Saturday, July 19, 2008

Daily highlight #57: Not everyone's comfort food - Restaurant: Bonjuk

Comfort foods are often those that remind us of being protected and loved when were were children. Here in America, more often than not, we are talking some sort of potato or pasta. But on the side of the world where I spent my youth, comfort food inevitably revolves around rice. In its most comforting form, the rice is twice cooked into a porridge or congee. My mom was a purist and our congee was always left plain and cooked from fresh rice to let the characters of the rice shine through. To make the finished congee take on a sticky and satiny feel, sometimes mom would add a bit of baking powder to the congee to help break up the rice grains. I loved the plain version all through the scorching summers, but when the nights become short and the chill sets in, I always secretly start to crave the leftover congee mom makes for Sunday lunch when she puts all the Saturday dinner sauces and meats into the second day rice congee. This second day congee could be dominated by the essence of fish, pork, chicken and/or vegetable depending on what we had the most of from the night before. And this range of flavors are what Bonjuk offers in abundance. I am not saying that you'll be eating leftover food. Far from it. Everything at Bonjuk is added fresh to the long cooked congee base. But the array of flavors run from exotic abalone to octopus and kimchi to black seasame. The combinations are rooted in Korean traditions and some are based on Eastern medicine. For example, the black sesame version is supposed to be awesome for complexion. And sure enough, in the short time we were there, we saw two ladies ordering it.
I didn't feel like working on my complexion. Instead, I decided to give myself a spicy wake up call and got the octopus and kimchi. The flavor was wonderfully spicy and savory from the kimchi, but the octpus pieces were very smalled and turned rubbery before my first taste. It's probably just the nature of the congee that makes it unsuitable for items that do not benefit from prolonged heating. Next time I'll try to stick to something more conducive for stew type of dishes.

2645 N. Berkeley Lake Rd. Unit 140
Duluth, GA 30096

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