Restaurants & Bars

Chowdown at Silla, "Modern Korean" in Santa Clara

Cicely | Mar 29, 201910:50 PM     2

Melanie, Marc, and I met up for dinner at this new Korean restaurant, I with a 10-year-old in tow. Melanie had given us the heads-up that this place was in its soft opening period, and I was easily able to get a reservation for eight, although we had to downgrade it to four.

The menu is just one sheet, single sided, including a few options for the lunch special (though we were there at dinner). There are some big-ticket items like bossam (steamed sliced pork belly) at $40 and galbi jjim, short rib stew, in small or large size ($28/$49).

This isn't a bbq place although they do have bbq, but nothing is grilled at table. We actually skipped the 'cue and ordered what our server said was the signature dish, kalbi tang, which is a clear soup with short ribs. We also got oyster jeon, tofu salad, eel dolpan bibimbap, and spicy squid.

Panchan arrived swiftly and was solidly good if not great: cabbage kimchi, radish kimchi, sprouts, a bitter green that I don't know the name for but might be chrysanthemum, strips of fish cake cooked in sweet soy sauce, japchae and I think a kind of pickle that I didn't eat. I thought the portions of the japchae and sprouts were kinda stingy, although we probably could have gotten more.

Tofu salad: I really liked the texture of the silken tofu; I wonder where they got it (or if it's housemade). Unfortunately, it didn't get much of a foil in the mesclun dressed in white sesame dressing. I think it could have used a more assertive sauce.

Oyster jeon: these were plump individual oysters out of the shell, egg-dipped and pan-fried. Served with a tangle of of, I think, chives in a chile dressing. Delectable.

Kalbi tang: after wrestling with the scissors and tongs to de-bone the meat, I wasn't that crazy about this, but at the end of the meal I came back around to appreciating its pure flavor.

Spicy squid: this is normally one of my favorite Korean dishes, but the flavors (and texture!) were kind of muddy.

Eel dolpan bibimbap: this is the dish I'd come back for. The eel is similar to Japanese unagi, brushed lightly with a sweet sauce. What made it a bit different were the shreds of perilla/sesame leaf. I love their anise-like flavor. The crunchy rice at the bottom of the hot bowl was a nice contrast to the luscious eel.

We were kind of at a loss as to what made the food "modern," as it seemed pretty straight ahead. The decor certainly qualified.

Melanie has pics!

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