Dying for Japanese food, I enthusiastically journeyed to Koreana, a Korean and Japanese restaurant somewhat conveniently located on Northland Ave., right off of Oneida Street.As it was Monday night, we were quickly seated, allowing me to promptly begin my job of drooling over the 7+ page menu, though not before I noticed the dcor—an interesting mixture of Korean and Japanese art, quite aesthetically pleasing, though the lighting was a bit harsh.
After we were seated, I ordered, for an appetizer, California rolls and kappa maki (cucumber rolls). For all you plebeians who have never been courageous enough to enter a Japanese restaurant, maki rolls consist of a filling (cucumber, pickled daikon radish, etc.) rolled in vinegared rice and seaweed. Wasabi, a green, horseradish-y paste, and slices of ginger are supplied with the soy sauce as seasoning. Personally, I’m a fan of gobs of wasabi! My friend ordered shrimp shumai, which were battered shrimp dumplings deep-fried and accompanied by a flavorful dipping sauce. He assured me they were very good.
For dinner I ordered a staple of Japanese cuisine: tempura of the squid variety. Tempura consists of some kind of meat or vegetable dipped in a rice-flour batter and quickly deep-fried. It is accompanied by dipping sauce, which accentuates the tempura very nicely. My companion, having never eaten Japanese food before, initially had no idea what to get, though he eventually decided on beef yakisoba. Yakisoba is buckwheat noodle, vegetables, and meat that are seasoned at Koreana with, among other things, red chili pepper to achieve various levels of spiciness. He got a 4, with 5 being the spiciest, which, amazingly, wasn’t nearly spicy enough, he reported.
While waiting for our dinner to arrive after eating the appetizers, the side dishes were revealed. (I must interrupt this food review at this point and comment on how nice this practice of distributing superficially free and yummy side dishes charmed me the first time I went to this restaurant—it’s such a nice surprise. But beware, for if you order many appetizers and eat the side dishes, dinner itself is a moot point). The side dishes of the evening were cold fish balls (?), kimchee, a seafood salad, and bean sprouts. By far my favorite were the fish balls, though I do wonder if they would improve if warmed. The bean sprouts were not terribly good, and I’ve never been a huge fan of kimchee, but the side dishes were nevertheless something to munch on until our dinner arrived.
Served with a bowl of white rice, dinner was marvelous and left me wondering nothing other than if I was supposed to get miso soup with my dinner. The tempura was quite good, very crispy and light and served with shredded cabbage and green onions. The yakisoba, other than being too mild, was also good.
After gorging ourselves almost to the limit, the waitress still found some way to tempt us with dessert. The stylish choices of the evening were a slice of caramel cheesecake, a raspberry mousse (which I happily devoured), and a cappuccino mousse (which my friend happily devoured). In all, it was a pleasant finishing touch to what was a delicious and tasty dinner.
Address—201 W. Northland