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Tampa: Sa Ri One Korean Bulgogi Restaurant

by Hilton Kean Jones on October 4, 2008

in Florida, Food

Sa Ri One

In an earlier post on Atlanta’s Seoul Gardens Korean Japanese Restaurant, I talked about bulgogi, Korean barbeque.

A restaurant in Tampa that I’ve gone to ever since it opened is Sa Ri One Korean Bulgogi Restaurant (3940 W. Cypress St., Tampa, FL 33606; 813-874-2911). It’s a little pricey, but not so much at lunchtime which is when I usually go. It’s an excellent restaurant with really good food that I’ve introduced many friends to over the years. I don’t get back as often as I’d like since moving to St. Pete, but when on the Tampa side, if possible, I try to contrive to be in Sa Ri One’s neighborhood around lunch.

Please give it a try. It’s small, intimate, family owned and operated, and they’ve always been very helpful if there was something I didn’t understand or a side dish I couldn’t figure out. Although bento box lunches are Japanese, not Korean, at lunchtime, they have all their dishes available bento style, with a little of this, a little of that, plus the traditional Korean side dishes (banchan). It’s the best deal price-wise.

Kamja Jeon

I usually get the chicken bulgogi, but one day, I was feeling sort of “off my feed,” a bit out of sorts and not terribly hungry. The waiter suggested I try their potato pancake, kamja jeon. It was a good call: light, nourishing without being filling, very fragrant, very tasty. I suppose one large very thin pancake could be split—as a side dish or appetizer—by two people, but it was just right as the main fare for me, alone. I was also in a “vegetarian” frame of mind that day (I’m not always) and the waiter assured me it was vegetarian. Here’s another recipe for Korean potato pancakes at Skindleshanks blog.

I suppose one reason the kamja jeon had such a “comfort food” effect on me was that our family often had potato pancakes when I was a child (rural preacher’s families often only had potatoes and onions in their larder in those days). Nothing better than a potato pancake on a cold Saturday morning, topped off with apple butter!

Potato pancakes are, of course, a comfort food for just about every culture that grows potatoes. Jewish Latkes, Swedish Rarakor, German Kartoffelpuffer! Indian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian cuisines also have their own style of potato pancakes. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true for many other cultures.


Hilton’s Experiment

Earlier this year, I tried making the Bobby Flay recipe, Blue Corn Crab Cakes
with Mango-Green Onion Relish
, for a friend and myself. They tasted great, but somehow I didn’t get all the relative proportions of ingredients correct because, they completely fell apart. They looked horrible but they tasted great!

Well…writing about the potato pancakes at Sa Ri One made me terrifically hungry for potato pancakes. Alas, no pancakes in this home, nor have there been for decades, other than the occasional sweet potato. But, I happened to have some leftover brown rice in the fridge. So, I climbed on the Internet and started searching for rice pancakes. There are such things–mainly Thai is what I found–but every recipe I found had sugar in it. I was in the mood for “savory,” not “sweet.”

I decided to try the recipe for Korean potato pancakes from a food blog with a very nifty niche, Pancakes at Dawn, but substituting leftover brown rice for the leftover potatoes. The results were just like my failed crab cakes. They completely fell apart, but…they tasted great (snapshot immediately below).

I suspect there’s more starch in potatoes than in rice and that would hold the ingredients together better. I’m going to buy some potatoes and try the Pancakes at Dawn recipe again. I suspect they’ll turn out great if I follow the recipe.


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