Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 3 Dinner: Korean BBQ in the Desert

Happy Weekend readers!  I still have no idea who reads my blog, but hello and I thank you for running your eyes over my words.  Now yes I didn't post yesterday because, right after a long day of work, I went out to a restaurant, the Olive Garden, it got kind of late and because I don't get paid for blogging, yet hopeful, I went right to sleep because eight hours of the work I do makes me tired.  Now, Olive Garden?  No, that's for a later post.

Today it's continuing on with Las Vegas and today I'm headed into a Korean restaurant, in the desert, in Nevada, in almost the middle of nowhere.  Riding the monorail from MGM I headed towards the north strip, Circus Circus.  After playing a couple of games there and breaking even, a nice stroll towards the Encore and Wynn Hotel & Casinos to take a self tour of their beautiful buildings is in order.  But on the way, my belly grumbles in an angry protest, warning that if I don't eat soon it will cut off circulation to my legs (anatomically not possible but fun).

Located just a few blocks north of the Encore, but not so far you reach the Riviera, and tucked in a corner is a place called Kimchi, Korean BBQ.  The quaint L shaped strip mall leading up to the restaurant is a breeze to walk through and it felt like you were in any other strip mall in America, a little refresher of what it's like back home while in Vegas.

Entering the restaurant, nothing dazzled me at first.  Of course, the hostess/waitress and probably owner or co-owner warmly greeted me at the door and asked if I wanted the all you can eat special.  Despite my hunger level, I've been eating at buffets and mounds of food for a long time now.  Plus, I was kind of in the mood for a traditional dish.

Inside, there were dozens of hardwood tables lined up in neat rows.  The lighting was pleasant, not too bright yet not too dim for that romantic feeling.  However, having partly grown up in Korea, it had the half Korean restaurant authentic feeling.  Kind of a mix between American and Korean restaurant design, but that's to be understood being in the United States and all.

After ordering, they offered that I hit their side dish line which seemed like they were pulling off a buffet style line up.  All this seemed very unorthodox as normally such servings weren't offered in a buffet style.  Also, side dishes were usually meant to be eaten as a side dish.  However, it could've just been their own unique Americanized twist, or something has changed in Korean ways of dining since I left the country, I'm so out of touch.

But never mind that, my order finally arrived!

I ordered what I've been dying for, for quite a while now: 비빔 냉면!  (Bibim-naengmyeon).  It's a dish of cold noodles, well go figure with it's name, naeng meaning cold and myeon meaning noodles, with a variety of toppings usually a couple of slices of Asian Pear, a couple strips of beef, an assortment of vegetables such as cucumbers and carrots, and topped with half of a hard boiled egg served in a cold, but once boiled, beef broth.  They usually instantly cool the dish by throwing in ice.

Originating in the northern parts of Korea, now what has become as the dreadful North Korea, naengmyeon has become a popular dish throughout the peninsula and its popularity and variety keeps growing.

The traditional way of ordering the dish is as a non-spicy version called mul-naengmyeon.  This dish has all of the toppings mentioned earlier.  This dish is perfect for a hot summer's day when you crave for an actual meal but also gives a cool down for your body.  However, the second most popular variety, and my personal favourite, is the Bibim-naengmyeon which also includes all of the toppings plus the addition of Korea's popular spicy red chili paste called Gochujang.

This gives the dish a spicy kick that could send the weak home crying, but let's compare it to four stars at a Thai restaurant.  Although, the first bites no one really feels the spice unless they're super sensitive.  Subsequent chopstick bites will incur the tasteful wrath of the spice.

Overall, the meal was delicious and as I've remembered it.  But it is difficult to mess up something as traditional and to be honest, quite simple, as bibim-naengmyeon.  Despite the dining experience not feeling quite authentic, it did satisfy my belly and I was able to stroll on through Vegas back to the MGM Grand with a happy tummy.

Kimchi Korean BBQ located between the Encore and Riviera in a quaint little L shaped strip mall: Approved

*NOTE: New font will hopefully allow for an easier read, eh?  Don't strain your eyes!

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