Sodaeng (Edinburgh): Korean, Or Something Like It

YukgaejangThe thing about a good thing is, sometimes you shouldn’t shrug off that nagging feeling that it’s not going to last because, well, that may be true.

In this case, I’d be referring to my recent elation over discovering that, contrary to my previous belief, the Korean food scene in Edinburgh is terrific.

After being surprised by a very tasty lunch at Kim’s Mini Meals and then chasing that with an outstanding meal at Cafe Andamiro, I had decided to eat my words. Perhaps this city actually does do Korean well, I thought.

But then I paid a visit to Sodaeng …

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Doenjang Jjigae: Tofu & Seafood Stew (Commoners' Food)


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You could say I haven't exactly been the kind of daughter-in-law a Korean mother would have wished for.

I can't speak Korean. (I don't think being able to say "kalbi" and "bulgogi" counts.) And while I'm awfully good at eating Korean food, well, making it is another matter entirely.

I'd never attempted many Korean dishes simply because they seem terribly complex — each stew, each grilled meat I sample is always bursting at the seams with complicated clusters of flavors. How could I ever replicate those tastes in my little Brooklyn kitchen? No, no, it was always far easier to just throw in the spatula and hop on a train to New York's Koreatown.

After spending some time in the kitchen with my mother-in-law in Honolulu for book research last year, however, I started to come around. 

Since she lives in Hawaii and I live in New York, it's been impossible to keep the lessons going. So I've been turning to a blogger whom I deeply admire — and adore — who's essentially a one-woman Korean cooking school: the irrepressible Maangchi.

Many of her recipes are incredibly simple — foolproof, almost — and watching her videos helps you figure out whether you're chopping things the right size or grilling meats to the right doneness. Recently, I had her to thank for a lovely tofu and seafood stew I'd been craving …

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The Breslin: Gastropub, Grown Up


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This is the sort of restaurant that The Breslin is: You will arrive on a Monday night to find the restaurant full and the bar jammed with the studiedly — and also studly — casual set. The wait, they will say, is 45 minutes to an hour.

You have a drink, some snacks and 45 minutes go by. An hour passes. There is still no word — even though a stroll through the dining room shows that there are not one, not two, but a few tables that have been sitting empty for a bit.

At almost 90 minutes, it’s getting a little tiresome. Nearby Koreatown is starting to look like a surer bet for dinner — but just as you start to gesture toward your bar waitress for the check, you spy her spotting you and then sprinting over to the hostess for a quick discussion. Faster than you can say “Check, please,” the hostess is by your side, telling you that now, there is a table open.

You consider leaving because, well, this is all a little bizarre. But you decide to stay — and it’s a good thing you do because what’s on the dinner menu, it turns out, is worth waiting for.

But you really wouldn’t expect anything less or different from owners of the Spotted Pig, the small West Village gastropub that quickly became the place for Leonardo DiCaprio spottings when it first opened in 2004. 

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