BY JIWON LEE
For the Daily
Published January 15, 2004
There are bone-chillingly windy days when I crave my mom’s
Korean cooking so badly that I can feel myself salivating. Because
salivating is neither hygienic nor attractive, I get myself
immediately to Seoul Korner.
A homey wood-paneled diner, it sits on the corner of East
William and Thompson. The service is minimal as there are no
servers, but the food is always good. For first-time Korean-food
tasters and already-hooked-up-to-a-kimchi-IV-drip customers alike,
I highly recommend the Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap. It is an extension on
the already beautiful and tasty Bi Bim Bap, a bowl of vegetables
(seasoned and cooked lightly so there is still crunch in the
carrots and cheerful green in the spinach and cucumber), marinated
beef — so good it is the star of another Korean treasure, Bul
Go Gi — or tofu for vegetarians that rests invitingly on a
bed of warm sticky rice with a fried egg on top.
To this, you can add as much spicy pepper sauce as you want.
Guys who have tried to impress their Asian dates with their
fearless attitudes towards this Korean sauce (known as gochu jang)
know that this is no sauce to be mocked — it’s hot
stuff. Heed my words. A little tip: If you have accidentally or
cockily added too much of the sauce, just ask for some more rice
and stir it in humbly.
Although these ingredients are amazing the way they are, Dol Sot
Bi Bim Bap keeps the party going by serving all of the above in a
hot stone bowl. Why would this matter? The stone keeps the heat in
and, more importantly, causes the rice at the bottom to get
crunchy. Texture is an important element in good food and the bits
of crispy rice are a pleasant surprise after you’ve mixed in
your bowl of goodness.
Another pleasant dish is Duk Bok Ki, a spicy dish of slices of
soft Korean rice cakes (not at all similar to the styrofoam-like
rice cakes sold by the oatmeal pilgrim), mixed with onions, carrots
and beef, which is optional. The texture is definitely unique but
so is the delicious flavor. If you’re feeling ill, have some
Duk Man Do Guk. It’s the grown-up version of wonton soup,
with large and generously filled meat dumplings simmered in a beef
broth along with eggs and slices of the chewy soft rice cake
mentioned above. It is served on New Year’s Day in Korean
homes for a good start to the year, and its lack of spices makes
kimchi (the spicy cabbage side dish that comes with everything at
any Korean restaurant) a great accompaniment.
The next time you get a hankering for some Asian flava’,
replace the greasy Chinese take-out with some flavorful and
relatively healthy Korean food. Be adventurous, people!
414 E. William St.
Recommended Dishes: Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap, Duk Bok Ki
Price Range: $4 - $10
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, noon
to 9 p.m.
No credit cards