Beach Week International Goodness

I just spent a week in Surf City, NC for the annual family beach week and it was great, as usual.

I wasn’t sure there would be much to blog about as the restaurants stay pretty much the same or the variants aren’t that noteworthy or I just have some favorites. There were a few surprises this year; an overlooked (by me) staple my nieces and nephews quite like, a couple of new places, and a surprise homecooked meal. Strap in, this is a longer entry.

My brother-in-law suggested those of us that arrive early meet at this place called JM’s On the Water and have some lunch and hang out until check in. He wasn’t able to make the trip but my sister and 2 of her kids and their significant others did plus my baby grand-niece. JM’s is a nice spot with a water view as you might expect from the name. We saw a couple of folks tie up at the attached dock and come in for some grub. The staff was friendly and plentiful out front so they kept our drinks filled and checked on us regularly but they food service was kind of slow.

I got their 1/2 lb cheeseburger, fried green beans and a flight of craft beer, mostly local.

The burger was huge as you might expect from an 8 oz slab of meat. The vegetable toppings were fresh but there was almost no seasoning on the burger which was a disappointment. The fried green beans on the other hand were quite well seasoned and cooked. I just kept eating them even after I should have stopped. The flight was interesting too because I picked a diverse selection. When I was choosing the beers and chatting with the waitress she was going on and on about the Honey Drip. That was her favorite and a really popular one then proceeded to tell me they were out of it. I considered giving her some grief for being Lucy with the football to my Charlie Brown (if you don’t get the reference you’re probably way younger than I am). At that point she yells to the bartender, “when are we getting more of the Honey Drip?” To which the bartender yells back, “we’ve got plenty right now.” Communication is key. It was a nice brown ale from a Wilmington brewery. The Murk Master is a hazy pale ale that is brewed with some flaked oatmeal. It was interesting, kind of light and hoppy. Mango Cart is a wheat beer brewed with real mango out on the west coast. It did have a mild mango taste and it was also light and refreshing. Lastly the Pacifico is a Mexican pilsner from Mazatlán. Once I got the fruit out of it I have to say it might have been my favorite paired with the meal although I enjoyed them all. See how I snuck that Mexican beer in to make this meal international?

A day or so later my nephew Alex and I decided to go to lunch and when we got in the car we were planning on one spot but on the drive we pivoted to try a new pizza place on the island that wasn’t there last year. BTW I’m counting this as Italian food. The place was Wildfire Pizza. When we got there we were the only ones there aside from Peter the guy running the joint all by his lonesome. Peter is a friendly dude and willing to discuss the pizza, answer questions and generally chat about how he’s hoping to make this 4 week old business take off. He also actively solicited feedback and told us how he’d made some menu adjustments already. I was happy to see actual flames in the oven and the dough and sauces are made in house. The items that can be sourced locally are and taste fresh. There is only a 12″ option and both being boys of stout stature we decided we could each put a hurting on our own but decided to get two separate ones and swap half. I got the Surf City Pizza and he got the Snead’s Ferry.

Both of these have seafood which is honestly something I’d not normally even consider but we were at the beach and living on the edge. Alex’s Snead’s Ferry had chunky spiced red sauce, ricotta cheese, shrimp, jalapenos, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes. Let me promise you Peter was generous with all the toppings including the jalapenos. My Surf City started with an error as Peter got ricotta happy after making the Snead’s Ferry and loaded that on there instead of the mozzarella. He apologized and was going to remake it but I put the kibosh on that. I told him to throw the mozzarella on there too and keep moving. Here’s a little secret, it was better with the accidental ricotta that it would have been with just the mozzarella and I told him to consider making that the norm. In addition there was the chunky spicy red sauce, a boatload of flaked salmon, Kalamata olives and fresh basil. Holy cow these were good pizzas! And filling like you wouldn’t believe. Instead of swapping halves we had one piece of the other and took half of each back to the house where they got hoovered up by other members of the family. That was a really good experience and I very much hope they last and prosper.

The next stop on our International tour is Fancy Sushi. Most all of the nieces and nephews hit this place every year and they let the old guy tag along this year. It’s a mixed menu, Chinese and Japanese. Most of us got at least one sushi roll from their extensive list. I ordered us a couple of appetizers. The dumplings arrived before the main courses and one showed up at the end. Those tardy tempura vegetables got waved off and with apologies removed from the bill.

