Posts tagged ‘Asian’
I have prepared Korean cuisine in my home, but until recently I had yet to try any of the Korean restaurants in the Kansas City metro. While not as trendy as the Momufuku mini-empire in New York City, they give diners a solid and authentic glimpse into this type of Asian cuisine. I have just embarked upon a little journey to try them all and, after my first foray, I’m excited to keep going.
The first time you venture to Korean Restaurant Sobahn, take some friends with you. It will allow you a more complete experience, as the menu offers a diversity of options that can’t be properly tackled with just two people. Ask your server to help sift through it or, if you are feeling adventurous, she can create a meal for you and let you be surprised.
We had two appetizers, both of which were quite substantial and filling. The seafood pancake was the size of a 12 inch pizza and was replete with vegetables as well as bits of shrimp and squid. A small bowl of soy was provided for dipping. It looked pretty, and tasted much better than I had anticipated. Its flavors melded well and it had a pleasing texture. The spicy rice cakes with fish cakes and vegetables came in a beautiful covered porcelain bowl and resembled a stew of rigatoni pasta and vegetables in a spicy tomato sauce. The red sauce was actually made with a Korean chile sauce, and had a bit of spice that was not overpowering.
There are several beef dishes to choose from, and they are considered a speciality of the house. We ordered the sliced and grilled short ribs marinated in a sweet soy sauce, served with tongs and a pair of scissors for splitting the bones (which was not necessary). I’m not a big meat eater, but each bite was tender and wonderfully seasoned.
If you need a bit of a warmer-upper on a cold winter’s night, the soup with red bean paste and tofu will do the trick, but it was not as hearty as some of the soups/stews on the menu, and would have functioned better as a starter than a main course.
The winner of the evening was a rice dish, Kimchi Dol Sot Bap, which was topped with spicy stir fried pork and dried seaweed. Though there was no sauce component as in Chinese and Thai cooking, and though it was identified on the menu with a red chile to denote heat, it was not too spicy for our dining partner who typically prefers more mild cuisine. And it came in a deep pot that managed to keep all of its contents hot for the duration of the meal, which would have made my mother happy.
As if we didn’t already have enough on the table, our server also brought out a lovely array of condiments to complement our dinner, including pickled cucumbers, kimchi, cellophane noodles and seaweed.
The scene on a Saturday night was a refreshing change from the usual loud and crowded spectacle of many restaurants on the weekend. Though it deserves to be full at all hours, we reveled in the ability to have a relaxed conversation without shouting, and to enjoy the pleasing mix of smooth jazz that wafted through the room. Service was attentive but not rushed.
We didn’t come close to sampling all that Sobahn has to offer, but we certainly got a beginner’s education, and one that made me eager to keep learning.
For those of us living near the Plaza, 888 International Market is a hike. It’s located near Antioch and 119th St. in Overland Park. But think of it as an adventure, a trip to Asia if you will, that costs less than a tank of gas as opposed to a very expensive plane ticket.
International? Not so much. Yes, you can find hummus and a few other Mediterranean items, along with some tortillas and salsa, but this former Hy-Vee is essentially an Oriental Market. It has a huge selection of Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Korean specialities. While it’s not difficult to find many of the jars in other Asian markets around the metro, what makes this grocery stand out is its emphasis on fresh. Fresh vegetables, fresh tofu, fresh noodles, fresh meats, fresh fish, fresh lobster and crab.There’s even homemade Korean kimchi.
But there’s also shrimp paste, every brand of soy, fish and hoisin sauces, palm sugar, lemongrass (fresh and in bottles), Togarashi (an essential Japanese spice in David Chang’s Momufuku brussels sprouts), dried soba and udon noodles, pickled ginger and every other Asian ingredient you’ll ever see in a recipe.
If you want to make a seafood soup with Korean chile paste, they’ve got you covered, right down to ceramic bowls to serve it in.
Allow at least 30-45 minutes to check out the store so you have time to walk up and down each aisle. If you’re smart (like I wasn’t), you’ll go armed with a recipe or two that you’ve wanted to try but haven’t for lack of the proper ingredients. I had to wing it, but managed to gather noodles, tofu, vegetables and sauce components for a very delicious pad Thai.
Did I mention it’s cheap? This bears no resemblance to a Whole Foods. The prices are extremely reasonable, so you can stock up now and decide later what to concoct with everything you bought.
Wolfgang Puck has restaurants all over the country, but The Source may be the most formal and unique. Situated next to the Newseum, The Source’s upstairs dining room is modern and sleek, with floor to ceiling windows and a two-story temperature controlled wine wall. The downstairs lounge for small bites is more of a scene, but the decibel level may be off -putting to some. On both floors, the emphasis is on Asian fusion cuisine.
Though the setting is striking, the food is equally captivating. The large amuse-bouche of sesame asparagus with candied walnuts whet our appetite for the many dishes to come, including tuna tartare in sesame-miso cones, shrimp and scallop mini-dumplings in a pool of curry emulsion, stir-fried lamb in lettuce cups, and lacquered duckling with bok choy and lo mein noodles. Each was intensely flavored and beautifully presented.
The entire evening was well-orchestrated by the capable staff. Our waiter helped us make a selection from the extensive wine list, not an easy task given the array of tastes and ingredients that we experienced throughout the meal.
The Source is one of those restaurants that leaves a lasting impression. From the stunning ambiance to the exquisite food and service, it was a memorable evening.
Zen Zero in Lawrence is packed every night, regardless of the wind chill factor or whether KU is playing basketball. That’s probably because it serves comforting soups, noodles and Asian specialties in a laid-back setting, with prices that are affordable for the many college students who frequent it. It reminds me very much of Lulu’s noodle shop on Southwest Blvd in Kansas City.
We started with Momos, Himalayan dumplings with charred tomato chutney and spicy sesame dipping sauce. A riff on the traditional steamed dumplings, the only real difference was the sauces that they came with–both were tasty.
I’m not a big coconut milk fan, which is why I was happy to see a curry dish on the menu that didn’t have it. The Dry Red Thai Curry with chicken and served with long beans was every bit as good as the same item on the Thai Place menu.
The Drunken noodles were hearty and flavorful. The flat noodles were tossed with oyster sauce, onions, peppers, tomatoes and Thai basil. Medium is quite spicy, so be ready to down lots of water if you order it that way.
The only downside of the dinner was that there were only two of us and we couldn’t try all the dishes we wanted to sample, but that can be easily remedied by a return visit.