Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tampopo (guest report)

104 South 21st St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Well, let me start off by saying this is my first foray into food blogging and I'm flattered to have the opportunity to contribute to Philly Phoodie's reputable database of local reviews. This trip to Tampopo, however, was not my first. I have visited multiple times in the past few years when my mid-day appetite calls for some Japanese-style home cooking.

The place isn't big, not by any stretch of the imagination. The tables are close together and it seats about 16 when maxed out. You place your order at the counter, pay, and find a seat until your name is called - this can take anywhere from 3-10 minutes, and is never any longer. The kitchen is open to the dining area, it's nice to be able to see everything that's happening, there's no risk of finding any shady business here.

A self-proclaimed Korean food aficionado (in my opinion, it's the world's loveliest cuisine), I decided to go with the Beef & Egg BiBimBap, priced at a reasonable $8.50. The ingredients are always fresh, the dishes are always colorful and the portions are always plentiful.

If ever you've experienced BiBimBap in the traditional Korean atmosphere, you'd know that they offer the dish as seen here, but they also offer a slightly different version, the Dol Sot or Kop Dol - one that's served in a steaming hot stone bowl. Today's meal pales in comparison to that favored serving vessel, but the flavor here makes up for that lack of excitement I generally get from the scolding hot Dol Sot BiBimBap I've come to know so well.

Their go chu jang sauce is not quite the thicker, authentic version I'm so accustomed to, but has a uniquely Japanese flair to it - one that is reminiscent of a sweet and spicy Teriyaki-pepper sauce. They give you plenty and showed no hesitation in allowing me extra sauce upon my request. Once all mixed together, the bowl became a comforting flavor explosion that I never wanted to end. The vegetables and savory thin-sliced, Teriyaki marinated beef are in perfect proportion to the rice below. The egg is pan fried to perfection, the yolk breaks to neatly coat the flurry of colorful components.

I highly recommend everything on their menu - they offer a fresh tuna (sushi-grade) version of the BiBimBap, but don't serve fresh fish until the month of July. If only I could have waited another week to satiate my craving!

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