Korean

Broadway Gourmet Theatre

First published in Bangalore Mirror

Even as recently as a decade back, going to HSR required a strong stomach, because very few roads even had streetlights! But times have changed. These days, I’m finding it difficult to digest the fact that more new eateries are opening here than in the neighbouring restaurant paradise (and our favourite) Koramangala! Broadway Gourmet Theatre is the latest attraction. (map, you’ll have to make do with basement/valet parking – a very helpful security guard!) The signage is bold enough to make it visible from afar, but for the kind of showbiz character the restaurant has chosen to have, we found the ambiance a little underwhelming. It isn’t as though the space is unrefined or cramped, it’s just that we expected a little more flair and grandeur. There is one way in which it redeems itself though – an outdoor section that offers a splendid view of not just HSR on one side and the busy Sarjapur Road on the other, but the greenery of the army land across the road. We spared a thought for the jawan guarding the compound border, probably sitting on duty for most of the day in the shade of lush trees, even as we prepared to do our duty and sample what the restaurant had to offer. Food, after all, knows no boundaries!

The elegant looking menu is an eclectic mix of various cuisines and we intended to try out as many as possible. Our original choice of Indonesian soup wasn’t available, thankfully so, because its replacement was the well presented Magic Mushroom soup. Though our hopes of ‘magic mushroom’ went up in the smoked porcini, the deliciously thick soup that also had button mushrooms and truffle was exactly what a wintry Bangalore night demanded! We did wonder why exactly the tender chicken stick that came with it was called a solder though. The Labneh Patty that followed was creamy awesomeness. The soft cheese, made from strained yogurt, was the melt-in-the-mouth variety and the patty’s crust provided just the right texture. The pork dish we wanted wasn’t available so we decided to swim with the tide and ordered a Tawa Grouper. The fish fillet had a chilli masala that provided an excellent contrast to the milder fare we’d had thus far. More

Néih hóu Hong Kong! (Day 3)

Contd from Day 1, 2

Disneyland! The day D was most excited for! Our route and the time taken was pretty much a replica of the previous day, except we got out at Sunny Bay and took the special MTR rail to Disneyland – the one which had Mickey Mouse handles as D had been excitedly mentioning since the day before. We had booked our tickets earlier  – directly on the site, because for a change the deal was better than Klook. (lunch was included) D had done her research well, and we hurried through Main Street soon as the park opened directly to Hyperspace Mountain in Tomorrowland. This was all Star Wars, so I had nothing to complain about. D isn’t really a fan of rides, but she help up very well and actually enjoyed it. The next ride we went on was Grizzly Gulch, mine cars and this time, unlike the dark tunnel of the previous ride, we could actually see what was happening. I quite liked this one. Mystic Manor was next, and I really liked this too, since it had a magical innocence to it. After we got out, we got lucky with a small line and D got her main wish – a photo with Mickey and Minnie!

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Hae Kum Gang

No, I’m not announcing my Chinese triad, Hae Kum Gang is a Korean restaurant on Castle Street, which came highly recommended. My experience of Korea is limited to our Samsung TV, the neighbour’s Hyundai, and reading Pico Iyer. We don’t own any LG products, but we have been to Soo Ra Sang. Here’s a map that’ll tell you how to get there. Just remember that Castle Street is a one way and you have to access it from Richmond Road. (first right after the Lifestyle junction, okay, second if you include the road that goes to Garuda). The restaurant is on the second floor of a building that’s close to the Brigade Road end of Castle Street. There’s enough parking space available.

The ambiance is quite homely (and not just the ‘experienced’ table napkins), subtle, not garish, and remains in the background, with paintings, vases, and Korean music. The Korean crowd comes free with the ambiance!! At 7.30, the place was almost full with perhaps one table occupied by non-Koreans. A good indicator of the authenticity and popularity of the place.

Now, on to the food. The best part about the menu is that its like kiddie books, with lots of pictures, so you know what you’re getting into. For starters, there are fritters – chicken, veg, squid, shrimp at Rs.100-130. Soups at Rs50-100 and you can choose from kimchi, veg, beef, haemul and cream of mushroom. The last one is something we wanted to try but it was voted down in favor of the subliminally effective beef.wan.ja. There are also salads in veg and chicken.

Quickly through the menu before we get to what we ate. There’s Tteokbokki, rice cakes in hot sauce with veg or seafood. There’s Tang su yuk, veg/beef/pork in fruit sauce. Sweet and sour, I was told. The Chulpan Gui set, which consists of the ‘main ingredients’ in Korean spicy sauce, and is served in a hot steel plate. Its available in chicken, beef and squid at Rs.380, and at Rs.300 without the set (side dishes). There’s the Ttuk Bok Gi set, rice cakes topped with fried veg, followed by chilly sauce, served  in hot ceramic pots, at Rs.280. Dup.bap has nothing to do with alternate parentage and is just stir fried sea food/pork/chicken/squid/mushroom and vegetables in sauce, served with rice. (Rs.250). And then there’s ‘Healthy Food’, which is steamed shrimp, squid and mushroom with chilly/soy/mustard sauce at Rs.550. This is why I hate healthy food. There’s Om Rice, fried rice wrapped in egg crepe. The Jeon Gol set, which is a stew served in ceramic pots. There are various noodles available at Rs.300, steamed pork ribs in soy bean/chilly sauce at Rs.450, special spicy chicken/shrimp at Rs.250/280, and Kim.bap.

