As is now pretty much always the case, it is a Wednesday morning on my day off from pub-restaurant life and my brain starts reminiscing over the memories of a gorgeous local takeaway meal that I unfortunately had to share with Rob, the Saturday evening before Christmas Day. Saturday is just the perfect night for a cheeky takeaway, don’t you agree? Despite life getting in the way of me sitting my butt down on my 13 year old office chair and 12 year old desk (university purchases still providing the goods even now) to splurge all the delicious details to you lovely people, I can remember each bite as if it was that very cold Saturday night. And I imagine Rob also can, because he did not shut up about it for the remainder of the weekend.
Another Lockdown Success
Like many of the amazing local food and drink business I have discovered in the past six months, I met Ellie of Korea Town Kitchen at the totally amazing Bideford Food and Drink Festival (another shameless plug to my write up; you’re welcome). When I finally made it to Ellie’s stall, of which the glorious aromas could be smelt from all corners of the festive market, it was lucky she had anything left! If that doesn’t scream popular and delicious, then I don’t know what does. When chatting to Ellie, it was obvious that she has a real passion and talent for cooking and bringing something unique to our small little town. A lockdown project of selling her Korean dishes from home quickly escalated into a popular choice for the residents of Bideford to get their takeaway fix any day of the week. Let’s be honest here, who didn’t order a lockdown takeaway?! What makes Ellie’s dishes so special is that the cuisine is one of a kind and brings another incredible bow to Bideford and surrounding areas takeaway options. As much as lockdown was an awful thing for all of us for so many, many reasons, finding positives like Ellie’s and many of the others I have written about, stories of just taking the plunge with their passion and coming to the surface with success, is just so wonderful and something I resonate with. If lockdown gave us anything, it was the rise of the epic takeaway!
The Seafood Experience for Two
As far as Korean food goes, I have never really experienced it. You can probably guess that the choice of such food is basically zero to none where we live and, to be honest, to get such a fix would require too much petrol and effort for my liking thank you very much. Fast forward to December 2021, however, I can wholeheartedly say Bideford’s very own Korea Town Kitchen seafood set meal is one of the best takeaways I have ever had. And that is not an exaggeration. Just ask Rob as, like I said above, he DID NOT stop talking about it!
The seafood experience consisted of five dishes, all of which had their own unique flavours, but with a continuing theme of chilli heat! I don’t know whether five dishes is considered a large amount to share between two very hungry people, but I am going to assume not as we demolished the lot and enjoyed every single morsel. You know the takeaway episode from the ever popular Gavin and Stacey? I am Smithy; i.e., I order my dish because that’s the dish I want (I do not understand the whole let’s order a few dishes and have a bit of each. What?). I did, however, make an exception for this outstanding Japanese feast of: Maeuntang, Chilli Prawn Noodles, Heamul Kimbap, Sweetcorn Fritters and Sesame Salad.
Maeuntang (aka Sea Bass Soup)
If there is ever a way to kick-start an Asian inspired meal, a hot and spicy soup is a must; it really wakes up your senses for what is about to come and this soup kicked our taste buds right into touch. A thin soup that poured out steam when lifting the lid to reveal the vibrant red liquid, scattered with delicately sliced spring onions. As the steam hit my nose, you could sense the chilli spice that was going to hit and it most definitely did, right from the first, well, slurp! You can see from the photo above the shine of the seabass skin popping amongst the vegetables. The subtle fishy taste of the seabass was poignant throughout the whole soup. A spoonful of just the liquid? Seabass slap in the face. A spoonful of soup with a piece of melt in the mouth seabass? Double seabass slap in the face. The bite-sized pieces of the gloriously off white seabass, because it had soaked up all that fragrant broth, was so soft it fell apart and my teeth didn’t really have a part to play. Senses awakened and extremely excited, it was time to fill our plates with the other four dishes (I’m excited just thinking about it sat at my laptop!).
Chilli Prawn Noodles
First things first; I do not own chopsticks because my fingers just do not understand how to use them! No chopsticks were harmed in the eating of this, quite frankly, ridiculously tasty noodle dish. I mean, just look at it! Another moment of removing the lid to an even more potent fiery chilli scent to that of the Maeuntang. Golden noodles cuddling up to pale pink, juicy prawns, fresh chunks of spring onion, a super fiery chilli coating (for one of a better word), all topped with a generous scattering of white and black sesame seeds. Noodle dishes are ultimate comfort food at the best of times, in my opinion, and this was no exception; every bite was a flavour punch. The noodles were soft and exploded with red chilli flavour and heat to match. Bring into that the sweetness of prawn and the raw, fresh bite of spring onion and your mouth gets some momentary heat relief; the spring onion just cuts right through it. Finally, the simple addition of sesame seeds rounded off every bite with their nutty flavour and crunchy texture. I could have eaten the whole lot on my own! You can see why I sometimes have issues with the whole sharing takeaway thing can’t you (not sorry).
