Restaurant: Celadon Fine Korean Cuisine Whistler
Last visited: November 22, 2010
Location: Whistler, BC
Address: Unit 300 – 4293 Mountain Square, in the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Brother and sister operation
- Executive Chef Sonny Huh
- Korean family owned
- Modern Korean cuisine
- Casual fine dining
- Private dining available
- Wine bar
- See my video here.
**Recommendations: Soju Cocktail, Korean Burger, Home made Kimchi
Celadon Whistler specializes in modern fine Korean cuisine. It offers an eclectic menu that hopes to bridge the gap between Canadian and Korean culture and food. The idea of modern Chinese food rarely works for me, however when it comes to modern Japanese, there’s something magical that happens. Now how about Korean? I can’t say I’ve tried much contemporary Korean cuisine, but I am an avid fan of authentic Korean food which is incredibly difficult to find in the city. Looking at the menu, Celadon does have quite a bit of Japanese flavours and ingredients going on, but nonetheless I was excited to see what they could bring to the table.
I was invited to Celadon Whistler’s Books to Cooks event held at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks bookstore and demonstration kitchen in Vancouver, BC. Therefore I am unable to comment on the food, service, or overall experience at Celadon Whistler since I have never been to the actual location.
The following photos are from Celadon and are a general representation of what is actually served. My comments will be based on the samples Executive Chef Sonny Huh prepared for us that evening. Giving the traveling aspect and circumstances, what I had is still not a proper representation of the quality or portions served at Celadon. However it did give me a taste of what they’re trying to do and the approach they’re taking to provide locals and tourists a unique ‘Koreanadian’ experience. Given that it is in Whistler, the prices are on the pricier side.
On the table:
- With fresh cucumber and pomegranate $6.50
- This cocktail was amazing! It reminded me of the delicious Aloe Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka Cocktail from Terracotta Modern Chinese.
- It’s dangerous because you can’t taste the Soju (Korean Vodka) but it creeps up on you and it does have a high alcohol content.
- The drink was light, crisp, refreshing, fruity and clean in taste with a cooling cucumber finish. It was mixed with some San Pellegrino and I think some lime or lemon juice because it carried tang as well.
- My only issue is that while the pomegranate seeds add a great visual affect, I find the flavour wasted since they were hard to get to in the drink. I think muddling the seeds and adding some of the juice to the cocktail would have incorporated the flavour better.
We also enjoyed some great non-alcoholic tea drinks from Dao Tea. The owner actually meets all the farmers in Asia that provide his tea leaves. His tea concoctions are Asian inspired and incredible in flavour and taste. They’re all very natural, creative and well infused drinks.
- The Korean girl beside me and I quietly discussed amongst ourselves and both agree that the Kimchi was fantastic. It’s a must have on any Korean table and eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- There’s many forms of kimchi, but the most common is made with Napa cabbage leaves.
- I could taste the pungent garlic infused cabbage leaves, the fermented pickled flavours as well as the spice from the chili. It was a great balance, not too sweet or tart, well aged and bang on.
- Jalapeno tossed in Chef Huh’s signature chili vinaigrette dressing $3.50
- This kind of Kimchi is perhaps more favoured to a Western market that is unfamiliar with kimchi. I still liked it though.
- It was a juicy tangy burst of tender jalapeno and it was very spicy, but still sweet. It was saucy with a ton of flavour and it definitely woke up all my taste buds within the first bite.
- Crispy seafood crepes with spring onions $16
- This is a very typical Korean dish commonly known as a Korean Pancake.
- I’ve had my fair share of home cooked ones as well as some from Korea (see here).
- The one from Celadon is definitely a gourmet one with lots of octopus and seafood. It’s also served in a rectangular form rather than the traditional circular form.
- It’s a chewy pan fried pancake with a crispy crust, sweet strands of long spring onions, spicy home made kimchi, a little jalapeno spice and topped with lots of seafood, predominantly octopus.
- There were big pieces of octopus, but sometimes they got a little tough in the cooking process.
- It’s more of an egg and potato batter rather than a flour batter so it’s more gummy in texture (as it usually is) although very flavourful.
