Bo Revisited for the First Time
Hadn't been to Queens for a food fix in too long, so two pals and I went to Bo for Korean.
I don't think we were *quite* as excited about the food as Alan and Lisa, but we enjoyed it very much. We started with the mung and potato pancakes. The mungs were delicious; the potato ones were tastsy but extremely undercooked -- downright soggy. Neither was greasy at all; the dipping sauce was excellent.
The restaurant was lovely. The presentation of all the dishes was excellent (not quite as elaborate as Hangawi, but then you aren't paying Hangawi prices), and all the side dishes were distinguished by their cleanness. All the pickled stuff was particularly good.
For entrees, we had the jap chae, boolgoki, and bok choy and shrimp in "special" sauce. The jap chae was beautiful to look at (the scallions were gorgeous) but not, in my opinion, exceptional. The bok choy was beautifully cooked, but the sauce was too sweet and one-dimensional. The boolgoki was excellent, as good as any I've had in NY.
Portions were more than generous and all the dishes were distinguished by the lack of excess fat and grease.
But I've left out the best part of the equation -- the incredible sweetness of the staff. Our waitress, if a bit shy, couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. And when the owner came out, she showed genuine concern and was charming as all get-out. I'm a little nervous. We were there at 7:30 on a Saturday night and only one other table was occupied; by 8:15, we were the ONLY table there, and no one else came in.
The owner said she looked for spaces in lower Manhattan and couldn't find one with decent rent. I'm hoping the lack of business is an anomaly.
When we asked for a check, the waitress brought us some excellent orange wedges. After we paid, she knocked on the kitchen door and waved the owner in. The owner stopped by and personally said goodbye to each of us in turn.
What treatment for three utter strangers! We were all charmed and moved by their warmth. Even if I'd rate the food "very good" rather than excellent, it was more than worth the schlep to meet these two folks, and I'll be back.
Almost every Korean restaurant except BO uses
plenty of MSG, sugar and gives a finish to the food
that is distinct but a finish nonetheless. BO
allows the flavors to emerge. Never had I tasted
such luscious slivers of boiled turnip seasoned
with miniscule bits of dried fish, or potatoes
cooked in a beef broth. The homemade kimchee did
not visciouly assault with heat and fermentation.
The chef has realized the outer aesthetic elegance
of her decor and presentation within the food. It
makes the other places seem like good rib joints or
barbeques, whereas her aesthtic is personal, the
others generic. Not generic like Greek diners, but
backed up by tradition.
re: Peter Feliz
Pete, In a way, I'm kinda in agreement with you guys. The beef ribs are luscious, broad-flavored, they grab you and take you places, while the other stuff is too homey to be noveau, yet too restrained to be soulful.
But that other stuff IS soulful, in its way. It's a simple kind of soulfulness; perhaps one has to find one's inner korean (gg) to appreciate it.
I mean, MY potato pancakes will embrace you with spudly crunchy magnificence, but these are not that kind. They're sweet, like the owners. And simple sweet food is ok. It's taken me time to learn to appreciate simple food that doesn't knock me over; like you, my instinct is more for the beef ribs kind of culinary catharsis, I understand that feeling of "I've gotten dressed and made it out to this restaurant and I'm paying you...DO something!" but like the zen master said, "don't just DO something...STAND there!"