Gagnam style cuisine in far West G'ville
I am only familiar with Korean food because of my friend, Dorothy. She frequents a Korean BBQ place so often that I joke should should be paid for the amount of publicity she provides to this restaurant. I have accompanied her there, and it is pretty great, although I only have one other point of comparison. My friend, Thomas, and I have accompanied her to a similar place where we actually cooked our own food hibachi style at the table, and that was an experience in itself. What I'm getting at is: Korean food is somewhat uncharted waters for a majority of food categories.
I have been wanting to try Garlic & Ginger for some time, as I have heard positive reviews and been curious about how another Korean location might measure up Dorothy's regular spot. G&G, tucked to the side of the Publix in Tower Square at Archer Rd and SW 75th St, is a spacious venue with many booths, long tables for larger parties, and a large open dining area with a view of the entire space.
Although dimly lit, a trend that seems to be common at many Asian restaurants I've been to, it was not hard to see why this place is widely visited. There was a little bit of everything displayed on the menu: a few noodle options, a handful of rice options, a smattering of hibachi dishes, and a good number of specialty dishes, including a seafood medley with udon noodles, which appeared very appetizing. However, a little research never hurts, especially when at a location for the first time with high expectations.
I figured a traditional dish would give me a good indication of quality, and Thomas and I had come ready to split a couple of dishes. We were trying to find a noodle-based dish that would fit the bill, but with only soup or a sweet potato noodle dish, that option was in short supply. The seafood specialty dish that I referred to earlier did have udon, but if I was trying Korean, I needed some traditional protein to supplement, in this case bulgogi. After some debate, I figured that the Bulgogi Dolsot Bibimbap was a solid traditional option, as well as an seafood pancake appetizer, a rendition of which I have tried at Dorothy's go-to Korean spot and loved.
There is a complete Garlic & Ginger menu at the restaurant link below.
I was very surprised by how quickly the food came out. All at once we were brought multiple smaller dishes that are customary as condiments, including kimchi, Tteokbokki made from soft rice cakes, and a cabbage-lettuce mixture with creamy dressing. A miso soup also came with the bibimbap, and the soup was one of the better ones I have tasted--a rich broth seemingly typical of longer simmering times and quality ingredients. After a few spoonfuls of soup were consumed, the seafood pancake emerged. This medium pizza-size creation (image top) was well received: It had a potato pancake-like flavor and was filled with scallions and shrimp and came with a sauce on the side that was likely ganjang, a kind of Korean soy sauce. The "seafood" aspect was a tad limited and the scallions were a tad longer than I would have liked to consume in each bite, but, all in all, it was a decent appetizer. While certainly big enough, it was not quite as well done as the one at Dorothy's spot.
Before a slice of seafood pancake was extracted from the skillet, the bibimbap sizzled its way onto the small table for two. We attempted to finish most of the seafood pancake first before venturing into the steaming hot clay pot, and we were pleased to find how well the pot kept the bibimbap warm. I couldn't resist popping the egg yolk of the fried egg atop the mound, although I should have been prepared for it hardening with the high temp instead of saucing the food underneath, which consisted of an average amount of bulgogi, or Korean barbeque beef, as well as carrot slivers, sautéed spinach and Kongnamul, all atop a bed of white rice. Bibimbap translates literally to "mixed rice." After adding a bit of each of the condiments into the pot for the full experience, we dug in and truly enjoyed it. The clay pot did continue to cook some of the rice, some of which was hard at the bottom of the pot, but all of the flavors melded well. It was nothing crazy, but simple is sometimes the way to go. I must say I was not at all a fan of the Gochujang red chili paste in a bottle labeled as "Bibimbap Sauce."
While not somewhere we may visit regularly, G&G was a good experience and the service was quite speedy for how busy it was. I would have to try a few more dishes to truly judge the venue's success with Korean dishes, and I think next time I will try the hibachi option, where a small portable grill is brought to your table.
The Pluses and Minuses of the Garlic and Ginger:
Garlic and Ginger + indicators: Good food, fast and friendly service, no wait despite how busy, nice covered outdoor seating.
Garlic and Ginger - indicators: Not the best I've had, a tad out of the way if you don't live on the west side of town.
Bulgogi, bibimbap are good lunch lunch mates
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
The GLOB has a new eating explorer in SweetBerries Eatery and Frozen Custard co-owner Jane Osmond. Jane has been in town a little over a year and her culinary background compels her to experience all the different cuisines available to this new Gainesville foodie.
Ms. Osmond was excited that our destination was Garlic and Ginger, the popular Korean lunch stop in the Tower Square Plaza on the corner of Archer Rd. and Tower Rd. I became excited over Jane's excitement, thinking I was going to have a knowledgeable Asian lunch expert guiding my palate a somewhat curious and confounding lunch time menu.
I had been here before, but selected food that was familiar to me. This time, I was determined to try all things Korean with many tastes, flavors, and, textures that would be firsts for this this Florida boy.
To start our lunch off, Jane and I ordered a cup of miso soup and some pot stickers. The pot stickers were very tasty, deep fried vegetable dumplings called Gyoza. Later on I was also served a steamed version of this same dumpling. Coming from a southern boy who thinks tennis shoes would not be too bad deep fried, the fried Gyoza won over the steamed version hands down. The abundance of teriyaki sauce available made sense as these little dumplings screamed outloud, "Dunk me GLOB Master!" Dishes of pickled radish, kimchi, a noodle like pickled appetizer, were include in our pre-lunch appetizer order.
