Seoul Garden
 Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio        Date of Visit  04/12/13  
      No Known Website

Well friends, we have been hitting up some of our long time haunts as opposed to checking out new places. Sated by Casa, Momocho, Kasai and others we were ready to get back on the fork. We got this particular recommendation from Big E whose description of the place was certainly compelling and pretty darn accurate. The most compelling detail was the sense of authenticity both he and everyone online (many who have lived in Korea for some period of time) described. Before we get to that, there is the place itself.



Even The Salt Is Korean

This is not the place to go if you are into ambiance or service. The furniture is rickety from years of wear. It might be oldÖthere was a self portrait of Vincent van Gogh carved into the underside of our table. And he still had two ears. The place doesnít look particularly clean and has a nostalgic smoky aroma. The condiments (even salt) are Korean and one wall is adorned with weathered pictures of menu items in an attempt to bridge the language barrier. I have never been to Korea. I donít know how service looks there; Seoul Garden might be authentic top to bottom for all I know. It might have been The Masters which was on the tv behind the counter. They were interviewing the 14-year old Chinese phenom, Tianlang Guan, between the ďactionĒ. I donít know if it was the player or the sport or just the light of the appliance but they were transfixed like a teen boy examining his first nude picture. (I know, most probably donít have to wait for their teens, but I will cling to my delusion regardless.) The staff appears to be a family. Itís a matriarchy to be sure with her husband and son. The son is much more easy with English and the customers and everyone took turns in the kitchen with the boys coming to the table to take orders and deliver the goods.

Assertive Green Tea

Green Bean Pancakes Good...Sauce Even Better

I know as much about Korean cuisine as I knew Spanish after my first Rosetta Stone lesson so I canít speak to authenticity. Generally, we went with what we knew a little bit about, Bul Go Ki and Bee Bim Bob. We also thought the Green Bean Pancake sounded interesting to round out our first foray. We were served two metal cups of green tea. I donít know if there is something added to the tea or if there is just so much steeped into the hot water to give it unique punch. More bitter than most I have had it was a bit like tasting coffee with chicory for the first time.

The pancakes arrived steaming hot with a small dish of soy based sauce flavored very similar to the dip that accompanies the fried dumplings from our local Chinese restaurant. The sauce was delicious and worked very well with the savory pancake which had a crisp exterior and was nearly molten towards the middle. The batter had taken on a yellow hue. Seasoning or maybe some corn meal? Didnít matter, simply tasty. Bul Go Ki is a beef barbeque which arrived in a sizzle platter studded with green onions. Bubbling away fiercely, I was excited to try it, but found it disappointing. Weíre all probably familiar with various Chinese sauces. The broad palette of Thai and Vietnamese spice profiles are a stunning blend. The beef in this dish didnít feature any sense of spice outside of okay beef, onion and grease. I was hoping for something more memorable and interesting.

Surprisingly Boring Bul Go Ki

The Central Portion Of The Bee Bim Bob

The Bee Bim Bob was another story. Coordinated mounds of vegetables and meat are set into a deep bowl and topped with a fried egg. Served with a bowl of sticky rice, you add the rice and then use your chop sticks to blend everything together. Every bite was different in both taste and texture, a fun and tasty experience. But it doesnít end thereÖnot even close.

The following pictures are what arrived at the table with our meals...


Some Sort Of Bean With Their Sprouts...Maybe

Sauce For The Bob...There Were Layers Of Flavor There

Some Sort Of Broth With Sprouts N Beans

What I Think Of When I Hear Kimchi/Kimchee, Tasty

This Was Super Wierd. Not As Hot As Appeared...Chunks Of Tart Vegetable Matter N Lightly Spicy Sauce

These Seemed Like Leathery Noodles With A Light Beef Flavor


Peppers Also Looked To Be Hot But Were Actually Sweet

Strings Of Something

Pretty Sure These Started As Tubers

I Did Recognize The Zucchini

Sticky Rice For The Bob

That's A lot Of Dishes

As the meals hit the table, they are joined by an army of small dishes containing various kimchi and chutneys and who knows what else. I can say with certainty I know what was in about a third of these dishes. Past that it was an adventure and guessing game. Tried alone, mixed in with the Bee Bim Bob, it exponentially expanded the possibilities of what your dinner could be. Itís been a while since I have been so clueless about what I was eating which for me is great fun. I would have asked what some of the dishes were just to be able to share with you but the Masterís was still holding sway.

I am hoping to do a little research as to what the other dishes on the menu might contain or what they might be and learning more about this new to me style of cooking. It seems to me the Seoul Garden serves the real thing and has a variety of options. It ainít pretty. They donít seem that interested in your experience, but where else are you going to find the real deal around here? Thanks, E.




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