July 17, 2011

Korean Eats

4 weeks later and I have finally discovered Korea town. How it took me so long to find the place I have no idea but thank goodness I did. Although K-town is awkwardly located between home and work with neither being walking distance, I have still managed to find enough excuses to frequent the street. Especially after eating at work and in Hells Kitchen for so long, I was starting to seriously crave my usual staples of noodles, gochijang, and soy.

After a friend from Penn got settled into the city, we journeyed to K-town where I finally got my first Korean BBQ adventure. Talk about a serious food experience! I don't think I have ever eaten that much since the Chinese New Year's. Long story short, easily one of the best meals of life if for no other reason that the food was good and there was so much of it :)

Look at this massive array of banchan (korean side dishes)! Our favorites were the dried tofu skin, cured radish and two selections of kimchi.
BBQ sampling of gal bi, pork belly and tenderloin (?) Not sure what the last one was but lets go with tenderloin. Funnily enough, the gas for the BBQ was broken that day so they created this makeshift grill on a portable gas stove.  Not the truly authentic BBQ experience but I wasn't complaining. 

I think my favorites were the two beef selections since they were both marinated nicely and seasoned. The pork belly was cooked well with some kimchi and garlic. 

Egg in hot pot, tofu, rice and snapshot of an (almost) empty plate. tehee. It always baffles me how closely so many Korean dishes resembles Chinese dishes (ok yea one would intuitively come to that conclusion) but still. Take the egg dish, gyeran jiim. I literally grew up on the exact same thing from the time I was maybe two to well...now. My grandmother still makes it for breakfast everyday. Custard like and piping hot, this was one good gyeran jiim.

To add to the this foodie joy, I was shown Marks Plaza 1 day later where I saw the mecca of ramen and I was seriously seriously in love.  An impromptu dinner at Ippudo where I had a dead phone and no camera meant yet another ramen meal with no pictures to share.  Oh well, at least Momofuku is still on the to-do list.

Dinner on a rainy Thursday at Soba-ya. Tempura in hot broth had never seemed like a culinary feasible idea and after finally trying it, I think I am still of the same opinion.  We had a sampling of dishes including some salmon (meh) and pork belly which was served with a poached egg in a slight broth (yum).  As the name of the restaurant indicates, Soba-ya is known for its buckwheat noodles but I found them to be rather unimpressive - maybe it was just the dish we ordered since soba is normally eaten cold. Or maybe I just don't like buckwheat. haha. 

Fried Rice Balls with Sesame Filling at Tkettle, Ja Ziang Mian at Shanghai Mong, Chocolate Soup Dumplings at Rickshaw's Dumpling Bar and Red Bean Smoothie Bubble Tea at Tkettle. 

Shanghai Mong, located in K-Town, calls itself a Chinese fusion restaurant... aka the Korean version of Chinese food.  I'm not sure what the exact sauce they used for the ja ziang mian was but it must be a common Korean ingredient since my friends have cooked with it before.  Of course, it tasted nothing like Chinese ja ziang mian but who is complaining as long as the food tastes good?

TKettle is also an adorable snack/bubble tea bar located at Saint Marks Plaza. They serve an interesting version of french toast, omelets as well with an assortment of dessert snacks. 

Dessert after work at Kyoto Tofu.Black Sesame Tofu with hoji-cha syrup and white sesame tuile.
Mango and Coconut Soymilk Soft Serve Sundae with fruit compote, matcha mochi, brownie topping and pocky.

Tofu? In a dessert? My friend promised me this was worth losing an hour of sleep over after I returned from work on a Tuesday night. Even though I had already changed into my pajamas, the foodie in me still ventured out (fortunately, the place was only around the corner) to try this famed tofu. I absolutely loved the soft serve but the smorgasborg of toppings  was a bit of an overkill. The black sesame tofu was light and refreshing, akin to a very subtle version of a panna cotta. I will admit it was worth the trip over :)

FINALLY I got to try the famous Bonchon Fired Chicken! And YES it was worth all of the hub bub because they were everything they promised to be: perfectly fried, crispy, juicy and flavored to the level of spicy that  makes me want to do a little dance (which yes, I did). The cold noodle dish of the day was also exactly what we needed after walking around the city for 4 hours. Apparently, some of the dishes at Boka are hit-or-miss but the fried chicken is a winner :D
Dinner at Grand Sichuan in Chinatown: Fei Pian, Spicy Lamb and Eggplants with Green Peppers.
The lamb was sadly nowhere near as spicy as a Sichuan restaurant should be serving but the fei pian was some of the best I have had. It was served with crushed peanuts, grounded garlic and just enough spicy pepper oil. 

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