The miso soup was warm, and a very good palate cleanser. Miso soup is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called "dashi" into which softened miso paste is mixed. Many ingredients are added depending on regional and seasonal recipes and personal preference.
Jane went the bowl route for her lunch and ordered the Bibimbap for her entrée. She was pleased with her spicy rice dish with stir fried beef and vegetables served over noodles with a fried egg egg atop it all.
Speaking of palates, er, uh plates, I smiled when my marinated sliced beef Bulgogi lunch was presented with many delicious looking ingredients to add to my bulgogi as I chose, including fried pumpkin, kimchi, steamed gyoza, round fried balls that looked like corn fritters, a small salad, and fluffy rice. There is a complete Garlic & Ginger menu available at the restaurant link below.
After commenting to Jane that I am not a big food-in-the-bowl kind of luncher, I quickly took my Korean 'palette' of ingredients and mixed them into the tiny bowl of my bulgogi mixture. Somehow, I was about to eat my words along with the bulgogi.
The spiciness of the bulgogi added a very nice component to the other elements of my lunch. The fried pumpkin was interesting, but I think it should have been crispier or crunchier to really be considered fried.
The flavors were all distinct with the spicy beef winning out above the others. I thought Jane's Bibimbap was an interesting bowl of lunch, with the egg and black sprouts accenting the dish. Of course the entrée was so large Jane took as much home as she ate at lunch.
Jane looked at me in disbelief when I told her I once saw an octopus tentacle coming out of someone's lunch pot at the corner table.
Our lunch was made special by excellent, professional attention from the G&G staff, and Jane is very good company. I'll be going back to Garlic and Ginger, and when I do, I will take a picture of whatever seems to crawling out of the pot on someone else's table.
The GLOB Master felt like a real stranger in a strange lunch time land.
The Pluses and Minuses of the Garlic and Ginger:
Garlic and Ginger + indicators: Stylish Asian flare in the West Gainesville lunch stop. There is an Eastern world of new lunch time adventures to discover.
Garlic and Ginger - indicators: The GLOB Master really felt like a stranger in a strange lunch time land.
Authenticity, Korean flavors highlight G & G lunch stop
By Bubba Scott, GLOB Correspondent
Editor's Note: Farmer Bubba Scott is a container vegetable farmer. To help support the farm, he is also a P.H.D., Professional Home Developer.
Recently, my good friend and editor of the GLOB, Mike Sanford, and I went searching for an authentic Korean restaurant for lunch. We found Garlic and Ginger located in Tower Square Plaza on the corner of Tower Rd and Archer Rd in West Gainesville.
What I was seeking was real Korean food with Korean atmosphere.
While living in Hawaii for several years, I was able to enjoy authentic Korean cuisine. It was nice to leave memories of fried chicken and mashed potatoes on the US mainland.
Now this lunch outing was the test. My skepticism was running high. Was Garlic and Ginger going to be a 'eat quick to free up a table' lunch stop or some watered down Korean meal?
Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were greeted by Sherry the hostess. After being seated, I noticed several eye-catching positive indicators:
No condiments on the table,
One spoon and chopsticks
Korean news on the G and G Television.
The menu items were listed in Korean first and English second.
Also, the music wasn't rock and roll or country. The music set the mood of being in a Korean restaurant. This is great, I think to myself.
Our waiter was Daniel, who explained the menu. Along with Daniel was Yujin, who was also our server. Throughout the meal, Yujin checked, again and again, to see if we were enjoying our lunch, and she answered our questions in a very customer friendly way.
Now on to our meal.
We both had a G & G Lunch Special Korean variety plate. The only difference was Mike had the ribs and I had the beef. This was a plate of food and the items didn't run together on the plate. In a very appealing way each item on this Korean style plate had its own special place.
A lot of lunch outers -- like the GLOB Editor -- might mix these ingredients together. I explained to Mike that's not how you taste the food. Each item has its own flavor and should not be over spiced or heavy with sauces. I have found some restaurants overseason the food, as to drown out what they're cooking. What I liked about this lunch special is I could taste the vegetables over the seasoning. Being a genuine farmer, I know what vegetables are supposed to taste like, and G&G does a great job in the kitchen highlighting veggies.
After our meal, I didn't feel stuffed or like I wanted a nap. As a matter of fact, I was still hungry. I have already spotted a Korean hot soup on the G&G menu -- that will be my next lunch visit, which will be soon.
Over all, I give Garlic and Ginger a 5-star rating. Not just on the meal, but from the time we walked through the door until we walked out, the service was truly Korean style, with Korean atmosphere.
Thank you Sherry, Daniel and Yujin for an authentic Korean lunch. I'm looking forward to a return visit.
The Pluses and Minuses of the Garlic and Ginger:
Garlic and Ginger + indicators: Authentic Korean cuisine served with impeccable Korean style.
Garlic and Ginger - indicators: Close to $10 for a G & G Korean variety plate and a drink.
Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Ginger & Garlic. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
- Phone Number: 371-5911
- Address: 5847 SW 75th St., Gainesville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: West Gainesville
- Web Site: Garlic & Ginger
- Latitude: 29.6003391
- Longitude: -82.4208079
R. Hong Tuesday, 08 January 2013 12:24 Comment Link
I ate here for the first time this weekend and I was extremely impressed. I got the short-rib dolsot bibimbap and I have been thinking about it for two days. Bibimbap is a sort of Korean, hot, nicoise salad with the various ingredients on top of rice instead of lettuce. The "dolsot" version is served in a very! hot stone bowl which causes the rice on the bottom to get a little crunchy. The combination of flavors and textures has me drooling on my keyboard.