The Heavenly Land of Kim Bob
You can still go savory and spicy at this home style Korean restaurant even if you have a big appetite.
Kim Bob Na Ra.
The name of this Korean restaurant literally means "the land of kim bob" (sometimes spelled kimbap). Don't confuse these mighty rolls for the Japanese ones that you find at most sushi bars. Korean kim bob is made with lightly seasoned rice that is filled with a variety of vegetables, egg and pickled radish--all wrapped up in seaweed. They are bigger and more satisfying for big appetites than sushi rolls.
"Na Ra" also has another connotation. It is common for Koreans to call South Korea "our nation" (na ra). Fittingly, the restaurant's interior and dishes are designed to elicit thoughts of comfort and home, and they draw customers of Korean ancestry as a result. Korean pop tunes play softly in the background accompanied by the abundant clicking of metal chopsticks, grabbing morsels of bahnchan (side dishes).
Among Koreans, the restaurant is known for its "buhshik" or less formal cooking, which appeals to a wide range of palates.
For lunch fare or even as an appetizer to a Korean feast, I suggest any of the rolls on the menu that are priced right and served in large portions. I often have a hard time finishing one roll and for under $6 an order, that's a bargain that can even be shared.
My top choices among the seaweed rolls are the Tuna Kim Bob, made with seasoned tuna salad surrounded by traditional vegetables, and Kimchi Kim Bob for spicier souls. A Cheese Kim Bob features American cheese slices that provide a surprising balance to the pickled radish in the roll. There is no pretension here in the land of kim bob, just clean surroundings, and amazing, addictive fare.
For hot food, try the restaurant's big steaming bowls of soup. I swear on the attributes of the Soo Je Bi, for example, when I am fighting a cold or just in need of comfort food. The Soo Je Bi is made with a clear delicious broth and a version of Korean dumplings that looks like little clouds in the soup.
It should be clarified that these are flour-based dumplings sometimes found in American soups, not Asian dumplings with fillings. It's a dish that that my mom used to make for me from scratch. The dumpling dough has to be kneaded a great deal to reach perfection in texture and taste. Kim Bob Na Ra's dumplings taste homemade and very fresh.
A staple for Korean country style meals is Dduk Bok Ki, which consists of a red pepper sauce both savory and slightly sweet that serves as a backdrop for chewy rice cakes, hardboiled egg and thinly sliced fish cake. There is something almost magical in this dish, which often inspires euphoria after eating it. My American friends swear that it is one of the best things they have tried once they get over being intimidated by its spicy looks.
Once you visit the land of kim bob, you will always return, wanting seconds.
Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.