Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ko-mart: the Korean food court surprise

I found a wonderful surprise at Ko-mart, a Korean grocery store on Gessner just north of I-10. In a corner of the store, they have food stalls with about five different vendors. One has dessert. One has sushi. And the other three have traditional Korean food.

I went to the one of the stands and ordered bulgogi -- a popular Korean dish made from thin slices of sirloin marinaded in soy sauce, pear juice, sesame oil, garlic, onions, ginger, wine, pepper, and sugar. Although bulgogi is often grilled, I think this dish was pan cooked, along with onions, green onions, and shredded carrots. It was slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and very tasty. The generous portion of beef came with a bowl of rice, miso soup, a side of spicy bean sprouts, and a side of kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage).

This did not taste like food court food or even fast food. It tasted like a carefully made homecooked meal. It also was a lot of food.

Here is the surprise: my wonderful meal costs $5. No tax. No tip. It is hard to buy a fast food meal, or a even Starbuck's coffee, for that price.

I must admit, Bulgogi is "beginner" Korean food, and I am just a beginner. In the future I am going to try one of the more exotic dishes, like Korean sausage or blood soup. Fortunately, the vendors hang helpful photos to show me what the different dishes look like -- so I won't be too surprised.

There may be better Korean food in Houston, but there certainly is no better Korean food for the price.

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