Friday, January 25, 2013

Seoul Garden

Once you dine at Seoul Garden Korean Cuisine, you will be “Seould.” I’d never had authentic Korean cuisine, and this spot is truly a hidden gem in Greensboro. From the outside it looks like a hole in the wall, but the spacious seating area, exotic aquarium and fascinating menu are worth returning for.

I was unaware of the number of complimentary appetizers, or rather, amuse bouche we’d be served. My eyes feasted on the 6 colorful dishes that arrived at our table – 2 holding kimchi; a seaweed salad, comparable to collard greens; pickled onions and zucchini; apple and carrot potato salad with a potent bacon flavor; and a grilled corn and bean sprout salad, which was my favorite. These bites could have possibly been a meal all on their own, but we opted to go big. When in Korea…

My dinner companion and I chose to share the Sam Kyup Sal, 7 slices of pork belly, mushrooms and onions, grilled on a hibachi grill right at our table. What makes this dish is the spicy soybean paste stew served alongside, laden with spring onions, potatoes and the most delicious silken tofu I’ve ever enjoyed. It seriously melted in my mouth. This is what tofu is supposed to taste like. It will cure anyone suffering from “tofobia.”

Sublimely sticky rice is perfect for soaking up the stew. Cue further fuel to my condiment addiction: red bean sauce, salty peanut oil, jalapenos and garlic cloves were perfect highlights to the pork belly. Crisp romaine lettuce leaves make a wonderful wrapper for the meat, upon which I piled the various toppings. I was having way too much fun with my food.

If anything, you must visit Seoul Garden “Seouly” for the after-dinner drink. (I’m reaching for as many puns as possible.) It’s like big red gum, in liquid form - an intensely concentrated apple-pear cinnamon juice, served cold, to sip. It is unbelievable alone, and would have been outrageous with a little bourbon. My mouth is watering just writing about it.

Go and see for yourself. You will succumb to the striking, bold flavors. It is oh “Seoul” good.

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