San Antonio, Texas.-
Amongst the throngs of taquerias, taco trucks and tortillerias adorning every street corner, there are actually many diverse restaurants in town. Among them is authentic korean food and a restaurant called Koreana.
Koreana is located in a ramshackle shopping center on 2558 Harry Wurzbach, at the intersection of Corrine Dr. Often overlooked, the eatery is one of the few places in town to nab some traditional Korean cuisine, plain and simple. No frills, hype or gimmicks: just delicious, authentic Korean.
There is a basic rule to Korean food. Rice is the foundation to everything. No Korean meal would be complete without banchan, or the large amount of side dishes eaten with it. Banchan usually consists of fermented vegetables, called kimchi. Common ingredients include pepper flakes, gochujang (fermented red chili paste). These sides are served family-style so you can share with others.
Korean food is intensely flavored, savory and bold. Koreana, however, can customize the spiciness of the cuisine to your liking, however.
That being said, do not be surprised when a table full of pickled cucumbers, squash and carrots comes to your table. Presentation of the food is aesthetically appealing and will impress.
The portions at Koreana are generous, and prices will not burn a hole in your pocket. Go during the week for lunch specials is even better and even come with tea. Lunch specials run Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Most lunch special will cost you less than $10 and is enough to feed two people.
A perfect appetizer to start off with is the gimbap. Looking at it, the appetizer resembles a California roll. Gimbap is much like sushi, but has many distinctive elements that make it stand out on its own. Instead of using rice wine vinegar to season the rice, sesame seed oil is used; thus giving gimbap a much warmer, nuttier flavor. Gimbap consists of cooked meat instead of raw fish, and served warm. The gimbap at Koreana was flavorful and didn’t fall apart to the touch.
One main course that particularly stood out was the beef bulgogi. It is a thinly sliced beef, marinated in Korean soy sauce. The meat was cut into tiny, bite-sized pieces so there was no need for a knife. The consistency of the beef was unlike many of Asian restaurants with a chewy texture. The meat was lean, savory and perfectly seasoned. Dip it into the green onion soy sauce, for a taste sensation.
Soups and stews are a common staple in Korean meals. A great soup for starters is the kimchi soup. Koreana’s soup was spicy, hearty and could easily suffice as a meal. This soup was hot. Served in a giant iron bowl, it was almost impossible to eat until it cooled off. Despite being so hot, the tofu and pork inside the soup maintained shape and didn’t overcook or crumble. It was spicy as well, but not enough to be unpleasant. Eating soup can become cumbersome after a while, but there was enough variety in each spoonful of soup to keep it interesting.
There was so much food left over, that I needed to take a box home with the rest, which will be eaten at a later time as another meal. The place is worth the bang for your buck.
There are few and far between Korean restaurants in town, but this Koreana is definitely one worth taking a visit to.