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NJ eats

local favorites

After a long 3 hours of hauling bales of hay onto trucks and then up a stable, I came home exhausted today unable to straighten my arms and with scratches on all 4 of my limbs. I deserve a reward, don’t you think?

Well, apparently, each of my family members thought we were all in need of a good, pig-out fest. My dad was starving after his golfing session, my mom had worked long and hard after service, and none of my family members had been fed very well at church (are we ever?).

So we all washed up and headed over to one of our favorite, local Korean eateries. And by local, I mean literally a 3-minute drive away.

tentative translation: living fish sushi?

Like the Greek Village, this is another small, doesn’t-look-like-much-from-the-outside restaurant that actually has really, really good food. It’s a typical Korean restaurant with an excellent sushi bar, and they give you A LOT of food.

My family only ordered 2 family-style dishes, but this place gives you so much banchan  that you could literally eat a separate meal just from the side dishes.

It wasn’t that bad in the beginning, but then the food just kept. On. Coming. It would not stop – so we didn’t stop eating either. We ate and ate and ate until I literally felt like I could pop a food baby then and there.

I don’t feel like my words are doing the amount food justice; allow me to show you.

First came the veggies.

carrots and edamame

I know what you’re thinking; that’s nothing, a skimpy portion of random veggies. But please, be patient. This was the tip of the iceberg. As in, the very, very, VERY tip. Like, the very top ice shaving on the iceberg.

Next came the baby octopi:

with gochujang and sesame seeds on a bed of lettuce

They’re actually not exactly octopi.. It’s a separate species, but I don’t think there’s an English name for the name. So baby octopi they shall be called.

Then, the squid salad:

with a gochujang-based dressing & tossed with greens, mung beans, and carrot

Unlike in the previous dish, the squid is actually raw in this salad. It works really well with the vegetables to make a cool, spicy salad.

Then, the shellfish:

oysters & mollusks(?)

One for each of us, how thoughtful of them :)

The oysters were raw, but the swirly things had been steamed; you just poked your chopstick in there and wiggled it around until the meat came out of the shell.

it's a shellfish without the shell, but that doesn't make it a fish...

The mollusk-thing was really good. Perfectly cooked so that it was tender, but still had a little chew to it.

The next plate, I’m not sure what kind of fish it was, but I’m going to hazard a guess and say monkfish.

another seafood plate

This was also another really delicious banchan; the sauce was very flavorful, and even though the fish was cooked (braised, probably) it was still chewy. It was my first time experiencing a dish like this, and I thought it was really interesting.

So at this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of seafood.” Hoho, trust me, this is NOT the last time you will see seafood in this post. But I think the restaurant people also wanted to give us a break from the oceany stuff, so they started sending out a whole slew of other banchan.

Like corn kernels sautéed with peas and carrots, and put on a hot plate:

one of my favorite dishes as a kid (:

A relatively smallish round of boocheemgae, often called Korean pancakes (although unlike American ones, these are savory).

scallions, peppers, and more of the baby octopi fried in a batter

And ginkgo nuts (kind of random, I know):

also fried

For those of you who haven’t tried these, when served in this restaurant, ginkgo nuts are served lightly salted, but they also have a slight natural bitterness that makes them more complex.

Then they brought a dwenjang, garlic, scallion sauce for us to dip to our hearts’ content:

strongly flavored, but very good

Then tempura

deep-fried veggies coated in panko breadcrumbs

It was winter squash tempura with something else… I didn’t eat it so I can’t quite remember.

At this point, you’re probably getting full from just looking at the pictures. Either that, or really, really hungry. But it does not end here. Remember, these are just the SIDE DISHES.

Then the waitress plopped down a nice basket of greens for us to ssam (i.e. wrap) in.

mugwort, lettuce, mustard greens, chard...

This restaurant had a surprisingly wide variety of greens; usually Korean restaurants only serve red lettuce as the ssam-wrap of choice.

