Enjoying a meal at missKOREA is always a delectable occasion, but owner Sophia Lee turned up the heat last week during the Miss Canada Meet missKOREA Holiday Party on Dec. 19. Diners gathered round during the annual party as Lee gave film and television actress and Miss World Canada 2015, Anastasia Lin, a brief lesson on traditional Korean food.
Lee used to be a school teacher before opening missKOREA in 2010, with a focus on traditional Korean cuisine. The Koreatown restaurant features three different floors, with the first floor open 24 hours a day. The second floor layout is a series of private rooms for a more intimate, familial experience. The third floor is slightly modern, with red chairs and black tables complete with a Korean grill in the center of each.
On the second floor, wearing formal hanbok dresses, Lee demonstrated, while Lin diligently observed, how to prepare two classic Korean dishes: sinseollo and gujeolpan. Both are part of Korean royal cuisine, and were traditionally enjoyed by Korean nobility.
Sinseollo is a hot pot of seafood, meat, and vegetables complimented by a thin, savory broth, cooked table-side. Gujeolpan is an octagonal metal dish that features eight varieties of fillings with a stack of jeon, Korean-style wheat crepes, in the center.
Lee showed Lin how she could make jeon wraps with any combination of the fillings, which consisted of a variety of colorful vegetables, such as julienned carrots, and other accoutrements like shredded egg and marinated bulgogi. The two each made their own unique jeon, and dipped them in a traditional mustard soy sauce.
After the demonstration, diners were treated to a full traditional Korean meal. Patrons started with the classic sinseollo and gujeolpan, followed by a smorgasbord of Korean cuisine: marinated boneless beef short ribs; marinated short ribs in a clay pot; bibimbap in a sizzling stone pot; stir-fried pork belly and squid; and sundubu, a tofu stew with seafood, beef, and pork. Side dishes included a variety of pickled vegetables, and of course, the perennial kimchi.
As opposed to western tradition, where a meal consists of an appetizer, entree, and dessert, Korean culinary philosophy emphasizes serving a multitude of dishes at once to share, according to Lee. Diners were more than impressed with the spread.
“I thought the food was fantastic. It was the best Korean food I’ve had in New York hands down,” said Claire DiCioccio, who works at a women’s executive organization.
“We’ve eaten at a lot of restaurants here on 32nd street, and this is definitely the best,” said Jennifer Coppolino, a consultant in cosmetics marketing.
Throughout the meal, a raffle was held with lucky diners winning prizes to take home. First prize was a $200 missKOREA gift card, second prize was two $100 missKOREA gift cards, and third prize was three $50 missKOREA gift cards, for a total of six lucky winners.