Category Archives: Korean

Korean Dogs

Blame it on Houston’s Moon Tower Inn with their quirky menu featuring gourmet hotdogs: Venison and Blueberry, Lamb and Feta, Wild Boar and Roasted Jalapenos. These are some of the odd spins on the ballpark favourite causing a locally renewed interest in the hotdog.

Another queue up at the airport, another food rag consumed. Apparently the hotdog trend I’ve seen locally has spread. The article on hotdogs got me thinking about how to create a Korean version and with a gluten free bun. A good experiment with likeable outcome but with some changes for future versions.

The components and assembly follow.

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Soy-Braised Purple Cabbage

  • 1/4 Head Purple Cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 T Avocado Oil
  • 1 T Soy Sauce
  • 1 T Garlic, chopped
  • 1 T Sesame Seeds, toasted
  • 1 T Green Onion, chopped
  • 1 t Fish Sauce
  • 1 t Sesame Oil

Heat the oils over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add cabbage and saute for 5-7 minutes until it starts to soften. Add soy and fish sauce, stir, cover, reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the cabbage is the consistency you want. Remove from heat, uncover, add sesame seeds and green onion then stir to blend.

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Gochujang-Roasted Brussel Sprouts

  • 2-3 C Brussel Sprouts
  • 1 T Gochujang (Korean Hot Pepper Paste)
  • 2 T Avocado Oil
  • 1 t Fish Sauce

Put in all in a Ziploc then shake until well coated. Pop it in a 425 oven for about 40 minutes or until the sprouts are as crispy you’d like.

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Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Bun

  • 1 C Sweet Potato, cooked and mashed
  • 1/4 C Coconut Oil
  • 1/3 C Ground Flaxseed
  • 1/2 C Arrowroot Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 t Baking Soda
  • 1/2 t Sea Salt

In a large bowl combine all ingredients until smooth. Let sit for a few minutes to thicken. On a parchment lined baking sheet, spoon the batter into oval shapes long and wide enough to hold a hotdog plus the toppings. As a guide, I made about 4 ‘buns’ and they were a little too small. Bake for about 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Alternatively, you could bake for 10 minutes, remove and cool. Place the partially cooked buns in a taco rack then pop them back into the oven for the remainder. I tried both techniques but the taco rack idea, albeit good on paper and a good visual, did not add much value since the super-fluffy bun went flat as it cooled.

In either case, when the buns are done, remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely before using.

Assembly
Eye
Cook your favourite hotdog. I’ve tried a Hebrew National Beef Dog, a Garlic Chicken Sausage and a Tofu Dog with this recipe, the Hebrew National was the winner for its slimmer size and more beefy flavour which  paired better with the gochujang, soy and fish sauce.

On a bun spread a condiment of choice. Me, I used a little gochujang mayo (equal parts of gochujang and mayo). Place the hotdog and add toppings. For toppings I used the soy-braised cabbage and slices of the gochujang roasted brussel sprouts. A little more gochujang and chopped kimchi to top.

You’re not seeing a picture of the folded hotdog because when I tried that the whole lot disintegrated 🙂 Despite the bun erosion, the flavours and textures here are fantastic; a little heat from the gochujang, a little sweetness from the cabbage and sweet potato bun and a little salty from the soy and fish sauces.

Notes

The bun is too soft and fluffy which unfortunately causes it to fall apart when adding any ‘saucy’ components. Next time less baking soda and a longer slumber in the oven.

Either I need less toppings, more batter or need to spread the batter out more thinly since these buns were too small.

The sweet potato in the batter is a total win!

The Hebrew National Beef dog was the best that I tried but next time I think I’m going to grill a batch of bulgogi instead.

 

 

Dak and Bop

Ironically it was a friend who lives in the burbs who told me about this restaurant which just recently opened in my neighbourhood. Dak and Bop is a Korean fried chicken house. Its interesting that I had just tried Korean fried chicken for the first time recently and thought it was good but rather a novelty, now there is restaurant focusing on just that.

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Atmosphere
Its located in one of the new concentric box buildings on Binz St. near the museums; glass front, lots of concrete, steel and generally has a vertical loft feeling. For lunch its an absolute madhouse with a 15-30 minute wait. Its a little off-putting to think of waiting for what is basically fried chicken in sauce but its likely due the newness of the restaurant combined with the fact that there aren’t many options for lunch in this part of town. Go ahead and wait, its definitely worth a few extra minutes.

