Foodie Lessons: Difference between Korean and Japanese Sashimi

After a long day that began at 5:15am, I was more than exhausted when I returned home a little over 12 hours later. The idea of cooking dinner was the furthest thing from my mind. After scouring Yelp for a few minutes, I decided I would try this Korean Sashimi place that got good reviews and was three blocks from my house. Perfect –sushi would be easy, and not heavy and I’d be home early enough to chill out, watch a movie, and go to bed early. Let’s just say, I learned a huge lesson in the difference between Korean and Japanese sashimi.

I arrive at this hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and the Korean gentleman welcomed me. After I sat down, in broken English, he explained that the ‘small’ size was $30. I said ok. I assumed that this restaurant served everything like Japanese style Omakase –that it was Chef’s choice. $30 seemed reasonable since Omakase is usually $50 or more. I sat back and waited my order. Not unlike other Korean restaurants the first thing to come was the banchan (side dishes). 2 kinds of kimchi, some crunchy salty baked thing, seafood pancakes, steamed egg, seaweed salad, potato salad, and some other jello like thing that is marinated in soy sauce. In truth, I would have been full with just the banchan.

Now the real surprise begins….

Had I not been half asleep, scrolling through my emails, I probably would have noticed that the chef had gone over to a fish tank and pulled out a live fish (I noticed this much later). The waitress comes over to my table and starts moving the banchan plates around to make room. She then leaves, and comes back with a huge plate of sashimi –beautifully displayed in a spiral fashion. There it was –the whole fish, sliced into sashimi slices sitting on the table in front of me. I looked at her and said, “Oh my God… are you kidding me. This is the small?” She smiled politely at me, nodded, and then left. As I was grappling with how much food had just been placed in front of me she came back with an octopus salad. The octopus was really fresh –I swear you could still see the tentacles moving. It had a red sauce on top of it and was delicious.

Needless to say –this was definitely a foodie lesson –Korean sashimi and Japanese sashimi –very very different things. I left that night, more comatose than I had started –this time from the pure amount of food. I don’t think the picture can even begin to display just how much food there was.

I, of course, sent this picture off to one of my Korean friends who called me laughing a day later. Lesson learned. Next time, I bring a friend.