You have until Sunday, May 1st, 2016 to check out all the great restaurants participating in Dine LBC. This is another must try! They are offering meals for two at $30! It’s a steal!
Talk about standing out like a sore thumb – but in a good way! Long Beach has a plethora of restaurants, but Korean isn’t one of them. Sura Korean BBQ is one of two Korean eateries in the LBC and I’m happy to report, it is as stellar as they come.
We arrive for lunch to find it already bustling with diners. Naturally, I pick a table near a window to take advantage of the best lighting for my photos. The menu is big, and usually, that worries me a little, however, every concern is put to rest after I get a taste of what Sura has to offer.
Owners Brandon and Claire Sugano have taken dishes from Claire’s childhood – with the help of Claire’s mom – and developed a solid menu which pleases my finicky palate. I like that the traditional dishes remain authentic, not adulterated by fear of not passing muster with a non-Korean clientele. There are a handful of fusion dishes too, reflecting the trend in which Korean cuisine has been moving in the last few years.
Complimentary banchan (side dishes) arrive at the table. There are five selections including kimchi, all spot-on in flavor.
We begin with Crispy Spicy Rice Cake Skewers ($3.95) or ddukboggi, which is a popular street food in Korea. It is also traditionally served in drinking establishments smothered in a spicy sauce with oden (fish cake). The version here is brushed with a sweet spicy sauce and possesses a crispy exterior and soft interior. The textural contrast is heavenly and I like that the sauce is not overly sweet.
I am interested in the Handmade Sopes ($6.95) which come three to an order. You may choose bulgogi or spicy pork, so we ask for a combination. The crispy hand-made sope shell is crispy on top, and topped with well-seasoned bulgogi, tomatillo salsa, and cotija cheese. The spicy pork can be a tad spicier for me, but overall, the flavors are on point. Eat these quickly as the bottom does get a little wet from the juices – I am taking way too long with my photos as usual.
Shiitake ‘Shroom Fries ($5.95) is a vegetarian option, but I love mushrooms anyway regardless. These hand-breaded shiitake mushrooms are light as air and the batter never overpowers the shiitakes. There are two dipping sauces served alongside — Sura’s aioli dip and gojujang – I like the aioli, but loved the gojujang.
With “tofu house” in the restaurant’s name, how do I not order soondoobu? It is also one of my favorite things to eat. I choose Mushroom Tofu Soup (a la carte $9.95) simply because that’s what I always order when I eat soondoobu. The claypot arrives bubbling with enoki mushrooms on top. I am utterly impressed by the authenticity of its flavors with a heat level six that clears the sinuses and makes me salivate.
I am sure you can order Angus Galbi Short Ribs ($23.95 with soondoobu combo) a la carte — although I didn’t ask – but the slightly sweet and savory garlic soy marinade on the ribs is on point. Each segment of rib has a good amount of meat on it and hardly any fat, which is stupendous!
Another favorite is Bibimbap ($12.45). Choose a protein – we opt for bulgogi – and it arrives scalding hot, topped with sautéed black mushrooms, spinach, carrots, radish, squash, sprouts and egg. What stands out is that there is crispy rice on the bottom of the pot. In my opinion, it is the crucial element of a dolsot bibimbap. Otherwise, why order it in the stone pot? Just get it in a bowl. Often, restaurants will take the lazy route and not properly scorch the rice which results in a lackluster bibimbap. This is a proper bibimbap in every sense of the word.
I cannot leave without trying Yuk Gae Jang ($9.95), a staple I eat regularly while living in Hawaii. This spicy beef brisket soup comes with glass noodles, slices of slow cooked brisket, egg drop, gosari (bracken fern), and scallion in spicy chile broth. It is served with rice, but honestly, you won’t even need it.
I don’t usually order sweet drinks because I am not a fan of anything sweet. Having said that, the Milk Green Tea ($3.50) here is outstanding. Using a fragrant daily brewed jasmine tea with a hint of sugar, and Taiwanese Grade non-dairy creamer, this concoction is perfectly light in sweetness and the aromas waft up my nose in a very pleasant way. If you’re into boba, or similar sorts of drinks, this will definitely be up your alley.
Sura is a gem and those of you living in Long Beach have it made! The food is delicious and more importantly, authentic. The flavors are spot on and prices are reasonable. Highly recommended!
Sura Korean BBQ & Tofu House
621 Atlantic Ave
Long Beach, CA 90813