Neighbourhood: Fort Garry
Address: 10-2077 Pembina Hwy
Phone: (204) 261-3131
(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)
In 2012, South Korean rapper PSY released a little tune called Gangnam Style. The corresponding music video became YouTube’s most-watched clip ever and the Korean-language single went on to become a runaway North American Top 40 hit. It was official: K-pop (Korean pop) had arrived in the West.
Korean cuisine has also infiltrated mainstream North American consciousness in a big way. Around the same time Gangnam Style was burning up the charts, Winnipeg saw two sizzling Korean opens: IGI BBQ and Sushi Bistro and Rakumi Japanese and Korean Restaurant.
Rakumi is sleek, spare and spacious, although a large flat screen showing an endless stream of K-pop music videos gives it a youthful, casual hangout vibe. What the 50-seat restaurant lacks in decor it makes up for in its hefty menu, which includes more than 300 appetizing options.
Rakumi offers Japanese fare and executes it well, no surprise considering a lion’s share of Winnipeg’s sushi spots are operated by Korean families. Here, too, sushi lovers will have trouble deciding on the dozens of lavishly plated rolls — but it’s the Korean menu that piqued our interest. Those looking for an authentic Korean experience will want to flip straight to a page titled Rakumi’s Little Korea.
Start by sharing the kimchi jeon, a mildly spicy pancake-like dish topped with veggies, including that ever-present Korean staple, kimchi. The tangy interplay between red chile pepper and sour cabbage is centre stage as it is in many Korean dishes, and the doughy pancake provides a suitably neutral canvas.
Bibimbap is a Korean signature that literally translates to ‘mixed rice.’ Fluffy white rice is layered in a bowl with kimchi, sautéed mixed vegetables, ground beef and topped with a fried egg. When mixed with gochujang, a fermented red chile pepper paste, it’s a satisfying, colourful dish with a kick thanks to the fiery sauce and the pungent kimchi. Sauce on the side lets diners control heat.
Those feeling adventurous should try the ohjinguh bokkeumm: hot, spicy stir-fried squid. Glistening in a savoury-sweet soy sauce cut with red chile pepper, curling tentacles are toothsome and flavourful.
Quell the flames with a creamy dessert. We enjoy the earthy red bean ice cream — especially when paired with warm, gooey tempura bananas.
Rakumi is open Mon-Sat 11:30 am-2 am and Sun 11 am-10 pm.