Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kim Bob Na Ra In Ellicott City: Korean Comfort Food Through The Beginner's Eyes Of Kyle

Veggie Kimbob
The Korean restaurants along Rte 40 offer an array of different experiences, and Kyle took up the challenge in the basic outsider's summary that I wrote and the insider lowdown from Kevin.  Kyle decided to check out Korean fast food, and he went to Kim Bob Na Ra over two weekends.  The portions are huge, and the prices are low:
For our first time at Kim Bob Na Ra, my wife and I went was a Sunday at lunch. We were the only non-Koreans in a dining room that filled rapidly and eventually overflowed. People were coming in and leaving due to lack of tables. Even though I had read the howchow pages and comments faithfully, I was not prepared for the all-Korean world. There was no English anywhere except some badly translated words on the menu. So I ordered the best I could and ended up with a cold noodle dish (Jjol Myun - thick noodle, egg, and spicy pepper sauce) on a cold winter day, and a boring soup (DDuk Gook - sliced rice cake soup). 
DDuk Bok yi
My perfect order was the kimbob -- Korean ingredients wrapped in rice then seaweed. Nothing raw about kimbob so don't call it sushi. It's longer and thicker than your normal Japanese sushi roll and no wasabi or ginger anywhere. Instead you have a bottle of soy sauce and rice vinegar next to a shaker of Korean red chile powder which I mixed all together in the small bowl supplied. The kimbob worked. It was fresh, crunchy and good. We got 2 banchan dishes of kimchi and yellow picked radish. Everyone in the restaurant got some kind of kimbob. The other popular dish was sliced rice cake and other stuff in a orange red sauce, DDuk Bok Yi - stir-fried rice cakes in spicy sauce.
Jeyook Dup Bob
The next visit to Kim Bob Na Ra I went on a Saturday at lunch time. This time we got the same banchan plus two more dishes.. One was mystery protein in a hot sauce and the other one was lightly picked greens and other stuff. The dining room was not crowded and emptied by the time we left. I had done some Google research at home and ordered again. This time I orderd the same veggie kimbob because that was perfection, along with DDuk Bok yi, Soo Jae Bi (soup with wheat flour dumplings) and Jeyook Dup Bob (steamed rice and stir-fried pork in spicy sweet sauce). 
The soup was more like eggdrop soup with homemade noodles, veggies and mystery seafood (clams?) but it was tasty. The DDuk Bok yi had the rice cakes with fishcakes and a hardboiled egg in a spicy red sauce. Obviously, this was Korean comfort food. The stir fried dish was a gamble that worked. It was like pork bulgogi in a not-too-hot but not-too-sweet sauce, and it worked. My big discovery is that the menu description does not adequately describe the dish you're served. So I guess you need to employ Kevin the blogger to accompany you or just keep guessing when you order.
If you want to know more about Koream cuisine, check out the Korean American Mommy blog, which has done some terrific posts explaining Korean food.  You can share Kyle's adventure along Rte 40.  As I noted in my original post, I'm a complete beginner, but even I can see that the restaurants offer everything from fine dining to casual basics.  Try Kevin's post for more suggestions. 

This is part of a week of guest posts highlighting finds that other people have found around Howard County.

Kim Bob Na Ra
9339 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042
(410) 465-9166

Near:  Kim Bob Na Ra is on the south side of Rte 40 just west of Chatham Road.  This is just west of Rte 29 and easy access from anywhere in the county.


ZenKimchi said...

May I also suggest our humble website, ZenKimchi Korean Food Journal. The "Korean Food 101" section could help. http://www.zenkimchi.com/FoodJournal

Judy said...

Dduk Gook is not particularly flavorful, pretty bland - I consider it to be the equivalent of chicken soup.

You eat it when you're sick - (at least my mom did) or for New Years Day. Its warm and filling.