Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kimchi service sets Gam Mee Ok apart

Gimchi, a very common side dish in Korea
The taste of the kimchi can make or break a restaurant.
Image via Wikipedia

When we walked into Gam Mee Ok in Fort Lee on Saturday night, it looked different and I saw the name of another restaurant on the place mat. 

But it's just an affiliated place in Queens called Tang, and Gam Mee Ok still is the only North Jersey place I know with kimchi service.

After you place your order, you are brought a vase-like bowl with cabbage and radish kimchis, tongs and scissors, and you are served both kinds. The server than pours on additional sauce.

When we first started going to Gam Mee Ok (pronounced GAM-yo) a couple of years ago, my wife insisted on ordering cabbage kimchi to take home. 

But there appears to be a new kimchi maker in the kitchen, because, as she noted Saturday night, the sauce is thicker and doesn't contain as much red pepper as before. The kimchi still is wonderful, though.

We ordered an appetizer called shrimp Jeon ($6.95) and three stone-bowl bibimbaps ($13.95 each) -- a hot Korean rice dish topped with julienne vegetables, meat and a raw egg. 

We asked the waiter to hold the meat and cook the egg. You're given red pepper paste or sauce to add, and then mix up all the ingredients before eating it with a spoon. It's one of my favorite Korean dishes.

The five shrimp were butterflied and dipped in egg before cooking, then served with sauces. Very nice. You also get a basket of fresh cabbage and hot, green peppers, in place of traditional side dishes.

Gam Mee Ok's architecture is modern. It's one of the few 24-hour Korean restaurants, and the young staff members were dressed in red T-shirts and bandannas for the World Cup (South Korea's winning match was being broadcast). 

We arrived around 5 p.m. for dinner and, with few people to serve, the Korean waiters and waitresses chatted and flirted with each other.

Gam Mee Ok, 485 Main St., Fort Lee; 201-242-1333.

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