Thursday, January 22, 2009

MixMix Master

We are having a lot of fun collecting favorite restaurants around Austin. Since we still have less than .3 friends here, we're relying a lot on Yelp and the excellent Eat.Shop Austin guide for recommendations. One local establishment that received high praise from both is Koriente, a Korean restaurant located in the heart of downtown Austin.

We ate there last night and were waited on by a delightful young lady with lots of pep and sass. She was like a lot of people we've encountered in Austin -- very friendly, super relaxed and seemingly very happy. We overheard her in conversation with the table next to us:

Guy: Excuse me, would you consider this to be a "mom and pop" establishment?

Waitress: Well, yes. Because it was started by a mom and a pop. Not my mom and pop, though... I'm just a random Korean who works here.

It really does have a family feel about it. That picture at the top of the post was painted by one of the founders' kids near the back door at Koriente. It explains how their mom hated to cook but felt really bad always feeding her kids crappy, unhealthy take-out food. So eventually she decided to start a restaurant that served healthy, delicious food so people like her could have their take-out and eat it guilt free.

Last night Mike and I had the most fun-sounding food on the menu, mixmix bibimbap. Go ahead, I will wait while you let that roll off your tongue a few times. Chant it loud, set it to song! Mix! Mix! Bi-bim-BAP!! Has any dinner in history ever sounded more like an '80s dance craze?

My mixmix bibimbap consisted of steamed rice, marinated chicken, thinly shredded red cabbage, delicate julienne carrots, cucumber and red pepper with a wasabi soy sauce. Anyone who has ever eaten with me knows to bring a pillow along, since it usually takes me four hours longer to finish a meal than the average person. I freely admit it -- I'm slow. Ice ages come and go. Supreme Court judges retire. People enter and exit the DMV. But I am still eating.

Not, however, at Koriente. I ate my mixmix bibimbap with a jet-powered fork. It was like I couldn't even take breaths between bites, I was too panicked that someone might take my bowl before I'd eaten every wasabi-soy-soaked grain of rice. And THEN? The random Korean waitress brought us each a scoop of smooth green tea ice cream on a bed of crushed pistachios, with honey drizzled on top. If you want to avoid the urge to rub Asian food all over your naked body and then take a green tea bath, don't go to Koriente. I'm just sayin'.

And, you know what ELSE? Most of their entrees are like $6 or $7... American. And their beers are $2.50! Miso happy!

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