A little overdue, but since I have a friend heading to South Korea next week, I thought I’d better hurry up and get this posted. Let this post serve as a tiny introduction of the wonders you will be trying. The memory of this great meal is tempering my jealousy…slightly.
During my trip back home a couple months ago my mother and I spent a couple days in NYC. We made the most of our time and did lots of fun things, and one of my favorites was our delicious meal in Koreatown. I had selected a restaurant I wanted to try in advance, and judging by the crowd, I chose well. The blocks that make up Koreatown are lined with plenty of enticing and great smelling options. I hope to hit them all one day, but on this day we went to miss Korea BBQ.
My mom had never eaten Korean, but she is open-minded and was up for a culinary adventure. She didn’t bat her cute little mostly-vegan eyelashes at me grilling my own beef at the table. But first, we started with a popular street food in Seoul, the Mung Bean Pancake. Sometimes made with pork, the pancake we ordered was made with mung beans, onions, and kimchi. Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, and served with a soy vinegar sauce, it was a great start to our meal.
We also sampled the plentiful Banchan, or side dishes of kimchi, pickled vegetables, tofu and other delights. This is what makes eating Korean so special to me. Different places do banchan differently, so every new restaurant is a chance to try new banchan. They are usually light and pretty healthy, with flavors ranging from sweet to sour to really spicy. Yum!
We also shared a crisp salad and noodles in a warm seafood broth.
For our main entrees, we opted to try miss Korea BBQ’s take on two classics. I had the Bulgogi, thin strips of marinated beef that quickly cooked on the table. It was served on the grill with a tasty broth, chock full of exotic mushrooms and veggies. Damn, this was so good! So savory and satisfying. This is the kind of dish that leaves you pleasantly full, not bloated or “stuffed.”
Mom had the Seafood Bibimbap. Bibimbap means “mixed rice” and is a delicious bowl of goodness. The sizzling hot stone pot gives the rice a crispy texture. Then it’s topped with vegetables, marinated meat, and a raw egg. The whole thing is vigorously stirred before eating. This hot and spicy comfort food pleased Mom, which pleased me.
We were so happy with our meal, and loved the chic decor and friendly, efficient service. The staff bustled around taking care of us. Rather than one waiter, we were served by three or four different people who helped cook the bulgogi and stirred the bibimbap. We weren’t rushed, yet didn’t have to wait long for anything, including our table.
Next time I travel back home I’ll be sure to stop back at miss Korea and maybe some of her neighbors. What are some of your Korean favorites?