You’re either into the Winter Olympics or you’re not. For many of us in New England however, it’s a welcome distraction. We can totally relate to trying to stay balanced on the ice…we do it almost every day just trying to get to work! For the Gertz Girlz, the Opening Ceremony and Parade of Nations is one of the highlights. It’s inspiring to see all those young, fit athletes representing every country in the world. This is one of the few events that brings the global community together and it’s also a chance to learn more about the culture of the host country. This year, it happily nudged one of the Gertz Girlz to suggest we visit a Korean restaurant and give their cuisine a whirl. There are not many to choose from “up in these parts,” but a gold medal should definitely go to Seoul Kitchen in Westford, Massachusetts.
Dee told me she wanted to try a specific Korean dish. But for the life of me I couldn’t recall the name of it. Biddy Biddy Bop? Bim Skala Bim? (yes now I’m aging myself). I gave up and consulted ‘Auntie’ Google. Ah. Bibimbap. “Dee and I are going to try Bibimbap on Sunday,” I told Eva (who couldn’t make this particular Gertz Girlz outing due to drumline practice). “What is that? Like techno music?,” she asked. That made me feel better. So did the visit to Seoul Kitchen restaurant in Westford, MA. And please don’t judge a restaurant by the strip plaza it lives in. This one made me wish I had dressed a little better. Once inside, I was really impressed with the casual elegance and sparkling interior of this good-sized restaurant. I admired the beautiful décor with its warm color scheme of neutrals and a mix of light to deep coral accents. It was spotless.
We had three distinct seating areas to choose from, including a long, attractive sushi bar, a dining area that included booths and regular tables, and the bar area which held a classy ambiance.
Once we were seated, and looking at the menu, Dee shared that the mother of the owner makes the pork dumplings by hand everyday (we have since discovered via Phantom Gourmet that she can no longer keep up with the demand, and now has help). But her efforts were appreciated by the Gertz Girlz! They were fried but not greasy, the filling was savory and satisfying, and the dipping sauce was just the right accompaniment.
But, as much as we enjoyed the dumplings, they were slightly eclipsed by a quartet of complimentary dishes brought to us as a sort of Korean “amuse-bouche” by our attentive waitress. We sampled Spicy Kimchi (cabbage), Korean Broccoli, Seasoned Cucumber, and Soy Potato and Carrot Cubes. These were new to our palates and very good nibbles. We also learned that these small side dishes are unique to the Korean culture and are called “Banchan.” These are almost obligatory on the Korean table.
We sipped our very good ice-cold vodka martinis and waited for the celebrity dish to arrive. Bibimbap. It was easier to pronounce after the martini, to be honest.
I first became aware of Bibimbap about four years ago, while working on a recipe card project. I was intrigued by the ingredients, particularly the sunny side up egg topper–which is now a trend, especially on burgers, pizza and red meat, but back then it seemed like a novelty. Anyway, what can I say? I’m a sucker for gooey egg yolks.
Here’s an interesting bit of history about Bibimbap:
There are a variety of choices for meats, grains and sauces. I ordered the Bibimbap with brown rice and soy-sesame beef. The beef was wonderfully tender, and the veggies (carrots, zucchini, celery) were perfectly tender-crisp. The marinade had just the right flavor balance of soy and sesame. I was disappointed in my choice of grain, though. You can also choose white rice or quinoa, but I was attempting to eat healthier, which was a mistake, because I really don’t care for brown rice. It’s certainly not a strike against Seoul Kitchen; the rice was perfectly cooked and slightly chewy. I just should have listened to that nagging inner voice that said, ‘order the white, dummy’. Oh well…
And be forewarned: the stone bowl stays very hot, and even though it is set in a safety tray, it’s easy to forget that as you reach for something. Especially after a martini! And I struggled with the chop sticks for some reason (maybe it was the martini) so gave up and went with a fork. Utensils are kept in a pretty wooden box; the forks are wrapped in napkins secured with a paper sleeve, and there are paper sleeves covering the bowl of the spoons. I was impressed.
Service is so important and our server didn’t disappoint. She was patient with our questions and discounted our martini when she found out our vodka brand wasn’t available that day. Another side note – the restroom was impressively clean and pretty which is very important to this Gertz Girl.
I wish I could’ve been there, I really love an elegant ambiance. I peeked at the menu online and there are enough upscale Pu Pu items to make me happy.
Gertz Girlz Final Dish:
Dee and Lisa arrived on a Sunday between the lunch and dinner rushes, so it was fairly quiet, but didn’t stay that way long. Soon there were five parties joining our section, including one with children in the 6-10 age range. We wouldn’t call Seoul Kitchen a family restaurant, per se, because of the ambiance and slightly high prices. For example, the Bibimbap is $17.95. But it’s perfect for friendly get-togethers or romantic date nights.
If you can’t make it to Seoul Kitchen, but would like to make Bibimbap at home, download the recipe card Dee mentioned earlier in the link below. And if you make it, please let us know what you think!
More info: https://www.eatseoulkitchen.com/