The beef wan.ja was an extremely good starter, the ‘melt in your mouth’ variety, made of ground beef. For the main course, D ordered a Chulpan Gui set – Chicken and I asked for a Kimchi Cchi ge- pork soup. The ‘set’ consists of side dishes – radish, baby potato in a honey-sesame sauce, spinach, cabbage, kimchi and fried brinjal. The brinjal and baby potato are very good. D was reasonably satisfied with her chicken dish. For some reason I sensed a seafood smell in the dish, probably the sauce or the same vessel used for a shrimp/squid dish. The pork soup I had was extremely good, also had tofu and an assortment of vegetables, and went very well with the rice that comes with both the dishes. D actually enjoyed it more than her dish. The meal ended with a fruit salad in orange juice syrup, quite delicious and part of the set. You could also order ginseng tea, su.jeong.gwa (cold and cinnamon flavored) , both at Rs.50 or pitchers of jasmine/chrysanthemum flavored tea at Rs.250. There are also ice cream/juice options to choose from.

All of the above cost us just less than Rs.900. The service is pretty decent and we did get some help in the choice of dishes. The ambiance is pleasant enough though its no comparison to the skyline view offered by Soo Ra Sang. I have a feeling that they hiked the prices recently, or maybe I just read ‘value for money’ differently. In closing, worth a try for a very different cuisine.

Hae Kum Gang, 2nd Floor, Paul Castle, #20, Castle Street, Ashok Nagar, Bangalore. Ph: 41127730/2

Soo Ra Sang

No, its not about someone singing, this is a wonderful Korean restaurant in Bangalore. We reserved in advance, and that turned out to be a good thing. Its not exactly in a location where you might chance upon it. When coming from the Koramangala/MG Road/Indiranagar direction get on to Airport Road, and at the first signal after Manipal Hospital, take a right turn (that’s Wind Tunnel Road). You won’t see it for quite a while, so disregard the voice within you (and behind you or by your side) that says you’re lost. After a while, you’ll have Omega Healthcare on the left, Soo Ra Sang is about 3 plots after that. Parking is not too much of a problem.

The restaurant is on the fourth floor, with the first 3 floors occupied by the hotel. There’s this note stuck inside the lift which warns you of dire consequences if you don’t follow the instructions on it, but they were simple enough, and we survived. The roof top location gives  a wonderful view of Bangalore. There are about seven tables, some of which have a floor mat seating, but they were occupied, so we had to make do with regular seating, but it offered us a great view. The ambience is very cosy, makes you feel completely at home. There was also some nice Korean music in the background. Perfect setting. :)

The menu has five sections – Chicken, Seafood, Pork, Beef and Veg. From a few reviews I’d read, i’d decided I’d either have beef or pork, but I chickened out in the end. We got a lot of help from the person in charge of our table, and it was a good coincidence that he suggested the same dishes we’d considered. So D ordered a Dol Soth Bee Bim Bob (no we didn’t say it, we mumbled the number associated with it on the menu). That’s stone pot rice with vegetables and chicken mince. I got the An Dong Cim Dak, which is chicken and soya sauce with green chillies, noodles and vegetables.

We were given a bottle with some flavored water, and were told that it was sweet corn based. Its served chilled, and is quite refreshing once you get used to the taste. We then got a starter with some nice chilly sauce . Its a pancake (Maida based with vegetables, I think the generic name is ‘Jeon’). And then came the main course. In what can be compared to a Kerala sadya experience, we had about 10 plates placed in front of us with small portions of some vegetables, some plain bolied, and some with unique flavors. radish, potato, beans, brinjal, zucchini, Chinese Cabbage, among other things. These serve as accompaniments, we were told, and if we liked, we could get more. :)

D’s dish was served in a stone pot, and was expertly mixed for her by the person who served it. Mine looked less fashionable, but I got a small bowl of rice, so there! while the former did remind us a bit of of Chinese food, the latter was completely different from anything I’ve tasted, and awesomely spicy. I guess that was the reason for the bowl of rice, it helps :)

The meal ended with a Korean version of dessert. Its served in little cups and is cinnamon based. It’s served cool, but ends up cooling your insides much more. It seems to be a version of Su Jung Gwa. Not exactly the chocolate stuff I’m an addict of, but delicious.

Meanwhile, all of the above cost us Rs.750. The 2 dishes are charged at Rs.375 each, so the starter and the dessert are part of the deal. Each dish on the menu is a meal by itself. The portions are quite sufficient, though i was tempted to ask for a refill of the dessert. Should have.I think the food is authentic, because all the other tables were occupied by Koreans, and they all looked very happy with the food. The service is extremely good. There’s hardly any time between the ordering and the serving. I think they serve some alcohol, since I saw a few KFs, and what looked like some bottled Korean liquor.

Overall, a great experience, though next time, I’d like to try the floor mat, and one of them barbecues on the table. They looked delicious. You really must try it out.

Su Kh Gua Ran Teed. 😀

Soo Ra Sang, 35, RK Arcade, NAL Wind Tunnel Road, Murugeshpalya, Bangalore Ph: 080 41303435

Photos at Zomato

PS. In the bike parking space, there was an old signage, which reminded us that Soo Ra Sang used to be in Koramangala, when we had moved to Bangalore. :)