I Can Eat 50 Eggs: Korea House
In honor of Paul Newman and “Cool Hand Luke,” I’ll review 50 days of eggs from 50 different restaurants.
Day 33: Korea House
2700 W. Anderson Lane. 458-2477. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 02.02.12
The shopping center at 2700 West Anderson keeps growing, with a new Chen Z Noodle House and a Chipotle to the right of the Cover 3 sports bar. The sounds of air hammers resound through another cavernous space to the right, adding to the cacophony that includes Madam Mam’s and the funhouse of the Alamo Drafthouse. But in the back of this old walk-around shopping center, Korea House stands like it has since the first time I came here in the ‘80s, a cafe resistant to change for a simple reason: good food, lots of it, reasonable prices.
I came here to chase a dish called dolsot bibimbap ($9.95) at the suggestion of BurgerAustin writer Hoon Park, who read how much I liked bibimbap at New Oriental Market on Airport before it closed last month. At its basic level, bibimbap is a layered bowl of rice, cool vegetables, grilled beef and a fried egg. Your job is to add Korean chile sauce and mix like you’ve lost your mind.
Dolsot adds a cook-at-your-table twist like tabletop Korean barbecue. The dolsot is a stoneware bowl heated to magmatic levels. The beef is there, and the vegetables, but the egg is raw, and your job as ever is to swirl everything together, this time with the intent of cooking that egg and everything else with it. Leave a layer of rice at the bottom of the bowl, and it will chatter at you throughout dinner. Save it for last, when it caramelizes like Korean Rice Krispies treats.
Drilling down to that rice, you’ll run across cucumber, spinach, bean sprouts, carrots, squash, leathery mushrooms and delicate threads of roots and herbs and marvels you can’t identify. The beef is sweet, almost gritty with marinade, but soft and spicy. All of it serves the greater bowl, an e pluribus unum of a dish, anchored by the egg that completely disappears into the collective.
But in true Korean style, the bounty of dinner spills beyond the bowl into six smaller bowls of banchan: sweet-and-spicy tofu, roasted potato, hot and sweet pickled cucumber, hard fermented red beans, radish in sweet soy and that best of all Korean banchan: cabbage that glows red with chile pepper spice, preserved and fermented not just in vinegar but shrimp paste for an aromatic flourish that can only come from kimchi. No extra charge, even for luggage on this daytrip to Korea.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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