I think they do a good job with presentation and they were decent on the whole. I have to say though the one with the yellow sauce I don’t even remember what it was. The one on the left was the Beach Bum Roll and was quite tasty. It had spicy tuna and mango topped with tuna, salmon, yellow tail and eel drizzled with eel sauce and red tobiko. I heard good things about the Super Duper Roll, the Pink Lady and the Sexy Girl. Overall I’d give the place 3.5 stars. Solid enough to eat at but I’ve definitely had better.

I’ve mentioned in previous beach week blog entries that the evening meal is a family one and we take turns being responsible for the meals. When the “kids” got their own night a couple of years ago it was fun to watch them all try to work at it. The results that first year was some pretty rough spaghetti that we ate because we loved them. Anyway, this year one of my nephews brought his girlfriend who is Filipino. Unbeknownst to her he had volunteered them for a Filipino night. She learned of this sitting around the table the first night of the trip. She thought she was being punked and we’d have let her off the hook but once she got over the panic and dealing with the fact that she doesn’t really cook she gamely stepped up to the challenge. There are not a plethora of Asian markets in or around Surf City so they did what they could with the international aisle at a couple of grocery stores. After four hours of prep and cooking we had our Filipino night meal courtesy of Danielle & Jesse with a little help from my sister Dee.

We had adobo chicken wings and rice plus a big old pan of Filipino spaghetti. Unlike the first “kids” spaghetti this was easy to get down. What, you may ask, made this different from regular baked spaghetti? Well, it was made with hand crafted banana ketchup and had cut up bits of hot dog in it (Sheldon Cooper would have been proud). Both were tasty and I think the chefs were proud of their accomplishments as we were of them for taking on the challenge.

Overall a really good trip with family and in spite of my initial thoughts that I’d just be eating the same old, same old there was plenty of new to be had.

Fantastic Filipino Feast From the Foodee Festival

We’ve already established I have an alliteration addiction so let’s move past the title and talk about the f-ing food from Saturday. And by f-ing I mean food trucking. I’ve been waiting for this weekend semi-patiently for a month or so after first getting wind of the FoodeeFest that was going to be at the Anderson Mall. It promised 30 food trucks and other vendors and I love me some food trucks so there was no way I was missing it. Judging by the crowd I was not the only one.

Fortunately the mall provided plenty of places to park and still be only a short walk to the event area. Once I got there I did what any smart person does at an event like this and walked the full circuit to see all my options before deciding what to get. There was a nice variety of foods, beverages, deserts, and crafts in trucks, trailers, and tents. The first place that caught my attention was a wood fired pizza truck, then a Cajun truck, a soul food trailer, BBQ sauce and rub purveyor, and a cheesecake pusher, it was beautiful. Food trucks checking the international box had food from Greece, Italy, Mexico, China, Japan, Ireland (it was a loaded potato truck but I’m counting it), and a Kabob truck that covers any number of countries.

I almost went with the Kabobs since they looked mighty tasty on that grill but as you can guess from the title the Philippines was also represented. There were actually two selling Filipino food with very similar offerings and price points so I went with the one I was closest too at the end of the circuit. I don’t know why I didn’t get a picture of the vehicle but I got the signboard and picture menu covered here.

They had a combo plate that included either the adobo chicken or liempo, pancit, 2 lumpia of your choice and rice. Variety? Yes please, I got the pork lumpia, and the liempo to go with the pancit and rice.

The little flag was a nice touch. All of the food was great but I will say the liempo meat was pretty salty. The rice wasn’t so it was best to match the two bite for bite. The plate was $20, which for the portions and the fact that is was food truck fare was actually a decent deal. The lumpia dipped in the doctored up soy sauce were outstanding. The pancit noodles had a few green beans and carrots so I felt like I could count that as a healthy side. Overall it was delicious and I’d definitely try them again.

A couple of observations from this “festival”. On the whole these food vendors seemed to be turning the tickets faster than most food trucks I’ve been to. I don’t know if it’s just their overall experience traveling with the group setting up these events or what but the lines of waiting people were not quite as long as I expected. It could have been the volume of options as well. Regardless of the reason it was a good experience. Also asking if they prefer cash or card can save you money. I saved a almost 2 bucks paying cash. Lastly for my Augusta / Aiken / Columbia people this same group is rolling into Aiken May 3-5.

