To say that this was the best Korean restaurant I’ve been to would be, well, simply irresponsible. After all, we skipped the traditional Korean dishes and ordered cheaper items, comprising primarily of rice and noodles. But what is safe to say is that this restaurant offers the best banchan I’ve ever had at any Korean restaurant. Banchan are those tiny complimentary plates that you get at all Korean restaurants. Typically, there’s kimchi, bean sprouts, potatoes, and some form of fish that is pulverized to pulp and remolded into cakes or flat strips. What we didn’t expect was a REAL, fried, and salty fish.
We arrived a bit before 7pm on a Thursday night. The place was practically empty, save for 2-3 parties. Upon ordering, the service was quick. Hot teas in tall classes appeared (remember to ask for water) and the banchan suddenly multiplied in front of us. Then, in the midst of our wide eye staring at the fish, the server delivered miso soup. We began eating.
- Potatoes: Typically, the potatoes I’ve had are cold and creamy. This one was at room temperature and was slightly sweet. It was a brownish color, so I suspected it was marinated in some sort of sweet soy. But it’s safe to say that this was our favorite!
- Fish cakes: I typically don’t touch these, but they were awesome. They looked like tiny egg omelets and were super savory.
- Bean sprouts: They tasted like any normal bean sprout to me but Esther particularly liked them so I thought I’d mention it.
- The Fish: The fish was probably 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. It was a traditional fried salty fish. They all taste the same. But seriously… a free fish?!
These were good too! I’m not going to pretend that I know my Asian greens, because I totally don’t.
Our gorged fish- funny story. The server came by and leaned into our table. For a moment I thought it was someone Esther knew. But nope! She slowly whispers to us in broken English- “You know. You can eat top. Right?” And I was like, “Oh, don’t worry lady, we will DEFINITELY eat all of it!” (well, sans the head!)
We ended up ordering the pancake for the appetizer. It came out literally within 5 minutes. The pancake turned out to be a bit less flavorful than I had expected. I’ve had this at other restaurants where the kimchi flavor really came out and then was a bit dull. However, they provided some soy sauce for dipping which rectified this. The saving grace was the texture of the pancake. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Super amazing.
Esther settled on the buckwheat noodle dish because it had beef, which was what she was craving. The dish was decent, but the noodles were a bit chewy, to the point of being rubbery. In addition, there seemed to be alot of water in the bowl, which was magically soaked up by the noodles by the end of the night. Esther’s dish also came with a soup which she definitely did not like. It didn’t taste like anything. It looked like a murky cloud of nothingness.
Let me offer you some life advice. When given the choice between regular bibimbap and the gop dol bibimbap, always choose the one that has more words in it. Gop dol, which is the stone bowl, will set you back $1-2 more in most Korean restaurants, but it is TOTALLY worth the splurge. Let me explain why:
- It sizzles. [sizzzzzz]
- The heat from the bowl creates a crispy crust on the rice. Oh boy.
- They typically drop an egg in the gop dol version, so its like frying an egg in your bowl, but the uncooked egg wraps around the rice as it heats up, capturing every grain with that oh so awesome egg.
- The person across the table from you will be jealous.
I’ve never met a gop dol bibimbap that I did not like and this was no exception. The one con was that the “little” beef in the description was so accurate to the point obscurity. In other words, I saw like two tiny shreds of beef. But other than that, it’s tough to go wrong when it’s rice + eggs + veggies + that red spicy sauce they give you. Anyone know what that’s called?
518 Old Post Rd
Edison, NJ 08817