Thursday, April 14, 2016

Duluth is Georgia's "Seoul of the South"

Like a good book that takes you someplace you’ve never been, a recent tour hosted by the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau did exactly that. Just outside the perimeter of Atlanta, Duluth which is home nearly 50,000 Koreans, is one of the largest Korean-American cities in the U.S. To showcase this flourishing community, the Explore Gwinnett marketing team created a Korean food tour cleverly named “Seoul of the South” which includes four stops in Duluth’s K-town area.

Seated in a wooden-adorned trolley, we made our way to the first stop on the tour, Harue Food and Cafe where we enjoyed a generous spread of foods including Gim Bap which is made from steamed white rice and fish, meat, eggs or vegetables rolled in seaweed and served in bite-size slices similar to sushi. They also served Korean fried chicken as well as the popular Korean street food, Tteokbokki, which is similar to gnocchi made from soft rice dough and sweet red chili paste. Their version was smothered in cheese and truly a taste sensation.


We were already full as we headed to our next destination, The Stone Grill where tabletop grills loaded with Cheese Dung Galbi awaited us. These grilled baby back ribs with cheese are one of the most sinful food I've ever eaten in my life and are a Korean variation of American comfort food. We also sampled delicate Gyeran Jjim (silky, delightful steamed eggs,) Jjim Man Du (steamed pork dumplings) and traditional Bulgogi (grilled marinated beef). Interestingly it is customary for scissors to be used to cut grilled meats for serving, rather than knives. Also in Korean restaurants, customers are given metal chopsticks and a spoon with a long handle instead of a place setting of fork, knife and spoon as found in most American eateries.


Tree Story Bakery & Café ample desserts and pastries like their Red Bean Bbang and delicious Korean beverages like Yujacha, a traditional Korean tea made from the citrus fruit yuja (also known as yuzu), and the even more exotic Misugaru. The on-the-go breakfast drink is a blend of 7-10 roasted and finely milled grains and seed powders mixed with water and honey. Some of the grains include barley, brown & black rice, sesame seeds and black beans.

Our last stop was the Breakers BBQ which was recently voted the nation’s top Korean BBQ restaurant by Tablog. Here, too, were table top grills similar to those we had seen at The Stone Grill where friendly waitstaff prepared dak bulgogi, marinated chicken and grilled as well as traditional Korean Ogyeopsal which is of thick (5 layer) slices of fatty pork belly cooked right in front of our eyes and served with a Korean-style salad and a variety of side dishes known as "banchan” which included pickled daikon and kimchi. We also experienced their “Electric Lemonade” cocktail made with Soju, Korea's most popular alcoholic beverage learning that Korean etiquette frowns on pouring your own drink; you pour for others and they pour for you.


Realizing that we merely scratched the surface of the Korean restaurants in Gwinnett, we are looking forward to exploring more of what Duluth’s “Seoul of the South” has to offer. Kudos to the Explore Gwinnett team for putting together such an amazing tour and many thanks to the restaurants for their generosity and hospitality!

While menu items we sampled were complimentary; writing and photos included herein are original and the opinions are honest and unsolicited. 

Yum

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