Giving Can Be Delicious

It is a beautiful spring day today and the outside called.  We’ll at least until it was time for the G Day game.  I knew I wanted something different, quick and easy to get back home before the 1:00pm kickoff. 

I remembered seeing a fund raising notice from a local church selling quesabirras.  Perfect, I can get a good, hopefully authentic, lunch to go and support a good cause.

They were set up on the side of the church with a tent, tables and a small gaggle of ladies cooking, prepping, stirring the agua Jamaica, and taking the orders.  Of the people who I saw and more importantly, heard the entire time I was there, I was the only one whose primary language was not Spanish.   That boded well for the food.

The lady cooking was dipping the tortillas in some kind of sauce to about 3/4 coverage then throwing them on a griddle.  Once they’d achieved some level doneness she clearly recognized some beef and cheese were added and folded over.  Then a second tortilla was used and the whole thing popped on a plate with foil top and bottom to keep it warm.  Available condiments were diced onions, limes, cilantro and hot sauce, all in little baggies.

The young lady packing it up asked if I wanted everything.  “Sure,” was my response.  “Even the hot sauce,” she asked with slight skepticism.   “Absolutely” says I. The guy right, waiting on his also felt like he had to give me a subtle warning.  “You like it really spicy?”.  “Oh yeah, I’m good”  I could see they both felt like they’d done their due diligence and it was now on me. I got an agua Jamaica too even though I had no idea what that would taste like.

The quesabirras were tasty once I’d opened my baggies and condimented (it’s a word) them.  Very filling too.  I still couldn’t tell you what flavor the agua Jamaica was but it was subtle and good with the food.  Oh and the bag of hot sauce I used as a dipping sauce.  It was scalp tingling but not something I couldn’t handle with ease.

Really nice lunch that benefitted that church and filled me up.  Win – win.

Finale of Fishy February

I figured I would finish out my February pescatarian parade with a little sushi and try a new, to me, place in Seneca. Hibachi & Grill Asian Buffet is not the highest rated Asian restaurant around but buffets aren’t often the top of the class. 

The decor of Hibachi & Grill Asian Buffet evokes memories of a multitude of other Chinese restaurants I’ve been to over my lifespan. Dark wood, plenty of red accents and a little on the dimly lit side. The service was good. I was greeted as soon as I walked in the door and seated seconds later. She took me right up to the table closest to the buffet. I’m guessing people asking to order off a menu is a rare thing because she didn’t even ask, just assumed I was having the buffet. I’ve purposely avoided buffets for the most part over the last few years as I don’t feel like I’m playing the game right if I don’t have multiple trips under my belt before I leave. Today wasn’t much different but unlike many of my fellow diners I didn’t make it a point of stress testing the plate capacity on each visit.

Hibachi & Grill has 4 buffet tables in the center of the food area plus a sushi selection against the wall in the back. There is also a hibachi station where you pick you ingredients, ring the bell and watch the dude fry up your stuff. The sushi was the primary reason I was there so that was my first stop.

This was not peak sushi but also it didn’t make me sick so I’m good with that. Joking aside it was solidly mediocre. The wasabi was starting to dry out and one of the rolls looked like it might be sketchy in another 20 minutes. The pickled ginger was spot on. I will give them this, they had a sign up saying the sushi was not allowed to be there more than 4 hours and if you thought it looked bad let them know.

After this I did a quick tour of the rest to see what other seafood they had. The first station was the desert station which had some interesting things on it. Maybe later. The second was soups and salads. Both the egg drop and mushroom soups looked decent and a few folks were loading up on them.

Row 3 was fry town. Not quite everything was deep fried on this one but most were. Not this trip.

The fourth steam table had rice, lo mein and vegetables plus some steamed fish and “seafood delight”. Those were in the zone so that was the next plate.

