Peace Meal Progress
Korean Grill's flavorful fellowship proves that you can never bite the hand that feeds you.
Thursday, January 11, 2001
Well, it''s the year 2001--definitely a space odyssey. Here we are already in the future, looking at where we''ve come from, where we are and, with luck, where we''re going.
We as a species are caught up in an accelerating whirlpool of evolutionary change unlike any since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Despite the presence of tools and learning resources available to us, the body of intelligent and creative knowledge present, there are still countless factions committed to destroying each other over such absurdities as the definitive understanding about something as impossible to understand as God. Give me a break.
How does anybody with even half an ounce of intelligence not get disgusted with humanity? We have the capabilities to completely reverse everything that is wrong the world. And some--like the owners of Korean Grill in Pacific Grove--are actually doing it.
I know what you''re thinking: This guy''s really snapped now--his cork popped with the New Year''s Champagne. But think about it. Here I am sitting in this delightful little downhome Korean restaurant, eating traditional Korean delicacies prepared and served by loving, caring humans. Among my group is Chickie Boom, whose father spent a couple of years back in the 1950s in the service of one psychotic master trying to help destroy the poor bastards over there in Korea, who also were in the service of a psychotic master.
If people would feed each other instead of trying to kill each other, who knows what this world might become? I know it sounds simplistic and naive, which it is, but that''s the whole point.
Instead of training armies of warriors to attack and destroy, why not train armies of agriculturalists and culinarians to conquer world hunger? Who would want to fight if there were great feasts of traditional food and drink being prepared and shared?
I always felt a little like Copernicus, or whoever the guy with the fulcrum was. If you show me the place to set up the kitchen, I could move the world.
It''s the restaurant folks who are doing it. Without knowing it, hardworking people around the world help overcome differences and heal people by feeding them their individual ethnic fare. As we all partake of all the world''s food, it becomes harder to detach from acts that are detrimental to those same people who have fed and nourished you.
That''s what the souls at Korean Grill do. They feed you and nourish you, leaving you satisfied on many different levels. Like so many small mom-and-pop operations, Korean Grill is owned by a husband and wife team. The duo shares in the cooking, which showcases fresh, authentic ingredients lovingly prepared in a spotless, tranquil environment.
Colorful Canvas of Flavors
Simple place settings spread on wooden tables provide the canvas upon which colorful conglomerations of Korean cookery cluster, clamoring to be consumed.
The ban chan, a group of little bowls of various vegetables, becomes the centerpiece of every Korean dinner. Like a palette of colors, small offerings of bean sprouts, potatoes, seaweed, fascinating little black beans, radish, tofu and kimchi (a fermented cabbage) are provided to add fresh, harmonious flavors to your main dish.
On the night we visited, we invited Cheech and Chong, two Korean language students who eat regularly at Korean Grill. Sweet Thing and myself arrived a bit early, so we went next door to Trader Joe''s to load up the glove compartment with Power Bars.
The world being what it is, there I was, staring down a display rack full of first- and second-growth Bordeaux. They were from the ''97 vintage, which was an off year, and consequently lower priced and earlier maturing. I grabbed a Pichon Lalande, figuring it would be a nice surprise for Chong, who is a wine lover.
We arrived at the Korean Grill where Brandon, the regular front-of-the-house guide and server, deftly choreographed our total experience. We had dumplings for appetizer, which went beautifully with the Pichon Lalande. I did not overlook the wonder of sitting in Pacific Grove, eating authentic Korean dumplings and drinking gorgeous French wine.
A delightful, soothing tea was automatically brought to the table. The taste was so fresh and original, it had us perplexed. But Brandon explained that it was made from corn. Did you ever taste the water that is left over in the pot after you cook corn? That is what it''s like.
We were probably gonna be turning up the heat for the main course, so we finished the wine before ordering and swung into OB Lager, the perfectly compatible Korean beer.
Me and Chong went for meat dishes --he the grilled beef ribs, me the grilled pork. Each comes atop a bed of raw cabbage sizzling on a cast iron platter shaped like a reclining cow. The flavors were fabulous, enhanced by the bottomless nibbles of the ban chan.
Chickie Boom had spicy seabass soup. The boiling cauldron of fresh fish and vegetables was full of flavors, with perhaps the most magnificent broth I have ever tasted. It was so spicy that my head exploded. Cheech had her usual, vegetable hot pot rice with spicy kimchi ("addictive," according to Cheech). It was a beautiful assortment of fresh vegetables and rice all sizzling in a stone bowl.
There''s a lot of love in this food. It''s lively, flavorful, reasonably priced, authentic, soulful and fun. Chong was almost unhappy about me doing this piece because Korean Grill is kind of like a little secret the Defense Language Institute kids share.
The secret is out, baby. Check this place out and find out why Cheech says, "In my opinion, this is the best Korean food on the Peninsula."
Add the fact that they are helping to make the world a better place and-- Bingo!--it''s all good for all living things.