31 January 2009

Sam Hawk

Tonight I decided to face my fear of Korean food and Christian and I went for our weekly dinner date to Sam Hawk, a modest looking storefront of a restaurant that I had heard was the preferred Korean restaurant in town.    I don't know why I've never wanted to eat Korean food--maybe because my perception has been that it is very meaty and not vegetable-y, and also the overwhelmingly red-chilied kimchee is sometimes too much for me.  The chili sometimes seems to completely take over the flavor.  But Alice's obsession with Korean drama  and Korean food, the delicious Korean bean sprout pancakes she made for us when she visited, and the homemade kim chee that Kjirsten brought to book club last week conspired to convince me that I should expand my palate to include some Korean.

I chose an unadventurous pork bulgogi with scallions and mushrooms, lettuce leaves for wrapping, and red bean paste.  Christian chose  a rice bowl with seaweed, beef, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, and a runny sunny-side up egg.  For accompaniment, they brought kim chee, bean sprouts with sesame dressing, fermented black beans (yum), tiny omelets, and yummy potatoes.  I loved the sticky rice with fermented black bean, and the pork bulgogi was delicious. The rice bowl was sizzling, and we mixed the vegetables with the rice as it sizzled, almost like making fried rice at home.  I liked the egg and the seaweed, but when it was all mixed together the different textures were undistinguishable from one another and the flavor was not as deep as I wanted.  I might have mixed it wrong, and maybe I should have eaten kim chee with it.   Next time I might branch out with something a bit less familiar tasting.

Also, the place was packed, but the servers were excellent and efficient, the restaurant was very clean and tidy, and the food was fresh. Even though the tables were laminate and the overhead lighting was florescent, my HUGE pet peeve, it somehow transcended the bad lighting and felt comfortable and even a bit cozy.  I think it was because the staff was so nice.

So, Korean food aficianados, please advise on what I should try next (the menu isn't very big; each meat dish is prepared with either pork, beef or octopus, but I'm squeamish about eating octopus in the desert.)

Also, if you don't have a weekly dinner date with your main squeeze, I recommend it.

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