Last night, after ages and ages of indecision about dinner, we decided it was time to knock off our third ethnic dinner by trying Korean food for the first time.
Yes, I know we lived in Los Angeles for a year and a half, but we never once stopped into those crazy ‘teryaki chicken, burgers, tacos, and Korean BBQ’ places. And somehow, even though we lived near a Korean restaurant for several years when we lived in South Oakland (umm, I somehow just found that out now), we never actually tried it.
So, on a lovely Saturday evening, we trekked up the hill with our fancy bottle of April wine (that entry shall come later, as the husband is in charge of all wine-reviews) to enjoy some Korean food at Green Pepper.
I will admit, we’d kind of been avoiding Green Pepper, as it was the restaurant to replace our beloved Sweet Basil, the Thai/Filipino spot that we adored. But since there is no way to bring back our old place, we decided it was time to try out the new place, and I’m happy to report that it is a respectable replacement.
First of all, Green Pepper has a wine list, but they also allow you to bring your own if you’d prefer, for a $7.50 corking fee. It’s a rarity in Pittsburgh to have both BYOB and a wine list, but in places like Central Coast, where independent wineries are on every street, you see this all the time. Because we had a fancy wine to cross off for the month, we chose to have it with our dinner.
We started with an order of the pork and kimchi steamed dumplings. Kimchi is a standard of Korean fare, but made with many different varations depending on who your chef is. It’s usually cabbage-based, and it added just the tiniest bit of crunch to the inside of the dumplings. They were delicious!
Our waitress was really great with questions about the menu (which was perfect, because I felt like I had about a million). She explained that Korean food uses a type of spice that often makes you feel like your nose is running, even though it may not truly be as spicy as your body interprets. With that in mind, the menu lists whether or not a dish is spicy, so you know in advance what you’re getting.
This was my entree, the spicy pork meal set. The pork was just perfect, and although it was spicy and salty, it wasn’t overwhelming, and the sauce was actually pretty light. Up in the top left corner there is the kimchi. It tasted like my grandmother’s holobchi (stuffed cabbage), but served cold. In the center are clear noodles (also served cold), and on the right is a tempura-breaded zucchini. Everything was so good!
Even though I felt like we’ve had just about every type of Asian cuisine out there, Korean food really has some unique points to it. Green Pepper prides itself on carefully preparing each dish and using the healthiest ingredients and cooking methods they can, which we definitely appreciate. They also offer a large number of vegetarian dishes, and can alter some dishes (like the bibim bop) to be vegetarian. Instead of desserts, they offer a dessert tea, which is a cinnamony blend served cold.
Oh, and the best part of your meal at Green Pepper? Each entree (aside from stews) comes with miso soup! We all know how I obsess over THAT! 🙂 (Coming in 2012: Miso Soup Tour of Pittsburgh. I swear it!)
So if you’ve never had Korean food, check out Green Pepper. Sure, it’s not the delectable little tapas plates of Sweet Basil, and there’s no cassava cake at the end, but it is a delicious meal with some classy atmosphere (the metallic chopsticks are SO cool), so you’ll enjoy it! They don’t presently have a website, but you can view their menu online, and visit them at 2020 Murray Ave until 10pm every day except Tuesdays, when they are closed. After closing, you can even rent out their ‘karaoke lounge’ for your birthday!