Dish: Job chae
Place: Kimchi Bistro, Capitol Hill
On the plate: Per the menu: “stir-fried potato noodles w/assorted veg and beef.”
Supporting cast: Banchan (including cabbage kimchi, bean sprouts, and daikon) and a small portion of rice.
What to do: Dig in, eating the banchan between bites of the job chae.
Noodling around: I love to cook jobchae (or japchae, chap chae, etc.) at home. It’s both delicious and nutritious, with some meat and lots of vegetables.
Those vegetables, though, don’t usually include broccoli. That was strange to see at Kimchi Bistro. My dining companion, with a confused look on her face, worried that it would be filler for the rest of the dish.
She was right.
There were enough other vegetables, like carrots, shitake mushrooms, and onions (along with red bell pepper, which I don’t normally use, though I missed the presence of spinach), but the beef was almost MIA.
The bigger problem: not enough noodles. I love dangmyeon–the cellophane or glass noodles made with sweet potato starch–that are the hallmark of this dish. There simply wasn’t enough of it. We encountered the same problem with the other noodle dish we ordered. The yook gae udon had a seductively spicy broth (and, in this case, plenty of shredded beef brisket), but just a small rationing of noodles.
Finally, two more words about the job chae: too sweet.
If you want more: One of the things I most love about Korean food is the banchan that comes to the table to accompany the meal. This really rounds out the meal, with the small dishes providing a variety of tastes and textures. They are placed in the middle of the table, to be shared by all, and can generally be refilled by request. Unfortunately, the banchan at Kimchi Bistro was a little lackluster, and the rice was terribly dried out, though livened up by the spicy, saucy remains of kimchi.
Be aware/beware: Kimchi Bistro is in the heart of Capitol Hill, close to Seattle University and Seattle Central Community College. Therefore, lots of young people come here (the prices are reasonable), and with tables close together, it can get quite loud. While I was dining, a boisterous group of students two tables away was gabbing about Anthony Weiner, entertaining our table (and others) with weiner jokes. Bring a sense of humor!
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on June 14, 2011.