Then, even MORE side dishes. I’m telling you, it was a never-ending flow of food.

a broiled fish of some kind... not sure what. it was tasty though.

And then a light fish soup:

refreshing soup

This was really, really good. It was a very basic broth, but it had a really good, light fish flavor. This soup (and a bunch of the other seafood banchan) are actually made from bits and pieces of fish left over from the sushi bar. Waste not, want not!

And then…

Came.

The.

Big.

KAHUNA.

SUSHI PLATTER

Revel in the platter’s raw, fishy, deliciousness. Everything on here was so fresh, and the sushi almost melted in your mouth. You can see on this platter tuna, octopus, uni, eel, and a bunch of other fish that I can’t identify. But all you have to know was that it was really, really good. There’s some pricy stuff on there too that doesn’t usually come with the platter, but because my dad’s a regular customer, the sushi guys just threw it on there for us :D

There’s also more sushi on the other side of the platter, like sea cucumber:

kinda weird... hard to photograph too

This was my first time eating seacucs raw, and I thought the texture was a little strange. It was jello-y, but hard at the same time. I don’t know how to describe it. It was interesting though.

There was also mackerel:

also some abalone in the background

A very fatty, oily fish, the mackerel was really good too.

We also got a special type of kimchi:

definitely not made with lettuce... mustard greens, maybe?

This is a really good kimchi that the restaurant makes, but they don’t serve it to just anyone – my dad gets it because he’s a loyal customer.

So under my dad’s counseling, I experimented a little today; I usually eat my sushi plain or with a just little bit of wasabi (I don’t bother with the soy sauce). But today, I tried it with a little bit of the special kimchi, like this:

japanese and korean cuisine collide

I also learned to ssam up my sushi:

with just a smidge of the garlic-scallion-dwenjang paste

I really like eating the fish as a ssam; not only was it convenient to eat, but the sauce and the greens took the fish to new levels of wonderful sushi goodness (instead of overpowering it, like I thought it might).

And just when you thought we were done eating, we had this to consume:

spicy hotpot

A huge wok-ish pot filled with spicy broth, mushrooms, scallions, ramen noodles, sausage, egg, spam, tofu, zucchini, and dduk (i.e. rice cakes).

I couldn’t eat this – I was lapsing into a food coma as it was heating up. I had maybe one spoonful before I called it a day. The rest of my family just kept right on eating, but even they couldn’t finish this; we had it wrapped up to go for Calynn’s dinner tomorrow.

Just when I thought we were done, my dad and my sister (being the monstrous eaters that they are) decide that they could go for some ice cream. So we went to a store called Annie’s Banana Split right next door.

choosing flavors

This place had an impressive assortment of flavors, from soft serves to ice creams to sorbets. Not only that, the had a huge variety of waffle cones, most of which I had never seen before.

whoa

Like, seriously, who’s ever heard of a PRETZEL cone??

My dad got a chocolate-vanilla soft serve in a chocolate-dipped cone.

NOM

And another photo, just for kicks.

brainfreeze...?

My sister got a kid’s-sized scoop of espresso chip ice cream.

yeah calynn, you eat that ice cream

My mom shared some of my dad’s cone, but I felt that if I even got a lick of their ice cream, I would literally explode into a bajillion pieces. So I just stuck to taking pictures. Especially funny ones of my dad.

L O L

He’s like a big kid. Look at this one I took in the restaurant when were waiting for our food to come out:

-o-;

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

DOUBLE ATTACK!

. . . .

Yeap. That’s my daddy alright.

Well, it only took me 2 hours to do this epically long post. I’m dead tired from all that hay hauling, so I’ll leave you guys  to enjoy those wonderful pictures of my dad. Oh yeah, and of the food.

G’nite!

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “local favorites

  1. LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL papa choi wow

    Posted by Euna | June 14, 2010, 2:39 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: roe, roe, roe your boat « nuts n' berries - June 18, 2010

  2. Pingback: living sushi, round 2 « you eatin' nice - November 1, 2010

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