Midam Rice Cake House 美談餅家Posted: 10/15/2012
After a few short months of working with Cindy and me, HJ made plans to return to Korea. There’s something about coworkers, you know, that sense of camaraderie. This camaraderie was especially strong for the three of us (our store only employs three workers at a time), who worked in an environment where customers could be appallingly rude and self-entitled. We basically had no choice but to band together. Anyways, when HJ announced her plans to leave, the three of us decided to grab a quick lunch at Midam before she left.
Midam is well-known for its desserts, which incorporate traditional Korean rice cakes in most of them. Besides being a restaurant, it also functions as a bakery of sorts–meaning people place orders for traditional rice cakes for special occasions (New Year’s, weddings, and the like). In the morning and afternoon, the restaurant is kind of serene and quiet, a nice place for a cup of tea–and at night, it can be a little more lively since they serve alcohol and all. In any case, it was pretty quiet when the three of us arrived, and the waitress (looking quite adorable in her traditional dress) took our order promptly.
The three of us all ended up ordering from their lunch sets. Cindy’s was the Bulgogi, which included some rice, kimchi, salad and beans in soy sauce. She didn’t feel that this was a particularly exceptional version of bulgogi. I tried some and it was quite typical but well-executed, being both sweet and savoury, with a good textural contrast from the marinated beef and the natural crunch of the onions. Besides that, the ingredients of the salad seemed fresh, and the veggies all had a satisfying crispness, with the rice being neither too mushy nor too hard. Overall, this was a solid offering, but wasn’t really unique enough considering the venue.
HJ opted for the Dduk Gal Bi, after saying she’d never tried it before. Her lunch box included the same accompaniments. Dduk Gal Bi is a Korean dish made from beef short ribs, with the meat being formed into a sort of patty. While “Dduk” means “rice cake” in Korean, the dish doesn’t always incorporate rice cake, but of course they did so here, as it is their specialty. Although the concept of this was refreshingly different, HJ didn’t actually enjoy eating this, as the rather sticky texture of the rice cake detracted from her beef, and she couldn’t really enjoy the taste of the meat as well. Her accompaniments were of the same quality and amount as Cindy’s.
Continuing on with the rice cake theme, I had the Dduk Bossam. Bossam is a Korean dish where pork belly is eaten with lettuce wraps, sometimes with other accompaniments (kimchi, fermented shrimp, etc.) Staying true to the rice cake theme for the day, they also included very thin slices of rice cake (the same as used for the little star) with every piece of lettuce. My lunch set included the beans, but instead of the kimchi or salad, I was given some julienned radish, which was nice and refreshing. Now, that pork. Doesn’t it look sinfully spicy? It was the type of spicy that kept you wanting more, and the rice cake included with the lettuce really helped to tone it down. I found the pork a little too fatty, but other than that, everything tasted great. There was also a lot of pork included with this dish, and I ended up packing some of it to go.
The three of us also shared the Spaghetti with Rice Cakes, which was exactly what it sounds like. I was skeptical about this combination at first, but everything actually went well together, with nice chunks of tomatoes and ground beef, and a respectable portion size for only $7. It actually did taste like real spaghetti, and the rice cakes were nice and chewy. I probably would have been full just on this (but I have a small appetite).
All in all, the three of us really enjoyed our lunch at Midam, although we didn’t get a chance to try their desserts. The lunch sets are a bit pricier than similar items you can get at other restaurants in the area, but the higher quality and the obvious care they put into making their food is worth the price, at least for me. Service is also quite friendly, so give it a try–it’s a little hard to find but well worth the effort.
Midam Rice Cake House 美談餅家
110-4501 North Road