Friday, August 5, 2011

Namu Killer Korean BBQ

(NOTE: A much better second experience. Click for part 2, posted July 2012.)

Namu Killer Korean BBQ is a food cart serving up their take on Korean BBQ flare. They have two locations: (1) the Good Food Here food cart pod in southeast Portland, and (2) SW 9th and Montgomery in the heart of SW Portland. Today, I went to their Good Food Here location on SE Belmont St.

Going back to my Island roots, I decided to go with Namu's Pulled Pork Plate: a scoop of Hawaiian style kalua pulled pork, a scoop of rice with peanut sauce drizzle, house-made sesame spinach, pickled cucumbers, and house-made kimchi ($8).

Pulled Pork Plate
I did not care for this dish at all. Quite sadly, I thought the side of cucumber salad was the most successful item on the plate. Crunchy, yet tangy from the vinegar/pickling process. A bit of sweetness (probably sugar was used in there) to offset the vinegar flavor. Well done.

As for the kalua pig, it was moist and on the salty side, as traditional kalua pig should be. Unfortunately, there was not a whole lot of it. Furthermore, that cabbage -- or whatever the heck that was on the kalua pig -- was extremely overcooked and almost to a gelatinous state. Maybe it was bok choy or something. Absolutely unappetizing.

The spinach was a bit puzzling to me because I was thinking it would be a hot spinach side, but cold spinach that had previously been cooked/blanched and then chilled just did not sit well with me. I appreciated the sesame flavors, but it just seemed a side dish that would do a vaudeville dance for two seconds and then go back into hiding.

I prefer a chilled kimchi that is neutral (not too tangy and not too sweet), yet packs a bit of punch. Here, I thought Namu's kimchi was terrible. It was too sweet, which negated any spiciness. Total failure here.

Finally, while I appreciated the operator of the food cart giving me a choice of brown rice instead of white rice (which I gladly accepted), the peanut sauce that covered the rice was absolutely horrid. It was too sweet again, and really clashed with any savoriness and nuttiness the brown rice brought to the dish. The brown rice itself was pretty average, nothing to really write home about.

Basically, I had read so many positive reviews on Namu, and this experience flat out disappointed me. This was barely worth any money in my book, let alone the $8 I paid for it. At the very least, I would have figured they could nail the kimchi or even the sesame spinach. Not to be.

Sorry guys, I'm just not a fan of this location. Maybe I'll try the other location in SW Portland one day, if I get to it. Namu will get points for the respectable attempt on the kalua pig (albeit still below-average pork) and the cucumber salad, but there were very few redeeming qualities in this experience.

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