The Korean restaurant Sa Ri One on Cypress in Tampa had been on my culinary radar for some time now, so I thought it time to pay them a visit. It has been years since I enjoyed some really well prepared Korean food - not since the fantastic Han Il Kwan on Cypress closed it's doors.
Sa Ri One is in what appears to have once been someone's home, but is now a slightly "long in the tooth" building housing a restaurant. We wandered in and were directed to a table. After a brief wait we were presented with menus and our drink orders were taken. Sa Ri One has a limited selection of beer and several sake choices.
There were a couple of domestic beers and a few from Japan. I asked if there was a Korean beer available. There was, but I hadn't recognized it as such. Both my bride and I requested a Hite, the top-selling beer in Korea. Hite lager is sweet and golden, with thin body and minimal head. It is styled upon American rice lagers such as Budweiser.
After a few minutes perusing our menus I was a little disappointed to see that there were only a few food choices that I had seen on-line as the "top ten things" you must order at a Korean restaurant. Be that as it may, we pressed on with the Katsu Pork for my bride.
This dish was essentially a breaded pork cutlet similar to what the Belle of Ballast Point enjoyed years ago from the Kewpie Doodle Fried Food Sandwich Emporium in her childhood home of Lima, Ohio. I tried a couple of slices and we both agreed it was good, just uninspired. That pile of iceberg lettuce with brown stuff was called a salad.
I am a little more adventurous when dining out, so I chose the Web Octopus Stew.
The baby octopi (or octopuses, either is correct) were tender, though a few were a tad under cooked. The stew consisted of julienned onions and bell peppers in a red sauce. With the accompanying rice bowl this was a rather filling dish. Our server indicated it was spicy - I thought not, but I probably could have requested more heat.
Traditionally, Korean meals are served with an array of small plates or bowls. These were ours:
Left to right, top row: Sliced fish cake (very good), braised zucchini (good), seaweed salad (not bad), and the ubiquitous kim chee (surprisingly bland).
Left to right, bottom row: Sprouted beans (good), my rice bowl, and fermented beans (could have used a lot more fermentation - under done).
Sa Ri One seems to be real popular in the Asian community, but this experience just made me miss Han Il Kwan all the more. If you go, see what the Asian clientele is ordering and go with that. Several tables ordered the Korean Mackerel last night, so that must be a winner.
Dinner, with beers, and a 20% came to $60.
Speaking of Hite Beer: