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Get on this Seoul Train

Columns Veg'n Out

January 12, 2014

Story By: Andy Beth Miller | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

In the aftermath of all the holiday celebrations, most people are packing up their gym bags — after packing on the pounds. And following a solid month of near endless buffets of sugary, high-fat and deep-fried foods, the menu at Seoul Jung is music to many ears.

Located at Waikiki Resort Hotel, Seoul Jung is one of the few authentic Korean restaurants on Oahu. “Many people have a very limited idea of what Korean food is — such as kalbi or kimchee — but we want to educate people on how much else there is to offer,” explains Dante Ku, operations assistant.

And with January here — complete with jaws wagging about weight-loss and fitness goals — now is the perfect time to adopt a diet more directed towards Korean fare. It makes perfect sense when you think about the basics:

• Prep is prime: Preparation style for Korean fare centers on stir-frying, stewing and fermenting — versus the frying phenomenon we are far too familiar with today (I still have visions of Thanksgivings in the South — the sight of Uncle Roy rollin’ out that deep-fryer to the sizzle of tom turkey being “Crisco-ed” to a crisp).

• Spice is a star: Korean cuisine has the corner on the spice market. And with key players including garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and gochujang (fermented red chili paste), the encore here is all about bringing health back to center stage. “Here everyone is so used to too-rich flavors and sauces; we keep tradition and stay simple,” says Ku.

•Dessert is different: Korean cuisine isn’t known for its desserts. And if diners are hankering for something sweet, seasonal fruits and lighter creations satisfy their cravings.

Two of Seoul Jung’s featured dishes showcase just what Korean cuisine is all about — Bibimbap Set ($8.95 lunch, $15.50 dinner) and MoDeum Jeon ($15.95). An assortment of pan-fried delicacies dipped in light egg batter and served with soy dipping sauce, MoDeum Jeon is a hearty, yet not too heavy meal that every Korean has a tender place for in their hearts. “Annually, Koreans come together to remember their ancestors and this is the dish traditionally served,” explains Ku.

Bibimbap Set features rice with mixed seasonal vegetables and egg — a comforting concoction that the restaurant can adapt and modify according to diners’ tastes. Want more veggies in lieu of the egg? Or how about swapping one seasonal veggie for another? “We can do all of that,” assures Ku.

In fact, Ku says they can modify most any menu item, making it available to vegetarian patrons. “We never want anyone to miss out on experiencing the flavors of any dish just because they can’t have one ingredient,” explains Ku.

So be good to yourself and head to Seoul Jung for a delicious, easy way to stay healthy this year — and save the hard work for that gym visit.

Contact Andy Beth Miller at diningout@staradvertiser.com

Seoul Jung

Waikiki Resort Hotel
2460 Koa Ave., Honolulu
921-8620
Open daily, Lunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: 5-10 p.m. (Last orders taken 30 minutes before closing)

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