Barbecued Squid

A special dish scores as the Seoul food of Korea Garden

The waitress was a bit shocked but she returned immediately with a bowl of garlic slivers and delivered them with a big smile. Evidently, asking for garlic in a Korean barbecue restaurant earns you instant respect. You have to be fairly adept at chopstick handling to turn the little buggers, but the reward is well worth the trouble. Roasted garlic and chile paste is an awesome accompaniment to thin-sliced rib eye hot off the grill. They were the best Romaine roasted garlic and bulgogi tacos I've ever had.

Korea Garden has cheap lunch specials on weekdays and judging by the tables around me, the barbecued boneless short ribs are the most popular of the five choices. The meat comes already cooked at lunch time. It's served in a lacquered bento box along with steamed greens, sweet potatoes, tempura squash and fried rice. Not a bad lunch for under six bucks.

Variety abounds at Korea Garden.
Troy Fields
Variety abounds at Korea Garden.

Location Info


Korea Garden Restaurant

9501 Long Point
Houston, TX 77055

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Outer Loop - NW


Bulgogi: $13.95
Bulgalbi: $14.95
Seafood combo: $14.95
Stir-fried squid: $10.95
Lunch special: $5.75
9501 Long Point, 713-468-2800.

Hours: daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

I made another evening visit to Korea Garden to sample the rest of the menu. And I struck out. There wasn't anything wrong with the broiled mackerel. It's just that mackerel is a very strong-tasting fish and this version was served plain. I would have liked it better with some kind of sauce or spicy counterpoint. A bowl of Korean-style wheat noodles featured a big flavorful broth and lots of tasty tree-ear mushrooms and meat. The large pieces of fake crab floating in it were a bit of a turn-off. The noodle bowl was okay, but there are too many other great Asian noodle joints in Houston to order them here.

Stir-fried squid was the best non- barbecue selection from the dinner menu. Big chunks of squid were tossed with scallions, mushrooms, onion, zucchini and more fake crab in a chile garlic sauce. It was extremely spicy and a welcome departure from the mundane noodles and the plain broiled fish. But in the end, none of the other things we sampled were nearly as good as the barbecue.

Maybe it's the fun of cooking it yourself. Maybe it's the "eatertainment" value as they say at Benihana. But there is no doubt that do-it-yourself barbecue is the thing to order at Houston's Korean restaurants. And Korea Garden's snug booths are a luxurious and intimate place to try it. By all means get the popular bulgogi and bulgalbi. But don't overlook the barbecued squid.

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