Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Weekly Korean

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Weekly Korean

Article excerpt

An incredible and inedlensive feast at Oriental Food & Gifts

For many, autumn Saturdays mean chilling on the couch, crushing Buds and Papa John's while watching teenagers somewhat connected to your alma mater play sport. There is a better way, friends. And it starts with a trip to Gulf Gate's Oriental Food & Gifts, a well- stocked specialty Asian food store that, each Saturday, slings extraordinary homemade Korean food at ludicrous prices.

To find the good stuff, wind through the shop's cramped shelves and coolers to the back, where a small counter stands next to a solitary table covered in a red-checked tablecloth. On the counter sit stacks of small clear plastic containers. Behind them, a cutting board, a host of fresh ingredients, a small stovetop and two staffers: one rolling up fresh Korean sushi, the other sauteing eggs to order for the shop's bibimbap.

Would my wife and son and I like something? Yes. How about that, this and, oh yeah, that. In fact, let's just take one of everything, even though I don't know what I'm grabbing.

We crack open the plastic containers and start munching. An early winner: the shop's tempura ($3.99), not even close to the tempura I'm used to -- i.e. Japan's battered and fried vegetables. No, this shop uses "tempura" to refer to the packaged fishcake it slices up then stir-fries with onions, carrots, red peppers and a generous blast of chilies. The tempura is dense and chewy, with an oceanic funk, and the spicing is just right: hot, but not overpowering, a trend in almost everything Oriental Food & Gifts serves up.

Fried vegetarian dumplings ($3.99) are served at room temperature. They'd be better hot, but they taste just fine dunked in the shop's sweet and vinegar-y homemade dipping sauce, available for purchase bottled. That dipping sauce makes a repeat appearance in place of soy sauce with the Korean sushi ($4.99). The rolls include crabstick, sauteed egg, tofu, lettuce and more stuffed in rice then wrapped with seaweed. Ginger and wasabi complete the dish, close enough to Japanese sushi to hit that sweet spot but different enough to intrigue. …

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