Thursday, April 26, 2007

Korean Delights at Seoul Garden

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

The bf and I were filling up my car with gas on Prospect Ave, when we happened to glance down the street and saw that a new owner had taken over the former Han Kuk Kwan, a Korean restaurant that we were not very impressed with. So unimpressed were we that we had never gone back after eating there once.

When I lived in KL (Malaysia's capital city), I had these two Korean friends who would either cook kickass Korean food (do they just call it food in Korea?) or take me to great, authentic Korean restaurants. I became spoilt. I mean, I remember going to a restaurant in the middle of a bunch of nondescript office buildings where nobody on the wait staff spoke a word of English and the utensils were made of solid stainless steel (old school, man). If you didn't go with someone who spoke Korean, you were reduced to pointing at pictures and gratefully eating whatever they put on your table. Yes, the food as THAT good. Now, I cannot remember the name of the restaurant and have lost contact with my two friends but the taste of what constitutes as good and authentic Korean food has been permanently burned into my taste buds. Needless to say, I have been searching for a good Korean restaurant since moving to the US but have been unable to find one....until now. The name to remember is Seoul Garden.

The restaurant is situated in a little building where Ichiban used to be before they moved into the bigger, nicer building next door. The decor has changed but the cozy setting of the dining space has not. I still love the coziness of the space and especially find the tiny little nook that serves as a semi-private dining area (only fits 4 people, I think) very adorable. But the spectacular. It's homemade (cooked by the owner's mother and brother), flavorful, authentic and delicious. Most, importantly, it's non pretentious. The owner confided to us (the bf, a friend and me) that she had asked her mother to cook up something different (think fusion) to make the food more acceptable to mainstream American diners and her mother had replied, "I don't know how to cook that. What you get from me is authentic Korean food." Wow!

Seoul Garden serves a buffet lunch from 11:30 am to 2:30pm on weekdays. I think it's USD 7 something per person. The bf and I have been there several times to eat and the buffet remains mostly the same with the exception of 3 dishes that is changed daily.

View of the buffet. The rice cooker is being blocked by the plant.

The far end of the buffet contains pickles, kimchi, lettuce leaf of a sort of wrap and sauces.

These two dishes are my favorite: Top-Bulgogi (beef), Bottom-Jeyuk (pork). I can't even begin to speculate what the seasonings are for the two dishes. I can only say...I likee a lot!

You can even use the lettuce leaf to wrap up the meat, add the sauce, (I recommend the fermented soyabean paste on the far right), roll it up and stuff it into your mouth before the darn thing falls apart. You think that after years of eating lettuce wrapped bang-kuang char, I'd be able to do this with finesse but noo....I still suck at it. Mine fell apart so I had to improvise (see pics below) You can also add a small dollop of rice to the roll but I was having technical and mechanical problems so I skipped the rice.

This was also the first time that I had tried barley tea. It's just brewed barley pearls from what I gathered and is served unsweetened. It's not bad but I prefer green tea. To me, a barley drink has to taste like good old barley-peng from a kopitiam (typical coffee-shop in Malaysia). This bland drink, I was not crazy about.

My first round at the buffet. Will only show the first round because to paiseh (embarassed) to let you know how many times I went back.

The bf went hunting and gathering next and came back with this.

Remember the lettuce roll that I was talking about earlier? It's called ssam and is supposed to look like this, pre-wrapping/rolling. The disaster comes with the rolling/wrapping part.

The bf attempting to properly assemble a ssam. Note that there is significantly more leaf than there is filling. That's just not good eats :)

Finally fed up with my crappy assembling skills, I made modified ssams and just spooned them into my mouth. Yummmy, less of the lettuce leaf and more filling. Ya gotta think outside the box!

I went back to the buffet table and put together this plate, which I proceeded to devour. After taking a few pics, of course!

Close up shot. Isn't that absolutely scrumplicious looking? It tastes even better than it looks. Like a little bit of heaven.

I am so happy to have found this little gem of a restaurant. And the service was absolutely wonderful. We went there late for lunch once and the waitress was supposed to get off her shift but she stayed to serve us and was as nice as can be despite the circumstances.

