Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Surah - 09/30/2008

5333 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA 90621
(714) 523-0056

With my ten year high school reunion drawing near it felt like a good time to reconnect with old friends. When my friends first told me we were going to Surah, I thought it was a Middle Eastern restaurant but turns out it was actually a Korean restaurant. The interior of the restaurant is quite nice, clean and well lit, there is a waterfall in the front and a medley of live seafood, complete with live octopus, right behind the hostess station.

What kind of reunion would be complete without booze to cover those awkward pauses in conversation with hearty toasts of friendship? And what's more fitting than Soju when drinking at a Korean restaurant. This particular Soju is distilled from potato, rice, and barley then filtered three times through bamboo charcoal. The flavor was kind of like a cross between sake and vodka, a bit sweet with a hint of rice with a burn stronger than the 20% alcohol would suggest,

No Korean meal is ever complete without hordes of banchan to start. Thanks to Kevin for the banchan names and descriptions, my own experience is woefully inadequate.

Broccoli - with imitation crab
A bit soft but the imitation crab added an interesting flavor.

Gul Jut
I think I was a bit slow and missed the oysters, but judging from the faces of my friends, I think I dodged a bullet.

Buk Uh Gi
Pickled fish. Based on the size and texture I thought this might be Yellow Corvina or Croaker.

Every time I eat this I wish the sprouts weren't boiled.

Baechu Kimchi
Basic Napa cabbage Kimchi, nothing particularly noteworthy.

Gamja Cake
This is the first time I had something like this. The cake had a texture like mashed potato and a slightly sweet flavor.

Squash Tempura
I am willing to bet that isn't the official name, but it'll do. This was one of my favorite banchan, fried just long enough for the squash to soak up some of the oil.

Pickled cucumber. A bit too salty for my tastes.

Doraji Namul
I had no idea what this one was, I figured some sort of mushroom but it turned out to be bellflower roots. Kind of firm and woody not too bad.

The finely shredded seaweed had a texture that was a pleasure to chew.

Probably the vaguest title I have ever used. But I really have no clue what this is. They look kind of like short cellophane noodles but had this really loud complex crunch. The distinctive texture made this my favorite of the appetizers.

Du Duk
I think this is some sort of radish. Crunchy and spicy just the way I like my pickled vegetables

Dolsot Bibimbob
I am generally not a fan of Bibimbob, the flavors of all the ingredients end up blending together and the stone pot tends to overcook the rice making it extremely hard. Recently, I was impressed with the Bibimbob at Tsuruhashi, which prompted me to try Surah's. There wasn't much contrast between the flavors and as a result, I couldn't really discern anything from the hodgepodge of ingredients and as always the rice ended up way to hard for my tastes. Nothing particularly bad about this bibimbob, I just don't think it's my cup of tea.

Mando Jungol
This was either a spicy dumpling noodle soup or a stew depending on when you ate it. The mix contained dumplings, enoki mushrooms, red peppers, greens, rice cake, and a thick noodle that reminded me of udon. Unlike the Bibimbob, the mix of ingredients here was delicious, disparate flavors and textures all bound together by the thick silky soup. I thought the soup had the right amount of kick to it, enough to leave a tingling heat in the mouth but not so much that it is painful or masks the flavors of the other ingredients.

Overall the food was solid and a bit more adventurous than my usual fare of all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ.

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