Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Providing a savory relief for shoppers

Sushi chef Jong Mok Lim prepares a platter for customers.                                      (Yong Kim/Daily News)
Sushi chef Jong Mok Lim prepares a platter for customers. (Yong Kim/Daily News)
About the restaurant
300 E. Main St.
Norristown, PA 19401
610-277-4008
Rating:
Neighborhood: Norristown
Hours: Mon-Thur (lunch) Sun-Sat (dinner)
Reservations: Recommended
Open Table
Prices: $$
Payment methods:
MasterCard
Visa
Cuisine type: Japanese; Korean
Meals Served: Lunch - Mon., Tue., Wed., Thu., Fri. Dinner - Mon. thru Sun.
Style: Ridge Pike/East Main Street in Norristown seems an unlikely place for a nice eatery, let alone a Korean one, occupied as it is by rows of car dealerships. But this restaurant attracts customers from all over the region, and a recent renovation spiffed it up.

YOU'VE JUST spent hours wandering around the sleek but bewildering maze of Ikea, gazing at furniture with names like Ringsjon and Grundtal.

What better antidote to Swedish modern than a hot blast of Korean red chili pepper?

Just head west on Ridge Pike to nearby August Moon for relief.

Opened in 1994, August Moon serves both Korean and Japanese cuisine, but owner Myong Ryu said that most come for the Korean.

Ridge Pike/East Main Street in Norristown seems an unlikely place for a nice eatery, let alone a Korean one, occupied as it is by rows of car dealerships.

But Ryu, a 30-year Norristown resident, said the restaurant attracts customers from all over the region.

She even saw fit in 2000 to build a large banquet hall around the back of the modest-looking restaurant. Be sure to drive around and look at the little tableau with a waterfall and small trees.

The restaurant itself is decorated with shoji screens, with a bar to the right as you walk in, and a sushi bar to the left.

But most notable are the dark wood Chinese medicine cabinets, with multiple small drawers for herbs.

On the two occasions my husband, Stephane, and I visited - during odd hours - there were few other patrons.

That was too bad, because chef Woo Kim did a nice job with homey Korean specialties. He used quality ingredients, which may account for the prices: though moderate, they are on the high side for Korean food.

An appetizer of beef on a skewer ($5.50) was perfectly cooked and tender, with a sweet, soy-based marinade that had a slight seafood perfume from eel broth - which sounds weird but was a good match.

Vegetable pa chun ($6.50), called Korean crepes, were crispy, filled with scallions and served with a spicy sauce.

The sushi appetizer (assorted fish on rice, $8.50) was wasabi-laden and slightly dry - both fish and rice - but basically fine.

Let's not forget the tasty little dishes of free appetizers that are the norm at most Korean restaurants, like kimchi, bean sprouts, spinach and such.

Though at times you can sit in the back dining area and cook Korean barbecue right at your table, the bulgogi ($19) was prepared in the kitchen when we were there.

The garlicky soy marinade made with Asian pear and kiwi tenderized the thin slices of sirloin. You wrap up the barbecued meat in lettuce leaves, with a pat of rice and red bean paste. Mmm.

Stone bowl bibim bap ($13) - a sizzling hot bowl filled with a fried egg, vegetables and ground beef, with bowls of rice and hot sauce on the side - requires that you mix all the ingredients into a gorgeous mess.

Two dishes, codfish stew ($12) and seafood jampong ($15), a noodle soup with tiny shrimp, scallops, squid and mussels, were good but not as fiery hot as I'm used to. (Ryu said you can request the spiciness in the dishes.)

August Moon offers little in the way of dessert, but we had eaten well enough without.

We just swallowed the last dregs of the light Korean OB lager ($4.50) and headed back down Ridge Pike toward Ikea.

Sono Motoyama
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