Plenty of Panchan at Korea House, Santa Clara
My previous post mentioned why we like Korean food. And a good example of a place that does it right is Korea House. Yes, this is the same place famous for its lunch time all you can eat buffet. L.A. style ribs is the rule here during the mad rush lunch hour where the buffet line can snake around a good portion of the dining room. But I’m not talking buffet today but rather its dinner dining experience.
Korea House is one of those places that gives the best panchan in the south bay. Santa Clara is home to what can be called a little Korean town along the 2 mile stretch of El Camino Real bordered roughly between San Tomas and Henderson just west of Lawrence. I coined the term “Soontofu Row” a few years ago for this stretch of road because of the many places that specialize or sell soon tofu pot, another popular dish with the Chinese crowd.
We ordered the dolsot bibimbop (stone bowl rice) and kalbi tang (beef ribs soup) . Soon came a blizzard array of panchan. There were Chinese favorites like chapchae (雜碎) and tempura (甜不辣) odeng.
Also present were standard items such as kimchee, gak-doog-gi (spicy radish), mi-re-chi (excuse my Korean romanization… anchovies), kelp, bean sprouts, etc. (Pictures at the end of the post.)
The bibimbop came shortly afterwards, piping hot in its own stone bowl. Make sure to quickly start mixing the ingredients in the bowl and the rice underneath. Otherwise you’ll have some burnt rice on the bottom that are chewy but not very tasty. The bibimbop had the standard ingredients such as soybean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, topped with seaweed flakes and the sunny side egg. The bulgogi beef were present but not enough to make a difference.
After mixing everything up with the gotchujang (spicy sauce) it smelled wonderful as the hot bowl continued to heap up all the mixed ingredients and the sauce. It tasted just as good as it smelled. The bibimbop here is not too oily with sesame oil as some of the other places around. (Grade: B+)
The kalbi tang came in a big bowl with two huge pieces of rib meat on bone. I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it before the waitress started using the scissor to cut up the meat into smaller bite-sized chunks. It tasted tender and flavorful, just a good rib meat is supposed to taste. (Grade: A-)
Though hard to see from the picture, the soup base also contained the green bean noodles (same ones used for chapchae) scallions, and eggs. The actual broth is very similar, if not the same, as the one used for some other dishes such as the dok-gu (rice cake) soup.
More pictures of the some other panchan… there may have been a few others that I missed. There were overall about a dozen panchan dishes – excellent.
Korea House Buffet Restaurant2340 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050