By Hope S. Philbrick
First, a confession:
The evening after I dined at Takorea & Ssam Bar in Midtown, Atlanta, Ga., I stood over my kitchen sink eating tempura-fried brussels sprouts cold, straight out of refrigerator and straight out of the container into which they’d been packed for me to bring home.
Assuming they wouldn’t microwave into anything other than a soggy mess, I’d looked at them as I unpacked the leftovers wondering why the server had even bothered to include them—what could I possibly do with them?—and cautiously stuck one into my mouth. Served hot and crisp, they’d been delightful. But cold? Eh. What could I expect?
No longer crispy yet still firm, at this temperature I detected citrus notes that were hidden before. The earthy-bitter vegetable and savory batter flavors were still there. Yum!
If my husband reads this, he’ll discover that we had leftover brussels sprouts. He didn’t get any. I ate them all before he came downstairs for dinner.
They were that good.
The tempura fried brussels sprouts are just one side item included in the new Korean Fried Chicken dinner special that’s available on Wednesday evenings. The meal, which can easily serve four adults, features a whole fried chicken (all-natural chicken, cut into pieces and fried to a golden brown in a delicate rice flour batter) plus an assortment of house-made kimchi and pickled veggies. The dinner is $60 and a couple can definitely make two meals out of it.
Just be sure you’re the one who divvies up the leftovers if you want any lingering brussels sprouts.
Midtown Takorea’s new build-it-yourself ssam (ssam means “wrapped” in Korean) is like the Korean version of Mexican fajitas. You get meat, sesame rice, cucumber kimchi, pickled cauliflower, soy ginger pickled turnips and spicy bean paste along with a pile of green lettuce leaves to wrap into your own yummy combo of bites. Ssam meat options include sweet soy-marinated boneless Angus beef short rib, spicy red pepper-marinated pork tenderloin, and sweet soy-marinated pork tenderloin.
The cocktail menu includes a jalapeño-cilantro margarita and a mango-habanero margarita.
Chef Tomas Lee first brought Mexican-Korean fusion to Atlanta at his West Midtown Hankook Taqueria. In 2011 he opened Takorea & Ssam Bar, which currently has four locations (three in Atlanta and one in Athens, Ga.). His new menu at the Midtown location adds dinner options that are inspired by his family’s favorite home recipes. “By putting traditional Korean flavors inside the familiarity of tacos and burritos, we were able to introduce Atlantans to the foods I grew up with,” Lee said in a press release. “Now with Midtown Takorea & Ssam Bar’s more chef-driven menu, our goal is to create lots of flavorful, sharable dishes that you’ll want to pass to friends and family around the table.”
Or just devour them over your sink, quickly and privately, so you don’t have to share.
Midtown Takorea & Ssam Bar
818 Juniper Street
Midtown Atlanta, Georgia
Lunch and dinner served daily.
Several gluten-free items are available, including the fried chicken and the brussels sproutbs.
– Photos courtesy Takorea & Ssam Bar; interiors by Mark Haidet; food by Tuan Huynh
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