I love Korean food, but most of the love occurs in my mind. It is so tremendously appealing with all of its spicy red sauces and soups and pickled fermented everything, but meat (and I'm including the meat and shells of sea animals in this definition), sneaks in just about everywhere rendering it a generally untouchable cuisine for vegetarians and vegans.
And so it was a wonderful day when a friend came raving to me about Kimchi Bistro on Broadway, where she had come from eating a spicy, delicious bowl of vegetarian Soon Doo Boo (a soup made with uncoagulated soft tofu). My interest was aroused and off we went, for her, the second bowl in so many days.
First to the table were six small dishes of various fermented and pickled condiments. Daikon, fresh cabbage, kim chee, potatoes, sprouts, etc. Each had a distinct delicious flavor and pushed the always surprisingly fine line between the smell of something delectable and the smell of the unmentionable.
Next came our soup, arriving boiling in a ttukbaegi, a kind of Korean unglazed earthenware pot. It was deep red and full of chopped leeks and other veggies and the softest most silken tofu.
The broth was spicy and extremely savory in a way that shook my belief that it was actually a vegetarian stock. I'd never had a vegetarian (or vegan, as I was hoping) broth quite so savory. I became somewhat internally convinced that it was a pork or beef based stock.
As we paid for our delicious meal, the cook was in view and I asked the waitress what the stock was made out of. She consulted with the cook in Korean, and came back with the answer again that it was made with vegetables, not made with meat. So there you go?
The Kimchi Bistro was a wonderful discovery, and possibly a purveyor of a delicious, satisfying, spicy vegetarian Korean soup. I love a meal with many tiny interesting condiments, and Korean food is probably the master at such a dining style. Thank you L for the successful intelligence and the always delightful company!