Heamal Kimbap (aka Crab and Crayfish Seaweed Rice Roll)
This was the dish that made my eyes widen the most when carefully unloading the brown paper delivery bag from Korea Town Kitchen. I had no idea what to expect the Heamal Kimbap to be, mainly because I do not speak an ounce of Korean and I hadn’t googled it for the surprise element, but the undeniable cylindrical shape of perfectly rolled sushi is something I can speak and, most definitely, eat! What made my eyes go wide and mouth drop open was the amount of seaweed roll provided in the set meal; a whole sushi sausage seems the only fitting description! Pre-cut into 12 slices (yes, TWELVE), each piece of sushi was full to the brim with simple and punchy ingredients. Carefully encased within the dark and salty seaweed covering was al dente soft sushi rice, followed by a layer of crisp and refreshing pop-of-green lettuce leaves and cucumber pieces. At the centre were the stars of the sushi show (try saying that a few times over); crab and crayfish. Two precious seafoods that are very delicate, mild and sweet in flavour, were enhanced by the creamy and slightly fiery wasabi mayonnaise. As its own element, I am not the biggest wasabi worshiper (I just find it very, very strong and, sometimes, overpowering). However, when used with a gentle touch and the right touch, like Ellie’s, it brings the right amount of fury to an otherwise subtle dish.
Salad, Salad, Salad. A word that can instantly strike boredom and eye rolling into many of us, including myself some days, despite being a huge salad and side of vegetables fan (if you know, you know). The only eye rolling taking place regarding this, quite frankly, banging salad (the word ‘banging’ is my ultimate accolade to something, fyi) was when we realised we had eaten every last wafer thin peeling of crunchy carrot, vibrant cucumber, acidic raw red onion, crunchy lettuce and earthy hit of sesame seeds. A bowl of these awesome vegetables is always a winner in my book (may be not so much the raw red onion, but I digress), but what really made this salad go from bland to banging was the light and creamy dressing. Every segment of the salad was doused in a thin slavering of the mild, yet slightly tangy, white dressing. It was a salad that did what it was supposed to: refreshed our pallets in between the mouthfuls of the other dishes. Hurrah for banging salads!
I saved this dish until last on purpose because if I really had to choose my favourite bite of the night, these sweetcorn fritters won by the smallest of margins. Now, let’s be honest here, anything deep fried is always a winner, right?! Given that I do not eat a lot of fried/deep fried foods, when I do, my body and mind go into a ‘oh my god I can’t believe it’ excitable meltdown. Sweetcorn is a totally underrated vegetable; I LOVE the stuff! Whether it is out of the tin, on the cob, sweet and salty popcorn or, like these fritters, thrown into a batter and fried until even more golden and a lot crispier. Each fritter was the size of a tennis ball with a truly mouth-watering crust that was dimpled by the perfect irregularity of the corn kernels (we got two each!). Tearing open the most enticing tennis balls I have ever seen (more of a squash player myself), the kernels were soft, had that distinctive sweetcorn taste and were surrounded in every nook and cranny by a cloud like fluffy batter. It was like the batter wasn’t even there, but it was, if that makes sense. They were honestly the most delightful deep fried parcels of amazing-ness I have ever had. Who needs a bucket of that Kentucky Fried Chicken? It is all about the Korea Town Kitchen Fried Corn and I need a bucket of that. When I order from Ellie again, these will most definitely be at the top of MY order list because “Joey doesn’t share food!”.
A Taste of Korea in our Little Bideford Town
The array of takeaway choices available to us is better now than it ever has been and Ellie, with her Korean inspired dishes and love for all things foods, is right up there with the very best of our local food and drink businesses. If you’re a Korean food virgin, like I was, ordering yourself one of her set meals, or a mixture of individual dishes, will leave you wanting more, as well as wanting to order again very, very quickly! With specialist meals updated regularly, there is always something new for you to try from Ellie’s Korean Kitchen. On that note, can I come and live with you please Ellie?
I would like to thank Ellie for kindly gifting me this Seafood Experience for Two. I look forward to ordering again!
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