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New Korean in S. Portland

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Restaurants & Bars

New Korean in S. Portland

MU | Jul 11, 2003 08:16 PM

Recently checked out Nara Japanese/Korean, which is in the former Thai Rose (very mediocre Thai and ... umm... sushi) space in the weird little shopping center on Maine Mall Rd. across from Staples. Despite the fact that Thai Rose also had sushi, the place now has different owners, even though they haven't changed the decor at all. Really liked the standard cabbage kimchee, good sour flavor, maybe a bit too salty. Don't know if it's made there or not. Other panchan (there were 6, including the kimchee) were not terribly interesting, but quite competent: potato, cucumber w/ onion, soybean sprouts, zucchini (maybe some msg in this), sweet beans. Saw mackerel and what looked like sweet potato stems (I think. It was a veggie resembling soba noodles) at another table. Staff quite helpful and friendly, but, I guess, discriminatory against non-Asians.

For entrees (this was lunchtime), had a kimchee chigae and Dad had the dwenjang (i.e. miso) chigae. Both tasty and very spicy, with very different flavors, dwenjang had an undertone of seafood along with the miso; kimchee tasted more meaty.

I'd like to try more stuff there, like the bibimbap, pajun (suspiciously cheap at $6 a pop), and maybe the bulkalbi. I'd also like to know if there's a Korean menu or any specials. Menu also has some generic "stir fry" dishes with various combos of veggies and meat or tofu with "house sauce", which might be good for vegetarians.

Verdict: Nara is definitely as good or better than Fuji in the Old Port, which has lousy chigae, but pretty good bibimbap and panchan. Please note that I can't really comment on the sushi in either place -- I go to these places for Korean food and to Sapporo for sushi.

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