Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

Some of it has had to do with a certain clannishness among many Korean immigrants. There are at least three Korean karaoke places in St. Louis, none of which has few if any meigook voices butchering “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” A couple of places, like St. Ann’s Seoul Garden, have established themselves. And for years cognoscenti have enjoyed the bulgogi plates at U City Grill. Yet it’s only been recently that Korean cuisine has been a choice for a majority of local diners. The old Hangook Kwan, in Creve Coeur, now closed, was excellent. Even better is Asian Kitchen, a bright and lovely place in the middle of St. Louis’ “Chinatown” on Olive just east of I-170.
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Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

“Side dishes” is a decent translation for panchan (or banchan), an essential for a lot of Korean meals. But unlike, say, a side of fries or your Aunt Edna’s green bean casserole, panchan are tidbits, nibbles, only a few bites worth, meant to be eaten as a kind of palate refresher during the meal. And, more importantly, there are a lot of them. At Asian Kitchen, the panoply is almost embarrassing and if there is any open space left on the table, any square inch of your lunch’s real estate that isn’t covered in panchan dishes, it isn’t from lack of their trying. What’s spread out is like an encyclopedia of panchan. Some we didn’t recognize. Others are standards. Whatever, this is one of the most delightful aspects of traditional Korean cuisine and it is splendid to see it here.
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Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

It’s always been mystifying, the paucity of Korean restaurants, not only in St. Louis but, major East and West Coast cities notwithstanding, everywhere else in the country. Why? There are towns in America that may have only one gas station but a couple of Chinese restaurants. Japanese eateries developed slowly—there were only two when we came to St. Louis in the early 80s—but you can now find sushi joints in more than two dozen strip malls around here. Same goes for Thai cuisine. Korean fare, though, remained elusive.
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Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

The number of Asian faces in an Asian eatery is a favorite measure for restaurant critics in assigning “authenticity.” We tend to go with other rubrics. A fish tank? Well, yeah, sure, if its occupants are on the menu, although we find the presence of even a goldfish aquarium in an Asian restaurant a reliable indicator. We watch, though, the chopstick etiquette. And table manners in general. Younger people tend to have relaxed manners handling their chopsticks and eating; older folks retain the manners of an earlier age. If you see a range, you’re probably in a good place.
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Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

Asian Kitchen has a reputation as a hang-out for Korean expatriates, especially men, and they’ll usually be taking up some tables. There are also a lot of parties here, with the staff hustling tabletop grills, enormous mounds of raw beef and shortribs and those endless parades of panchan. Particularly on weekends, if you’re not early or late, you can expect a wait. Which is okay, because there in the entrance they’ve got a really nice tank of goldfish.
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Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

× 1 of 6 Expand Bulgogi Busut Jeongol for two (aka #67): Beef Bulgogi, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, onions, hot peppers, scallions, and tofu. × 2 of 6 Expand Twenty varieties of panchan shown here – a representative sampling that accompanies every main dish at Asian Kitchen × 3 of 6 Expand Bulgogi (marinated and grilled strips of beef) may be the Korean dish most familiar to St. Louisans.  × 4 of 6 Expand Grilled mackarel filets with doenjang jigae (soybean paste stew) × 5 of 6 Expand Pork Bulgogi × 6 of 6 Expand Bulgogi Dolsot, comfort food on a cold winter night. Prev Next
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Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

× 1 of 6 Expand Bulgogi Busut Jeongol for two (aka #67): Beef Bulgogi, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, onions, hot peppers, scallions, and tofu. × 2 of 6 Expand Twenty varieties of panchan shown here – a representative sampling that accompanies every main dish at Asian Kitchen × 3 of 6 Expand Bulgogi (marinated and grilled strips of beef) may be the Korean dish most familiar to St. Louisans.  × 4 of 6 Expand Grilled mackarel filets with doenjang jigae (soybean paste stew) × 5 of 6 Expand Pork Bulgogi × 6 of 6 Expand Bulgogi Dolsot, comfort food on a cold winter night.
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Asian Kitchen Korean Cuisine

Amandaj1718Greenwood, Arkansas8321Reviewed August 31, 2016 AuthenticWhat looked to be a whole in the wall turned out delicious. Love all of their side dishes. I ordered the bulgogi dolsot bibimbap. Would recommend coming here and trying their delicious cuisine.Thank Amandaj1718
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We recently stopped by Asian Kitchen. At a nearby table, a young man tapped his chopsticks on a plate to level them, the gauche equivalent of wielding a fork like a spear. His girlfriend lifted a long slice of eggplant slathered in a thick, russet chili sauce and shook it to flick off the excess—another, at least mildly boorish faux pas. At another table, though, a grey-haired couple handled their chopsticks deftly, with an almost courtly elan. So the place is relaxed enough to make it appealing to the younger set, authentic enough to appeal to older Koreans. A good sign.
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It’s the panchan, though, as much as the main courses and appetizers, that should have you dining at Asian Kitchen. It’s fun just to watch them arranged on the table. Note the care to lay them out so the colors are varied. Given the variety, it’s impossible to provide a full rundown on what’s in front of you, but here are a few to watch for:
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You will recognize some of the dishes here. Bulgogi, strips of beef in a marinade of soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and garlic, is seared to a fragrant tastiness. (It would be better and more authentically on a brazier; the Kitchen’s version is fine but tastes like it came off a pan.)

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