The fried rice was decent. The steamed white fish I really expected to be bland as there didn’t appear to be any seasoning on it but it was actually good. The flesh was still reasonably firm and had just enough salt to enhance the flavor. The “seafood delight” was shrimp and fake crab meat. The shrimp was over cooked and the fake crab had the flavor cooked out of it so it really didn’t have much to recommend it. Let me go ahead and address the elephant on the plate. That giant single rib is obviously not seafood but it was next to the seafood and the guy next to me was raving about them as he loaded his plate. They were “extra tender” and “better deal than any of the BBQ places”. If I hadn’t gotten one I’m pretty sure it would have ruined his day. It was tender, because it had been boiled, and on a price per pound basis it was in fact more economical than the local BBQ places. It did lack the smoky flavor and tasty dry rub or sauce you’d find at those places too so there was that.

Now I should have stopped there and been done with it, however that did not happen. I’d seen more seafood options in Fry Town.

The fried fish was more bland that the steamed white fish which was surprising and disappointing. I could see what was supposed to be seasoning in the batter. It was also kind of chewy. The crab rangoon was crafted by someone who’d obviously given up and the filling was devoid of even fake crab. It was deep fried cream cheese, which I’m not opposed to but still. The egg roll was hot and pretty standard for the species. The mystery meat on the stick was over cooked and lacking seasoning as well. Parts of it were jerky-esque so at least I got a jaw work-out. At the end of this plate I was actually miserable because it was just too much. Sadly the desert station was not visited.

I’m giving them grief and somewhat deservedly but also this cost me $12.50 with the drink so I’m not going to say I didn’t get my money’s worth. I think the folks who were obvious regulars likely fall into two categories; those that know the few items they do well and enjoy them and those that are all about the volume baby. Either way in spite of feeling miserable for a while and not having anything that knocked my socks off I’m still happy I went. Don’t know what I’m doing next but I enjoyed my fish themed February.

Breakfast Flounder? It’s Not Bad But It’s No Bacon

My third fish of February was flounder for breakfast. There are places in the world where seafood for breakfast is just breakfast and even in parts of the southern US fish and grits are thing. It was not a something I grew up eating and never developed a taste for it. Having chicken was straying pretty far from the pork parade for me so trying fish for breakfast was a must do this month. I mentioned fish and grits are fairly well known in certain parts of the US but this is not a spot you find it on all the menus. I was confident I’d seen on the menu at Dimas Brothers Cafe here in Seneca so off I went.

They did indeed have a fried flounder breakfast plate that came with 2 eggs, grits or home fries, biscuit or toast. I selected scrambled, grits and sourdough to go with my 2 filets.

Let me address the obviously weird scrambled eggs. They really just chopped up an omelet, it didn’t affect the taste and the yolks and whites were scrambled together but I mean come on, either leave it as an omelet or scramble them while you cook them. Another non-standard but good deviation were the grits. They make them with milk or cream which does make them smoother and creamier than those made with water but also thicken faster. The flounder filets have a light batter and are fried to a crispy golden brown. The fish was light and very mild. There wasn’t much seasoning on the fish so the house made tartar sauce was a welcome addition. The combo turned out better than I thought it was going to. Truthfully the eggs were the weakest link on the plate. The portions were such that I wound up only finishing all of the fish and leaving a bit of the rest and walked out feeling satisfied.

I’m still a bacon or sausage first kind of guy but I’m not going to dismiss the fish out of hand anymore.

Filete de Pescado en Febrero

Continuing the February fish theme I made a snap decision at work one day to have Mexican and on the way there decided I’d get a fish dish. I’ve seen fish on Mexican menus before but never tried it, always sticking with the fan favorite combo plates and lunch deals. I have had fish and shrimp tacos from food trucks, I mean I’m not uncultured, but not a full on fish dish. Anyhow, I ran up to Monte Alban Mexican Grill a short trip from the office.

I was quickly seated and presented with the standard basket of chips and salsa while I perused the menu. One thing I noticed this time that I’d not see on their menu before was this semi-prominent note indicating you were only allowed 1 basket of chips per table. I didn’t read the whole thing because I didn’t feel like it applied but it did catch my eye. The perusal of the menu showed grilled fish or deep fried fish filets as options. Feeling like I should make the theoretically healthier choice I opted for the grilled. The Filete de Pescado is a tilapia filet with grilled vegetables and rice. Sounded good so that’s what I ordered.

