Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Parma's Seoul Garden

Thank you, to whomever submitted Seoul Garden for my 2014 To Dine challenge! We finally made it there, with friends, on Saturday evening. Obviously, it was already on my "to-do" list, but the recent Scene article had peaked my interest even more. I'm happy to report that it did not disappoint.

This was only my second time eating Korean food (my first experience was through my 2013 To Dine challenge), so I am by no means an expert on this cuisine. However, I can safely say that this experience trumped my first, and we've found a new spot to frequent in Parma. Apparently, it's not a secret spot, because the restaurant was hopping on Saturday at 7:00pm.

Our group of six settled into a table after a brief wait, and began to look over the menu. One dish did give me quite a chuckle...
I love a good misprint.

I went straight for the Bibimbop ($10.95), a "gateway" to Korean food, for those of us that aren't familiar. It is steamed rice, topped with shredded vegetables, ground beef, and a raw egg yolk. It is served in a piping hot clay pot, and it literally cooks right in front of you. The idea is to slowly stir the pot, crisping the rice, cooking the egg, and blending in some hot sauce.
This version easily was better than the first one that I had tried at Miega, and I hadn't thought that one was bad. There was just something about the flavors and textures in this one that had me digging in for more.

We also shared some Fried Dumplings (you can order 8 or 16).
They were actually stuffed with beef, instead of pork. They were okay, but not the highlight of the meal.

Now, one thing that is wonderful (and a tad overwhelming) about a Korean dining experience are all of the little side dishes that arrive at your table with every meal. Plate upon plate is placed in front of you, all little dishes of different pickled, spiced, raw, or unusual items to try. Your table suddenly becomes quite full!
Some highlights included the spicy kimchee, pickled radish, gelatin herb "noodles", and crispy tofu. We probably had at least eight different ones to try.

A couple of our friends ordered the Bulgogi, and seemed pleased with the marinated beef. "R" went for the traditional Pajeon (pancake).
It's usually a popular Korean appetizer, stuffed with scallions and in this case, a variety of seafood. Miega's version was a lot smaller, and this dish was clearly intended for a table of diners to share. It was HUGE.

The price tag on many of the dishes may seem high when you're browsing their menu, but if you look closely, they are intended for 2-3 diners to share. They have a few Barbeque dishes, where diners can cook their own food at the table, and a selection of Jungol (stews/casseroles). I'd love to try the spicy chicken that we spotted at the table next to us.

The restaurant itself is nothing to look at from the outside, and it's not much better on the inside. Dated decor, old carpet, wobbly tables, bright overhead lighting. But, the food wins you over. My only complaint? Several times we could smell the most offensive fishy aroma that I've ever smelled in my life that was wafting over from other tables. I almost gagged.

Another restaurant was checked off of the 2014 list, and this one will remain in rotation for us. We had a great evening, with good food, good friends, and some good stiff cocktails at Drink. Bar + Grill down the street afterwards.

Seoul Garden
5270 Pearl Road
Parma, OH


eatdrinkcleveland said...

Oh what a night ~ so much fun!

Kristian said...

That looks great! Will have to try it!

Bite Buff said...

I think you'd really like it, Kristian!