I have this friend who can really eat hot spicy hot food. There is no capsaicin pepper that is too hot for her. She eats cayenne pepper sauces by the spoonfuls, and I am not exaggerating. We have gone to a Chinese restaurant on a few occasions, and she took spoonfuls of the hot cayenne chili sauce and covered her food like gravy, and she even licked the cayenne pepper sauce spoon. She does turn a bit blushed from eating so much hot red chili sauce, but she doesn't sweat. She says she kind of gets a mouth and taste bud high when she eats food this way. If I ate that way, I would be sweating, looking for anything to save my mouth from the burn and I would be really upset. What I think she needs to do is go on that Travel Channel TV show Man vs. Food, and challenge the dude to a hot food eating contest. I bet my friend could have won the "hot ramen challenge" at Orochon Ramen in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA, where he downed a giant soup bowl of ramin made with 10 types of chili peppers.
Anyway, my friend likes strong flavored food, including spicy food, and she loves ethnic foods like spicy Indian curries, red hot Chinese, and over the top flavorful Korean. As we were eating dinner one night, she said she found a pretty decent Korean restaurant in Antioch, but she did not know the name of the place. She wanted to go there because their seafood pancake is so good, and the other food she tried there was really flavorful, and better than most other Korean places she has tried. I asked her what the restaurant name was, and she just could not remember. She said she thought it didn't have a name. She couldn't tell me how to get there either, although she had been there a few times. I was thinking that she was going nutty, but after she had me follow her in her car to this place, it became apparent that she was not nutty, and it is rather difficult to explain how to get to this place.
Second, I have to give it to her again, how is she supposed to know the name of the restaurant when there is no name of the restaurant on the sign! Hai Woon Dai doesn't have a sign saying Hai Woon Dai, it has a sign saying "Korean Restaurant". It is a smallish sign about the door. It is like stepping Repo Man and going to the grocery store and buying a can of "Food". I know my friend has good and adventurous taste in food, so I wasn't that scared to walk into the door under the generic sign. I walk in, and I swear, I was still in Repo Man, with stark white walls, stark white lighting, and very generic tables and chairs in what looks like old wood paneling cubicles. I got really nervous about flashing back 25 years into Repo Man. How could my friend who loves really strong flavors and chili peppers bring me to this funny generic Korean Food place that is just stark?
But to my delight, the food was a different story, and pulled me out of the generic food movie, and into the present. We all sorts of kim chi made with garlic and peppers, and my friend just enjoyed every last bite of garlic and peppers. We got a seafood pancake that resembles a huge egg foo yung of yester-year. It was tasty, and filled with shrimp and squid. Note to people who don't like eating tenticles with suction cups, you may not want this dish. I, however love squid, so I was very happy. We got a spicy pork bulgogi, a fish dish, spicy tofu and fresh pork belly grill. The soup was ok, but I think Tofu House (specialty is the spicy tofu soup) is better for Korean style soup. The pork bulgogi was so damn flavorful, and probably the best bulgogi I have tasted in Nashville. The fresh pork belly grill-at-the-table was fun. The grill was actually a ceramic grill, not an aluminum or stainless steel grill. We cooked up the onions, mushrooms and the pork belly and ate it with gusto with the variety of kim chis. There was no room at our table because it was full if plates and dishes. I am sure there are dishes here that are going to be a hit or a miss depending on peoples taste. We really liked the pork bulgogi, and we like the grill-at-the-table options. Overall, we had a fun time getting "Food" from the "Restaurant".
Labels: Nashville Eats