July 11, 2004

Boston: Choe's Cafe

Located near the BU West Campus area at 957 Commonwealth Ave, this restaurant was chosen based on comments made on Chowhounds and its proximity to the Paradise Club where the Dresden Dolls were playing on Friday. I've actually only eaten at one other Korean Restaurant, so it was interesting to see the differences. The menu at Choe's definitely had a greater variety of Korean food, with a wide selection of Bibimbap and other spicy entrees. I don't know the names in Korean for the dishes eaten. (I really need to learn to write that down when we order.) Michael's could best be described as stir-fried squid with vegetables and noodles (it might have been o-jinga bok-kum). I had a sample and the squid was very nicely done and the sauce quite spicy. For myself, I ordered a version of bibimbap which substituted barbecued sea eel for the usual beef. I very much enjoyed it. The place itself was comfortable and very casual in its decor. Servings were generous and the prices reasonable. If we're out that way for another show in the future, we're very likely to try out more at Choe's (though there are also a couple good Thai places nearby).

Bibimbap means (roughly) "to stir together (bibim) with rice (bap)." The best kinds are served in a hot stone pot (dolsot) and usually contain handfuls of different marinated vegetables, a handful of beef (or in some cases tofu or raw fish), some shredded lettuce, and a barely cooked egg. The fun part is when you mix it all together with the kochujang (hot pepper sauce) that's served on the side. It makes a great crackling sound and the food stays hot all the way through the meal. At the end, you can enjoy the rice crust that has formed on the bottom of the bowl.

Most bibimbap is Chonju style. Chonju is about 240km south of Seoul, in a rich agricultural area that provides plenty of vegetables for toppings. As many as 30 ingredients might appear in a Chonju bibimbap. The city is regarded as the cuisine capital of South Korea, and bibimbap one of its most popular dishes. It is thought to have first appeared in the 1800's, traditionally eaten after rites honouring departed ancestors. While bibimbap itself has many ingredients, it is sometimes also served with many side dishes.

And here's a thread on my favorite cooking forum about making this great stuff at home. Guess I need to figure out where I can get those stone bowls...

Posted by Jennifer at July 11, 2004 4:49 PM
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