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Kuma report - Korean/sushi in Tenleytown

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Kuma report - Korean/sushi in Tenleytown

DC in DC | Oct 19, 2005 10:06 AM

Visited Kuma last night (thanks to the OP who tipped me off to it several weeks ago). It's a Korean/sushi place in Tenleytown, immediately south of the Metro stop.

The setting is nice: pleasant decor, good lighting. (Except: enormous plasma-screen TV in one corner. Odd.) The place was maybe 25 percent full at 8 p.m.

The menu has BBQ, teriyake, noodle dishes, etc. It also has extensive sushi options (I gather it's common for Korean places to offer sushi too, to draw customers). And each meal is accompanied by a small plater of traditional Korean apps: pickled cabbage, something else (another veggie), and a very nice fried tofu arrangement that was surprisingly flavorful. There's a sign on the door that they give discounts to AU students, but though the place isn't at all fancy, it also didn't feel divey. (Decor resembled Spices in Cleveland Park in style, though Kuma is smaller.)

We ordered a seaweed salad and avocado salad to start. For main courses, husband ordered a bi bim bop and I ordered short ribs.

Seaweed salad was good; avocado salad was fine, except that the avocado slices were served over very unspecial (slightly wilted, pitiful looking) pieces of iceberg lettuce. The dressing ("sweet soy") was very nice. I picked off the avocado, dipped in the delish dressing, and left the sad lettuce.

Bi bim bop was good. Generous portions of veggies, ground meet, and a fried egg on top of rice in a searing hot bowl. Hot sauce on the side. Stirred all together, it was delicious. The rice achieves a kind of carmelization as it continues cooking on the bottom of the bowl. Yum.

The ribs were very good. Served on a smoking hot platter with onions and a few mushrooms, they were marinated, spiced, and delicious. The onions also added to the carmelization. Very nice. (In contrast with Full Kee, these ribs were a bit drier, less peppery, but also less greasy.)

Service was very sweet and attentive, but not very smooth. I got the feeling the women working there aren't professional servers, but rather, are family or friends pitching in to help the enterprise. Our salads came out about 5 minutes apart - so we didn't really eat them together. Then they brought me the wrong entree so, with repeated abject apologies, removed it and again, my poor husband had to eat alone while I waited another 15 minutes or so for my ribs. But since the place isn't pretending to be fancy, I didn't mind.

Oh - and their beer selection is very limited. When we asked for their darkest beer, they brought a Budweiser. Oh well. They also have sake and soft drinks.

Prices were not cheap for this style of place - dinner was $58 including tip - but generally the quality seems good, the staff clearly means well, the menu is broad, and and I'd return anytime for those ribs.

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