Sunday, November 18, 2012

Korean Food

Good Korean food has a homeyness to it like no other to me. When I lived in Boston, I loved going to Koreana which specializes in barbecue. They have vegetable and tofu barbecue and you cook the dish on a piping hot grill in the middle of your table. Half the fun is making up barbecue "tacos" with daikon, kimchi, lettuce and other side dishes. Kimchi is like Korean sauerkraut (except it can be any vegetable) meets spicy goodness. Note: if you don't eat seafood, you should call ahead to ask if the dishes use fish or oyster sauce or shrimp paste in the sauces or kimchi.

Recently catching up with some of my favorite people on the planet in DC, we decided to try out Mandu for Korean food; in part, because both Washington Post and VegDC identified it as vegan-friendly. Sadly, they're not a place that has the barbecue in the middle of the table, but they did have some decent food. Opting for the closest thing to a grill in the middle of the table, I got the dolsot bibim bop which is served in a hot stone bowl that cooks the dish after its served. They were able to substitute tofu for the meat, but as you can see it was pretty much just fresh tofu (kind of boring.) In addition to traditional napa cabbage kimchi, they served a kimchi zucchini, fermented black beans that had a sweetness to them and some pickled potatoes (see upper right corner of the picture for a sneak peek.)


I don't know if it is the sizzling, hot food or the depth in the sauce, but something about Korean food envelopes me in warmth and good feelings. I guess there's one other thing it could be: Soju! It's a vodka-like drink that is made with rice, sweet potatoes, barley and/or wheat. It's extremely smooth and beguiling given it's got a 10-25% alcohol content! We opted to split a bottle of "fresh" and it was delightful, though not nearly as much so as the company. 

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