Adventures at Korean Garden

27 Aug

Sometime last year I had Korean food for the first time at yuppified Naan in the Shops at Legacy.  I really enjoyed it but wanted to look for a more hole-in-the-wall, casual joint for my Korean food fix.  Korean Garden definitely fits “hole-in-the-wall,” in fact, if you drive around the shopping center at the northeast corner of Park and Coit, you won’t even see a sign outside for Korean Garden.  If it wasn’t for a tip on Chowhound, I probably would’ve never found this place.  You have to go in the “mall” as if you’re entering May Hua Supermarket, take a left down a hallway immediately after you pass the hanging BBQ ducks and roast pig at Joy Luck BBQ, and come to what looks like a mini mall food court where Korean Garden is sandwiched between a sushi place and a Shiseido makeup counter.  During a Saturday lunch, the food court was crowded with mostly Asian families, and most tables had food from Korean Garden, a few had some selections from the sushi place.  I had definitely found “casual.”

Walk up to the Korean Garden counter and order like you would at a mall Manchu Wok (the menu even has pictures like at those mall Chinese food places).  They give you a number, you grab a seat and wait for your number to be called and bring your own food back to the table (we sat at a table right by the glass separator between the food court and the supermarket and I found it amusing to people watch inside the supermarket as we waited for the food, which wasn’t long, perhaps a 10 minute wait).  The only difference is you don’t have to clean up after yourself when you’re done eating since no trash receptacle was in sight and none of the serving ware is disposable. 

Onto the food!  Tried among the group of 3 of us were the BBQ chicken, BBQ spare ribs, and mixed rice stone bowl (each entree about $8).  The BBQ chicken dish came out first along with the banchan, which included chunks of yam in a salty sweet sauce, pickled chunks of daikon radishes, traditional kimchi, bean sprouts drizzled with sesame oil, a chunk of something mysterious that no one tried because it looked like it was deep fried a few hours ago, and seasoned seaweed strips.

Banchan:

korean-panchan.jpg

BBQ Chicken:

korean-chicken.jpg

When the BBQ chicken first came out, my thought was “hey, chicken fajitas!”  The sizzling cubed chicken was surrounded by napa cabbage.  Though the chicken was tender (but quite a few pieces had notable amounts of gristle), I found this slightly spicy dish to be a bit bland.

The BBQ spareribs came out after that.  Sizzling hot on top of a heaping pile of onions, it still carried a slight resemblance to fajitas.

korean-ribs.jpg

This was my favorite entree out of the three.  The meat was a little bit fatty, but well seasoned and not overdone.  There was definitely a surplus of onions in this dish, but that’s probably for presentation purposes.

Last up was the mixed stone bowl:

korean-bowl.jpg

Warning, hot bowl!  My stone bowl came on its own wooden platform and the rice sizzled in the bowl for at least the next 15 minutes.  I’m guessing frivolous lawsuits like “my McDonald’s coffee is too hot” isn’t really a problem in Korea.  The mixed bowl was served with shredded beef, shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, spinach, some kind of long narrow darkish string bean, cucumber slices, and an egg topped with dried seaweed.  The shredded beef was tender and delicious.  The rest of the ingredients were bland and I used the kimchi to help add some flavor.  I did love the texture crunchy rice at the bottom of the stone bowl.

All in all, Korean Garden is a great value ($26 for the three of us).  It gives you that “I discovered a cool little unknown joint” feel and serves food to that expectation.  My only complaints would be that the entrees came out at different times (but it’s a food court setting so maybe this shouldn’t be a complaint) and the quality of the meats served (too much gristle in my chicken!) but this is a common theme through most Asian restaurants.  All of the ingredients were superbly fresh, and I would definitely go back and try other items off of the menu (I saw quite a few tables with the mixed seafood pancake that looked appetizing).  It’s fun and it’s cheap.

Rating: 3 /5

Korean Garden (inside the May Hua Supermarket complex)
2220 Coit Rd
Plano, TX 75075

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2 Responses to “Adventures at Korean Garden”

  1. Kirk 08/27/2006 at 6:13 pm #

    Glad you enjoyed your visit, Donna!

    Next time you go, try the Kimchi Soup. If you’re not familiar with Korean food, though, it can be a bit daunting…”spicy” doesn’t quite capture its charm. It’s a great way to warm yourself up on a cold day, though, if we ever have one of those again.

    If you would like to try another hole-in-the-wall Korean place, I suggest Jin Mi. It’s also in Plano, in a shopping center (where else?) at the northeast corner of 15th and Independence. They’ve got a broader menu, which includes my current favorite summer dish: Naeng Myun, cold buckwheat noodles and garnishes in shilled beef broth.

  2. josh 03/30/2009 at 10:10 pm #

    Shiioott. I love Korean food. I’m so hungry after reading that post. Isn’t the little stone bowl called bee bim bop or something? All I know is that once you put about 2 tablespoons of that red kochujang (or however you say it) korean hot sauce in that thing, it’s a little bowl of heaven. Sexual magic. I’ve got to find a Korean restaurant within 100 miles. I’m starving.

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