Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Easy New Ways to Explore Korean Cuisine

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Easy New Ways to Explore Korean Cuisine

Article excerpt

Yes, you've probably been to a buffet. But have you been to one where the main feature was raw meat?

The thought initially turned me off, but that was before a meal at the new all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue spot in Englewood Cliffs.

It's called Picnic Garden, and it's not for everyone, but it does give our area a new way to approach a cuisine rich with possibilities.

And it's one of a handful of dining options that have made it easier than ever to explore Korean food, even if you live outside of the major Korean restaurant neighborhoods of Palisades Park, Fort Lee and Closter.

Korean bakeries such as Paris Baguette and Gateaux have been common in those communities for some time, but now you can grab a red bean pastry or some cinnamon manju off Route 17 in Paramus at the similar Kook Hwa bakery and cafe.

In Ridgewood, pastry chef Keum Sook Park has been serving French- style crepes, pastries, coffee and soups for nearly a year now out of her Sook Pastry Shop, but the native of South Korea recently added a lunch special of the bulgogi (marinated ribeye) that she makes for herself at home ($11 with rice and an egg).

And in River Vale, another South Korean-born chef, Marianne Lee, opened a 10-seat cafe last year called Doma Doma, with Korean dishes designed to introduce her native cuisine to the curious. She also offers sushi and Japanese food.

When I stopped into Doma Doma for lunch recently, the waiter hesitantly asked me whether I liked spicy food before bringing out little bowls of excellent kimchee and pickled vegetables.

Lee says she tames down her use of garlic and red pepper to cater more toward American tastes, and this was evident in her renditions of bibimbap (a rice dish) and bulgogi (try them together, $10.50 at lunch or $12.50 otherwise). But the dishes were still hearty and delicious in their own right, particularly for anyone unfamiliar with the cuisine.

In Englewood Cliffs, Picnic Garden is a much different experience than Doma Doma. This is the third Picnic Garden location - there is a well-known sister restaurant in Flushing and another in Edison. …

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