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Sura serves up Korean cuisine fit for a king

Spicy: the word that most often sums up a neophyte’s knowledge of Korean food.
BOTCD 2015 Winners_9

Spicy: the word that most often sums up a neophyte’s knowledge of Korean food.

It’s a simplifier that chef Sang-Cho Han and his staff at the award-winning Sura on Robson Street quietly disprove night after jam-packed night, with nuanced cuisine literally fit for kings and queens.

Building a menu around centuries-old recipes that would have been served only to Korea’s wealthiest classes, Sura has won Best Korean in Westender’s Best of the City: Dining readers’ choice poll for the sixth year in a row.

“Everything is traditional; there’s no fusion here,” explains Amy Kim, a representative of the bustling restaurant, which opened in 2008.

Seated on silk pillows and surrounded by traditional Hanok-style décor, more than 500 people flow in and out of Sura’s doors each night. And, each night, the restaurant goes through more than 20 heads of cabbage in its quest for the perfect kimchi, made in-house and served complimentary with each meal as part of a rotating trio of stunning side dishes, or ‘banchan’.

Kimchi, one of Korea’s most ubiquitous national dishes, is more than just the fermented cabbage most Vancouverites know and love, though. It encompasses hundreds of preparations of delicious veggies, from pickled radishes and cucumbers to pickled seaweed.

But yes, Sura is known far and wide for its baechu kimchi – tall heads of napa cabbage, chopped and coated with a blend of apples, pears, onions, garlic and so many sundried chili flakes that they form a palate-tingling paste on each leaf.

“Red kimchi is the most traditional type in Korea, and the whole restaurant theme is traditional, so we try to keep everything in the original way,” says Kim with a shy smile, scissors and metal chopsticks flashing between shared bites.

Seated next to her at the table, chef Han laughs at my kimchi-obsessed questioning as he offers up succulent braised beef and pan-stirred seafood alongside delicate, stuffed cucumbers and pillowy seafood pancakes. He knows the spicy starter will soon be forgotten in a sea of sweet soy glazes and melt-in-your-mouth meats.

In fact, this five-course introduction dispels another misconception decisively. There’s clearly more to Korean food than kimchi, and, neophytes take note: the country’s cuisine gets the royal treatment at Sura.


Sura Korean Royal Cuisine

1518 Robson



SURA 1105