On a recent visit upstate to my friend Julia's, we crossed over into Connecticut and went to the Danbury Mall. I thought all suburban malls were equally sprawling, but Danbury's was massive. Of course, walking through and shopping left us exhausted and starving, so we popped into nearby Korean/Japanese restaurant, Edo II. Julia and her mom had just been there a couple days prior, so the fact that she insisted we go back must have been a good sign.
It was definitely a good sign.
The restaurant is tiny - maybe 6 small tables - and is sort of like a hole-in-the-wall that you could completely miss if you didn't know about it. The whole place was very endearing since it seemed like a very family-oriented/family-run establishment with dad as the sushi chef, mom in the back kitchen, and son (young, handsome, and ever so gracious, mind you) serving.
Julia had this beautiful Naruto roll: paper-thin cucumber wrapped around crabmeat, tobiko, and avocado, like a gluten-free California roll. It was a stunning presentation, and delicious appetizer. The cucumber was fresh and crisp, while the soy sauce/vinaigrette underneath was just enough savory flavor to balance it out. I had the equally attractive and delicious tuna tataki: pistachio and black sesame-crusted tuna that was thinly sliced and seared. Each slice was topped with finely chopped apples, which gave a tangy/sweet crunch to each piece of delicate tuna. Stunning.
We both got gobdol bibimbap: a melange of vegetables, meat, and a fried egg on top of white rice...and served in a blisteringly hot stone bowl. Watch your fingers, now. Apparently, the best and most delicious and least mouth-searing way to consume a bibimbap is to churn all the ingredients together over and over and over until everything is incorporated well. And, of course, add squirts of Korean chili sauce to taste.
It. Was. Incredible! I must admit, I would have never profess myself a fan of Korean cuisine per se - I've had it a few times, but wasn't impressed - so obviously I wasn't eating the right stuff. The sizzling stone bowl made the rice at the very bottom crunchy (you can also achieve this in a rice cooker and in my family, it is a most prized bite of rice). Each bite had some shredded carrot, shiitake mushroom, bean sprouts, cucumber, and other mystery ingredients, and spicy rice. Disappointingly, we were approaching fullness very quickly and took our bibimbaps to go. Not surprisingly, they make delicious leftovers, too, after all the flavors get some time to meld together.
I was equally impressed and touched that this unassuming restaurant was producing such marvelous food. We could tell everything was so lovingly prepared, truly a reflection of this family's culture and heart.
As we left, we promised our friendly server that we'd be back again. Danbury, CT, we're coming for ya!