Friday, April 18, 2008

Miran


Dave's Take:

I don't hang out much as 20th & Chestnut but now I have a reason to go. Miran is a great, fun, low-key place. The atmosphere is anything but luxurious. If it wasn't for the crazy vents hanging from the ceiling giving some visual interest, you think you would be in a Little Pete's or some other dirty lunch place. But the food and the prices make up for it.

The details: For apps, we got a Kimchee pancake. Think of the traditional scallion pancake you get at a Chinese takeout joint, but fill it with tasty, spicy kimchee and when combined with the soy-based dipping sauce made crispy fireworks in your mouth. The other app was very strange. Honestly, I forget the name but I would describe it as a playdough size rice noodle about an inch in diameter in a spicy sauce. The sauce was great but the noodle was too gooey.

Onto the main dishes. First we got the Dolsot Bibim Bap which is loosely translated as the Korean superior version of a fried rice bowl. First, the take an extremely hot stone bowl, fill it with rice, then veggies and some meat (we got beef) and top it off with an egg. The bowl is carried to your table sizzling and as that happen the rice is getting crispy. Wait a few minutes and mix it all up. The egg cooks and the individual tastiness's combine to form a taste superpower. A must have for my next visit. The rest of the meal was the Korean BBQ. This was fun. Not a culinary masterpiece but a good time. They bring over marinated meats (pork & short rib in our case) and you cook on this cool Butane grill built into your table. The meat taste great but is obviously not cooked to perfection. The social aspect makes up for it. I HATE the Melting Pot. You should not boil meat unless your planning on cooking it for a long time unless you want them to have the consistency of old tires. With grilling however, a quick cook under high heat is ideal so it is a much more enjoyable meal.

Not a date place (unless your in college) and not a place to impress clients, but a damn good spot for some fun tasty bites and some communal cooking. It's BYO, bring beer to wash down that spicy food and make you forget you overcooked your meat.


Wade's Take:
There’s something spectacular about cooking your own food at a restaurant. Even though it kind of makes you a sucker (think about it: you are going to a restaurant and paying $20 an entrée and they won’t even cook it for you?) it’s worth it for the interactivity and social experience of cooking meat with friends. Perhaps it takes us back to Neanderthal days, when flame and raw meat were the equivalent of myspace. Or perhaps it appeals to the control freak imbedded in all of us… “we don’t trust kitchens, so we will cook our own grub, damn it!”

Whatever the root, I love combining flames, food and friends. Miran is the place for it. This Korean restaurant tucked onto a block of Chestnut street with a pack of other asian joints is the best of the lot. It’s a BYO, so plan accordingly. We brought a bottle of Chinese white wine. Not a good pick on my part. I’d recommend finding some rice wine that drinks sweeter, like a Choujiu. Anyway, it won’t matter, because you won’t be paying attention to your beverage. The food will have you at hello.

Miran has lots of spicy dishes. There are a lot of subtle hot flavors in the pickling and chili sauces they offer. If you don’t like spice, advise them in advance.

We tried the Bibim bap, which is a rice dish served in a hot stone bowl with tons of veggies, a cooked egg and the meat of your choice dumped on top. Be sure to let it sit for several minutes once it’s served to you. This lets the rice get crispy brown on the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add a dallop of chili pepper paste to it and its set. Brown rice makes it even better.

The focus of Miran is the Korean BBQ. There’s a large recessed grill at your table, heated by a butane flame. We ordered the kalbi (short ribs) and pork kalbi (pork ribs). They give you a slew of veggies and sauces with them. It was great. Even the meat we overcooked a bit was delicious in its charred glory. Any meal with many tastes and textures is great for me. Hence, my love of Miran.

We ordered some appetizers as well, but they aren’t necessary. The Korean BBQ and bibim bap are enough food for most.

And Dave? I disagree. It’s a great date place, as long as she eats meat. When the conversation turns dry, you can talk about the broiling flame in front of you and how its reminiscent of your burning love for her (perhaps that is too strong of a come on for a first date, but you get the point). Places that keep you busy and working are great for dates with awkward long pauses in conversation. Trust me, I know!
Four out of four charred meats.

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