While I was waiting of course I was chowing down on the chips and salsa and reading on the Kindle app. The server came around and from a little pitcher even refilled the salsa bowl. I’d put a serious dent in the chips and you could see the bottom of the basket. Another server walked by and asked “Do you want more chips?” I remembered the menu and immediately my brain threw up the image of Admiral Ackbar “It’s a trap!”. The scene played out in my head of me saying yes, the lights going dim, the server being lit from below with red light, laughing manically and saying “Only one basket per table fool! HaHa”. I shoved my overactive imagination back in his nook, just said “no thanks” and went back to reading. My food arrived.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this. The fish was a hair overcooked but the seasoning was delicious. I’m not sure what was in it aside from chili and paprika to make it that glowing reddish orange but I really liked it. The grilled vegetables were onions, peppers and mushrooms so technically the description was correct but I was disappointed at first. I was expecting something like zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and stuff like that, however these were flavorful and went well with the fish and rice. The rice was a good filler that dampened the strong flavors of the fish and vegetables. I would definitely have this again. Good job Monte Alban.

Next time I’ve decided to try another new thing for me and that’s fish for breakfast.

Starting Fishy February at Goodine’s

I like themes for a number of reasons one of which is they can help narrow focus when you’re decision making. The lack of diversity with regard to restaurants offering international dishes makes adhering to the blog’s tagline tough sometimes. This affects motivation and ultimately produces gaps in entries. All that to say I decided I’d pick a theme and work with it this month. My affinity for alliteration aided in theme topic selection. Fish for February. My plan is to have a fish dish each weekend and not just fried fish but probably some Asian and European representative choices as well.

For the first entry I decided to go to the closest restaurant to me that sells fish, Goodine Seafood . They are a tad over 4 miles away. I know they make their food to order and the fried chicken is good so the fish is likely to be as well.

Goodines occupies a cinderblock building in the fork of a road across the street from a Dollar General. It’s that place in the middle of nowhere that you know has to have good food just to survive being in the boondocks. The couple that runs / owns the place are pleasant but businesslike in getting the orders done. The set up is odd in that the fryer is in a section of the building that requires the guy to go outside and then in to the area where it is. There’s a window pass through so the food can be passed through. Odd but they make it work.

The main menu offers a choice of 4 different fishes and off to the side flounder was added after the fact for a fifth fish. The 4 are swai, tilapia, whiting and catfish. I got swai because it’s not one you see on every menu. The Fish Combo was my choice. That’s 2 pieces of fish, 2 sides and a drink. If you want just 1 piece that’s Fish. Fish Dinner nets you 3 pieces of fish. You can also get a fish sammy with fries if that’s more your thing.

For my swai side selections slaw seemed simple (I might have a alliteration problem). Since they didn’t have mac & cheese as an option any more I kept it seafood and got crab salad for the second side. OK, I have to say I’m still not over the mac & cheese thing. She said they stopped carrying it a while back. So take it off the board or tape over it don’t be a mac & cheese tease. Now that I got that off my chest I do feel a little better. Anyhow, they have hush puppies, which I was brought up to expect with fried fish, but they are a side and instead you get a roll. The other disappointment, although a minor one, was the slaw. It was straight out of a supermarket tub. Their crab salad on the other hand was something entirely new for me. It was made with imitation crab but it was made to order. I heard her back there chopping it up and mixing it up. There was a little celery and cilantro added and a dressing I’m not quite sure of. There was a little mayonnaise but the redness came from some kind of chili pepper sauce. It might have been siracha but it had more of a chipotle taste and there was almost no heat. It tasted good. The fish was the absolute best part of the lunch, as is right. Light cornmeal coating seasoned just right. Fried to the golden brown you see. The fish itself was mild and flaky almost silky. Very nice and considering it is deep fried not greasy at all. They really do a good job. I grabbed this to go though because the Senior Bowl was coming on shortly.

So week 1 of Fishy February was a success.

This Boy Wasn’t Feeling Po’ After A Good Lunch

It had been a while since I visited my great friends the McGehees in Columbia, SC. We planned to pick a spot to dine and catch up while also being different enough to be blog worthy. The option Andy suggested was Luzianna Purchase in Columbia. I’m always up for Cajun / Creole food so it was an easy sell. Unfortunately Melanie couldn’t join us so Andy, Ian and I jumped in the truck for a guys lunch.

