Last night was a new dinner experience: Korean food!
Chris’s friend Mike is here for just a little while longer before leaving to go home to Seattle, so we three went out to dinner in Squirrel Hill. We opted to try Green Pepper, a relatively new restaurant on Murray. We read some reviews of it, and the owners describe it as homestyle cooking–they claim they don’t make anything or do anything that they wouldn’t do for their guests at home. While some of the reviews found some fault with the service, they all had good things to say about the food. We didn’t have any complains about the service, and I’m still thinking about how good the food was.
For dinner, we all got bibim bop–for different reasons. Mike, who’s eaten Korean cuisine before, said this dish was classic, one he gets each time he tries a new restaurant as a kind of yardstick to test it out. He also recommended it to me, someone who had never eaten Koren food before, because he said it was pretty accessible. And it sounded so good, Chris went along, too. It was spectacular! It came out looking gorgeous, with each ingredient in its own section–mushroom, egg, greens, pickled greens, carrots, turnip, a bit of beef–with rice underneath, all served in a blazing-hot stone bowl. You’re then supposed to add however much hot sauce you want (I added about 5 drops, Mike added the whole dish of it…) and mix it all up, breaking up the fried egg in the middle. Meanwhile, the rice along the sides of the bowl gets just a bit crispy. Everything tasted so fresh and flavorful, it was just wonderful.
It came with three side dishes, but I concentrated most of my energy (and room in my stomach) on the bibim bop. The side dishes included a cold cucumber salad, marinated fried tofu, and kimchi–which, I am proud to say, I tried. It was not as spicy as I expected, but the heat combined with the sourness was a little much for me. They say it’s an acquired taste–I’ll go with that. We also opted to try cold soju, which the menu described as a Korean rice wine. (We brought along some home brews, but the “corking fee” for BYOB was $7.50 per bottle, not something we were willing to try. We had read they were BYOB, so were surprised to find they actually did have some beer and liquor.) We found the cold soju to be much more of a rice liquor, and had difficulty getting it down. We sent the rest of it home with Mike. 🙂
Overall, it was an awesome experience, and Chris and I are looking forward to going back. The only difficulty is going to be forcing ourselves to get something else next time!