after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

ramen, soondubu, and sushi

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t says:  Over the past few weeks, g and I have had quite a few dinners featuring Korean and Japanese cuisine, so I figured I’d put them all here in one post.  Sure – it’s scatter-brained, but would you have it any other way?

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After an old Asian lady bumped us from our spot in line at Han Il Kwan (seriously), we left in search of another Korean joint.  Fortunately, g’s friend’s sister recommend My Tofu House, which we walked into and were seated within 10 minutes.  We must have been super-lucky because right after us there was a line of hungry patrons nearly out the door.  This place seems to specialize in soondubu (soft tofu soup), bibimbap (rice bowls), and pajeon (“Korean pancakes”).  I was there for the soondubu …

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In the foreground, you see the bubbling hot stew with chunks of soft tofu and cooked kimchi.  It was actually quite delicious.  I was “sweating-like-grandpa” by the end of the meal (my Korean grandfather is notorious for sweating when eating spicy foods), but it didn’t stop me from eating every bit of the soup.  I do wish it had a few more additions (vegetables, egg).  However, for my first soondubu of SF, it was certainly a stupendous way to start, as the broth was rich (I wonder if it was pork-based?).  In the background you see some bulgogi (which was “meh”).  g had the bibimbap which was a little heavy on the rice:stuff ratio, but came out with a hot enough pot to really sear some rice (if your rice doesn’t get a little burnt, it’s not hot enough).

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Unfortunately, they only had 6 banchan … no props until they crack double digits …

 

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and the Pajeon was pretty good as well – it could have used a bit more char towards the center of the pie.  However, given the impressive soondubu, we’re definitely going back again.  The prices were pretty good, too!

 

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Meanwhile, my second soondubu adventure was in a little tiny Korean restaurant in NJ called “Eden”.  Cheesy name aside, I have to praise them for some high-quality additions to their soondubu: mussels, clams, egg.  The broth was a bit on the thin side, however – not really having much more flavor than spicy kimchi.  If I could somehow mix My Tofu House’s soup with Eden’s additions, I’d be set!  Unfortunately, Eden also had less than 10 banchan, so they’re going to lose points there – but if you’re into traditional Korean fare, it’s among the best in town (and there are quite a few places in Cherry Hill).

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For ramen, I have to warn you: it’s going to be a bit of a cop out: it’s two visits to the same place … and it’s from a truck.  Ha!  Torraku Ramen can be found in the Spark mobile-food-park in Mission Bay.  For ramen coming out of a truck, I have to say that I’m quite impressed.  The tonkotsu was better than pretty much every ramen in Philadelphia (back when I was still living there circa 2015).  How does it compare to the myriad offerings in SF?  No idea!  Somehow this is literally the first ramen I’ve had here!  I’m so ashamed.  Hopefully it’ll be a good introduction to the scene, as the broth was well-developed, the noodles were firm, and each addition was welcome.  If I could have one gripe, it’d be that the soft-boiled egg was almost hard-boiled, but for a food truck, I’d rather they trend towards an overcooked egg rather than an undercooked one.  The miso (pictured above) didn’t have the miso depth that I was hoping for (whereas that tonkotsu had clearly been simmering for hours), so I’m listing that one as a pass.  As far as where am I going to go next?  I heard a tip from a well-respected source that Orenchi Beyond has the best ramen in the city despite getting nearly no recent press.  We’ll check it out and report back.

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For our last review, I have no pictures of the food.  I’m sorry.  Let me explain (there’s a lot of explaining …).  I had read a lot about Sushi Hon, a relatively new place in the Mission touted as having SF’s “most reasonably priced omakase”.  Whoa.  That’s a weird title, right?  Does it mean that the fish is akin to gas station sushi and they charge $5 for all I can eat?  Or is it that they have some super-famous Jiro-dreams-of-sushi descendent and only charge $200 for 6 pieces?  Unfortunately, Sushi Hon’s website made it nearly impossible to figure out the menu ahead of time, and the yelp reviews are a bit misleading as it turns out that Sushi Hon has at least two different types of fixed-price menus.  The first is what I’d call “omakase” and it includes an assortment of cooked dishes, sushi/sashimi, etc.  I think Sushi Hon calls it something more like “fixed price dinner” or something like that (I can’t remember as I have no pictures – duh!).  What they call “omakase” is more like “a sushi dinner”, feature ~10 bites and served only at the sushi bar (piece by piece).  Coming in at $60, it is not cheap.  g and I were very hesitant, but figured we needed to treat ourselves and went for it.  We didn’t regret it at all.  The chef’s selections for the evening were wonderful, ranging from lighter pieces where you could really taste the ocean to heavier fare (medium fatty tuna) and even some uni.  The man knew how to put together a sushi meal with progression.  We have no pictures because we were literally sitting in front of him – and while other diners were freely snapping pics, my intention to do the same was vetoed (g played the wife-veto!!).  So you’ll just have to take my word that the fish was pristine, the rice was perfect, and the wasabi was delicately balanced (maybe once piece was a little heavy-handed with the wasabi).  As a result, g and I will keep Sushi Hon in our back pocket, as it joints the ranks of places like Saru and Kiss: sushi spots that are absolutely delicious but a bit too expensive to visit on the day-to-day.  Wasabi bistro (during happy hour) will retain the title of weekday-maki-champion (and also the title of “decor consistent with most 90’s Asian restaurant ever”).  So why did I chose a picture of a knife?  Prepare for some full-on knife nerdery.  One thing that did bother me at Sushi Hon was that the chef used a fake kiritsuke.  As a Japanese knife enthusiast, I know that kiritsukes (like the one above) are traditional, single-beveled Japanese knives wielded by masters.  It’s a bad-ass knife for bad-ass chefs, usually old, wizened bad-ass chefs.  If someone gave one to me, I’d have no choice but to lock it away and never use it because I wouldn’t be worthy. (Seriously.)  The chef at Sushi Hon had a knife with the exact silhouette of a kiritsuke … but it was thin and double-beveled like any old Western chef’s knife would be, making it more like every other knife in every department store ever.  Sorry dude: that’s the wrong knife for the job.  If you’re gonna rock the sushi bar, and have me watch you cut some fish, then you’re going to have to show off some single-bevel skills.  It’s part of the game.  End rant.

An interesting conversation topic came up during our meal at Sushi Hon.  It went something like this:
t says:  Would we ever eat at Jiro’s place in Tokyo?
g says:  No.
t says:  Why not?
g says:  How much is it?
t says:  I don’t know – $300 for 20 minutes of eating.
g says:  Definitely not. <As she gets ready to play a pre-emptive future-wife-veto>
g smiles: <insert smile here> –> translation:  “Wife-vetoes are awesome.”

Written by afterdinnersneeze

14 October 2016 at 8:35pm

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