Obviously I must be feeling better as I am starting to venture back out into the real world and my usual habit of dining out. I had plans with JP to catch the preview show of Whisper (minor jaunt off track here) which is a collaboration between Catalyst Theatre and the University of Alberta Drama program’s Studio Theatre – if you’re in the Edmonton area, go see this production. It is not in the usual Catalyst Theatre style which always seems larger than life, hugely theatrical and bold – this is a quietly powerful production. JP learned that everything in Whisper is based on the experiences of the actors and it is incredibly compelling to hear their stories as they reflect on memories and experiences, while expressing their hopes, fears and thoughts of the future. I found that I could completely relate to a lot of their experiences like what are your plans after graduation (still grappling with that question myself), what does your future look like, memories of people you’ve lost and moments of pure joy and wonder from childhood. It was nothing like I expected and yet it was everything I would have expected from Catalyst and Studio Theatre – the unexpected is a beautiful thing. So I really recommend going to see it – the play runs until April 7. Ticket prices range from $10 – $20.
Anyways, since JP and I were both on campus, we decided to meet up for a very early dinner (4:45pm – early bird special anyone?) before heading back to our respective offices to do a little more work before the show. One of our favorite campus area haunts is GaYa Korean Restaurant.
GaYa is a tiny little place that seats maybe 30 people max, but since we were there so early, it was just JP and I and another table of 2. GaYa has changed their menu a bit and removed my usual dish of rice cake soup with dumplings (it’s devastating). They no longer make the dumplings since they used to make them by hand and it is just too time consuming, but they have introduced a few new items, which we tested out.
Our appetizer was the Korean egg roll, which is basically like a rolled egg with some carrots and onions in it. This is super delicious – we ate a few pieces before I remembered to take a picture – the egg is slightly sweet and reminds me a little of Japanese sweet eggs (tamago) but I think I like this better because it is subtly sweet and not overpoweringly sweet. The ketchup was a tiny bit spicy and as someone who thinks ketchup and eggs is one of the strangest combinations ever, I was actually sold on the egg roll and ketchup together (not that I will be eating my regular scrambled eggs with Heinz any time soon)!
Our two main dishes (which we shared) were the new GaYa Spicy Kimchi Tofu and the Duk Gook. The GaYa spicy kimchi tofu dish is rice and a spicy combination of kimchi, tofu (yum tofu!) and a small amount of beef. I normally don’t eat a lot of rice, but I really liked the texture of the rice here – it was slightly wetter and it provided a nice base for the spicy component of the dish. I can’t handle super spicy dishes but this was not the kind of spicy where you had to wipe the sweat off your face and drink copious amounts of water, it was more of a small amount of manageable heat. This was JP’s choice, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it – I even had seconds!
My choice was the Duk Gook, which is the rice cake soup (without dumplings). The soup comes with Korean rice cakes, egg and some glass noodles. There is no spiciness whatsoever so this is great for anyone who doesn’t want any chili peppers in their food. Duk Gook is definitely one of my comfort foods and I love having it in the winter, but I could really have it any time. The rice cakes are a perfect blend of soft and chewy without being overly tough and doughy and the soup is pretty light so you don’t feel like you’re stuffed full when you finish. I can never finish this dish by myself so I would either take someone who eats the rest of my dish as well as their own (like JP) or consider sharing a bowl and a Korean egg roll for a quick lunch or dinner.
Gaya Korean Restaurant
So What Would Argenplath Pay?
In total, our three dishes worked out to $37.25 including tax and tip. The Korean egg roll was $7.95, the spicy kimchi tofu was $12.95 and the duk gook was $9.95 – so if you were in the mood for a quick lunch/dinner, you could probably get away with spending less than $17 for your meal depending on what you order. GaYa has other delicious dishes that I love like the Jap Chae (glass noodles) and the stone bowl. Most items on the menu are under $13 so with tax and tip, it’s not an overly expensive meal. The service is always efficient and they really get you in and out of there quickly so it is possible to finish your meal in less than an hour (great for those 1 hour breaks between class!).
Just a brief note on what I paid for my Whisper tickets – since we were at the preview show, tickets were only $5! If you’re interested in seeing live theatre and you can’t afford expensive seats, preview shows are the way to go as prices are much cheaper than the regular runs. Occasionally, there might be a minor fumble or two but most of the time you probably won’t even notice. Another thing to consider is seeing productions put on by smaller companies or those in smaller venues since those tickets are also less expensive than bigger companies/venues like the Citadel (although the Citadel often has $20 tickets too!). To be honest, the quality of theatre productions in Edmonton is generally pretty stellar and I can’t think of a play over the past year or two that I haven’t enjoyed, so if you are ever looking for something to do, I say “the play’s the thing”!