Koreana

158 Prospect St
Cambridge, MA 02139

I tried Korean BBQ for the very first time tonight with Elizabeth, Sylvie, and Sylvie’s mom (Jean)! We walked over to Koreana in Central Square, where Sylvie and Jean ordered for us family style. The side dishes (banchan) came out first, circling the grill in the middle of the table. Included were bean sprouts, kimchi, fish cakes, pickled zucchini, and pickled radish slices. 

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We had the Seafood Scallion Pancake, which was a fried pancake with scallions, mussels, and squid. “They went a little heavy on the grease,” Sylvie explained. While the pancake was wonderfully crisp, the flavor was a bit bland.

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Next, we ordered Galbi for two, which was prime beef short ribs marinated in Korean soy sauce and sesame oil. Our waitress grilled the beef at our table, checking up on it every few minutes until it was tenderly cooked. This was my favorite part of the meal. The beef was incredibly tender, and the marinade had a sweet and savory flavor. “The beef was tasty, though a bit fatty,” Elizabeth said. Sylvie taught us to eat the beef wrapped up in a leaf of lettuce with fermented bean paste (ssamjang), and a little scoop of rice on top. Life-changing stuff.

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We also ordered Bibimbap, which was beef, rice, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, bellflower root, spinach, soybean sprouts, topped with a fried egg in a sizzling hot stone pot. The best part of Bibimbap is letting the rice sit against the hot stone and get all crispy and brown.

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Lastly, we ordered Augu Chim, which was a gigantic plate of steamed monk fish, clam, styela clava, vegetables, and soybean sprouts in a spicy chili sauce. The monk fish was a meaty, thick, white fish with a tough texture, and the styela clava (aka Stalked Sea Squirt) was a strange leathery pocket of salty liquid. Overall, the spicy dish paired well with rice, even though I had never heard of the rest of the dish’s ingredients. 

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I’ll definitely be back at Koreana for its BBQ again! 8/10