Monday, July 27, 2009

international delights

Man I ate well today!

Breakfast I was excited because we currently have Greek-style (I will never call the stuff outside Greece fully “Greek” again) yogurt, courtesy of TJ’s. I decided to recreate one of those awesome breakfast buffets.

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Plain nonfat (a heresy in Greece!) yogurt with honey, a beautiful MASSIVE kiwi, dates, almonds, and the last of the mini bread leftover from the tea sandwiches (I weighed them out of curiosity- 3 slices equaled one ounce, so one serving) with preserves on top. I had tea on the side- I knew the coffee wouldn’t compare :(

The verdict? The figs, almonds, preserves, yogurt, and honey weren’t as good as Greece! Of course! But they were nonetheless not bad at all. And the kiwi was as fresh and delicious.

Lunch I migrated to Mexico:

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A leftover homemade empanada (these bad boys are getting a post of their own, this is just a teaser), and tomato and avocado salad (more yummy deformed tomato!)

But dinner. Ohhhh, dinner! Long story short-

1. I live in Annandale, Virginia, a city known as “Koreatown”. There are a lotttt of Korean people, ergo there is really really really good Korean food. Everywhere.

2. It was my stepmother’s birthday last week, which my stupid father forgot to tell us at the time (well, admittedly, he was distracted) and she is a lover of tofu.

So we went to LIGHTHOUSE TOFU!

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Okay, so the outside is, to be kind, “unassuming.”

But the inside is presh!

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Cute tables, happy clientele that was almost exclusively Korean (yeah, I’m silly, but I have found that it’s often a sign of good eats to come!)

The wall had a pattern of writing that my stepmother, a fluent and native Mandarin speaker, said was a mix of Chinese and Korean. It was cute!

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They bring everyone out barley tea to drink, which is refreshing and delicious and just a wee bit… musty? If you’re a mate fan, you will likely like this. We perused the very brief menu.

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They have some basic Korean stuff (like bulgogi, which my tofu-hating father got) but the main attraction of this place, as evidenced by the title, is tofu- hot tofu soup, to be precise, which is what my stepmom, sister, and I ordered. While we waited, they brought out this crazy stuff:

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It is basically liquid salad. Cold, spicy, acidic soup with yummy yummy cabbage in it.

Then, as at almost every Korean place, the panchan (complimentary appetizers):

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Spicy garlic relish and delicious sweet-spicy cucumber salad

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Bean sprouts and, of course, kimchi.

But we wanted the tofu show!

And it arrived, in a steaming cauldron with rice and raw eggs on the side:

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The trick with Korean tofu soup is to crack the egg in as quickly as possible so the steaming fabulous cauldron vat of goodness cooks the egg. It’s not tradition to break the yolk, but it tastes better, imo. My Asian stepmother did it, so I didn’t feel too gringo!

Here’s the soup up close:

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While this soup is particularly warm and comforting in the winter, ESPECIALLY if you’ve got a cold, I love it year-round. The tofu is creamy and soaks up the flavor, the broth is spicy and flavorful and complex, and it’s fun selecting your fillings (there was a range of permutations of meats, seafood, and vegetables; and you could get it on a scale of “mild” to “spicy spicy”. Not being quite brave enough for “spicy spicy”, I got the regular “spicy”, which nonetheless got my sinuses going!)

Moreover, I love living in a neighborhood where for the same price as somewhere crappy like TGI Friday’s or the like, you can get a nice casual weeknight dining experience (and incidentally, the service was great! Everyone is always very doting and helpful to the unpracticed) and the food is WAY tastier, likely way healthier and not mass processed, and you also get some culture along the way!

3 comments:

homecookedem said...

I "lurve" those free apps they put out at Korean restaurants! Love your profile and your belief in eating real food! I have cut way down on processed and low fat chemicals this summer.

Allie (Live Laugh Eat) said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm looking forward to reading yours too :)

Now I'm dying to go to Greece (even more so than before) to try their yogurt!!

PS My mom calls me Lele...short for Allie...

Deirdre said...

Its always great to find another great blog to read. Yours is superb. Except now I'm craving Korean food, badly!