An offhand mention of “that Korean place up north on Jordan” piqued my curiosity, so I shortlisted Garam for a lunch date with Lady A. We showed up shortly after they opened, some of the first patrons of the day. The restaurant is located in a small, outdated strip mall so I was surprised to see that the interior was beautifully appointed. (I don’t know that I will ever quite acclimate to that aspect of Huntsville eateries.)
Garam offers “lunch entrees” for a slightly reduced price, as well as their full menu, but after some deliberation I settled on the Dolsot Bibimbap, while Lady A selected one of the lunch entrees (shown at the top of this post).
We settled in with our drinks and enjoyed the sunlight streaming in the windows while waiting for our food to come up. It arrived quickly, a steady sequence of dishes and small bowls. In addition to our meals, six side dishes (banchan) were also brought for us to share.
Clockwise from the top we had bean sprouts, fish cakes, pickled radishes, cucumbers, kimchi, and garlic stems.
The bean sprouts were lightly vinegary, sweet, and my favorite. The fish cakes were fishy and firmly squishy, which we all know is a texture I do not do well with. The pickled radishes were vinegary, crunchy and tastier than their name might indicate. The cucumbers were served cold and marinated in a thin sauce. The kimchi was disappointingly limp and more spicy than vinegary. The garlic stems had a texture similar to asparagus but a strong garlicky kick amplified by the chili paste sauce.
My bibimbamp was served in a deep stone bowl (which google informs me is the dolsot in the name of my dish) with a side of soup/broth. I was unclear as to whether I was supposed to drink the soup separately (as a sort of palate cleansing consume) or if I was intended to pour it over main dish. I opted to drink it prior to starting in on the main dish. The soup consisted of green onions in light, fresh chicken stock.
The main dish contained carrots, cucumbers, beef, bean sprouts and egg over rice. The bowl was coated with a small amount of oil which prevented sticking and gave the rice a rich, buttery flavor. The beef had a nicely moderate texture and a slightly sweet seasoning reminiscent of bar-b-que. The cucumber was fresh but the carrots mostly added color. The bean sprouts were large and squeaky against my teeth. The irritation factor of the squeaking outweighed their mild flavor. The egg adds a great visual punch to the dish, but the flavor was not particularly noticeable amid the other ingredients.
Garam offered an unexpectedly nice dining experience with good food and attentive service. I could easily see returning, it’s nice enough to have a semi-casual business lunch but not so fancy you couldn’t have a casual family dinner.
Total for the meal: $12.95 (includes one Dolsot Bibimbap and one drink)
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