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.

Bibimbap

Snap, Crackle, K-Pop

South Korea: stamps | Passport stamps, Stamp, Getting a passport

Korea

I’m going to go ahead and spoil it, there wasn’t any K-pop playing when I drug the old Culinary-Passport to Seoul Korean Kitchen but the snap & crackle showed up later. The restaurant is kind of odd because they took over another restaurant and that other restaurant’s branding is all over the place still. In spite of that, the employees I interacted with and the d├ęcor that was deployed throughout was enough to give a Korean vibe. .

They weren’t too busy when I got there, however there was a short wait while some tables were cleaned and sanitized. While the menu isn’t extensive it does have a good sampling of Korean dishes and I found myself going back and forth between bulgogi and bibimbap. Bibimbap was what I was planning to get when I left the apartment but the lure of the bulgogi made me as wishy washy as a politician checking poll numbers. Fortunately the nice lady taking my order steered me toward the bibimbap. Hot pot version please.

My sides came first.

I love these but I’m not sure why we’re calling them sides instead of included appetizers. Without exception everyone (everyone I saw anyway) who got these ate them before the main dish arrived. I guess it really doesn’t matter, the important thing is they were tasty. The cucumber had some sweet chili oil (or something like it) on them, the broccoli were steamed tender and had a touch of sesame oil on them, yum. The potatoes were ok, the kimchi had just a hint of spiciness and would do for a wide range of palates, I even used my chop stick skills, such as they are, to eat these. I abandoned those when the star of the lunch arrived.

The bibimbap arrived in a very hot stone bowl sitting on a plastic tray thingy that made it possible for the wait staff to handle. This was where snap & crackle came in. The rice under all these other ingredients was frying and creating a crunchy little base at the bottom. As I was getting that auditory show the colorful spinach, carrots, sprouts, beef and nori covered mushrooms provided a nice visual complement. Oh and the sunny side up egg in the center didn’t hurt either. Once I added the sauce and stirred it up it wasn’t quite as eye catching but it was pretty delicious.

As mentioned I didn’t even pretend like the chop sticks were going to be sufficient to the task and dove in fork first. The flavors and textures, including the crunchy rice on the bottom, just blended so nicely together I’m not even sure what more to say other than if you haven’t ever tried bibimbap you need to and Seoul Korean Kitchen can help you out.

If you aren’t tired of Korean stuff check out the recipe, music and random fact on the Tell Me More page.