Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shake Shack Attack

Shake Shack, I have missed you dearly.

Something about a hearty burger and crunchy cheese fries makes me turn gleeful somersaults inside.

These buns should be wrapped in packaging that reads: "Eat Me." Then again, I don't think that would be necessary...

Shake Shack Madison Sq Pk; E 23rd St & Madison Av; 212-889-6600.

Cultural Smorgasboard

Basmati rice and fried chicken.

Dad's homemade plantains.

Steamed chicken and eggplant.

Father's Day, Korean-style

Ah, another delayed post! Father's Day with the fam at Kum Gang San (We just can't seem to get enough of Korean, can't you tell?). It was a sweltering day, so hot and humid that I was reduced to wearing a dress. Yes, another one of those anomalies. In any case, at 6 p.m. Kum Gang San was already bursting to the brim with crowds standing elbow-to-elbow. We took a number for our party of 7 and waited to be called.

Kum Gang San has a waiting area with chairs and two long tables in the back. While you're standing, help yourself to some boricha (barley tea) or hot coffee. You can also sidle up to the bar and ask the ahjusshi to pore you a soju. Computers are available for your browsing convenience, though if you can't read Korean - tough luck - since the language default is set to Korean and I couldn't seem to change the settings. Oh well.

Twenty-odd minutes later...

We were seated at a table in the back. Waiters and waitresses carried heaping platefuls of haemool pajun, ddukbokki, boricha and appetizers. The restaurant was so busy that they didn't give us our appetizers until a good twenty minutes later. But that's OK, since we were passing round bottles of Hite...

Hite lager is a light South Korean beer with golden flecks and is brewed from rice, as opposed to malted barley. Hite can be found on draft in Korean pubs and bars. Other popular Korean beers include Cass and OB. As a first-time Hite drinker, I wasn't particularly awed by it, but I wouldn't be opposed to drinking it again. I'm definitely more of a dark beer person.

What my family ate:
Grandpa: Gopdol Bibimbap (steamed rice tossed with ground beef and various vegetables served in a stone pot)
Grandma: Sulungtang (simmered beef and bone marrow broth with brisket pieces and hand-cut noodles)
Dad & Sis: Jeonju Bibimbap (Jeonju-style bibimbap with seasoned beef and 26 different vegetables
Mom & Bro: Mandoo Gook (traditional Korean handmade beef dumplings soup)

We ordered one appetizer of Haemool Pajun (seafood pancake). My brother thinks it looks like pizza.

While everyone else was chomping away on their dishes, my place setting was still empty. Forty-five minutes is a hecka long wait time. All I wanted to know was - just where was my ddukbokki??!

After consulting numerous wait staff for an answer and getting the run around, it seemed that my precious ddukbokki had gotten lost in transit (or accidentally served to someone else). Luckily, the chef whipped up a fresh batch for me and it was glowing in all its spicy gochujang glory. I filled up as much as I could take of rice cakes, squid, kimchi and mussels, but there was no way I could finish it after stealing bits of everyone else's food all night. I wrapped the rest to go. Satisfying leftovers for the next day.

Would I go back? I still love Kum Gang San, so yes. But definitely not during a major holiday. Good thing for those appetizers and family love! There's enough of that to go around...

Kum Gang San 13828 Northern Blvd; Flushing; 718-461-0909.