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March 30th, 2005 Ron Dollete | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Cheap Eats 2005

     
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OK, the entire menu here is in Korean, and the staff can communicate only in broken English. But Country Korean is proud of its food, and the servers are eager to provide suggestions for a great meal. They seem to have a special fondness for the non-Korean friends I bring there. It’s mutual: My buddies have nicknamed the joint “Country Cougar” in honor of the kinda hot older Korean women who work there. Me? I’m just there for the food, which is unique among Portland-area Korean restaurants, focusing on anju, or Korean drinking food. The dishes, served on large, family-style platters, are salty and spicy, and pair well with a Korean beer like Hite (rhymes with “kite”). Start with a simple soup, duk mandu guk ($7.95)—a velvety broth swimming with dumplings and sliced rice cakes. It’s a soothing respite from the heat soon to come. Do order a platter of sliced meat like jokbal ($19.95). Think of it as a simmered country ham served with a spicy seafood dipping sauce. At this point, you’ll probably notice your table is inundated with banchan, the various mini side dishes that are common to Korean cuisine, from kimchi to dried squid and even potato salad. Feel free to mix and match, as they’re meant to offer a variety of spice, texture, saltiness and acidity to any dish. And you’ve gotta get something stir-fried, like the familiar marinated bulgogi beef ($10.95) or, my favorite, the soondae bokkeum ($9.95), which stir-fries the Korean version of boudin noir blood sausage with veggies and chile sauce. The prices here might seem a tad high, but when the huge platters come out, you’ll see that each dish is meant to serve three or four people. Combine that with the side dishes and you’ll roll out of Country Korean with your belly filled and your tongue seared from chiles, simply glad that you made the trip.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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