I can respect a certain amount of obsession. If single-mindedness and tunnel vision is sometimes needed for perfection, so be it. When a restaurant names itself after a solitary protein, I appreciate it.

I've been to Dae Ji, which means "pork" in Korean, on numerous occasions over the years. It's not quite a temple to all things pig in the same way that bacon lust has reigned its unholy terror over the past few years, but a singularly obsessive ode to dongas, a Korean take on the Japanese tonkatsu, though pounded thinner into schintzel territory. There's multiple iterations on the theme here: dongas plain and simple, dongas in curry, dongas rolled up with kim chi, ad infinitum. Even the non-pork options - breaded chicken cutlets, breaded fish fillets - are in on the game, all offerings to that Holy Deep Fryer in the sky.

Instead of a porcus Baptist revival, Dae Ji has a hushed, mechanical love, a dogmatic sense that toil and labour will ultimately please its breaded and curly-tailed overlord. With that said, one can almost appreciate the sheer neglect given to all other items offered. The basic cutlet ($7.99) comes baptized in an oddly tangy take on a Japanese tonkatsu sauce. The curry version ($8.50) repeats the same in a typical Pacific Rim curry sauce, albeit weighted down with potatoes. Each is served with the same side dishes: a side of regrettable, spicy macaroni salad; lettuce shavings insulted further with a mayo/Thousand Island concoction, etc. All of this may spell disaster for most other places, but the fact that Dae Ji provides not one, but two cutlets per serving only confirms that you're not meant to enjoy anything other than the cutlet anyway.

For those whose arteries cannot abide by the same, Dae Ji also offers a dae ji bulgogi (pork slices marinated in spicy kimchi sauce and non-fermented cabbage; $6.99) and a kimchi fried rice with an egg on top ($7.99).


Dae Ji
519 Dunsmuir Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 1Y4
604 677 1636
(A Burnaby location also apparently exists at #205-4501 North Road)


Anonymous said... @ June 16, 2010 at 11:56 PM

This place is fantastic! Used to eat there all the time when I worked downtown. Great value for the food you get.

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