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The Theoretical Cook

A FOODY IN THE THIRD WORLD

Friday, May 12, 2006

TOKDO - Korean Restaraunt along Emil Salas St. Malate

I was bitten by the Korean (telenovela) bug via Jewel in the Palace. That was months ago, I saw two episodes, then I was hooked. I bought a pirated copy of the compressed 70+ episodes and then tucked myself in a room, watching the telenovela straight til the wee hours of the morning. I finished the series in a week, with a little time for review. I liked the first few episodes, especially the cooking episodes. If the telenovela is true to its historical form, then it makes Korean culture truly accessible for us. Ive heard from some sources that the telenovela was really commissioned by the Korean government for PR purposes. Maybe we should also commission something like this: ask ABS CBN to make a historical telenovela that does not reek of juvenile romance.
This is just a winding, tangential introduction to Tokdo, the Korean restaurant which has sprung up in my neighborhood, near my favorite shawarma place along Salas. The other night was our first in Tokdo. A quaint wooden place, reminiscent of a log cabin, with a strong overhanging kimchi smell. The aroma of the fermented kimchi permeates the entire room. This does not augur well as the room has a cave-like atmosphere, thanks to the low ceiling. The wooden structure itself is rather interesting, and sitting on the elevated floor, surverying the low table with the array of small plates, I felt transported in time and place: I was the Queen Maman in the Jewel. The wood varnish, however, did not match the color of the wood and this made for a rather unappealing exterior.
Apart from these slightly disorienting details, I enjoyed my Tokdo experience. We ordered some _____, barbecued slices of pork with fresh green vegetables + sauce. Eating the barbecue was quite a novel affar: you get a slice of meat, slather it with the sauce (chili, sesame, and soya - if I remember correctly), you can opt to add some kimchi, and then roll the entire combo in a piece of green leaf. I dont even know what the leaf was: it didnt look like a lettuce/cabbage relative. It was more herby, and had a tart medicinal aftertaste. So I felt like even if I was eating pork, my meal was very healthy.
My companion had a unremarkable beef topping. But he did enjoy the various side dishes that came with our order. This is what I love about Korean cuisine. So many side dishes: sauteed lentils with sesame, petite potatoes with a very Oriental sauce, and the fresh green leaves (the medicinal one) simply sauteed or was it blanched?
Perhaps because we came in so late in the night, and perhaps because of the uneven light, most of the side dishes taste like warmed left overs. This is not to say that they didnt taste good; just that you have a feeling that theyve been cooked for over an hour and quickly microwaved.
If you can forgive lapses of this sort, and just want to have a simple Jewel in the Palace moment, in a setting more 'authentic' than the Kaya restaurant branches in the malls, then by all means troop to Salas Street's little jewel, Tokdo.

10 Comments:

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hello, sorry got not much time to read your article... just to tell you the apple is Granny smith...
I never have tasted Korean dishes!
Happy weekends

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