Korean food is a yin-yang balance of hot and spicy, cool and mild, in dishes like silken tofu in fermented chile paste or eel glazed in sticky caramel soy sauce. Soo-Woo Japanese & Korean Steakhouse in Hollywood is the newest location of a small local chain that offers Korean specialties along with steaks and seafood teppanyaki cooked on iron griddles, sushi, rolls, noodles and fried rice.
Owner Bok An was born in Seoul, Korea, but moved to Miami with his family when he was a child and grew up in his parents’ Japanese restaurant. He studied finance and marketing at University of Miami, and opened Sakura in Doral.
When the rent increased four years ago, he expanded, added a Korean menu and changed the name to Soo-Woo, which means “live long and prosper.” He hired Jamaican-born chef Keith Thomas, who took an intensive Asian training course at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Korean dishes come with an odd number of banchan (even is bad luck), small side dishes of kimchi, blanched, bean sprouts and daikon radish in chile sauce.
Start with a large, crispy, squid and scallion panjun pancake cooked in a stone pan and cut into squares, served with soy-sesame dip. Jae yook bossam, steamed pork belly with oysters, comes with spicy radish and cabbage.
Entrees include galbi tang guk (short rib soup), bulgogi (stir-fried beef with black pepper, soy sauce, sugar and garlic) and dolsot bimimbap. This brings a heated black stone bowl with rice topped in fern bracken, bean sprouts, beef, a raw egg and lettuce shreds with everything mixed together before eating. There’s also dak gui (chicken in chile garlic sauce) and kimchee casserole with pork.
Soothe the heat with passion fruit mousse.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.