My love of Asian food stems from growing up in Brooklyn, one of the five boroughs of New York City. As far back as my memory goes it is filled with egg rolls and wonton soup. When I moved to Bulgaria in 2006, I would have to say the first food that I started missing was Chinese and Sushi (Japanese). I sought out recipes to recreate these highly delectable foods, but I hit a wall when I began searching for the ingredients. I tried to wing it and make substitutions but it wasn’t the same. In Sofia, there were quite a few Китайски (Chinese) restaurants, but they were not like New York Chinese. Even in Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie the mosquito character played by Chris Rock praised the New York-ese Chinese. My hankering for Chinese lead me to broaden my horizons, which were rather broad coming from the world’s melting pot, to find any good Asian. I visited SASA and Hamachi for Japanese, yet Thai, Vietnamese and Korean were beyond my reach.
In the last few months, since my return from the CIA, heaps of new Asian offerings have appeard. The chain Happy Sushi is making Нори (Nori – Seaweed sushi wrapper) part of the Bulgarian lexicon. This leads me to one of the best authentic restaurant I have been introduced to since I arrived in Bulgaria: Korean House Yun.
Unbeknowns to me, it has existed for quite some time, but ownership has changed. A fellow blogger wrote about her experiences on SOFIQM
and I was exstatic! I envisioned this rather casual and quaint establishment, because the location on the map… seems like it was in the middle of no where. To my surprise, the place was a high-end restaurant, even using metal chopsticks, not the wooden ones in paper wrappers; classy and at first glance the prices were equally posh, but in the end… they were more than ordinary Bulgarians could afford, but not outlandish. Our lunch for four people, plus a beer wa 100lv (including tip); we did however under estimate the amount of food we would be receiving.
Korean House Yun is located in close proximity to the South Korean Embassy and it was evident; the clientel during our lunch was primarily Koreans. Korea is a wealthy country, so in context with the customers these prices were approprate, so I think.
At the CIA, we spent three weeks studying the Cuisines of Asia (not Asias), which is barely a drop in the bucket for an entire continent with a rich food culture. About 10% of the students attending the CIA are from South Korea; they even have some text books translated into Korean. I am sure the curriculum offered some authentic recipes and Korean cooking techniques. For three day, my team and I prepared Japchae, a traditional dish, so I am intimately familiar with the preparation and taste. I am by no way an authority on Korean cuisine, but I feel I know this dish. What makes Japchae unique, in my opinion is the sweet potato glass noodles (dangmyeon). The dish itself was lovely. My three lunch companions and I shared one portion and it was a decent size. Unfortunately, I got the last serving, which was quite saucy, but tasty none the less.
We ordered another classic Korean dish Bulgogi, (stir-fried, tender beef strips in a soy based sauce with a hint of spice). It was probably my favorite thing on the table. It was servied with large lettuce leaves, which you wrapped around the Bulgogi filling. I made a complete mess of myself, but it was worth it.
Another Korean staple is Kimchi, which is fermented chinese cabbage with heat. It is spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. You have the option of a kilo or a half. We ordered the half and it was PLENTY for the four of us. I can’t imagine if it was just two people and the only option on the menu was 500g.
The special of the day was another noodle dish with pork, veggies and sauce Jajanmion. This sauce was seeped in umami (the fifth sense) I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, my initial thought was shitaki mushrooms, but my friend lead me to the right choice of soy bean paste (
Mandu Tikim was another tasty bite; they are fried dumplings filled with meat, vegetables and kimchi.
I was extremely happy with my visit to Korean House Yun. It truly was an experience, which was new to me in Sofia… authentic food, outside the numerous Italian restaurants, which rarely capture the spirit of Italia; I could be wrong and I might face arguments. Korean House it is definitely worth a visit. The price points are not for an everyday meal, unless you are Korean, but a special occasion. During the warmer months, there is a lovely outdoor garden area that has unobstructed views of Borissova Gradina.
Korean House Yun
34 Elemag Str., Sofia
Working time: 10:00 – 22:00
Phone: 02 963 03 65
If you enjoy my website, please“Like” my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter… where you can find daily updates and photos of life on the farm and in the kitchen.