- It’s dipped into a tangy, savoury, sweet and spicy garlic sesame sauce which had a strong orange flavour which was from the yuzu (a common Japanese condiment). The orange taste was unexpected and modern, but it worked and it brought a nice citrus complement to the seafood.
- Angel-hair noodles in cold kimchi soup with Alaskan king crab meat $18
- This is good as a light appetizer or summer lunch. For me, I wanted it after greasy Korean BBQ.
- Traditionally, this is a very peasant style dish and not something served to guests. However Celadon makes it all pretty and pink and with the added Alaskan King Crab, it was good enough for royalty.
- The pink colour is purely for effect and it’s just the juice of beet roots. It’s not intended to add any flavour, and it doesn’t.
- It’s a cold dish and the broth is very tangy and refreshing with a slight sweetness. It’s made with a water based daikon kimchi so there was a slight spicy kick with the radish slices underneath the noodles.
- The angel hair noodles were slightly overcooked for me, but maybe it’s different at the restaurant.
- I wasn’t a fan of the apples, which I was actually most excited about at first. Eaten with the noodles they added a rough straw like texture, although I appreciated them for their tangy sweetness. I think a mix of pickled sweet cucumber and raw cucumbers would have done the trick over the apples.
- I loved the addition of the quail’s egg and I liked eating the dish with the Kimchi appetizer better.
- I found it visually more appealing, but otherwise it reminded me of a Japanese sunomono in flavour.
**Korean Kimchi Burger – See video
- Bulgogi sauce marinated Pemberton natural beef patty, a slice of Swiss cheese and mild kimchi on ciabatta. French fries and chef’s yuzu infused sauce $19
- Currently they are serving it with fries, but I strongly suggested them serving it with lotus root chips! Be contemporary, but stay true to your philosophy… and what better way to stick to your roots than to serve a root! A lotus root! I hope they go with it
- The burger was honestly delicious. Fantastic incorporation of East and West ingredients that married well.
- It had a nice juicy tender and soft beef patty (that I would have requested medium rare if I was at the restaurant, but it wasn’t dry). It was the dominant ingredient, but not overwhelming.
- It was almost Californian in style because of the creamy avocado.
- It was savoury and sweet Bulgogli marinated beef balanced with a tangy and slightly sweetened 2 year old semi-crunchy kimchi. It also had a thin layer of homemade yuzu sauce that had a basil base, slight orange taste and spicy kick, but I wanted more of the sauce because I couldn’t really taste it unless I looked for it.
- It’s a store bought Ciabatta bun, and since the patty was quite thick the denser bun actually worked to match it. However I suggested them to slice it down the middle so that the bottom portion is equal to the top portion. There’s a bit too much bread otherwise, and it made it difficult to eat.
- I know. What is a Japanese soup doing on a Korean menu? This is a Korean Miso soup, and it’s actually not invented by Celadon. I guess it’s true that Asian cuisines do borrow from each other too.
- This Korean version is saltier and much darker and richer. I feel like they used dried anchovies as a base to give it an added saltiness, but I’m not sure.
- Bibimbap salad: cornucopia of fresh garden greens with bc sockeye salmon, sea urchin, tobiko and quail egg on barley rice. Chef’s chili vinaigrette dressing $24
- I found it more like a salad than a bibimbap especially with the spicy and tangy dressing. I did miss my actual bibimbap, but this would work for summer lunches or a shared appetizer for dinner.
- It was Korean in serving style and it also had similar veggies used in a bibimbap, but it was very Japanese with the Wild Sockeye Salmon sashimi, uni (sea urchin) and tobiko.
- If you’ve never tried sea urchin it has the texture of soft creamy rich butter and the taste of salty fish. It’s almost like the foie gras of the sea to me, at least in concept and texture, but not in flavour.
- It’s still hearty because it’s served on a bed of Korean barley rice which was almost like brown rice, but puffy, firm and almost snappy and bouncy in texture. It’s a bit earthy in flavour so you feel very healthy eating the dish.
- It was all very crunchy especially with the crunchy raw veggies and barley working together.
- It was all very simple, so I would prefer the stronger Korean flavours and the other more creative items Celadon offers.