My Korean friend, Yumi, took me to my very first Korean-Japanese experience at A-Won Japanese Restaurant.
And what we ate was one of the most stunning bowls of food I've ever seen. It looks like art. Perhaps a stained glass window, but with texture.
Behold the sheer beauty of the Al Bap, a rice bowl topped with fish roe (eggs) of all types and colors . My fascination with the appearance left me lovingly gazing at the bowl for minutes.
If we weren't hungry and Yumi didn't initiate the eating part, I wonder how long it would take to dig in.
I wouldn't have known whether to mix it all together or or pick my favorite colored piles one by one (in which case the uni/sea urchin would win).
Yumi explained how to eat it and did the mixing.
The sushi rice is seasoned well as is the bounty of fresh sea urchin, smelt roe, salmon roe and other delights, including crispy nori (seaweed).
It's rare with Asian food that I don't add extra seasonings. Instead of the wasabi and soy I'm used to with this type of food, there was Korean hot sauce.
Yumi wisely advised me to taste before adding anything. And after one bite it was clear that she steered me in the right direction. Didn't need a thing.
Their other popular dish, the Hwe Dub Bab is another very large bowl (like 12" diameter if not more) with a generous amount of bite size, cut sashimi tossed with salad greens.
The "ketchup" bottle (their gochuchang chile sauce) adds some great sweet and hot flavor. There appeared to also be sesame seeds, nori, lemon, ginger. sesame oil and other items that you can see on the above photo.
Yumi did the mixing honors again (what a friend!) and served these heaping dollops of sashimi salad.
It would make for a wonderful summer dish and great alternative to salads with chicken as protein.
We also enjoyed some banchan (Korean side dishes). It was a small selection with everything tasting great.
When I was done with my miso soup the waitress appeared with a plastic, clear pitcher of miso soup. I've never had refills of miso soup, especially served like that.
For me the Al Bap was totally the star of the meal and maybe it tainted my opinion but that's my main attraction for next time.
The menu did have enticing items such as spicy cod with daikon, which seemed like a casserole.
If you're looking for a tasty spot in K-Town with gorgeous, reliable food, try A-Won.