Cro K restaurant: Our first experience with Korean food in Zagreb
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Outside is a wonderful day, Sunday, and we are on the way to the city. The autumn is approaching fast and we are fully aware we need to fulfill every sunny day. It is beginning of September and Jaime has been in Croatia for a year already! Like we needed a reason to celebrate, we decided to explore some less known areas in of Zagreb’s Upper town and grab a nice lunch afterward.
Even I have a list of ten or more restaurants I want to try in Zagreb, Jaime is more in for some ethnic food. We are debating if we want to eat Mexican or try some other cuisine, as he remembers a cute Korean restaurant, just off the main square. At first, I am not thrilled, but I decide to go along with his choice and try some Korean food in Zagreb.
The restaurant is almost empty when we enter. We are obviously the only non-Asian guests, and we stayed the only ones until the end of our meal. I cannot understand people who do not try the local food on their travels! Every person who enters this restaurant is a Korean, except us. Why they do not visit authentic Croatian restaurant?! But from the other side, they seem to really like it, so the restaurant must be good!
We are greeted by a young waitress and given the menu. As much as most of the meals do have some explanation, it still doesn’t mean much to us – we would definitely appreciate a photo next to every meal on the menu since we are not familiar with the food. We check out “a guide” how to eat SSAM and we are intrigued, even if we have no idea what that is. In the end, we ask the waitress for her recommendation and personal description of meals.
For the appetizer, we decide to try mini delicacies from the grill and mandu Korean dumplings. Dumplings are tasty and offer nice intro in what we can expect from this lunch. If it continues this way, we will easily fall in love with this place. However, the delicacies are the way to expensive for what’ve got! Six fried pieces of vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, and onion) should not cost 45 kunas. When we placed the order, we expected to try something new and unusual, so we were ready to pay for it. But cmon, this is just not worth it.
We love the way they serve food. The food is arranged on big platters and placed on a stand with a candle inside. Like this food stays warm, continues to cook as you eat it and, of course, looks very attractive!
As soon as we finish with the appetizer, the main dish arrives. Jaime decided to try pork SSAM and I went for chicken bulgogi SSAM. As the menu explains, SSAM is a Korean BBQ and it has a special way of serving and eating. That’s exactly why we wanted to try it!
Meat is served the same way like the appetizer, on big plates heated by the candle. The main plate is surrounded by many small pots filled with different garnishes like the rice, cucumber, lettuce, and ginger. To eat it properly, you should take a piece of lettuce and fill it with meat previously dipped in soy sauce, then add rice and other garnishes. Then roll it and eat it like a taco! 😀
Jaime ordered spicy pork so I was not able to try it, but my chicken was made in heaven! It was soft, with wonderfully balanced spices and it was not spicy it all. I am not sure what was it, but the red garnish was too spicy for me so I generously ceded it to Jaime.
Eating Korean food this way is so much fun! We enjoyed it and learned something new. I will never forget the moment when I realized there is no regular cutlery, just the eating sticks! I have no idea how to use them hahaha! I tried and I failed big time. We were laughing up to tears when I was asking the waitress for a fork or otherwise I would definitely stay hungry. Even it was super fun, they should definitely place the cutlery somewhere on the table.
To sum up, we loved the presentation of the food and food itself. Location of the restaurant is fantastic as it is easily accessible. However, we did feel a bit uncomfortable being the only non-Asian guest. They should definitely develop a website and organize various events to attract more local visitors and get them to know Korean culture better. The more detailed menu with photos would also be of great help!
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