Food
There are other items on the menu, like truffle fries and kimchi empanadas but I’d recommend going straight for the main event, the chicken. The chicken has options, here’s what you need to consider: the size of your meal in pieces, what kind of pieces and which sauce. The sauces vary in spicy level from the innocuous garlic soy to the warning-included, super-hot Korean pepper.

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I went 5-piece, the smallest, with 4 ‘strips’ and a drum with the middle-of-the-road sriracha lime and honey sauce. Incredible! I didn’t have high expectations but the crispy-out, juicy-in chicken was prepared extremely well. The sriracha was as expected, pleasantly warm, the lime adding a good acidic depth and the honey rounding out the lot with a little sweetness.

Price
$8 seemed reasonable, however I can get the comparable non-Korean version from any other of the grillion fried chicken places for a few bucks less.

Service
Its a small space, cramped and very busy. Despite that,  service here is excellent, turnaround times are quick – 10-15 minutes and everyone is very friendly as the warp 9 from table to kitchen and back.

Lunch: September 2015

Dak and Bop| 1801 Binz | HTX 77004

Dosi

The Korean sector in Houston is concentrated slightly west of town along Longpoint Rd. near Blalock. There you can find dozens of Korean restaurants and a Kroger-sized grocery dealing mostly with Korean items. However, in town, Korean options are sparse. This in-town restaurant, Dosi, is not strictly Korean, it leans more towards fusion.

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Atmosphere
Dosi did a Madonna; It disappeared only to come back with a new look. The look is sophisticated industrial with a tinge of street thanks to inside murals by Houston’s Aerosol Kriminals. The bright pink murals, light trees and wall of marinating produce broke up the rectangular grid of interior and created interest.

There were not many people for lunch but apparently they had a bumper crop the previous night – a late, last minute party of 20 – and they were out of a lot of items. They were quick to offer impromptu substitutes for missing items and they actually closed the restaurant after we were seated so we had full run over the remaining menu items.

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Food
The food here is mostly great, however Korean purists are going to take exception to the ingredients, preparation and presentation.

Bibimbab: I ordered the bibimbap for lunch and it was mediocre. The chicken and vegetables lacked flavour and the rice was dry. I salvaged the lot by applying liberal amount of gochujang, the Korean hot pepper paste.

Kimchee, Pork Belly Pancakes: Stellar. Crispy on the out, soft on the in, good texture play with the roasted pork belly and just the right amount of kimchee to flavour without becoming overpowering. The vinegar, soy, hot pepper dipping sauce was amazing. The homemade kimchee in pots on every table were a great topping with these.

Gulf Oyster Ssam: Also amazing. Crispy potato-starch fried oysters presented with lettuce for wrapping along with nori strips, red bell pepper, kumquats and a gochujang aioli. This is a good example of how Dosi does fusion with excellent results.

Price
Its in line with other Upper Kirby establishments for lunch, $8-10 per app, $10-15 per entree. For those who know the prices of authentic Korean restaurants, this will seem high, however consider the time and money costs of getting to those from an in-town location.

Service
It was our server’s first day and she was faced with 12 hungry people, serious time restrictions and a lot of missing menu items. I applaud her ability to negotiate with the chef to come up with adhoc substitutes and to offer us deals on those items. I would not want that as my first day experience but she handled it extremely well. Hopefully that is a harbinger of the service level in general.

While I’m still partial to authentic Korean I’ll definitely return to Dosi to try more of their fusion items. I’m also curious to try a few of their Soju offerings which are featured prominently during their daily Soju happy hour.

Lunch: July 2015

Dosi | 2802 S. Shepard | HTX 77098

Fusion Taco

IMG_3231_FotorTaco wars are constant and usually heated in Houston. Some Houstonians are purists wanting their tacos with specific ingredients and from specific family-owned venues located in Hispanic communities. Others are more adventurous, leaning toward the fusion fare originating in the food truck arena now infiltrating every neighbourhood. Some people may still be surprised to find tacos with a Korean bent, filled with bulgogi, kimchi, cilantro, queso fresco and gochujang, but locally these have been around for decades and there are dozens of vendors dishing them up daily.

I stumbled across a new fusion bent on tacos at a venue near downtown’s Market Square, aptly named, Fusion Taco. I was surprised by the combinations; mostly Indian, Japanese and Lebanese. However, I was not surprised they started out as a food truck not too long ago.