Luzianna Purchase is in a big, busy strip mall with all manner of small businesses. Side note, if you’re looking to support local entrepreneurs this is exactly the kind of place to find them. Anyway back to the restaurant. They are open only for lunch / brunch and feature New Orleans inspired foods like Po-Boy sandwiches, gumbo, muffuletta, and such. Judging by the number of folks in line and full tables inside and out I had high expectations.

Our little group got a couple of po-boys and a bowl of gumbo. I was so focused on my sandwich I didn’t grab a shot of Andy or Ian’s dishes. Here’s a glamour shot of the Crawfish Po-Boy.

As you can see the crawfish portion was generous enough it was spilling from the Louisiana sourced bread. The lettuce & tomato were fresh, the pickle was dill, and the remoulade was tangy and lightly spiced. The bits of crawfish were battered lightly and deep fried to a crispy outside while keeping the crawfish tender and tasty. This was an excellent sandwich. They had 2 hot sauces on the table Crystal and one I hadn’t heard of so of course that’s the one I tried. As hot sauces go it was cute, barely hot but at least tangy. I wouldn’t pick it over the Crystal again. With the sandwich combo you get chips or fruit. The chips are a selection of Zapp’s New Orleans chips and Voodoo was a choice. If you haven’t had them before they are kettle cooked spicy chips and went well with the sandwich.

Andy got the oyster po-boy and Ian got the chicken andouille gumbo. They did not skimp on the fried oysters in Andy’s sandwich and Ian’s gumbo looked good. Reports from the field were both ended up being quite tasty. It was a good casual atmosphere to catch up with friends and enjoy some regionally inspired cuisine. I also have to say the folks we interacted with were another reason the place was busy. The young lady running the food was quick and efficient, as people finished they grabbed the trays without making you feel like they were rushing you. As we were wrapping up the visit and grabbing a treat for Miss Melanie we chatted with one of the owners a bit. Very friendly, personable and the kind of person that encourages regulars. As a small business they also support other local small businesses like Sakhar Jams . They are a small batch artisanal Jam company that I was aware of because of the McGehees and I’d considered ordering some of their product in the past. Here it was in person and available for sale.

I got these two to try and I will say they are both very nice. The apple chai is my favorite of the two and I will be looking forward to trying some of the others when I finish these.

Takeaways from the day – Cajun food is good (this was really just positive reinforcement), try local businesses and when they are good continue to support them, and finally lunch tastes better with people you like.

Dining in the Shadow of Silos

After a couple of days of poultry, potatoes, dressing & green beans I had a hankering for something a bit different. As much as I love Thanksgiving food I also enjoy variety so I decided to try a place that’s been on my radar for good while now.

Indigo Kitchen is an Indian restaurant in Easley, SC about 30 odd miles from me and based on the menu I figured it was worth the drive to give them a try. The theme is Indian street food but they don’t shy away from throwing the meats in there too. They are in a little cluster with other restaurants, specialty food shops and a brewery in a place called the Silos. Several, including Indigo, are repurposed shipping containers on either side of a courtyard of angle iron and plank seating arrangements. At one end is a stage for live acts and in between are some standard metal outdoor tables and chairs. Overall a nice outdoor venue to enjoy a pleasant fall day.

As I walked up the gentleman manning the window asked if this was my first time there. When I said yes he proceeded to walk me through the menu, pulled up some pictures on a tablet so I could see photos of the finished products and offered to answer questions. He recommended the Phat Rolls for a first timer since I could get a variety of tastes. It was like he was reading my mind so told him to pick me 3 and see where we landed. Alas they were out of lassi which I had been looking forward to. I could have opted for an Indian beer they had but I was so bummed about the lassi I just had water. Here are the 3 rolls he selected.

So you’re probably thinking Phat Rolls, WTF? Well I’ll tell you what the food, Pretty Hot And Tasty buttered naan rounds with a protein, toppings and sauces appropriate to said protein. From top to bottom I had a Chicken Tikka roll, with Asian slaw, cilantro, mint and a small piece of avocado here and there, Masala Steak, with Kashmiri onions and garlic pepper sauce, and a Falafel roll, with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, avocado and garlic onion sauce and their special sauce.