If you live in Milwaukee, you need to try this treasure of a restaurant out. I promise you'll like it. They also have dinner but that's another post.

Seoul Garden
2178 N Prospect Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Drugged and Drunk

I came home from work this morning at 4 am and saw the bottle of Nyquil that I had asked the bf to get for me sitting on the kitchen table. I picked it up and thought...hmmm.....I'll get some sleep tonight. I then took the recommended 30ml (had to read the label because it was my first time ever taking Nyquil, I usually let my body battle it out with the virus) and got ready for bed. head started pounding, my face felt tingly and flushed. I shifted uncomfortably in bed and held my breath....yes, my heart was racing and I began to feel nauseated.....oh crap, what was in the damned Nyquil? I finally made my way back to the kitchen and read the label. Oh shit! Alcohol is listed as the first inactive ingredient...alamak!

I can't process alcohol......

Was passed out till 2 pm today

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Arrrgghh......I fell victim to the evil cold virus that is circulating out there....and now in my system. I thought my immune system was at it's peak from being exposed to so many types of bugs and viruses at work but it suddenly lost the battle yesterday...just as I was going to work. Then, I spiked a fever at work and it was all over....the virus took over. I started sniffling, having hot and cold flashes, stomach cramps, the shakes (yeah, I found that one new symptom AS I was suturing up a patient's face), a headache, I can't hear out of the right ear and my throat is KILLING me.


Anyway...I was craving for some comfort food but my body was aching too much to cook. So I sat in front of the computer for an hour, then finally had enough caffeine in me to move. This soup based dish is really simple to make if you have the right ingredients in the kitchen already. Since mine is always stocked to survive a famine, I didn't have to drag my body to the grocery store.

Mee Suah or Tang Hoon Soup

  • Half a package of Mee Suah or Tang Hoon (dried)
  • 2L of Swanson's Chicken stock
  • One can of baby straw mushrooms (drained)
  • An assortment of meat balls, fish balls, squid balls etc
  • 4 stalks of baby bok choi, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dash of soy sauce
Cooking method:
  • Put stock into pot to boil.
  • Add the assortment of meat/squid/fish balls and cook until they float to the surface.
  • Add the straw mushrooms, baby bok choi and the mee suah or tang hoon.
  • Season to taste.
  • Consume.
Simple and most importantly, minimal work.

Enjoy...pic coming, no energy to edit.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Guilty pleasures: Coach bags

I kept telling myself, cannot spend money frivolously, cannot, cannot, cannot!!!

And then I saw it, looking back at me from the display case....calling my name...and I knew. I had to have it.

Isn't it gorgeous? It reminds me so much of springtime and flowers and sunshine and rainbows!!

I stood in the store for quite a while and was mentally tallying up the damage to my credit card and finances. Then, I thought, "I shouldn't make an impulse buy, I have to really think about this." After all, I was in Naples, Florida and I was about to board a plane in 2 hrs. How to carry so much baggage? I was rather proud of myself as I walked out of the store without making a purchase.

Then, I landed in Milwaukee and went to the Coach store the next day and burned some plastic...hehe :)

And then, I saw this other baby.....and thought, what the heck, if I'm already burning plastic, may as well make it MELT!

I am so in love with my new bags. *Mentally calculating how many extra shifts I have to work*

Do you love bags?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bah Kut Teh

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.—Brillat-Savarin

I made Bah Kut Teh (pork bone tea soup, for the uninitiated) last night but didn't even get a chance to take pictures of it before it was devoured. I was cooking this delicious soup meal for a fellow Penangite, S.H who was visiting the bf and I from New York after suddenly being struck with homesickness.

I was puttering around the kitchen from 7pm last night, trying to recall how to cook the dish. Mom and Dad conveniently neglected to answer the frantic phone calls that I made to them to ask for advise. Thankfully, S.H was a big help in the kitchen and we managed to get the pot going.

After I announced that dinner was ready, I went to grab a quick shower and walked out to discover that they were on helping #2 already!!!! I didn't get any pics for my blog, needless to say but here's the recipe for those of you who may be homesick for the dish. We had stopped at the chinese store and even bought some Yew Char Koay (fried cruellers). Man, it was delicious!

