Korean Food for the New Year

January 6, 2012

I must admit that I am not an expert when it comes to Korean cuisine.

I tested two recipes for my original Pike Place Market Cookbook that were submitted by Deluxe Barbecue, an old-time business has long-since been supplanted by a sushi place.

And everyone who’s a foodie knows about the nation’s national dish and passion–kimchi–fermented cabbage that comes in many different styles and variations.

But last month, when Spencer and I needed to make a Uwajimaya run for green tea and sake, we stopped off in the food court for lunch.

Shilla at Uwajimaya caught my eye, not only because I suspected it was an outpost of the venerable downtown Seattle Shilla, but because it was a step up from the pre-cooked, hot-table food offered elsewhere at the busy food court.

Shilla at Uwajimaya owner Ike Lee

Cooking to order, à la minute, Shilla’s owner Ike Lee told me he is a former owner of the original downtown Shilla. He’s an affable and faintly hucksterish (in a good way) sort of guy. It’s immediately apparent that he owns the place and he thrives on making his customers happy.

I happily settled in with the Tofu Soup with Seafood.

“Take the soup with a small bite of rice first,” Lee advised. “Koreans have a more spicy palate than Americans, so you need the rice to mellow the soup.”

Good advice, as the soup was pleasingly, warmingly, meltingly spiced.

Here is Spencer’s Spicy Chicken, which he asked for “extra-spicy,” so I could hardly even sample it!

Entrées came with brown or white rice, kimchi, and a chopped romaine salad with a light soy-sauce dressing.

We got out of there for less than $20 and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Thanks, Ike!