Statesman critic Matthew Odam was shown Texas hospitality at all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant Charm Korean BBQ. His server, who insisted on being called emo (Korean for “aunt”), skillfully guided Odam through the menu.
The first standout for Odam was the pork belly, a cut of meat he had “all but forsaken” until he tried Charm’s version with bulgogi flavors. He also discovered his “favorite bite of meat this year,” the tteok galbi (short rib that is ground with soy, sesame seeds, and aromatics, reshaped, and then grilled), available only during lunch.
Starch-focused dishes also left a positive impression on Odam, like the japchae (“You can taste the smoke from the wok”) and the bibim-naengmyeon (“hearty buckwheat noodles surrounded by poured-over cold kimchi broth”).
Though the meat was the star attraction, Odam was also impressed with the sides, teasing:
Some of the biggest hits at Charm: an exceptional quick-pickled kimchi breathy with fish sauce and dried shrimp; the Korean staple radish in a tart vinaigrette; briefly steamed broccoli in a sour gochujang pepper sauce spiked with (I believe) horseradish; and the funky tug of fish cakes. Oh, yeah, and hot dogs. You’ll see.
He gave Charm an 8.5 out of ten rating which is quite high for the critic, noting that “the food never feels redundant or uniform.”
Chronicle reviewer Melanie Haupt visited Peruvian restaurant Yuyo and left with concerns. Though she appreciated the “light and airy” decor where objects “gesture to indigeneity without feeling like cultural appropriation,” certain food items were still lacking depth.
At the top of the nice list was the quinotto, a dish of quinoa that “swims in a nutty, fragrant broth” with vegetables. However, she couldn’t get a solid answer on whether the dish was vegetarian or vegan, which was disappointing. She also recommends exploring the cebiche menu:
The cebiche clásico was a real game-changer: bright, tangy, with a harmonious balance of acid and heat. Fleshy, firm striped bass topped with crunchy cancha (Peruvian corn nuts) and microgreens, the dish is invigorating and exciting.
Drinks-wise, Haupt found the Purple Drank, made with pisco and chicha morada, more exciting than the pisco sour, which “tasted like triple sec.” She was also disappointed by the ají de gallina empanadas which were “mushy and tasted off,” though she ate the accompanying salsa straight.
Chronicle also visited Vino Vino in one of the strangest reviews this year. Critic Jessi Devenyns reviewed a Washington state wine media dinner hosted at the restaurant, referencing chef Adam Brick, who had made a newsworthy exit from the restaurant a month before the dinner (he’s going to open a new all-day restaurant named Marinas). She also mentioned that “almost anything” from the snacks section “will pair beautifully with a mellow and buttery Chardonnay” and that for the poussin and mussels “staff will expertly nudge you in the direction of a Syrah or Bordeaux blend,” statements which seem a bit tone-deaf from a paired wine dinner.
ON THE BLOGS: So Much Life Blog visited Confituras, which she called “oozing with charm;” Dine with Shayda liked the seafood boil and “extra delicious” Brussels sprouts at TLC.
- Charmed, I’m sure: Complex flavors of Korean barbecue shine at Charm [Statesman]
- Restaurant Review: Yuyo [Chronicle]
- First Look: Vino Vino [Chronicle]
- All Coverage of Charmed Korean BBQ [EATX]
- All Coverage of Yuyo [EATX]