Korean for ‘pay day’ (or at least according to my Korean coworker), Don Day is a tiny hole in the wall on 9th street and 7th ave, in downtown Calgary.
The restaurant is TINY, furniture is made from empty storage containers, and most of the signs in the store are in Korean so foreigners are shit out of luck (the waitress understands numbers and furious pointing).
Something I look out for when going to ethnic restaurants is the clientele. As a rule of thumb, if a Chinese restaurant is filled with Chinese people, they probably have more authentic Chinese food.
In our case, my companion and I were the only non-Koreans in the restaurant.
Lets see if my hypothesis holds true.
We ordered what the other restaurant patrons ordered, and ended up with an enormous metal wok brimming with bright red soup and a mountain of pork bones (creatively named spicy pork bone soup).
It’s placed on top of a propane stove on your table, you stir the soup to mix the spices and make sure the (pre-stewed) bones are mostly submerged, and then you wait.
Luckily, we ordered a plate of spicy pork and that came out while the soup was coming to a boil.
The pork was nicely seasoned, and tasted very…Korean. I’m not just tossing words around here either. Korean red pepper, red pepper paste, onions, sesame seeds, sugar and onions make up the majority of the seasoning for the sliced pork. Mostly sweet, with a bit of spicy. Together with the slightly fatty pork, I can’t think of a better way to eat onions (which there were a lot of).
While we were distracted by the k-pop videos, creative furniture, bone disposal can, and clouds of soup fumes, our pork bone soup came to a boil.
And it was wonderful.
Looking at the color of the soup and the flecks of pepper, you would expect the dish to be spicy, but you’d also be wrong.
While it has a bit of a heat, it’s entirely tolerable and not at all overpowering.
The spices and flavoring in the soup are similar to the pork dish with the addition of scallions (cut into convenient 3-inch sections) and a ton of extra red and black pepper.
The cut of meat was from the spine of the animal, and the tiny muscles, tendons and ligaments had been stewed to the consistency of meat butter. Getting at the meat is a very hands-on process, as you need to separate vertebrae to tease out delicious morsels. My one complaint would be that the pork bones were somewhat bland (aside from the richness of the meat itself), but this is easily remedied by eating the pork with the flavorful broth.
For those looking for carbs, there’s half a potato floating somewhere in the bottom of the broth too. If you were wondering, it tastes like a boiled potato.
This place has character and it knows it.
The location is kinda sketchy, the restaurant is tiny, you’re going to end up smelling like spicy bone soup regardless of what you order, communication with the staff is going to be minimal, air conditioning is nonexistent, and the tables are all different degrees of stickiness.
But none of that really matters.
The pricing is very reasonable, the people are friendly enough, and most importantly, the spicy pork bone soup is absolutely fucking delicious.