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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bong: Not Exactly a Reference to Drug Paraphenlia

When I told some friends that I was going to go to Chez Bong's on Saturday evening they stared at me quizzically trying to pinpoint my secondary life as a drug abuser behind the façade of a hard-working intern.  I waved my hands around, no no no. Bong's.

The joy of moving to Paris was the undoubted capacity to find ethnic and cultural cuisine a few steps from my apartment.  While living in Lyon I was constantly disappointed- there was a fine selection of bouchons hanging around my little street on La Rue des Marronniers but nothing quite like the gastronomic warphole surrounding my time living in Portland.

The front of Bong
The story of Bong started last Saturday.  Bri and I decided to walk around our backstreets in an attempt to hustle up a new restaurant par hasard.  IT was turning the corner on Rue Blomet in the 15ème that a sudden fierce and meaty odor overcame our senses and we began to blindly walk towards a small decrepit restaurant with simple lettering: Bong.

Bong, as we came to discover, was a Korean eatery, specialising in a Korean meal known as Korean Barbeque.  Basically a sort of table top barbeque of a pungent marinated meat grilled by the customer and then eaten with a variety of sauces and fermented vegetables (namely the Kimchi).

We wanted in. Except, désolé, pas de place ce soir, proved that this place was a place you had to reserve in advance.

The next Saturday, 8:30 pm, we wandered in to a bright, smiling host, almost hugging us to enter into the establishment and feed us an incredibly decadent meal.

As the owner explained, Eat bite is a journey for your mouth, you take a little rice, a little meat, a little sauce.  If you like spicy, a sliced green hot pepper.  Wrap in the rice, eat, and continue.  We always have soup and a bowl of rice... but you do the work.  Please enjoy.

Bri grilled, as the "korean tradition" called for, I simply stuffed myself.  The meat has a sort of 'melt-in-your-mouth' quality... as if the marinade had literally allowed the meat to become so tender eating it required no chewing.  The marinade itself was pungent, sweet and yet carried that evervescent undertone of a slightly salty and nutty flavor.

Each condiment had it's own variety of flavors, that fermented bitter and spicy taste of a well-made Kimchi, large slices of green jalapeno peppers that burned the lips on contact, but was insatiable when eaten.  A spicy red sauce that although was hot on contact has this neverending flavor that only enhanced the flavor of the meat.  Even Bri, a Frenchman, sucked down each morsel rolled into a batvia leaf staring adoringly at the meat, proclaiming, "Where has this been all my life?"

If you've never tried Korean food, or if you are simply dying to find a good Korean place... I highly recommend Bong.  From the honest smile an owner can give (no extra charges for our second plate of Batvia) to the simply said, succulent marinated meat grilled in front of your very eyes- it's simply a culinary experience.

I don't think you will be able to turn around once you get within 1/2 mile of the restaurant... the smell will simply pull you in and for a few hours, somehow, you will no longer be in Paris but in a small crowded restaurant in Busan or Seoul.

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