My lack of tolerance for spicy foods has prohibited me from experiencing a lot of great eats, especially in Asian cuisine. I made a resolution to challenge my palate and step outside my beloved Italian / French / American food comfort zone. What better way to start than with Korean — I’m taking it back to my roots. A fellow Korean adoptee joined me at Barn Joo for a light dinner of kimchi fried rice (with the very interesting addition of gruyere cheese), a bulgogi-pot, and ribeye skewers. I have eaten Korean food before, but I always go straight for the mild stuff (like galbi) and steer clear of the hot stuff (like kimchi). This time I will not shy away from gochujang (translation: hot pepper paste) — a savory and pungent fermented condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. It’s a staple in Korean cuisine and usually strikes fear into my heart with it’s bright red hue. To me, red = heat = pain. But I’m convinced that with slow and steady exposure to increasing levels of hot & spicy foods, I can built up my tolerance. I enjoyed the kimchi rice a lot, but it was about a 5 or 6 on the spicy scale and I need to start out at a 1 or 2. Baby steps. I tempered it by adding some extra white rice. I really like the chill atmosphere at Barn Joo and will definitely be back again soon for more good food!
Barn Joo: 893 Broadway (between East 19th and 20th Street)
Kimchi Fried Rice (bacon, kimchi, gruyere, fried egg)
Bulgogi Pot (soy-garlic marinated thin sliced ribeye, farmer’s greens, mushrooms)