Posted 28 February 2004 - 06:16 AM
747 Amana St.
Honolulu HI 96814
Shillawon is an upper-casual Korean specializing in jeongol dishes, or Korean hotpot. It also carries a full range of standard grilled meat dishes, but the jeongol (plus Korean-style genghis khan and shabu-shabu) set it apart from other places. It's also known for being booked by Korean league baseball teams for two or three meals a day when they come over to Hawai`i for Spring Training. If you happen to eat there roundabout now, you will likely be surrounded by members of the Kia Tigers or Hanhwa Eagles. One notable thing about Korean baseball teams (other than the boring nicknames) is the fact that when a senior member of the enters the room, everyone else has to stand up. Since senior members seem to come and go whenever they please, the other team members have to constantly stand up and sit down, over and over. Wonder how they ever finish eating . . .
The Honolulu restaurant is the sole foreign outpost of a gaudy-looking eating establishment in Daechi-dong, Kangnam-gu, Seoul.
Shillawon serves three kinds of jeongol - beef noodle (guksu), intestine (gopchang), and bulgogi-octopus ("bulnak"). Since it was only lunchtime, we just had the beef noodle - sorry for not making things more exciting!
First they bring you a large pot filled with seasoned beef broth, and place it on a gas burner. Then they dump a pile of sliced sirloin, spinach, green onions, and noodles into it, adding ground roasted sesame seeds and Korean chili powder for flavoring (as the wife waits with bated breath). The noodles are plain fresh white flour noodles. They would probably be called udong in Korea, though they are slightly smaller than Japanese udon in diameter. The broth is very is a rich kalbi broth that has been thoroughly defatted and clarified, so that it's got nice clean taste and doesn't obscure the other ingredients.
Once all that's done, the soup is brought back up to boiling, and you're ready to eat. You dip the pieces into a spicy soy-vinegar sauce before downing them with rice and what's left of the various panchan that they have brought you about 15 minutes earlier.
So you eat for a while, then when you've worked your way past all the solid ingredients and have more or less only broth left, they bring on the second stage.
One bowl of rice is unceremoniously plopped into the boiling broth and stirred around for a while until it begins to soften and turn into a kind of juk (gruel). Then large amounts of chopped shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and chinese cabbage are added, and the thing is stirred around for a while longer. More ground roasted sesame seed are placed on top, then you eat it up if you've got any room left.
The jeongol must be ordered for two people at a time (not at least two, but exactly two or some multiple), and it's $34.95 with panchan. The other kinds of jeongol are similarly priced. Shillawon, like most Honolulu above-midrange full-range Korean places, also serves a jeongshik, or set menu. This consists of a (by now standardized) menu of kalbi, modum jun (egg-battered and pan-fried fish, meat and / or vegetables), broiled corvina, and several other side dishes.
Shillawon is on Amana Street, a cul-de-sac near the Ke`eaumoku / Kapiolani intersection. Coming makai direction from the Ke`eaumoku side, you turn left when you see the Ross Dress-for-Less, then right after passing the Pagoda Floating Restaurant. It's in the Pacific Grand "Hotel" (now a condo) - you park for free in the garage underneath the building, then take the elevator up. But don't try to take the elevator down again once you're done - it doesn't allow you to go down to the garage without a key, so you've got to walk down alongside the auto ramp - don't ask me why! There are usually a few elderly men playing cards down there to help you in case you get lost or confused.
Posted 28 February 2004 - 12:30 PM
Posted 02 December 2004 - 03:37 AM
The history of shabu shabu is a rather twisted one. While it is now firmly established as mainstream genre of Japanese restaurant food, it was not invented until 1948 by the owner of Junidanke, a Kyoto purveyor of ochazuke (tea on rice with garnishes). Shabu shabu was originally presented as a kind of adaptation of Mongolian food. However, rather than a specific Mongolian dish, the connection with Mongolia seems to have been largely in the fanciful imagination of shabu shabu's inventor, based upon the food tales that he had heard from Japanese who had returned from living in the ex-colony of Manchuria after the end of the war. Indeed, there is a tendency in much of East Asia to ascribe "Mongolian" tendencies to any dish that involves do-it-yourself table cooking in a hotpot or flat iron or the use of mutton or lamb. Hence there's shabu shabu's close cousin "Genghis Khan", a dish (associated with Hokkaido) of thinly sliced lamb that is either grilled at table or cooked in a hotpot. The term "shabu shabu" is a Japanese onomatopoeia, referring to the swish-swish sound that the meat makes as you pass it through the broth. The term has no connection with the Mongolian language. But in case you were wondering, it shares a common root with shabu, the usual Japanese colloquial term for methamphetamine, so-called because it gives people the shakes.
Shabu shabu in Korea is another deal altogether, and this is what we will be consuming here. While you might expect that since Korea is geographically and genetically closer to Mongolia, that the shabu shabu would thus be more "authentically" Mongolian (whatever that would mean in this context), think again. No mutton would ever touch the average Korean's lips, and beef it is here. Indeed, even Genghis Khan is made with beef in Korea - the only difference I can see between Korean shabu shabu and Korean Genghis Khan (sic) is that the latter has fewer vegetables than the former.
Instead, the assimilation of shabu shabu into Korean cuisine has led primarily to change in its accompaniments than in its basic ingredients. Assorted panchan are provided. Instead of the two sauces, ssamjang (slightly hot bean paste) is presented along with piles of lettuce. The most noticable difference in the ingredients themselves is the generous addition of chili powder to the broth just after the addition of the noodles.
Here is the initial setup. . . the chimney hotpot remains popular for this dish despite the fact that the chimney serves no real purpose anymore; the heat comes from underneath, not from coals within. The broth is the classic kelp broth; no chili yet. The side dishes are the array of kimchi varieties, salads, and whatever else they are serving today. You would get similar side dishes if you ordered any other full size meal of their menu.
Among the greens that come along with the meat are green onions, watercress, and minari (a slightly bitter kind of chrysanthemum leaf). Once the fire gets going, you dip the meat and the vegetables into the sauce together, and wrap the whole thing up in a lettuce leaf along with some ssamjang, just like you would do for bulgogi or kalbi.
Finally, once the meat and vegetables are finished, the following are added to the broth: flat fettucine-shaped noodles, hot Nappa cabbage kimchi, green onions, sliced zucchini, and button mushrooms. The whole thing is overlayed with lashings of chili pepper and wild sesame powder. Drink up - I guess the idea at this point is to sweat out to make up for all the overeating you've just done.
Posted 02 December 2004 - 11:20 AM
I wonder if there will be Korean baseball teams there during Xmas?
Posted 03 December 2004 - 11:35 AM
Probably won't be any baseball teams there during Christmas - their training period is a little later than that. Instead, you'll probably see a lot of tourist groups from Korea (and Japan).