Sunday, September 8, 2013

Service can suffer at popular Korean restaurant

The flash of cabbage kimchi being cut up and plated by your server, then covered in extra sweet-and-spicy sauce, is part of the experience at Gammeeok, a popular Korean restaurant in Fort Lee.

The Tofu Soup with Seafood for Two is filled with big chunks of soft tofu and large clams, mussels, head-on shrimp and even a few crab legs for flavor.

By Victor E. Sasson

This weekend, we showed up at Gammeeok, a popular Korean restaurant in Fort Lee, without a reservation (I didn't know the staff took them).

We didn't go until after 6 p.m. on Saturday, so we could park at a meter for free and avoid the valet in the small lot, but had to wait about 10 minutes for a table.

The restaurant was full, and that was reflected in the slow service.

There was a delay between the kimchi service and the arrival of a Seafood Jeon, a large, fluffy pancake with tender squid, shrimp and scallions ($14.95) that three of us shared.

And then we had to wait some more for our entrees -- two Korean comfort dishes.

The Dolsot or Stone Bowl Bibimbap -- rice, vegetables and ground beef topped with a raw or fried egg that you mix up and eat with a mildly spicy sauce -- was $13.95.

Gammeeok's signature cabbage and radish kimchi.

Seafood Jeon is enough for three or four to share.

The Tofu Soup for Two with Seafood wasn't listed on the menu, but we were offered it when I asked for an individual tofu stew.

The soup for two is served with steamed white rice for $20, about what we pay for two soups, rice and side dishes at So Gong Dong, our favorite tofu house in Palisades Park ($9.99 each, including tax).

We ladled the Tofu Soup into individual bowls.

At So Gong Dong, the tofu soup arrives at your table bubbling furiously and you take a fresh egg and crack it into the broth, which cooks it to soft-boiled perfection.

At Gammeeok, the soup was hot, but not boiling, and no egg was provided.

Still, there was plenty of soup and rice left over to take home and offer to our teenage son.

I liked the strongly flavored broth and the big mussles, clams and shrimp, but my wife doesn't care for shellfish and didn't think the version here approached the tofu soup at So Gong Dong.

Of course, she might have been upset at being denied bibimbap, her favorite dish at Gammeeok.

Condiments include bean paste, above, that you can scoop up with fresh cabbage, below.

Although we had to wait for food and for our tea cups to be refilled, the staff accommodated me when it came time to pay the bill, honoring a coupon I had, even though I didn't buy $50 in food.

The coupon, from the local daily newspaper, was $15 off a dine-in order of $50, not including tax, and I was short more than a dollar.

The Fort Lee restaurant, a branch of the Manhattan original, has been a reliable choice for Korean food since 1991.

Gammeeok (say GAM-yo), 485 Main St., Fort Lee; 201-242-1333.

Web site:


  1. There's a new Korean restaurant called Miga in Leonia (344 Broad Ave.) that's worth checking out. Lots of ban-chan and good lunch meals. Free parking on the streets, as well.


Please try to stay on topic.