Monday, December 17, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust?

Bug wasn't feeling too well Friday night -- yes yes, his name is Sicklybug after all -- so he wanted something spicy to eat to clear his sinuses. We've had nothing but great food and service at Asia Cuisine turned Seoul Restaurant (in the past year). The prices there are okay if you go over the weekend and get the bundled dinner for two - cheaper than on the weekdays, oddly.

As I peered through the glass door, I noticed there was no cute Korean boy at the front. I thought, ok, maybe it's finals time so the older folks are taking care of the front.

We walked in and I noticed no big picture of Jesus. No gospel choir music. In fact, no music. Hmm.

And FOLKS...not only was there more than 1 employee in the dining area, there were 4 people. Wha...?

There were a couple of shimmering bright red heart balloons at the entrance. I figured it was for the large party of 10 sitting near the window laughing gaily and chatting in Korean.

We were seated at a table set for 12, and the menus are placed before us. The menu was a report cover that still had the thin paper and adhesive residue of a recently peeled-off price tag. I really have no recollection what the old menu looked like, but I knew this wasn't it, so I looked at the back of the menu - no bundled dinner.

That clinched it. New owners. *sigh* I looked at Bug, and he drew the same conclusion.

I flipped back to the front, and re-read "Asian Cuisine." I overheard a man, who seemed like the owner, talking on the phone about a credit card issue. He mentions the restaurant is dba "Seoul Garden." The receipt that I received at the end said something different. Oh well.

We ordered 4 pieces of mandu to start. I ordered a plate of bulgogi and Bug wanted to try kal bi.

10 minutes later, our waitress brought over a pancake. I was surprised and thought, "NOooOoOoO! We ordered mandu!" Not that I hate the pancake, but I hate onions, and those pancakes come PACKED with onions. It's practically the binding ingredient that holds the pancake together.

She probably saw the startled look on my face and immediately said, "It's free. We'd like you to try it!" She explained that it had squid, shrimp, onions (I noticed!). It came with soy sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds. Not to be unappreciative, I swallowed the onions whole. It wasn't bad. It reminded me of okonomiyaki. Bug didn't like it the last time we had that dish, and he still doesn't care for it. It's too bland for him.

Our plate of mandu came along with our 10 -- yes 10!! -- banchan (side dishes). I was overwhelmed by the clutter of all the dishes that we began to amass! We had slivers of something gelatinous (softer than konnyaku), anchovies, fried tofu skin in sesame oil (always my favorite), bean sprouts, mushrooms (or bamboo shoots - it tasted like menma), more pancakes, and kim chi daikon, cucumber (awesome!), and cabbage (H-O-T !). I don't remember what was in the 10th side dish. :(

The mandu tasted differently from any other time I've had it. There was a flavor that was reminiscent of something Italian. I can't place my finger (or tongue) on it. It was similar in essence to basil, but I didn't see any so I know it wasn't that. It was good. We used the same sauce that came with the pancake. The previous cook made the best sauce with crushed peppers.

A few minutes later, Bug's kalbi platter came. I only saw 3 bones in the massive pile of deliciously scented grilled meat. RAWR. My platter of bulgogi came. It was a lot more feminine with the julienne carrots and onions (cry).

After I picked out all the onions and donated them to Bug, with a few beef stragglers, I was left with less than half my dish. LOL I wouldn't order it any other way, however.

The bulgogi was quite tasty and had a sweet tinge. The beef was very tender. I want me some grilled meat! Next time, I think I'll order the kalbi; except I really want to check out their hot pot dishes. I loved that kim chi hot pot I had last time.

The service was awesome because we felt like we were a guest at their house. It was casual but not uncomfortably casual...kind of like going to your grandmother or aunt's house and eating dinner there.

Bug was STUFFED and asked for a box. The owner was concerned that the food did not taste good. Poor guy. We explained that everything was perfect.

Oh there is no tableside cooking at Asian Cuisine. Never has been in any of the incarnations we've seen. The other two Korean restaurants we've been to have it available. We still prefer Asian Cuisine because of the excellent service and the yummy food.

As we were leaving the proprietress said hello and mentioned that they had just opened up earlier in the week. They all appeared very enthusiastic with, I'm sure, high hopes for success, and a little tired. We wished them good luck and would be back again. The balloons made sense. They all waved goodbye as we stepped through the front door.

- Cassaendra

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