discovering Korean food

banchan

I can’t quite believe how long it’s taken me to get interested in Korean food. Until recently, my exposure to it consisted of one red bean moon cake that a Korean friend gave me in college, and the pa jun recipe that I got from David Lebovitz that took over our lives for a while. Then some friends (the same ones who helped us out with our taco crawl) invited us to go with them to Blue Ginger, a Korean grill restaurant in Bellevue.

Korean grill

It was something of a life altering experience. The seafood pa jun, chock full of squid, was astonishing, the banchan (a myriad of tiny side dishes) fresh and tasty, and the hot metal shield draped in pork belly, marinated beef, kim chi, sliced garlic and jalapeños just plain fun. We ate a lot of kim chi and drank a lot of beer, and swore to continue our research at other local establishments.

Life, as it tends to, intervened, and we didn’t get out to any more Korean restaurants for awhile. I did do some research, though (as it turns out, there are a LOT of Korean restaurants between Everett and Tacoma), so when it came time to visit the city of Edmonds (to see world-class ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro – no, that isn’t a joke), we decided to pay a quick, just-the-two-of-us visit to HoSoonYi, a tofu restaurant tucked off of Highway 99. It was a little hard to find, as the street sign was only in Korean, but we made an educated guess at the address and found it.

I had read that HoSoonYi’s specialty was their soondobu, or tofu soup, so of course we ordered that. And the seafood pa jun, so as to compare it to Blue Ginger’s version. It was a very good thing that we had already been exposed to the concept of banchan, otherwise the enormous amount of food that descended upon us after placing this modest order might have sent us running out into the night.

Continue reading

in the Loft

the Loft Lounge

Down the coast from Mount Vernon towards Seattle is a small city called Edmonds. Until recently, we never went there, except to catch the ferry to Kingston, home of Heronswood Nursery (now moved to the East Coast) and the Main Street Ale House (provider of the best sweet potato fries EVER). But a couple of years ago Edmonds opened its new Center for the Arts, and suddenly it’s become a destination. We went to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo there last weekend, and found ourselves needing to find a restaurant on a Sunday night in a very quiet downtown. Luckily for us, The Loft Lounge just opened.

the Loft Lounge

This is a really cool place: very narrow inside (it was hard to get out with people sitting at the front tables) but with a nice looking bar, a cozy upstairs with a slanty ceiling, and a big, lush patio full of bamboo and heaters. We sat upstairs, and while our table had a great bird’s-eye view of the bar, it also had no light. C’est la vie. Continue reading