Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Beseto Food Court in Catonsville

The sign outside says "Beijing-Seoul-Tokyo" and offers a food court, but you should get off the plane in Korea and stay there for a while.

The Beseto Food Court ("Be-Se-To") is an L-shaped space in the shopping center with the H Mart on Rte 40 in Catonsville. (Not HoCo, but the H Mart is worth the drive.) At lunch, the Beseto offers a $20 all-you-can-eat sushi buffet in the restaurant's front half. Tiny rolls and sushi with a buffet of Chinese food and fruit. Skip it. This is a Korean-run restaurant, and on my visit, the buffet was all white and black Americans while the back area was filled with Korean-Americans ordering off the menu. (Update: See below about possible improvements to the sushi in June 2009.)

The menu says "Cham Mat," and this is a Korean cafeteria. You order at a tiny window beneath changing red numbers. You pay cash. (Although there is an ATM that charges only 45 cents in fees.) You watch for your number to appear above the window, and you go back for your tray.

My tray certainly was all-I-could-eat for $8.50. Squid cooked in a red-pepper sauce with cabbage, green onions and hot peppers. It was served with rice, cool noodles, soup and a small plate of kimchi and picked squash. They were all delicious, as good as any Korean food that I have had in hotbeds by Annandale. The back seating was filled with people eating everything from grilled meat to tofu casseroles. The order before mine was a bubbling fish dish that the menu called "grilled hairtail with beat paste casserole."

Don't be put off by the few newspapers on empty tables or by the Korean-American teenagers. But expect a cafeteria, not a restaurant with ambiance. Everything was clean. You sit on stylish blue chairs, and the entire menu -- available at the window -- is in clear English. Highlights are even posted with pictures on the wall. I asked questions, and the young woman happily answered questions and offered advice.

An adventerous eater could try anything on the menu, and you should definitely check out the wall and the paper menu. There was a spicy beef soup Yookgaejang (#17) that I almost ordered from the wall, but I don't see it on the paper menu. A new-comer might want to start with Kal Bi (grilled ribs), Bul Go Gi (grilled spices of beef), or Dotset Bi Bim Bop (a hot rice bowl with beef and vegetables - and called Bolsot Bob on the Cham Mat menu). Spice and hot peppers are the fuel of Korean cuisine, but you can avoid them and still enjoy yourself by trying one of those beef dishes along with Mandoo (dumplings) or the BBQ Chicken.

The menu also has a line of "Kimbob" items described as "seaweed rice rolls" with different fillings. I don't know what they are. I didn't see them this time. But I'm definitely going to check them out next time.
(Update: Patricia wrote a comment below commending the sushi buffet in June 2009. My original post was more than a year before that, and there have been big changes in the Beseto area of that shopping center. If Patricia says the sushi is excellent, then you should definitely check it out.)

Beseto Food Court / Cham Mat
822 N. Rolling Road
Catonsville, MD 21228

NEAR: The H Mart supermarket on Rte 40 just west of I-695. It's a few miles east of the Howard County line, but it's worth it. If you're driving from HoCo, you'll see a Starbucks and a FedEx sign at the end of the shopping center. Turn right immediately after the Starbucks. If you miss it, just turn right at the traffic light.

Beseto Department Store and Food Court on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

ptrish40 said...

They now have an AMAZINGLY, AWESOME, Sushi Buffet. It's wonderful. Besides the sushi there are some wonderful authentic Korean choices, yummy! The Sushi buffet is M-F, if you miss this you've missed a fantastic treat!!!

Wish the sushi buffet was open for the weekend.