The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Monday, 3 August 2009

Revisit: Korean @ Kanton, Tokyo

It would appear that we're on a roll with Korean food lately - cooking Korean dishes and enjoying Korean dining. A mere two weeks after our first visit to Kanton, we were back there again, this time for dinner. The main restaurant was fully booked so we were directed less than a hundred meter down the road to their branch restaurant which was still fairly empty as it was before the peak dinner period. Due to the restaurant's popularity, each table had a two hour limit, but I knew we would be done way before that limit because we had a baby with us. On our last visit, we'd purposely avoided ordering dishes that would require cooking at the table because it wouldn't be too safe with Zak was sitting at the table. This time round, we wanted to order one of the cook-at-table dishes, and when our waiter saw our reluctance because of the baby's close proximity to the table, he offered to have the cooking done on an adjacent table. He probably wouldn't have been too willing to make such a generous offer during the dinner rush, and I was glad we arrived early-ish for dinner because the restaurant quickly filled up and was completely full by the time we left an hour later.

Before we even looked at the menu, the complimentary banchan (side dishes) were served. We enjoyed kongnamul (seasoned beansprouts), daikon kimchi, pickled cucumber, kimchi and sesame-seasoned burdock root with konyaku jelly strips. For starters, we got the Kaki Chijimi (1260yen) which I'd expected to be some sort of pancake containing oysters, but to our surprise it was more like kaki furai (fried oysters, a popular Japanese autumn/winter dish). I love oysters for all its rich goodness, and really enjoyed each plump oyster in this dish, but it was quite rich - made all the more so by being fried - and I could only handle four fried oysters (and this is coming from someone who can easily polish off a dozen au naturale oysters!).

The complimentary banchan; and Kaki Chijimi:

For one of our main dishes, we ordered the Habu Samgyeopsal (Herb Samgyopsal) for two people (2058yen), cooked on a hot grill at the table. It came with lettuce and huge fragrant shiso (perilla) to wrap the meat and condiments which included hot kimchi and beansprouts cooked with the meat, ssamjang (a spicy paste), raw garlic, cut green chilli, shredded green onion with sesame dressing and a saucer of salted and peppered sesame oil. It was delicious, but I think we both preferred the Possam we had last time, probably because the summer weather makes it a little unpleasant to eat hot food.

Samgyeopsal - fatty pork cooking on the hot grill:

The first serving of the samgyeopsal, cooked and plated, ready to be assembled and headed for our tummies:

Our other main dish was the Buldak (1580yen), which literally translates to "fire chicken". Given the warm weather, it probably wasn't very wise to order a spicy dish, but I had a coupon that discounted the price of this dish to 980yen and it was something we hadn't tried before. When it came out bubbling in a hot plate with a melted cheese topping, I knew that it would be difficult eating it. The combination of the heat, spiciness and greasy cheesiness in the dish proved to be quite an assault to the tastebuds, especially with the warm weather. Rob and I both felt that the cheese was the dish's weak point, and I think I would have enjoyed it better without the cheese.

Fiery and spicy Buldak:

I enjoyed dinner, particularly the oysters, but perhaps we should put a bit more thought into ordering dishes that would make for more enjoyable eating in the warm weather. We now know what dishes to order during winter!

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