Monday, June 14, 2010

A K-Town Birthday

I love Korean food. Let me say that again. I LOOOOOOVVEEEE Korean food. I was first introduced to it by my college roommate, Roo Mi. :) Since it was her birthday this past weekend, she invited many of her friends, including me and my husband J, to one of her favorite NYC Korea Town restaurants, Kun Jip. Never one to turn down a trip to K-Town, Husband J and I met up with Roo Mi and a group of her friends which was comprised of many a foodie, including a copy editor from my favorite food publication, Food & Wine (I've been a subscriber for seven years!!).

Between talk of a food-focused trip to southern Italy and whether David Chang's (of Momfukufame) pork buns or reservation policies are really worth it, we chowed down on a Korean mini-feast. First out, the panchan (or banchan). This has got to be one of my favorite aspects of Korean restaurants 'cause it's pretty much FREE (you read that right, FREE) small side dish/appetizers that come out right before the meal and are shared by the table. I've even had an entire panchan spread by joke. Here's the panchan spread we received in all of its glory.

I'm going to make a feeble attempt at showing you and naming the some of the panchan dishes we got this time around. Roo Mi, if you're reading, or anybody else that knows more about Korean food than I do, please correct me if I am wrong.

KKakdugi or Ggakdugi. This is actually a type of kimchi, (which generally means fermented vegetables but the most familiar version of this dish is made with Napa cabbage, a type of Chinese cabbage) a daikon or radish cut into cubes and seasoned with red pepper.

Gat Kimchi (Fermented mustard greens kimchi )

Gyeran Jjim, a steamed egg casserole made with egg, water, scallions with other optional ingredients. Like many dishes in any cuisine, everyone's got their own recipe. It's still boiling when it reaches the table!

Hmm...I haven't figured this one out yet, but I know it's spinach! :)

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By the way, we haven't even gotten to the main courses yet! They came out soon after. Here was the feast (again, bear with me if I got the names wrong!).

Maewoon Dduk Boki, pan fried cynlindrical rice cakes in a great simple, spicy sauce with vegetables

Bo Ssam, boiled or steamed pork with fresh oyster, Napa cabbage and other accompaniments

Mandoo Gui, deep fried pork and vegetable dumplings

My portion of the Yook Gae Jang, a hot and spicy beef stew with vegetables and slices of beef. Scallions and mushrooms are often included.

When I eat Korean soups, I usually add rice to my bowl.

Bulgogi, marinated barbecue beef. Husband J appreciates beef when we go out since I don't cook much beef at home. I'm a bad wife, aren't I?

We all couldn't believe our eyes when the Haemool Jun Gol came out. So much food! But hey, that's what we were there for. This spicy casserole-like soup comes with a variety of seafood, including some good 'ol octupus, noodles and vegetables.

Here's one of the Kun Jip waitresses cutting up the octupus with a pair of scissors. The octopus was definitely chewy. :)

Here's my portion of the Haemool Jun Gol

Since I was out with a group for my friend's birthday I couldn't take my usual notes on flavor, etc.. I wanted to actually pay attention to my fellow diners. :) I thought Kun Jip was good (not amazing) the last time I went there with Roo Mi, but now I know why that's the case. I don't think I ordered Kun Jip's specialities! Whoa! The Bul Go Gi, the Yook Gae Jang and most everything we ate were pretty heavenly. Everything was full of flavor, just the right amount of spice (if I haven't told you yet, I like spice), pretty darn fresh, hot and ready to eat. If you're looking for atmosphere, then this isn't the place to go. It looks and feels like a busy diner, but I like it that way. There are lots of other places to go if you want lavishly decorated dining room and servers with flourish. There was a line the entire time I was there, and I can see why. I know why Roo Mi is a regular. I'm sure we'll be returning again.

By the way, this was a birthday dinner, and what's a birthday without cake? One of my lovely fellow birthday dinner guests got Roo Mi a cake from a bakery further down the street. I believe it was KoryDang?

This was the first time I'd ever had sweet potato cake! The frosting was light with far from overpowering sweetness, and a welcome relief from much of the spice we'd just eaten. The cake portion consisted of a light white cake with surprise! Small chunks of sweet potato. Sweet potato cake, unlike pie, is something I would have never though people made, but it was almost refreshing. Hmm...can cake be refreshing? We were all pretty full but ended up finishing most of the cake anyway. A great end to the meal.

That was probably one of the best and biggest Korean meals I've ever had. I can't wait 'til my next one. Roo Mi, Happy Birthday again!!


Creature Gorgeous said...

That all looks so delicious! And you know what? Sweet potato cake sounds pretty amazing!!

Ghenet said...

I've never had Korean food but now I definitealy want to check it out! Thanks for the restaurant recommendation :o)

The Less Than Domestic Goddess said...

Yummy!! You know more Korean words than me, and my husband is Korean :) I love me some good Korean BBQ. Have you been to L.A.'s K-town? It's HUGE!

soomster said...

Oh, yum yum! My mouth is watering all over again! And, you did a great job with the names, girl! The "spinach" dish is actually a sauteed seaweed appetizer, usually with a bit of sweet vinegar. And, the beef is marinated "kalbi" (ribs). Bulgogi is more the thinly sliced rib-eye. We'll do a comparison. I have a place in mind for us to take Hubby J. Thanks for celebrating, girlie! A great blog!

Layla said...

Korean food is my favorite! Now I'm starving...

M and C said...

Yum!! Sometimes I just want the panchan!

lavenderpug said...

oh i *knew* i liked you for a reason! heehee. i'm totally salivating over your meal. yook gae jang is actually one of my favorites too!

Try Anything Once Terri said...

Thanks, everyone!!!! That meal was amazing!

@Ghenet - You should definitely try

@soomster - Yes. I need a comparison trip!! :) Thanks for the corrections.

@ The Less Than Domestic Goddess - I must go there! I have spent a bit of time in LA, but never got a chance to go any of the K-Town restaurants there.

Try Anything Once Terri said...

oops...@Ghenet - You should definitely try Korean food. It's great especially if you like spicy food.


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