for a family or a group of friends with a casual style, they do not put the food presentation as one of the targets.
Talking about the restaurant ambiance, the first impression of our group was challenging to find the place because it was located in a corner of the 2nd floor and there was no signage at the mall lobby. And it made our group think that Hwaro was not a good place to try the food.
Then, when we entered the restaurant, its ambiance was so warm and we were friendly welcoming by the staff. It was one of the best feelings you could get from a restaurant at first glance, and we had not expected that!
The lighting and the walls were unique, and the light was neither too dim nor too bright. It was perfect for a barbecue restaurant atmosphere. The walls looked like old-fashioned bricks in the 1970s, and wooden furniture; these factors added an antique, and professional look to the restaurant.
There was free Wi-Fi available, which was an asset because one member of our team did not have data at that moment, so it helped us to post our activity onto our personal pages.
Regarding the cleanliness, it was satisfactory overall. Since their highlight dish was a barbecue that is cooked right at the guest table, it made the floors easy to slipper of grease. All kinds of tableware were clean & arranged in order on the guest tables.
The service of the restaurant was excellent. Our group went there around 2 pm, this could be one of the reasons why the food was served quickly. The waitress was also a customer service oriented, and she explained all the food that we ordered. She made us aware of all allergies before confirming with all our orders. She was a hard-working person, we noticed she was alone attending people.
For sustainability concerns, firstly it looked like the restaurant was aware of what they were doing, for example, competitive environment, there are many restaurants around of Hwaro with lower prices, but what distinguishes it is promotions (combos) different kind of food for better payment and better satisfaction of costumers. Secondly, when we finished eating, there was still plenty of food, so the waitress offered us to take them to go, this is better than throw food, she gave us containers to takeaway.
The reviews left on the internet, and our experience from that day, we think the restaurant will be well off in the future with no difficulty.
Last but not least, Hwaro also has the integration of modern food & beverage trends. The restaurant has many options for international drinks, not just classic drinks from Korea. In the section of white wines like “Jackson Estate” that is from New Zealand or “L´ Ora” which is from Italy, red wines, for instance, “Yalumba” from Australia.
The menu had vegan options available and gluten-free, so you can make a special order.
Mixed Baby Green Salad, Wild Mushroom Japchae, Kimchi Flat Bread and Carbonara Tteokbokki & Oden are its integration of modern food, in addition, they also sell pasta like “Spicy Cheesy Gochujang Bolognese Pasta”.
(From group 6 – KMV)
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