Bah Kut Teh recipe: a word of warning....all these measurements are agak-agak (a rough guess-timation). My philosophy, just add stuff until it tastes good. And have Pizza Hut or Dominos on speed dial.

  1. One packet of A1 Bak Kut Teh Spices (should have 2 sachets inside)
  2. 2 plus pounds of cut and cleaned pork ribs with bone. I asked the butcher to cut it into short rib pieces for me.
  3. Three or four pieces of Tong Kwai.
  4. One whole head of garlic-peeled and smashed.
  5. One package of pork/beef balls (I bought the ready made frozen kinds from Vietnam)
  6. Five stalks of baby bok choy....cleaned and separated from the stalk.
  7. 10-15 cups of water. I just fill up my pot to almost 3/4 full.
  8. Freshly cracked peppercorns (I like using the white peppercorns)...use one heaping tbs.
  9. One cube of Knorr's pork bouillon.
  10. One can of Golden Mushroom (Kim Chiam Koo), well drained and separated.
  11. One packet of ready made Yew Char Koay
  12. Two tbs of thick soy sauce
  13. Three tbs of oyster sauce
  14. Three tbs of normal soy sauce
Yeah...the preparation is so hard. I am a fanatic and will spend a lot of time stripping fat and skin away from the meat. The soup is a lot healthier and leaner but of course, the oomph factor is a little compromised. What the heck, it was still good. So good that the boys just continued to eat and eat. They each ate 3 full servings!!! comes the easy part. You still have to stand in the kitchen though and watch the pot. But if your kitchen has a little bar area that opens up to the living room, you can also relax and watch TV at the same time. I was watching House.

To Cook:
  1. Put the pot on the stove and boil the water on High.
  2. When the water is really bubbling, put in everything else, starting with the meat EXCEPT for the beef balls, baby bok choy, mushrooms and Yew Char Koay.
  3. Boil in High for 3o mins, then turn the heat to Medium and cover. Stir occasionally.
  4. After 1 1/2 to 2 hrs (whenever the meat is soft enough to just fall off the bone), turn heat to high and put in beef balls, mushrooms and then blanch the baby bok choy in the boiling soup.
  5. Remove baby bok choy and serve on a platter. Place cut up Yew Char Koay on a serving platter.
  6. Dish up soup and dinner is ready.
  7. Do I have to tell you to cook white rice as well??? This one is a no brainer.
  8. Oh....word of warning...don't leave the food undefended to take a shower. No good can come out of this.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Down on My Knees......Begging Please..

You guys have really done it.

I check my blog daily with puppylike enthusiasm to look out for any comments and I am always disappointed. I am now reduced to begging people to comment, comment, comment please on my posts. I need some feedback to see how I'm doing and so far...I am only relying on word of mouth info and data from And sitemeter tells me that you guys are reading my posts.

So guys, if you are reading my blog and like it, let me know. If you hate it, keep it to yourself! I am kidding, I'll always welcome constructive criticism.

To the bf, the god-sister, sweetcontemplation and Misery, thanks for being such loyal supporters and leaving comments. I love you all for that. Ok, not just only that but other things as well.

A special Easter shoutout to all my family, friends and readers. May you have a wonderful Easter this year, surrounded by the ones that you love. May your days be filled with joy and laughter always.

I was going to write an Easter post on a magnificent buffet brunch at Westmoor Country Club but I was operating on only 2 hrs of sleep after a 10 hrs stint last night in the ED so I boo-booed and forgot to take any pictures of food...or the Easter bunny. It took a huge amount of make-up this morning to look as though I was not wearing any (ironic isn't it) and I was concentrating on trying not to look dead at the brunch table. As tired as I was though, it was still nice to spend quality time with family and I had such a wonderful time.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Naples, Florida. Part Deux: Sunsets

Every evening, at sunset, a large crowd would gather along the beach-front and on the beach to watch the sunset. By 7pm, people would start milling around the swimming pool and beach bar of the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club. It's a great time for people to mingle, chat and relax after a long day of.....A) laying on the beach, soaking up the sun (lazy-bugs) or B) long medical lectures and workshops (me...super hardworking). Alright, I managed to do a bit of both every day.
When the sun starts sinking down towards the horizon, the crowd will migrate towards the beach and stare at the great ball of fire for what seems like hours. When the sun finally sets, you eyes are temporarily blinded from staring for such a long period of time and you literally see stars (and not only the ones in the sky).