They were all tasty and unique. I think the falafel may have been my favorite, is a thing I never thought I’d say. The chicken was right there with it and dang tasty. The steak had a great sauce but the other two just had more going on so it came in third in a delicious race. I think the phat rolls may have added to my fat rolls but it was worth it.

I did walk over to the other side where the brewery, sandwich shop, baked potato place and a donut hut were and decided to get some Apple Cider mini donuts for the ride home.

It was a good ride home.

Seoul Searching

Initial trip

A few weeks ago a new Korean restaurant opened in Seneca, Seoul Food. Since this area is woefully lacking in ethnic food outside Mexican, Chinese and Italian/Pizza I did something I almost never do. I went to a restaurant the week it opened. I usually wait for those that have to be the first to try things get it out of their system so I don’t have to deal with crowds. This turned out not too bad.

Seoul Food is located at the end of a little strip with a couple of other restaurants and businesses relatively close to the office. The position on the end gives it lots of convenient parking on the edges. As I was approaching the door 4 Korean ladies were also heading for the entrance and 2 of them were carrying a floor vase with some ornamental flowers in it. I stepped up my pace to grab the door for them. We had a brief stalemate as they tried to wave me in ahead of them and I just the door and said they should go first. They did but when we got in and the guy came over to see about seating us they practically pushed forward to go first. Not wanting to start an international incident I rolled with it.

I decided to just start at the top of the lunch special menu and got what they called a Dub Bob. The picture looks like bibimbap and it is similar but not quite.

I chose bulgogi beef as my protein. On the bed of rice there was the aforementioned beef plus some bok choy, japchae (glass noodles made from sweet potatoes), sesame seeds and a fried egg. The menu said veggies and as hard as it is for me to believe I’m saying this, I wanted more than just the one veg. It would have made the dish better. A few carrots would have added some color as well is all I’m saying. Not to imply it wasn’t good, it was, it just could have been better. They dropped off some sauces to dress it with as they left it kind of plain. I get why but again I think if they’d have prepared it with a sauce the flavor would have been better. The 3 sauces were teriyaki, shrimp sauce and gochujang. About half way in I added some gochujang and it gave a nice little flavor bump and heat. The lunch also came with chicken bone soup which I liked a lot. It was simple with a few scallions and mushrooms added but that simpleness made the flavor of the scallions and mushrooms stand out.

I will be honest and say I enjoyed the meal but I was also mildly disappointed. I was hoping for a more traditional Korean menu but I also knew I’d be going back. And I did.

Second trip

There were only a few people there this time and I hope that was a function of the time I went which was a little later than the first time. Anyway I knew I was going to get what the menu said was a Kim Bob. It looked like Korean sushi of a sort and since the roll was inexpensive I figured it must be small and decided to get an appetizer too. The server suggested the fried seaweed roll and I was having none of that so she suggested the Pajeon, which is a Korean savory pancake, in this case with carrots, onions, and green onions. They had an offering with Pajeon and Kimchi Jeon (pancake with kimchi and onion) so I got that one.

Before I get to the food. You may or may not have noticed in the very first picture of the Dub Bob the utensils. By default you get a spoon and some metal chopsticks. Well when the young lady dropped my food off she looked at me and asked, “do you want a fork?” I said I was good. She tried again, “are you sure?” I wanted to ask her if my physique gave any indication I hadn’t mastered the plate to mouth routine with any implement but I just nodded again. Now I will admit I was eyeballing the pancakes with some doubt about my chopstick technique. I had a nice colleague in Japan once tell me that I held my chopsticks like a toddler who was just learning. In spite of that I figured it out and didn’t have to resort to eating my words with a fork.

The kim bob was quite tasty. These seaweed and rice wrapped parcels were loaded with flavors and textures. It had carrots, spinach, fish cake, egg, beef sausage, burdock root, pickled radish and sesame seeds. There were lots of things going on and every chew was different. It also came with chicken bone soup. This would have been a good lunch by itself but I did have the pancakes too so I persevered.

The two light pancakes in the picture were the panjeon, with carrots, green and regular onions. They were good but I much preferred the kimchi jeon. They had a nice spicy kick that elevated it as far as I was concerned. Good appetizer to share. I enjoyed this meal more than the first and I think that was partially due to not having any preconceived notions about these dishes. I will be going back. Now I have to go get ready for this week’s trip for some European foods.