Atmosphere
Casual, open, lively. The floor-to-ceiling glass front facing Market Square makes for good people watching. Weekdays the crowd tend to be suits from the oil biz, weekends it tends towards those gathering for events at Toyota Center, Minute Maid or the Theatre District.

Food

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Mostly wins. The Chicken Tikka Masala taco, which is an open face naan ‘taco’ topped with a dollop of spicy, creamy tikka masala sauce and ridiculously tender chicken, was a win. The Chicken Tikka taco is a ‘special’ taco which are larger and quite filling. For vegetarians, there is also a Tofu Tikka Masala taco.

The Agedashi Tofu taco was also a win, several panko-fried tofu cubes topped with a cabbage mixture tossed in a sweet soy, ginger and garlic sauce. A good texture play – soft tortillas, crunchy cabbage, toothy tofu.

The short-rib taco, not so good. The meat was stringy, overcooked and lacked flavour.

Service
Counter-order, table delivery. I’ve been three times, mostly for lunch rush, order to delivery times are 10-15 minutes. Everyone is very friendly and helpful. The only downside is at lunch rush you might have to bus an empty table yourself, since the patron turnover is quick and their staff sometimes cannot keep up.

Price
Regular tacos are $2-3. ‘Specials’, $5. At lunch they have a special meal deal – 2 tacos, one side, one drink, $11.

Lunch: March 2015

Fusion Taco | 801 Congress | HTX 77002

 

Cho Sun Gal Bi

Austin is worse than Manhattan for dinner on a Saturday night. No reservation? Two hour wait for you. Expected in the downtown and South Austin buzz restaurants, however due to what seems like an influx explosion, you can now expect it everywhere.

Fortunately we arrived at Chosun Galbi Korean BBQ before all the other buzz-restaurant-rejectees and slipped right into a cook-it-yourself table. There was a 45 minute wait when we left. Austin, geez.

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Atmosphere
Chosun in located adjacent to a strip center in free-standing building which might have been an Outback Steakhouse in a former life. There isn’t much else open for business at night around it, so the area is not exactly a destination. Inside is configured just like a Outback, cushy booths in a throwback, cafeteria-style configuration. Its pleasant and functional with a dash of style. Even at full capacity the noise levels are reasonable, the feeling is upbeat, the crowd is mostly families and groups of friends. This did not feel like a date place or a scene.

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Food
If you haven’t been to a Korean BBQ restaurant then you might not understand why there is an electric grill sunken in the middle of your table. Well, that’s so you can cook the meat yourself.  I’ve only had the beef version of Korean BBQ but Chosun had chicken as well. One order is really enough for two but we got two orders; one chicken and one beef. Oh and a Green Onion Pancake, gots to have one.

Chicken, Beef BBQ : Some of the success is due to cooking it correctly, however most of the success is in the marinade; a delicious blend of salty and sweet. One server told me the secret is adding grated pear. I don’t know, sounds good to me, but the flavour is incredible and the meat is juicy even if you kinda leave it on the grill too long.

Green Onion Pancake:  These are flour-based pancakes but the amount of veggies in the Chosun version reduced the role of the flour to adhesive. Crispy on the out and crunchy with green onion and bell peppers; chop off a piece and dip it into the soy-chili-vinegar sauce. Definitely a meal in itself despite being advertised as an app.

Also, again, just in case you have not eaten Korean before, each meal comes with a bajillion side dishes. No you didn’t order them, they are just part of the meal. I recognized kimchee but that was all. I liked all of them except one which tasted like candied herring. Yeah, pass.

Service
Excellent. While my friend and I have both cooked our own Korean BBQ before, the servers here will sneak a pair of tongs in and flip your BBQ or move if off to the side if its getting too crispy. Frequent stops to see how you’re doing. Water refills are clandestine, which is good in case you are like me and overdo the Korean Hot Pepper Paste.

Price
Each BBQ dish is about $30, keep in mind this is enough for two with a Green Onion Pancake, which is $10. Dinner for two is usually around $20 a person, without Sochu, which is evil and should be avoided. Or maybe just consumed in moderation. I’ll try that moderation thing next time.

Dinner: 5 April 2014

Cho Sun Gal Bi | 713 E. Huntland Dr. | Austin, TX 78752