Saturday, February 15, 2014

Arirang My Bell

The Oracle is pleased as bokbunja to welcome a new dining option to SOG City. South of Gandy at 5232 MacDill Avenue sits Arirang Korean Restaurant, a venue serving exciting and flavorful Korean delicacies. Arirang is a Korean folk song, often considered the unofficial national anthem of Korea.

My bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, and I had fortuitously made reservations for dinner at Arirang for Valentine's Day which happened to be Arirang's grand opening with seating by reservation only. We were immediately greeted at the door and guided to our awaiting table. Erin was the server tending to our every whim and answering a myriad of questions.

Airang is still waiting for the city of Tampa adult beverage people to get their butts in gear and approve the sale of beer and wine (probably toward the end of February). In the interim, patrons are allowed to bring their own beverages. We enjoyed a crispy Chardonnay that we purchased just down the road at the SOG City ABC liquor emporium.

To start our evening, the Belle and I chose a couple of savory delights, the Yaki Mandu for her and the Kimchi Pancakes for me.

The Yaki Mandu are fried dumplings filled with chopped pork, beef, chives, onions, and green onions, and are available in six or ten piece servings. The Belle chose six, and they provided a light, flavorful start to our dining experience.

I love kimchi and these pancakes, made with a flour and egg based batter, were liberally mixed with this spicy Korean delicacy. This platter could easily serve two people.

For her main dish, my sweet Valentine chose the Pork Bulgogi, a grilled pork dish served with rice, and lettuce leaves for wrapping. Of course, there were condiments for adjusting the heat to each diner's liking. The table was also served several small plates or bowls of food for sharing, like the spicy radish cubes in the photo.

I had never tried Bibimbap before, and have long been curious about this steamed rice dish with mushrooms, carrots, daikon, bean sprouts, spinach, lettuce, beef, fried egg, and a spicy pepper sauce on the side. This was an interesting dish that was enhanced with the egg yoke mingling with the meat and vegetables.

One of the truly unique side dishes was the steamed egg in a cup. This provided a light and airy addition to our meal.

Erin was kind enough to record our dining adventure for posterity. The rose and spray was presented to each lady. The men didn't get diddly or squat...except for the bill. I added the heart in the digital dark room.

We sat at a two-top, but there are several dining areas that have family sized tables.

The menu choices we made were good and very filling. Arirang has a number of other dishes that I look forward to sampling, especially after they get their beverage license. I am anxious to taste Makgeo Bokbunja wine, Soju wine, Baeksaeju wine, and Makgeolli Korean rice wine. These are beverages I have never heard of, much less tried.

Dinner for two with a 20% gratuity for Erin came to a very pleasing $64 and some change.

Arirang Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Arirang Korean Restaurant on Foodio54

The Oracle dines anonymously and we pay full price for all that we consume. We don't trade glowing reviews for free food, and the restaurants do not provide remuneration for our reviews.

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