Sunday, January 13, 2008

Korea House - Count on it

Korea House is a little mom and pop restaurant on Trowbridge, at the far end of the building containing Goodrich Shoprite and Woody's Oasis. It's hidden around the corner, but that doesn't hurt business much. This is the place to go for real authentic Korean food.

They've been there for a very long time, and a few years ago they expanded to have a sushi bar too. They also have a lot of expensive, wonderful-looking hibachi specials on the walls, and on the tables of Korean customers. (Those are the kinds of dishes where they put a little gas grill on you table and a big heap of food -- sometimes to be grilled, sometimes to be stewed.) Unfortuately I can't tell you how good they really are, because this is our "Count On It" place. You know, the place you go when you are tired, or your stomach is upset, and you just want great food you can count on. When you're in that mood, you stick to old standbys. (You also need a larger group for some of those special dishes.)
Bulgogi, Korean Grilled Beef
Bulgogi is probably the main old standy here. I've mentioned this thin sliced grilled beef dish in my Midori review. It's a little like a Korean teriyaki -- but less sweet, and more beefy. Unfortunately, since it is cooked in the kitchen (as it is everywhere in town) it releases juices on the way to the table, so it's a little stewed. You can also get the Kalbi, which is a version made from rib meat (with or without bones). Then there is the Boneless Spicy Chicken stirfry, which has some vegetables with, and is one of my stand-bys.

Japchae Noodles
You can always get good noodles and soups in a Korean restaurant too. Japchae, or Chapchae (above),is made with a transparent, jiggly noodle made wth yam starch. It's a little like a cellophane noodle, and cooked with garlic, soy sauce and oil, rather like a really strong lo mein.

Korean Rice Dumpling Soup
Recently a friend ordered Rice Dumpling Soup -- which is a hearty but mild soup (which you can spice up if you like). The rice dumplings are chewy slices of a thick rice flour cake, kind of like a fat rice noodle. They are simmered in a thickened egg-drop style broth, and served in a BIG bowl with, I think, chicken or pork in it. Perfect for a cold night.

Most of the time dinner is served with the usual selection of side dishes. (Sometimes noodles or soup won't come with them, but you can ask.) There are dumplings and many kinds of soups. If you like seafood, you should really try Korean seafood soups, although they are often very spicy. I've heard fans of squid talk about their calimari. And then there are things like Goat Roast. On the more familiar line, you can get Bibimbap (as described in the Midori review) either with or without the hot stone bowl.

Be sure to browse the menu so you don't settle too early on what you decide is YOUR "count on it" dish.

Korea House, 978 Trowbridge Rd, East Lansing. (517) 332-0608.


Anonymous said...

i heart korea house! they have the best deal for lunch specials - i can vouch for the spicy chicken and the bi bim bap (both the dol sot and the regular kind are DIVINE).

i had a question for you food geek...if i wanted to throw a tasteful banquet for about 60 people here in the lansing/east lansing/okemos area, what are a couple of places you would recommend?

The East Side Food Geek said...

Oh man, that's a toughie. Most of the places I eat don't have the capability of doing such a large banquet.

For Asian places, I suspect those most likely to be capable would be Chinese Gourmet Village, Golden Wok or Buffet World. The new AI Fusion maybe has the size, and their sister restaurant, Ukai, had a nice, tasteful, celebratory style, but I don't know.

For non-Asian I can only suggest you look around for places that are big enough, and then consider what are the best among them. (I don't usually review chains, but some of the more upscale chains, like those in the Eastwood Mall, do banquets.)

In the end, you have to find a restaurant that can handle it, or you have to hire a hall and a catering company. Some smaller restaurants do catering.

Anonymous said...

Just a little FYI.
The rice dumpling soup served in the Korea House is of a thicker variety. It can be made clearer and thinner and not so thick, think chicken soup here, and will give a different taste, also "perfect for a cold night."

But by all means Korea House soup can hold on its own, has it's own good taste.

Laura Chin said...

Korea House has been a regular stop on my roster for over 10 years now. I have also been getting the same dish for the past 10 years lol Spicy Chicken with free mandu! Delicious and inexpensive, as well as enough for 2! You know it's good when it makes your nose run!