March 27, 2013

Foodie Face-Off: Four Seasons vs. Koko

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With a huge variety of tasty, filling and inexpensive choices, Four Seasons has made me a fan of the often overlooked Korean cuisine, the best of which resides on Eddy Street.

Food

My personal favorite appetizer is the duk bok ki (stir fried rice cakes with vegetables). The crunchy veggies, sautéed in a sweet and spicy sauce, contrast with thick, cylindrical noodles. Other highlights include any of the panjun dishes, or pancakes with a variety of fillings.

For main dishes, the sliced pork Korean BBQ is tender and flavorful, and the serving is gigantic. The soups serve as Korean comfort food. One even promises to “chase hangovers,” but that remains unconfirmed by me or any of my fellow diners.

The jaeyook kimchi is strange and funky; spicy slices of pork and chunks of tofu accompany small, quarter-sized rice noodles in a heap of kimchi. The unique flavor of kimchi makes jaeyook kimchi a wholly and unequivocally Korean dish. The dish is crunchy, chewy, spicy, sour, really weird and really good.

Another outstanding entrée is the ojingoh dolsot bibim bap. Chunks of squid top rice cooked with peppers and onions in a spicy chili sauce are served in a sizzling stone bowl. Sure, the squid can sometimes get a little chewy (read: rubbery), but this dish has never failed to please when I come in with an empty stomach.

Service

The service at Four Seasons is quick and often entertaining. The staff recognizes returning customers and remembers favorite dishes. The food comes without much wait, making Four Seasons an ideal stop for a quick weekday lunch.

Value and Final Word

Dinner at Four Seasons can be a little expensive, which is why I recommend their lunch special. The lunch boxes, each under $10, include fried rice, salad, dumplings, noodles and a choice of meat. A steal, indeed.

Four Seasons has become my go-to lunch spot in Collegetown. The food is satisfying, the service is solid and I don’t need to spend too much to get a full meal. Whether you’re a Korean food novice or a kimchi connoisseur, bring your appetite to Four Seasons.

-Zachary Siegel

To the average diner unfamiliar with Korean cuisine, Koko certainly holds up. But a few flaws make Koko fall short of Four Seasons in quality of food and experience.FoodBefore our entrées arrived, we were presented with a number of side dishes. There were two varieties of kimchi, as well as one small plate of marinated bean sprouts and cubed potato in a mild sauce. The crowning glory was a small bubbling pot of gyeran jjim, a steamed egg dish with a subtle brothy flavor and a silken texture. It paired perfectly with my friend’s bibimbap entree. She opted for the cold variety, which is a bit more like a salad than a stir fry, and dressed it with plenty of gochujang, or Korean hot sauce. She wasn’t a fan of the marinated mushrooms, finding them a bit too salty, but I enjoyed the intense marinade. My bulgogi was tasty, tender and perfectly portioned, but not as transcendent as bulgogi I’ve had elsewhere. Also, the fact that it wasn’t sizzling in the cast-iron pan gave me pause, especially considering the speed with which our meal arrived. It seemed unlikely that the meat could have been cooked so quickly, and I suspect it may have been reheated. I’m going to stick to Asian Cuisine on Aurora Street when future bulgogi cravings arise.ServiceIf Koko excels in one category in particular, it is in the treatment of its customers. Our meal arrived extremely fast –– almost too fast, as my dining companion said, which, given the temperature of my meal as mentioned above, could be true. The friendliness of our waiter was on par with the speed with which our food was served, and he even stopped by our table to aid us in identifying and consuming our banchan correctly while we puzzled over how exactly to use them to our best advantage.Value and Final WordEntrée prices on the menu at Koko fell, for the most part, within a range of $12 to $17. While I’ve had heftier bills, I’m also not the type to spend that for an average meal, especially considering the fact that we only ordered one thing each. Considering those prices, I’d save return trips to Koko for special occasions or parental visits. While the experience wasn’t particularly negative, I don’t plan on becoming a regular.  -Clare Dougan

Original Author: Zachary Siegel

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