Friday, September 28, 2007

Toji Korean Grill

We went to Toji Korean Grill on SE Hawthorne last night. We decided to go out, and were walking toward Hawthorne when it occured to us to go there. It was a good idea.

Toji is a Korean grill, meaning they fire up a little grill in the middle of your table, and you order raw, marinated meat to char up yourself. We got a value meal of sorts. There were 3 of them, sort of buried under more expensive options. Ours was the medium size. It came with tofu/seafood soup, grilled tofu patties, and 6 pork pot stickers for appetizers. The soup was good, albeit somewhat fishy if you're not into that. The grilled tofu was, unsurprisingly, a little bland. But if you like tofu, you'll like this. It came with three dipping sauces: sesame oil, a sweet teriyaki, and a plum sauce. I liked it just fine. The pot stickers were steamed, not fried. I thought they were pleasantly gingery, but not overpowering.

The meal came with a bevy of pickled Korean delights. I'll try to list all of them... Kim Chi, which you will never convince me is good. Also: a tasty but spicy spinach/red pepper mix, pickled sprouts, fish stick thingies, garlic and jalapenos, green beans, soft tofu, and bean paste. I think there were a few others too. These small dishes really complement the main dish.

Speaking of which, we really enjoyed our marinated, thin sliced ribeye. Our plate was full of meat, with two slabs of onion and a couple mushroom caps to grill alongside them. We let everything barbeque to varying degrees of done... wrapped the meat up with rice inside big leaves of lettuce, and added some of those other foods, to make tasty little wraps. As I said, we ordered the medium size, but could have easily gotten by on the small. We also got some nice Japanese beer, Kirin Ichiban, to drink.

Overall, I really like the experience at Toji. It's fun to grill up your own meat, and the splendor of all the dishes of food makes dinner seem like a big deal. The main drawback for me is that I'm only so-so on some of the flavors prevalent in Korean food. I don't care for Kim Chi, no matter how many times I try it. This restaurant is a once every six months kind of place.

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