Sherman's Food Adventures: Saemaul Cafe

Saemaul Cafe

I was having a chat with Mijune (yes, she still has time to chat...  sometimes...) and we agreed that there aren't many surprises or secrets when it comes to the food scene in the GVRD.  This can be mostly attributed to the plethora of foodies, bloggers and IGers located in the Lower Mainland.  If it exists, someone is going to find it and let everyone else know.  With a few social media events, a little known spot can essentially go viral within a day.   So when we were invited to check out the new Saemaul Cafe, I guess we were going to spread the word about this little known Korean rice dessert cafe in Coquitlam.

Perfect for those who have a gluten allergy or those who just love rice cake, Saemaul offers up a variety of desserts that I would've never guessed rice cake/flour would be a part of.  One of the most obvious and regular items was the Red Bean Mochi.  Oh yeah, these were lit as the glutinous rice exterior was pillowy soft with a nice mouth feel when chewed.  Inside, the red bean paste was a bit chunky and pretty sweet.  Next up was the Rice Cheesecake featuring a rice flour crust.  I found the cake portion slightly lumpy and not particularly smooth, but it wasn't a deal-breaker.  It was creamy though with the definite baked cream cheese essence.  It wasn't very sweet which suited me fine.

Although they have a selection of fruit bingsoo, we stayed with theme and had the Injeolmi Bingsoo.  Light and airy, the bingoo was mildly sweet and creamy.  I thought it was on-par with many of the other spots in town, but my favourite is still My Frosty.  The injeolmi was predictably nutty and toasty flavoured being aromatic.  The little nuggets of rice cake were softly chewy.  On the side was Rice Cake Churros (no joke!) where they were fried and then tossed in cinnamon sugar.  They definitely tasted like churros and had a firm crunch.  Of course they were chewy inside.  We then got 2 Rice Roll Cakes in Matcha and Strawberry flavours.  Appearance-wise, they looked like sponge cake, but one bite and yes, it was definitely rice cake as they were dense and a bit chewy.  Once I got over the texture, it was good being mildly sweet.

My absolute favourite item of the tasting had to be the Homemade Rice Flour Waffles with fruit and ice cream.  These were the crunchiest things I've ever eaten.  One bite and the rest of the room noticed due to the loud noise.  It was airy and light, but not like a regular waffle where there would be a chewy interior.  Think of them more like a crisp where it will shatter upon contact.  I wasn't expecting a Dipping Chocolate Fondue to arrive next because you don't see it very much at Korean dessert shops in Vancouver.  It was neatly plated with fruit, rice cake and rice flour cakes.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a dark chocolate dip that was silky with a mildly sweet and bitter aftertaste.  I found the rice flour cake to be on par with the rice roll cakes in terms of being dense.

Our last item was a beverage in the Jolly Pong Shake topped with, of course Jolly Pong rice puffs (think along the lines of Honey Smacks).  The shake itself was creamy and thick from the combination of milk and ice cream.  The nutty sweetness of the Jolly Pong added some body and aromatics.  It is a really popular drink in Korea and this was the first time I've tried it.  In fact, the shake was only one of the items I had for the first time at Saemaul.  It was generally a positive experience where I had to wrap my brain around some of the textures.  But great for those wanting to eat gluten-free desserts (most of them at least) and/or wanting to try something a bit different.

*Desserts were complimentary excluding gratuities*

The Good:
- Lots of gluten-free choices
- Something different
- That waffle...

The Bad:
- Textures might be odd for some

0 comments: