Hidden Gems – Seoul BBQ & Sushi
Central Connecticut boasts some fantastic dining options, BUT what about those restaurants, whom from all outward appearances do not “appear” to be cooking and plating some of the best cuisine in the area. Would you judge a restaurant’s potential food prowess by it’s outward appearance? Would you even suggest eating at a restaurant that was situated in a “less than desirable” location?
What if, SHOCKER, you threw all those preconceived notions out the window because in the end it’s not about the location or even outward appearances (which many times just masks horrible food and service), what it’s really about is…the FOOD. That is why we, as lovers of food go out to eat – to have a dining experience that will blow your mind and your palette.
Well my friends, that is what you will get when you visit Seoul BBQ & Sushi , a restaurant that cooks and serves delicious, flavorful, and healthy Korean dishes.
I can now say, after dining at Seoul BBQ & Sushi, that it was a shame that I only gave it a cursory glance as I passed it while driving to and from the Westfarms Mall. I never really knew what to make of the restaurant and honestly never took the time to find out UNTIL the folks at Eat IN Connecticut hosted a ticketed tasting event at Seoul BBQ & Sushi.
Curious, I purchased 2 tickets (since Mark is always a willing participant and my comrade in “foodie” arms) because the price was right and I would finally have an opportunity to try what I had long driven past.
I had done a little research before we arrived, to try and get the vibe for Seoul BBQ & Sushi and I was surprised and intrigued to learn that 1) it was NOT a buffet (something I am ashamed to say I thought it was ) and 2) the food we would be served would be Korean, something that is lacking in the Central Connecticut area.
Mark and I arrived a bit on the early side but we were warmly greeted and lead to a private dining area where we were soon joined by 25 other fun loving and adventurous foodies, not a bad way to spend a Monday evening.
Surrounded by a colorful array of Banchan (or small dishes of food) set in the middle of the table, the other guest slowly trickled in and a quick introduction by Mark Moon (one of the owners) came in, gave a short welcome, and with that we were off on a culinary adventure of the best kind.
As I mentioned we were first treated to some Banchan. As Mark explained, these small side dishes are most always served first and are always cold to provide a balance to the hot dishes to follow. I was amazed at the variety of Banchan presented before us – from seaweed salad (my personal favorite) to kimchi cucumbers to a potato salad that was out of this world, my table of 8 passed and shared and delighted at the flavor packed in each small bite. It was also a great way to break the ice – what better way to talk to people then to see if anyone wants the last marinated eggplant.
We continued with Kimchi Pancakes, not spicy in the least, and and rounded out the Appetizer course with Capchee, a stir-fried potatoes noodle vegetable dish (and one I was not shy about dishing out seconds for myself). The Capchee dish would be something that I would order on it’s own when I come back to Seoul BBQ, perfect on it’s own and probably even better with a side of the Kimchi Pancakes.
We were given a bit of a respite, and I refilled my cup with a delicious hot tea made from corn and barley, that I continued to sip throughout the evening.
Next up was a beautifully presented Sushi and Sashimi Sampler along with some Edamame. Now I am used eating Edamame served salted and hot so this was a change of pace BUT when served with the sushi and sashimi, it proved to be a nice compliment. I did not try the sushi roll (which Mark gave it a thumbs up), as I preferred to stick with the sashimi which included salmon, tuna and red snapper. It was so good that I felt it would be a disservice to dip a single piece into the soy sauce provided.
My dining companions and myself were next served the “famous” Housemade (or Diamond) Dumplings which Mark told us his mother still makes by hand EVERY.SINGLE.WEEK.
She makes between 500-1000 at a time and because they are hand made – more filling can be stuffed into each dumpling. One of my dining companions had raved about these dumplings since the beginning of our meal and after I took my first bite, I could see why. Golden but not greasy, these dumplings provided the perfect dough to meat ratio. Many times, when you order dumplings it’s all dough, but that was definitely not the case with these dumplings.
We could have stopped there and I would have been happy BUT it was time to get our grill on. Each table at Seoul BBQ has a grill set up in the middle. Until this time – the grill was covered but soon – the cover was off and we witnessed the Galbi BBQ beef (that had been marinated for 2 weeks) being grilled before our eyes.
Mark even got in on the action and “assisted” the chef. You know what you get when thinly sliced beef is marinated for 2 weeks – meat that is fork tender and flavorful with each bite.
The Galbi BBQ was followed by Bibimbap another favorite of Mark and mine. The Bibimbap we were served on this particular event had all the regular components of the dish and included pork shoulder.
Rounding out our meal was Soon Tofu Soup – made with their house-made tofu. Yup – House Made! I am glad they saved the soup for the last part of the meal. It provided a great wrap-up and slid down easily in the remaining spaces of my stomach. The silken tofu and vegetable soup was another highlight, slightly spicy but highly flavorful. Mark (a self proclaimed tofu “hater”) even finished his bowl.
Special thanks to Mark Moon as well as the folks at Eat IN Connecticut for a phenomenal gastronomic experience.
If you have an opportunity, I highly suggest you visit Seoul BBQ, you (and your stomach) won’t be sorry.
Dinner | Mon-Sun 11AM – 10PM