In honor of the Korean New Year on January 31, we decided to stop by Shokudo in Buena Vista. Located in an old bodega on Northeast Second Avenue, it's usually a crowd-pleaser and offers up a mixture of delectable street food that can cure cravings for Asian cuisine.
We ordered the kalbi ($18). As printed on the menu, the Korean BBQ-style ribs sit in a marinade for 72 hours to soak up delicious flavors -- apples, soy sauce, brown sugar, sake, and onions -- and to take the meat to a tender level.
When it comes to short ribs, there's no playing around. They have several layers of fat, which means that when they're cooked for too long or at too high of a temperature, they become tough.
When it comes to grilling, a flavorful marinade -- cue the sake -- could help. Another option is a long, slow, moist method of cookery. But at Shokudo, we weren't ordering braised meat. There, the problem started at the grill.
On a recent visit, as soon as the kalbi was set in front of us, our hearts and stomachs fell. The ribs were piled on top of each other haphazardly. The marinade had formed a dark stream at the bottom of the plate.
Underneath the meat, we discovered three pieces of sautéed bok choy -- and not the wakame promised on the menu.
Off to a shaky start, our first bite pushed us closer to the edge. The short ribs were cold, and although the marinade's taste was nice, the tough -- and at times, gristly -- texture was thoroughly off-putting.
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To make matters even worse, the bok choy was overcooked and too soft.
All in all, choking up $18 for this kalbi wasn't worth it. We would have been much happier with ahi tuna poke with avocado salad and some dumplings.
Or even better: a simple plate of edamame.