Saturday, June 23, 2007
Home again, home again jiggity-jig. And this little pig took her Dad and his companion while I was in Chicago, Patricia, out to Seoul Garden for an eating adventure last night. I love introducing people to new experiences and tastes, and Patricia, originally from Nicaragua, had never had Korean food before. Since we no longer have a Korean restaurant in Marin, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and went to Japantown.
We started with hae mul pa jeon, a Korean seafood and vegetable pancake for an appetizer. It was seasoned well and delicious. It had a soy sauce/vinegar/citrus dipping sauce. As we were enjoying it, all the small plates arrived as an accompaniment to the barbecued meats we'd ordered. In the leading photo you can see all the varieties, steamed broccoli, miso paste, kim chi, vinegared radish and carrot slivers, soy curd cakes, hot white radish cubes, nearly clear white starchy cubes with a gentle flavor, sauteed bean spouts in garlic, and a vinegared seaweed salad. What variety!
and oh! They also served my favorite flavored lotus roots as one of the side dishes.
Then came the beef and cabbage soup. It definitely had the taste of homemade, long simmered broth offset by light napa cabbage leaves. It tasted better than it looks to be sure.
Next, the jabchae bokum warm salad came out... yam noodles with a couple of varieties of mushrooms, egg, vegetables and fish cakes with a nice sesame infused sauce stir fried into it. This is one of my all-time favorite Korean dishes.
Then the barbecue items started arriving, beginning with the dak gui, marinated chicken.
Next came the perennial favorite, bul gogi, seasoned rib eye steak. It was tender, well-seasoned and good.
The barbecued items were accompanied by lettuce leaves for wrapping. Patricia was mmming and ahhing all the way through, and declared, "You sure know how to feast!". She went on to say she'd never had so much fun with a client's family before. How could I not invite her for a treat when I saw how well she took care of my Dad while I was in Chicago? He was so bright, happy and alive when I came back, and looking impeccable (as well as my house) that my background worry turned into delight and appreciation.
Then came the finale, green tea ice cream and rice 'punch'. Actually, the ice cream packed the 'punch'. It seemed to be made of matcha -- the crushed and ground bitter green tea that is used in the Japanese traditional tea ceremony, which carries a stronger and fresher taste.
I held the rice punch up and questioned the waitress about it. Indeed it is called "punch" in Korean, and it is non-alcoholic. It has the taste of sweet rice water, and the rice at the bottom added artistic flair and a little texture at the end. Needless to say, this was far more food than for one meal, so Dad and I enjoyed the leftovers for tonight's dinner after I returned from my Adyashanti intensive in San Rafael (I'll be there again tomorrow.) Seoul Garden was a nice experience, although I'm not sure what a real connoisseur of Korean food would think about it. It's also a bit on the pricey side. We certainly enjoyed ourselves and would not hesitate to come back. In fact, Patricia is looking forward to introducing it to her brother on his next visit from Toronto.