Those who know me know that I have a fascination with trying different ethnic foods. From Ethiopian to Thai to Moroccan to my newly experienced Korean, food from around the world gives me a preview of what to expect when I actually travel. Given that the doldrums of winter are in full swing, a few friends and I decided to rid ourselves of everything normal and venture to another world – or at least to West Henrietta Road where we came across Seoul Garden.
Many of you have probably seen Seoul Garden at some point. Those escaping to Marketplace, Rochester Textbooks or our favorite Target have most certainly driven on West Henrietta, probably paying little attention to the plethora of restaurants lining the road. Go ahead, pay attention next time.
Never having tried Korean food, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. At first, I just assumed it was some combination of Chinese and Japanese. Korea’s geographical location probably led to that conclusion, right? Upon entering the restaurant and being intoxicated with the spicy and full aromas, I realized I was sadly mistaken. It was evident through the menu that this relatively small peninsula on the other side of the world had such varied and complex cuisine – it took much longer than usual to order. From beef, chicken and pork to tofu, seaweed and cabbage, the richly described food is certainly a universe apart from my daily turkey on wheat.
After perusing the menu for about 10 minutes and keeping the waitress in suspense, I decided to try out an item on the menu with a rather silly name, the bibimbap. Now that I consider myself a Korean food connoisseur – please note the sarcasm – bibimbap is a rice bowl topped with both familiar and unfamiliar vegetables, your preferred protein – beef, in my case – a sunny-side up egg yolk and tons of spices that infiltrate every corner in your mouth. Served in a sizzling, heated stone bowl, the large meal arrived piping hot, fresh, ready for some mixing and consumption. Whilst I delved into my bowl, my friends indulged in some eel and tofu platters along with seven smaller “condiment” plates ranging from ginger and cabbage to white radish and soybean sprouts, all meant to compliment the main and, in this case, the only course.
One important aspect I noted was the fact that Koreans eating Korean food surrounded me. That is when I began to realize that this restaurant was the real deal, and that added to the best Korean experience to date.
All in all, I’m encouraging all who are reading this to go and try Korean cuisine. Grab some friends, catch a film at Movies 10 and have an adventure at Seoul Garden. With $20 you can participate in all of the above and then some.
Buitrago is a member of the class of 2007.