Friday, May 6, 2011

Restaurant Review: Sura Korean BBQ

It's been a little while since I've reviewed any restaurants in Saskatoon, but in the last week and a bit I've been dining out plenty.  If you read my first review in "Eating Around Saskatoon, Sweetsugarbean Style", you know I never go to chains if I can help it, seeking out the independents instead.  Bonus points if I go to a place which offers dishes I don't make at home.  Such is the case with the Sura, where I fell in love with bulgogi and bibimbap!

Sura is a very new little neighbourhood Korean BBQ house situated not too far from where I live.  The owners came to Saskatoon from Korea about 5 years ago, and have set up shop in a space that was a Chinese restaurant in a former life.  Extensive gutting and renovations have turned this place into a cozy nook with an urban feel.  Dark brown lacquer dining tables are set off nicely with warm purple walls which are highlighted with some interesting textures.  Soft lighting beams out from some pretty neat light fixtures (I love cool lighting!)  The dining room has only 7 tables,  but I did find out they have 3 rooms in the back for private bookings, with 2 rooms having a capacity for 10 and one room that is smaller for a party of 5.  Good to know!   Reservations are a must for evening dining.  We were here on a Wednesday night, and a few of the other tables were already occupied by fellow weekday diners.

Korean BBQ
We were out celebrating my b-day, so I was allowed to pick dishes I wanted to try.   Nice friends, hey?  We were at a BBQ house, so of course we had to try that.  The neat thing about the tables is that they have a little BBQ grill built right inside so we can grill our own meat.  Cool!  There were 5 of us in total, so we chose one order of thinly sliced beef brisket, and one order of sliced pork belly.  The meat was sliced super super thin, and with Mindy as grill master it cooked up fairly quickly, two minutes max.  Accompanied by some dipping sauces and hot sauce, lettuce leaves, sliced garlic and jalapenos, this was a pretty neat experience.  I mostly ate mine dipped in sauce, but rolled up in lettuce with rice and hot sauce was really good too.  I preferred the beef to the pork, as I thought it had better flavour, and the thinness of the pork tricked my brain into thinking it was bacon (!!!), which it obviously wasn't.  Lamb is also an option, but considerably more expensive.  We all quite enjoyed the grill-your-own-meat thing, and I would definitely try it again.

Beef Bulgogi

We also ordered a few other dishes that were freshly prepared for us, including the beef Bulgogi, which the menu describes as 'sliced beef marinated in a sweet fruity soy sauce'.  It is that and more!  Subtlety spicy and sweet and not too salty, I really loved this.  Sometimes I wrapped it in lettuce, sometimes I ate it with steamed rice.  Same goes for the pork dish we ordered, Gochajan Joomuluk.  Again, fabulous.  Light, with a garlic and sweet chili sauce, this dish was a hit as well.   

Gochajan Joomuluk
To accompany all of the meat being consumed, we ordered some  Bibambab, which is a bowl of steamed rice served with assorted vegetables and a red pepper sauce.  There are two kinds of Bibambab, one with rice and veggies, and the other more deluxe with the veggies and a raw egg on top.  Apparently the heat of the bowl  makes the rice crispy on the outside and the egg cooks from the heat and adds a richness to the rice and veg.  We ordered the egg one (or so I thought!), but for some reason we received just the plain rice and veggies instead.  No matter.  The Bibimbab did not shine quite as bright compared to the other  meat dishes, but still very fresh and very tasty. 


Sura has three different types of soups on the menu and I wanted us to try one, so I opted for a bowl of Soondooboojjigae (which I pronounced something like soodoobugaloo.  Not even close!)  The soup was full of soft tofu and veggies, in a warm soy bean paste broth. You can eat as is, or add some steamed rice.  I liked it but would probably choose one of the others next time just so see what they are all about too.  There was Haemulpajun on the menu, a sizzling seafood pancake fried with vegetables and topped with egg, (or as we lovingly referred to it as egg pizza), that caught my eye but no one else seemed as into it as me, so this dish remains to be tried next time.

And there will be a next time.  Service was very good, attentive but not clingy.  We figured out the menu pretty quickly, and they answered our questions very well.  If I had any annoyances, they were small, like when the menu said we get side orders of kimchi with our meal, and we didn't.  Or when they took too long refilling water glasses.  But these are small, poky things.  Sura is not licensed for alcohol yet, but they are in the process of acquiring one.  We were served this wonderful tea made of Solomon Seal root.  It has a sort of hazelnut scent, which at first I couldn't quite place, but liked very much.  I enquired about gluten free options, and was told that their soy sauce most likely contains wheat, but that grilling meat at your table would be fine if you brought your own soy sauce, which I know some Celiacs do anyway when they eat out.  As for the vegetarians, they are in luck!  The Bibimbab is veggie, as is the soup with Kimchi in it.  I made a point of asking what the broth is based of, and was told all soups have a soy bean paste base.  If eating fish is an option for the vegetarian, they can also have the Haemulpajun.

We had plenty of food for five people, and the bill was just a little over $100 before tip, including tax.  The food was very delicious and light.  Not a lot of grease or deep fry action here, which is a nice change from some other restaurants.  Sura currently has 2 specials to take note of:  a daily $4.99 lunch special, 11am-2pm.  And on Sundays from 4pm-8pm  there is an all you-can-eat grilled meat buffet featuring beef and pork, including soup and rice, for $24.95 plus tax.  Kids under 12 eat for $14.95 plus tax.  Good deals!  Saskatoon's dining scene is so much better now that we have an authentic Korean BBQ house like Sura.  I can't wait to go back and try the egg pizza!

Sura Korean BBQ
1517 11St. West
Tues-Sat 11am-2pm; 5pm-9:30pm
Sun 5pm-9pm
(Kitchen closes at 8pm)


  1. Looks delicious! I'll have to try it out. Thanks for your review!

  2. Our anniversary was yesterday so we planned on going out to eat. Well something came up where we had to go and help a family member. Seeing as our time was limited and we hadn't tried this restaurant in our neighborhood we'd try it. My husband ordered the Beef Bulgogi to take out. Well the beef was tasteless and rubbery, it came with a box of gluey rice. For over $20. we were quite disappointed. This is very expensive for what you get and didn't even resemble BBQ.. we won't be back.

  3. I'm sorry to hear of your terrible experience at Sura. I haven't been back since April 27th, so I can't attest to the current quality of the restaurant. It was quite good when we visited but something must have obviously changed since then. Thanks for letting me know.


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