Hicks weekly dish: Bundok top-notch comfort food BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 07, 2017

 Bundok is misleading.

The name of Edmonton’s latest downtown, chef-as-chief-attraction bistro sounds very Asian. Indeed, it means ‘mountain’ in Filipino.

Bundok owner and chef Ryan Hotchkiss will likely play with Oriental flavours in the future, depending on the season. But for its wintery opening months, Bundok’s menu is all about French-inspired comfort foods, not rice and soy.

Delicious, top-notch comfort food it is. The subtle, soft hand of a culinary master is at work. A relationship exists between all 12 starter/sharing small plates ($4 to $9) and the four entrees ($18 to $28, with a striploin at $38), a similarity defined by the use of foods and earthy flavours so darn comforting in winter – roasted hen, merguez sausage, pork ribs, melted cheeses, chicory salads, mashed root veggies and wheat berry grain.

Let it snow: The merguez sausage (lamb and pork) with a rutabaga mash was the perfect indoor antidote, the rich home-made sausage beautifully balanced with the slightly tart rutabaga root veggie mash and lamb juice stitching it all together.

Let it snow: The grilled hen (actually a few pieces making up about a quarter-hen) was delectable, deeply herbed, glistening and oily rich on top of a wheat berry bed. Never was shredded cabbage this tasty.

Baby, it’s cold outside, but who cares when two lovely tartines – a fancy word for toasted French bread covered with toppings – are on the table. Sliced apple atop oka cheese and honey hit the spot. The smooth chicken liver pate with pear jam and rough-ground salt was a home run.

The soup, a light parmigiana concoction with crispy bacon and shredded leek in the middle, was just right for early March.

Hotchkiss’s citrus posset (basically a lemon mousse) dessert, with a hint of tea and artfully arranged apple cubes will be a year-round favourite. The posset had enough cream to be ultra smooth, yet was just as refreshing as a more coarse sherbet.

The only disappointment were the little, bland puff pastries known as gougeres, an alternative to starter bread. They were dry and dull. The pommes dauphine on the menu — crispy potato balls with a core of hot gooey fontina cheese- were a better alternative.

We left, this beautiful meal having defeated winter for the time being. It will be great fun to see how Hotchkiss (ex-NAIT culinary school, Jack’s Grill, Bar Bricco, Red Star) re-does his menu as the seasons change.

Bundok is squat in the middle of all the latest restaurant trends – chef-led with a hip, light-industrial décor that’s annoyingly clattery, the obligatory soft-lit cocktail bar with home-made ginger ale and root beer, a manageable 38 seats, and an open kitchen separated from guests by only a waist-high wall. Several veteran servers have moved to Bundok, leading to impressive service. Bundok also has a well-rounded Canadian wine list.


Graham Hicks