What better way is there to spend a cold February evening than to explore an array of Asian food specialties with old and new friends at the local Korean market food court? Hey, times are tough and Georges Perrier might have to postpone our patronage until the next economic upswing. For now, value, variety and a recession era good time are readily available at the Assi Market food court (1222 Welsh Road, North Wales, PA).
Last Saturday, eleven of us converged at Assi to schmooze and sample the six small but bountiful concessions. There are two Korean places (Friends and Man Nam Korean), two Japanese (Sushi Express and Izumi) along with the Agafe Asian Bakery and the Break Time Coffee Shop. I went the sushi/sashimi route at Izumi along with Chuckles52 and his chef friend, Bob. While I was quite sated with the $7.99 sampler and complimentary cup of hot miso soup, Chuckles and Bob later indulged in a bowl of tempura udon and skewered chicken yakatori. Man Nam provided Crazyspice with a huge bowl of dumpling/ramen soup with sides of kim-chee and pickled daikon while friends Robin, Alexis and Emilie shared kim-chee fried rice, shrimp fried rice (both cloaked in a paper thin omelette) and vegetable dumpling ramen. Nancy and Marilyn also went the udon route.
But the real entertainment of the evening had to be the fried bons ordered by Givemecarbs and Bottomless pit. The small meat, shrimp or scallop-stuffed mini-dumplings come with three grades of spicy sauce and are garnished with gossamer thin bonita flakes. We watched in amazement as the heat of the bons animated the bonita flakes into a playful ballet resembling creatures on a tide swept coral reef. After the bonita show, Givemecarbs and Bottomless pit scarfed the bons in record time before taking on a spicy chicken noodle soup. For desserts and beverages, the Break Time Coffee shop complemented several of our meals with a wide variety of bubble teas, exotic ice creams and smoothies needed to put down the lingering flames of Asian chili peppers.
When filled to the gills, several of us went shopping to collect bargains galore (e.g. four pounds of frozen 26-30 Tiger shrimp for $23), replenish staples at the lowest prices around and to just marvel at the variety of fresh fish, produce and products never before seen. Chuckles was thrilled to find fresh yamaimo – a Japanese mountain potato grown only on Hokkaido that he remembered from early childhood. He and Bob found so many items they wished they had brought a larger car.
In short, we all created a truly memorable evening, ate like royalty for very little and came away with some great finds and new friends.