I had the pleasure of watching the sun set with friends for a total of 5 nights and each night's show was completely different. This was also a time when the dolphins would come close to shore and play, so we also spent a lot of time scanning the horizon, hoping to see dolphins. It was really a beautiful and enchanting time of day.

Being the doofus that I am (as a result of absorbing too much UV rays), I had forgotten to bring my camera to capture pictures of the first 4 sunsets. Luckily, on my last night there, I brought my camera along and was able to get these shots.

I shot hundreds of pictures and almost blinded myself in the process. Looking at an LCD screen with sub-optimal light is a bitch, I tell you. There were lots of oohs and aahs of appreciation as the great golden ball of fire finally touched down on the horizon. It was absolutely fascinating to watch it sink, and sink and sink. Then you suddenly realize that the air is getting cooler and cooler and every strand of hair on your arms is standing at attention because you are still wearing a tiny bikini, sitting on the beach, shivering without the sun's rays to warm you. Not to mention the fact that you have family and friends that live part time in Naples but no one has advised you to bring a sweater.....

And then you hear it. It starts out as a single clap....then more clapping... and then the whole crowd joins in the applause at the magnificent display of nature that they had just witnessed. I have never heard or seen such a thing...applause for a sunset. Then I shrug and join in. What the heck, if you can't beat them, join them. what's for dinner?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Naples, Florida aka Paradise. Part I

I landed at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee 2 nights ago and immediately wanted to turn back and board the next flight back to Florida. It was cold! And I was told that it would only get colder in the next few days. I wish that Wisconsin would quit doing it's 'spring menopause' thing soon because I realize that I am addicted to 85 degree weather.

I spent 6 glorious days at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club with 3 other former PA classmates and 350 other Emergency Room PAs, going to lectures, workshops, eating, drinking, dancing and lazing in the sun. I hadn't anticipated the immensely satisfying sense of belonging that washed over me as I interacted with so many like minded individuals who had so much in common. The ER stories that we told!! It was rather amazing to talk to other ER PAs and to learn about how they practice.

The other great thing about going to a conference was being on an expense account. In an expensive city like Naples, there is no way to eat cheaply (unless you had sandwiches and soda for every meal= $8-10 USD) so it was nice that my meals were taken care off by someone other than moi :)

We obviously had many meals at many restaurants but I am only going to highlight the best places that we ate at. The restaurant featured on this post is called "Yabba Island Grill" and serves Carribean style seafood. I quickly learned that there was no point taking home doggy bags as we were living in a hotel so I started ordering 2 appetizers which served as an appetizer and an entree. No more wasted food!!!

Steamed Mussels with Garlic, Roma Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts, Basil, White Wine and Lemon

Verdict: The mussels were very succulent and plump (unlike the 3 other disappointing mussel dishes that I'd already had) and perfectly bathed in the golden colored broth. The broth itself was very flavorful (and garlicky) without being too salty and the acidity of the tomatoes balanced the sweet juices from the mussels. Loved it!!!!! I sopped up all the broth with the toasted, thick sliced sourdough bread and the server removed a completely empty, almost clean plate.

“Maryland Style” Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with an Old Bay, Citrus and Sherry Wine Remoulade

Verdict: I thought that the portion was rather small. Each crabcake was approximately 5cm in diameter and there were only 2 crabcakes per portion. Yet, each tiny bite packed a huge punch of soul satisfying crab meat (no fillers here, ladies and gentlemen) and I was completely full as I devoured the last bite. The crabcake tasted like it was deep fried, rather than baked and as a result, had a crunchier crust which contrasted very nicely with the creamy crab filled center. This was also a spectacular dish.

Looking very pleased with my mussel dish and choice of restaurant!!!!

Stay tuned for more pics and of course, food.................