Korean Garden Restaurant

Enjoy, we're here to help
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  May 27, 2009
2.0 2.0 Stars

The Haemul Jungol was mostly an experience in getting the hot broth off lots of seafood. Besides the half lobster, there were crab parts, littleneck clams, New Zealand mussels, monkfish (very nice in any stew), slices of Spanish mackerel, a raft of thin enoki mushrooms, Japanese fish sausage, another smelt, whole baby octopi, and rings of squid. Thick sticks of pasta need to be cooked for a few minutes over the tabletop broiler. You could possibly talk the kitchen into making the broth with less spice.

A rather mild stock is used at lunch for an order of "Duk Man Doo Gook" ($8.99), a big bowl with sliced brisket, dropped egg, chicken ravioli, sliced ovals of rice pasta, and cellophane noodles, with a garnish of two kinds of seaweed. This won't replace Vietnamese pho in my book, mainly because the stock is too weak, but it's a wholesome lunch with panchan and hot rice.

Drinks include Americans sodas, beer, wine, soju (a distilled rice spirit), and some of the new flavored fortified wines from Korea. The pomegranate wine ($19.99/half bottle) we tried was remarkably like a cocktail of pomegranate juice with alcohol. It had the fresh-fruit flavor, but also a bit of the astringency from the seeds, and the alcohol showed through, even at a relatively sherry-like 16 percent.

Korean Garden has no desserts (unless you count bubble tea), but you aren't far from Herrell's Ice Cream. You aren't far from about four other Korean restaurants, either, but this one has the nicest space, a roomy faux-bamboo-hut design carried over from the lamented Aneka Rasa Malaysian Cuisine restaurant. The servers are also excellent, quick, and more than willing to offer decent explanations should you forget to bring your review.

_____________

My father-in-law, John Vogel, died May 18, a week before his 92nd birthday. He had survived the 1918 flu, the Great Depression, B-24 combat missions in the South Pacific, four successful careers as a business executive, a bad order of crocodile in Cameroon, about 50 years as a registered Republican married to a liberal Democrat before he finally switched, and the last three years as a frequent and willing dinner guest for my restaurant reviews — until at last his great heart gave out in his sleep. "George," as he was known, was a good sport about eating weird things, and superlative camouflage. No one would ever suspect him of being a restaurant critic for the Phoenix because he liked everything on the table. The only problem I ever had with him was that he twice sent back orders of gin and tonic that lacked tonic or bubbles before I could taste them and confirm the diagnosis. So I had to order another one to check. (He was right both times.)

It's hard to believe he's really gone. Memo to waitrons: be extra kind to nonagenarian customers. Memo to readers: drink the fine wine tonight.

Robert Nadeau can be reached at robtnadeau@aol.com.

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