Bold Flavors at Bow’l

I don’t think she reads this, but I will be so sad when M moves back to Italy. Then who will go out on weekdays and stay up late and revel in unemployed bliss with me? With any luck one of the 20 jobs I applied to yesterday will contact me soon. Okay no more blathering–on to the food we enjoyed at Bowl’d, the fairly new Korean restaurant. (I didn’t even have to think of my own cheesy pun with this one.)

Thank goodness we didn't have to walk far for spicy comfort food on this aberrant rainy day in the bay.

Korean food means lots of banchan! I need to figure out how I can just order a bowl of rice and have all those little side dishes because they are the best part. Bowl'd caters to many non-Koreans in the area, and doesn't have the huge variety that I've seen in other places. But with so many diners, you can bet that their food is always fresh and high quality. The pieces of fried tofu swimming in chili sauce on the right was probably my favorite.

I ordered the fried tofu pancakes in egg batter and made it a meal with a bowl of rice and soup (8). They turned out to be less cakey (I doubt there was any flour involved) and more like soft pillows of tofu dipped in egg. It gave me a much-needed protein boost and paired wonderfully with the dipping sauce and kimchi. I'm excited to go back and try some of their other pancakes, like seafood or mung bean. (For those keeping track of my goofy eating habits, my stomach can't handle dairy but I'm trying to eat seafood once in a while if I want to splurge at a restaurant.)

I had a few bites of M's dukboki, or spicy rice cakes with ramen, fish cakes and hardboiled egg. This is one of my favorite things to eat on a cold day but I didn't want to order it because it never fails to put me in a coma afterwards. I'm glad I went with the tofu on this night because the sauce was far too sweet and rich. I mean, is this dinner or dessert? Make up your mind!

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Sura Korean

Aside from a impromptu/mediocre walnut burger from Amanda’s when I didnt have a camera, I haven’t eaten out since the last time I posted about a restaurant. Nor turned on my stove, so I was real excited to come here with my parents for a feast of massive proportions. Verdict: success!

a couple ounces of thick congee-like stuff with veggies. ate this all the time as a kid

a couple ounces of thick congee-like stuff with veggies. ate this all the time as a kid

The meal started and ended on dreary notes but the magic was in the middle. Like…a cream puff. I liked this better though.

this is the most banchan i've EVER had. if you take korean banchan seriously, this place is for you

this is the most banchan i've EVER had. if you take korean banchan seriously, this place is for you

The price is on the higher side but that usually means they make up for it in the assortment of pickled/cold appetizers/side dishes they give you. Obviously as this never-ending legion of plates suggests, they win the contest. Each one was colorful and unique, perfect for those who like to try a bite of everything. Each one is prepared with so much care. My favorites were the eggplant, green beans, tofu (top center, left to right) and the egg omlette (bottom right) I’m sure all your nutritional bases are covered here. If it was acceptable to come here and order a single bowl of rice and get the banchan, I’d do it every day. Speaking of which, the sticky brown (purple) rice which came with each of these orders was delicious, and packed with various beans and grains.

my usual order of bibimbap

my usual order of bibimbap (13)

It’s hard to mess up bibimbap. I slather on the spicy sweet hot sauce and add kim chee and any other pickles, because it’s usually light in flavor. Seasoned or pickled cucumber, daikon, cabbage, and carrots were shredded perfectly and circle the bowl. The appearance is probably half the reason I always get this dish. I loved the three different types of exotic mushrooms and the runny egg’s also a welcome addition of richness. Bibimbap in a hot stone bowl is always the better choice, because you get a delicious crunchy layer of rice at the bottom. I always think the regular will be just as good, but it lacks that extra flavor and texture. But it was a bit warm for a hot bowl today.

second favorite - dukboki (13)

second favorite - dukboki (13)

My dad told me to order for him so being the giving daughter that I am, I chose the one I always want to get but can never finish. Other than the amazingly seasoned, chewy rice cakes, this had a great variety of vegetables and beef. I like it with spicy sauce, and it also usually comes with hard-boiled eggs, but this was a completely different version which was perfect for my dad who doesn’t like heat. Rice cake for him is like avocado for me so I chose him a winner.

tofu/seafood soup (10) with oysters, shrimp, clams, squid, zucchini, and onions

tofu/seafood soup (10) with oysters, shrimp, clams, squid, zucchini, and onions

My mom always gets this soup, and always without chili (lame) so I’ve stopped getting it in order to branch out. This was mind-blowingly flavorful though, even without chili. Tons of seafood and the broth was briny, with layers of flavor that evolved as you ate. I didn’t mean to make this soup sound like a mood ring, it was just so impressive. I would actually get this next time over everything else. I love Sura’s tofu – strong enough to stay in perfect cubes but melts in your mouth and so fresh it was probably made that day.

didnt try this but we got free green tea ice cream

didnt try this but we got free green tea ice cream

Next time I come here, it’s all about the tofu soup and the savory korean pancake, which we couldn’t fit in this time. One of the best meals I’ve ever had.

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