Wednesday, August 24, 2011
When it comes to Cham Korean Bistro, even though I had been there a couple of times and thoroughly enjoyed my meals, I just hadn't been able to actually blog about it. In each instance, I had been with friends who I haven't seen in awhile so the focus was on the company and not taking pictures, as is my usual practice. However, when Cham Korean Bistro offered to host me and a guest, this was my chance to finally write about it.
For those of you unfamiliar with Cham Korean Bistro, the focus is on a modern take on Korean Cuisine with some fusion mixed in. I wouldn't say that a Korean fusion influence was really seen in the first dish we tried which was the Cham Salad. It was, however, a delicious blend of spring mix, carrots, jicama, sesame brittle and soy-balsamic vinaigrette. One small thing though? I loved that sesame brittle and there just wasn't enough of it for my liking.
One of the things that I really like about Cham is their Korean Tapas menu, which features share-able small plates. Between this visit and my other two visits, I've tried all but two of items on that tapas menu. My favorite is the Crispy Pork Belly with Fingerling Potatoes and not just any fingerling potatoes, but Peruvian potatoes. You really can't go wrong with crispy pork belly and I really enjoyed the soft earthiness of the potatoes.
Fusion definitely shows up in the form of the Calamari Mini Tacos with Sautéed Kimchi Topping. The taco itself was a little difficult to eat since the proportion of filling to tortilla was higher, but hey, it's hard not to appreciate that there was no skimping. While I enjoyed the battered outside and the slight chew of the calamari itself, I would have preferred just a little more heat from the kimchi for a complete thumbs up.
My guest had raved about the Cham Onion Rings, which she had really enjoyed at previous visits. That night, however, while the onions rings had a nice crunch to it, they were a little too oily. Perhaps, an off night for the onion rings?
That night, we also had the Korean Rice Cake aka Toppoki. While the name "Rice Cake" may bring up visions of round shapes, the rice cakes in this dish are more like rounded cylinders made from glutinous rice and/or rice flour. Sauteed in some kind of chili sauce that definitely brought on the heat, these rice cakes made my taste buds happy.
The last item from the Korean Tapas menu were the Crispy Spicy Tuna Balls. I think the coating was fried rice, but I'm not sure. Regardless, I really enjoyed the texture of the tuna balls. Crispy on the outside and soft in the inside and with a spice level that was just right. Also from this menu, though not pictured, you should try the Ahi Tuna with a Chimichuri Sauce, but the Sweet Potato Fries aren't anything that exciting.
Not on the Korean Tapas menu, but just as delicious were the last two items we tried. One was the Blue Crab Tofu Pocket: seasoned rice and marinated blue crab topping. I liked the freshness of the crab but overall, this particular tofu pocket was a little forgettable for me. I actually prefer the Spicy Tuna Tofu Pocket and the Pickled Seaweed Tofu Pockets that I had at previous visits.
The second item was the Spicy Yuzu Pork Bulgogi + Cilantro Bun Steamed Bun with sautéed spicy yuzu pork bulgogi and fresh cilantro. This was my second favorite dish of the night. Is it obvious that I love pork? There was a really nice caramelization on the pork and I liked the peppery flavors that the cilantro added to this sandwich. You can also a Beef Bulgogi or Spicy Chicken Steamed Bun, but I can't seem to not order this particular steamed bun.
Other dishes that that I've also tried and enjoyed in the past include their Kimchi Rice (no longer on the menu) and their BBQ + Garden Platter with Beef Short Rib. One dish that I wouldn't order again is their Sauteed Sweet Potato Noodles, which tasted was too bland for me.
Overall, Cham Korean Bistro is a good eatery. For the most part, I've enjoyed almost everything I tried so far and now I'm just happy to finally blog about it and hopefully encourage some of you to check it for yourself.
Cham Korean Bistro
851 Cordova Street
Pasadena, CA 91101