Starter Korean Restaurant in Baltimore?
I am really curious about Korean food -- never had it (other than kimchee from a jar).
Can you reccommend some starter places and starter dishes? I live in the Northern part of the county and work around Pikesville but anywhere near B'more is cool. Doesn't have to be a nice, sit down place -- could be carry out.
Spicy is fine! I am not a vegetarian, but my dining companion would probably prefer a meatless dish -- seafood is AOK with her though.
I am a native Pikesville guy replanted to MontCo. I would rec that you take a drive down to Wheaton to the Woomie Garden Restaurant for great Korean food including great Korean BBQ at each table. We get the Bulgoki (marinated grilled thin sliced rib eye steak which you wrap in lettuce leaves), the grilled short ribs, the grilled shrimp, the seafood pancake (sounds weird but it is delicious) and we also get a sort of korean low mein made with rice noodles (sorry, can't remember it's name). Of course you get the small plates of pickled veggies and other things with it which are fun (panchan and kimchee). The food is very good, it is fun to grill at your table. The restaurant is large with big tables and big groups of Asians. I think the staff gets a kick when our group of caucasion adults and kids orders the authentic Korean stuff. The place is clean. If you want to try Korean, it is worth the drive. Also there is another good Korean place in the Days Inn on route 1 in college park. good food but not as clean or nice.
I would visit the HowChow blog for some tips: http://howchow.blogspot.com/search/la...
He talks about H-Mart in Catonsville, which is what I would recommend. Next door is also Hanoori (it used to be called Beseto until very recently.) Here are my two favorite items in that plaza. Inside H-Mart is a mini food court. I always order the seafood fried rice. It comes in a big clay pot, you'll see it there on the menu. I believe it's number 30-something. And I'm pretty certain the word "Bop" is somewhere in the name of the dish. It's so comforting on a cold today. The rice on the bottom of the pot gets nice and crispy, which you'll either love or hate. With most, but not all, items at this place, they will give you kimchi and a bowl. You can fill up the bowl with soup from the big, black soup warming thingy. I'm tempted to say it's miso soup, but tastes a little different to me. Korean barley tea and water is also self-serve right there next to the cash register.
Next door is Hanoori which has a large food court inside. The arrangement here is strange. As soon as you enter, you'll see a sushi counter on your left side (counter 1), then you'll see another counter on your left side (counter 2), and straight ahead will be yet another counter (counter 3). Counter 1 and 3 are actually the same business, but counter 2 (although situated in between the other two) is a separate Korean-Chinese business. I you like spicy soup, noodles, and seafood, go to counter 2, turn to the noodles section of the menu and order #6. I believe they also have a non-spicy version but I've never had it. They give you some pickled radishes along with it, too. There is also self-serve water and tea here.
I'm with both Chippewa29 and bmorecupcake that you'd do great at either Shin Chon Garden for a restaurant or the H-Mart food court for counter service. Well worth driving down from Pikesville and pretty convenient from either Rte 29 (Shin Chon) or the Beltway (H-Mart).
When I go with people new to Korean (and often when I just go for myself), I order bulgogi (grilled beef) and/or dolset bi bim bop (a bowl like the seafood fried rice described above with rice, vegetables and some beef -- served with a spicy sauce that you normally stir in yourself). For vegetarians, I order chap chae -- a noodle dish with vegetables -- and/or one of the pancakes (often scallion pancakes served as an appetizer).
One reason to try Shin Chon would be the panchan. They're small dishes that the restaurant gives you at the start for free. They're part appetizer, part side dish. Ask which ones have meat, but normally they're very obvious. I think I have had only one or two with beef and that was obvious pieces of beef with vegetables. The panchan are great fun and a way to try a bunch of different tastes.
Check out my other posts about things to buy at the Lotte or the H-Mart supermarkets. Both places sell some spicy beef soup in quart-sized containers.