Relaxation and Repast at Bon Ga

After two meals at Bon Ga , I understand why Oxheart chef Justin Yu names it as one of his go-to restaurants.

Bon Ga is not about culinary posturing, fussy presentation and unorthodox flavors. Fresh ingredients and consistently impeccable preparation are Bon Ga's hallmark virtues and the reason this restaurant is exactly where I want to go on a casual weekend night with friends.

It's hard not to order some form of dumpling (steamed beef are my favorite) because the supple dough and rich, spicy contents are pure comfort. The zucchini pancake, equally satisfying, presents more complicated flavors: fluffy salty cooked egg, tender botanical vegetables and crisp "skin" laced with sesame oil. A medium will have you fighting over the last piece with your fellow dining companions, so keep the peace (no pun intended -- well, okay, yes) and order a large.

Both times I've eaten at Bon Ga, I've ordered the bibimbap. It's unusual for me not to try something new on my second visit to a restaurant, but my initial experience with the robust purple rice adorned with mounds of pork and kimchi was so good it demanded repetition. Take II of the bibimbap was possibly even better, probably because I mixed the egg yolk thoroughly through the rest of the dish's components so as to create a lovely binder between rice, meat and vegetables.

While the bibimbap was my and my friend's clear favorite, my husband and another friend were rightfully enamored of the pan-fried squid and vegetables. The spicy garlic sauce with slightly sweet undertones was a fitting dressing for the milder seafood and produce, both slightly seared to preclude any hint of sogginess.

At my third dinner at Bon Ga, I should probably order Something Else. I wouldn't mind, though, if pleasant history repeated itself and I relished the bibimbap once again. I have a feeling, though, I would be just as pleased with anything on the menu. So, perhaps, then it's time to move on to the tofu stew.

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Joanna O'Leary