The last couple of times that we've had a craving for Korean food, there's one restaurant that we've gone to: Eat Drink Man Woman. Though we had a layover in Seoul on our trip to Japan two years ago, I really don't have much knowledge about Korean food, and so every meal there happily presents us with a slightly new food experience.
This past week, I made the decision for us to go there for dinner mostly because I wanted to try the Korean BBQ that I'd seen someone else eating on our last visit. When we got to the restaurant, I was surprised to see it so empty, but once the waiter pointed us out back, we realized it was because everyone was enjoying the summer weather on Eat Drink Man Woman's shaded patio, surrounded by green and festively strewn with red lanterns. I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be able to order from the grill menu since we weren't sitting at one of the grill tables inside, but our helpful waiter explained it wasn't a problem on the patio (or at least that's what I think he said -- he spoke a mixture of German, Korean, and English throughout the meal that was both amusing and somewhat hard to understand).
Eat Drink Man Woman's menu is extensive. They have a number of Korean drinks and teas, appetizers, soups, rice dishes, grilling meats, noodle dishes, and menus for two people. I decided to start my Korean meal by ordering the Bek Se Ju to drink, which the menu promised to be a kind of Korean rice wine made with herbs, ginseng, ginger, and other flavors. The liquor reminded me of some of the smoother Japanese sakes that I've tasted with a sweetness to it that made it very easy to drink and very refreshing with some of the spicier components of our meal.
One of the things that I really like about Eat Drink Man Woman is that they serve banchan (complimentary small plates) at the beginning of the meal. We enjoyed a kind of seaweed and cucumber salad, soy beans, spicy daikon radish, potato salad, pickled cucumbers, and kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage).
We also decided to order an appetizer, and tried the Kim-Chi-Pajeon for the first time. These Korean pancakes were cooked with kimchi and other vegetables mixed into the batter and served with a kind of vinegar-based soy sauce. Of the two of us, my husband is the one who loves kimchi. I, on the other hand, prefer to eat it in small doses, not so much because of the spice, but because I find kimchi to be more of an acquired taste that I'm still getting used to. That said, these pancakes ended up being my favorite part of the meal! I've never had kimchi cooked in that form factor before, and found the texture combination of fluffy pancake and crisp vegetables and the flavor combination of sweet and spicy dipped in tangy sauce to be truly excellent.
After clearing away our appetizer dish, our waiter was quick to set-up a table-top grill for my entrée. I had ordered the Gochujang Sogogi, a kind of spicy marinated beef for grilling. In all honesty, I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to start grilling my own meat, and Matt had to laugh at me as he told me to be patient. After the grill was hot enough, a young girl who had also been waiting on us began cooking the cuts of beef on the grill for me, turning them over and over so that they would cook evenly. When they were finished, she picked up a pair of large silver scissors and cut each piece into bite-sized portions.
Once my meat was cooked, I took a guess about what to do with the remaining ingredients: lettuce, a soy-based sauce, and rice. I began making small lettuce wraps with my meat (sometimes with rice and sometimes without because I wasn't sure if it counted as a topping). The meat was very tender, and the spicy marinade was excellent. The dipping sauce was also rather good, although I preferred small quantities so as not to drown out the flavor of the beef. Overall, the dish was surprisingly filling and felt healthy between the simplicity of the cooked beef and rice and the use of lettuce.
On the other side of the table, Matt ordered the Bibim Guksu, a cold, spicy wheat noodle dish topped with lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, kimchi, and egg omelet strips. Funnily enough, when the dish first came out he'd been disappointed by its size, but the more he ate, the more noodles he kept pulling up from the bottom of the dish, only to discover that it was deceptively large. I thought his had a much milder spice and really liked the flavor of the noodles, though after getting to the end of the meal he admitted that the spice had been greater than he'd first supposed.
On past visits we've also tried the Kimchi-Guk (soup with beef and kimchi), Mandu (dumplings with ground meat and vegetables), Szelleng-Tang (beef noodle soup with vegetables and an egg on top), and Hae-Mul-Bokkum (fried shrimp, octopus and mussels with vegetables in a spicy sauce over rice). It's been so long that I can't recall precise tasting notes on any of them, but I find it amusing that I'd forgotten exactly which rice dish I'd had during our last visit to Eat Drink Man Woman and almost ordered the Hae-Mul-Bokkum again because it looked so appetizing! While I have no other Korean food experiences to compare their food to, I can say that I've enjoyed each meal that I've had there and still feel like there's more to discover.
Eat Drink Man Woman is located just across from the Schloss-/Johannesstrasse U-Bahn station along the U9 and U2 lines. They are open Tuesday through Friday for lunch from 11:30-14:30 and dinner from 17:30-23:00. Saturdays and Sunday they're open from 12:00-23:00. They are closed on Mondays. Note that they allow dogs.
Have you been to Eat Drink Man Woman or another Korean restaurant in Stuttgart? What are your thoughts?