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Memories of meals past: Our Top 10 in a year of great dining.


I love putting the year-end review together.

I get to reread the original reviews of restaurants that scored four forks (excellent) or better in 2013, recalling memories of some great dining experiences.

Here are 10 restaurants that I’m ready to go back to in an instant. Keep in mind that menus often change, so be sure to check out websites and Facebook pages for current information.

But even if the menu is different, I feel confident that you’ll enjoy what these restaurants have to offer in terms of food and beverage as well as service and ambiance.

Thanks for being faithful readers of the column throughout 2013. There’s more great Food for Thought coming in 2014.

Happy New Year!

Sisters Bistro 3046 Main St. Old Forge, N.Y. 369-1053

In the middle of this quaint Adirondack community there’s a lovingly restored Victorian house that’s home to Sisters Bistro.

The restaurant is a charming setting of original dark woodwork, burgundy walls, crystal chandeliers, oil paintings and Oriental rugs.

The bistro’s food is more or less tapas style — small plates — but far from tiny, perfect for sharing. The menu offered about 20 items priced between $8 and $15.

Two soups, a couple of salads, a flatbread, a cheese plate, bruschetta and hummus were offered, as well as a few dishes that could be considered light entrees, including salmon, scallops, crabcakes, ahi tuna, duck and lamb.

An autumn salad ($9) of bibb lettuce with apple slices, shredded carrots and blue cheese was lightly dressed with white balsamic vinaigrette and topped with a fig.

Roasted mushroom risotto ($8) was richly flavored, presented in a sculptured white bowl cradling the perfectly prepared rice.

Terlingua chili ($8) appeared as a rich, dark, rust-colored paste, obviously tomatoes and what must have been pureed beans. It was spicy but not too hot.

Entrees were enticing, and with the knowledge that they were smaller-than-usual portions, we ordered a battery of contenders.

Crabcakes ($12) were very good, with an ingenious red cabbage and bacon slaw as the center of attention.

Duck breast ($14) was sliced into quarter-sized rounds and carefully placed over saffron rice and watercress. A sauce of Bing cherries complemented the duck.

Shrimp and grits ($13) — three large, nicely sautéed shrimp — were placed over grits flavored with prosciutto, green onions, corn kernels and cream. Great flavors.

Lamb chops ($15) — three small chops from a rack of lamb— were succulent and tender, rubbed with Moroccan spices and showcased on a bed of couscous. The dish was enhanced with a remarkable apricot sauce.

Pan-seared and baked salmon ($14) was a real winner, light and moist, packing a wonderful punch of flavor. It was paired with a mélange of thin-sliced fingerling potatoes, avocado and mandarin oranges.

The entrees we sampled were all delicious, perfectly seasoned to accent their individual attributes, one great bite after another.

A truly outstanding dessert was an upscale s’more ($8). A soft chocolate brownie was enveloped in a marshmallow meringue, broiled to a campfire brown and nestled on a bed of graham cracker crumbs.

Dinner for four came to $128.83 before tip.

We enjoyed great service throughout the evening. Questions were readily answered, wines were adequately recommended and water glasses were kept full.

Sisters Bistro is an oasis of dignified, refined dining. All aspects of this restaurant appear well thought out and expertly executed. The setting and the food were as good as it gets, making it well worth the trip.

The restaurant is open seasonally from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend.

The Kitchen at Iroquois Farm 10951 Route 37 Lisbon, N.Y. 388-3077

Josh Taillon really knows how to put a meal together.

The 30-something chef is living the dream: running his own restaurant back on his home turf. After spending 13 years in Colorado cooking at prestige restaurants, he recently opened The Kitchen on Route 37 between Ogdensburg and Waddington.

Little of the exterior of this old farm building-turned-restaurant has changed over the years. The dining room still has the attractive and welcoming feel that one would expect from a farm restaurant.

The menu is compact — six salads, eight “small plates” and eight “large plates” — with virtually every dish showing thought and creativity

Small plates were a terrific start: roasted garden Brussels sprouts ($4), grilled flatbread ($7), cabbage noodles ($5) and crispy frog legs ($7).

The Brussels sprouts were hand-chopped and sautéed with caramelized onions and house-made bacon. The large pieces of bacon in this plentiful dish gave it a real “wow” factor.

The grilled flatbread also was excellent — a nice chew to the dough, generously adorned with caramelized leeks, roasted mushrooms, dollops of ricotta, sage and truffle oil.

Cabbage noodles were nicely done, homemade flat noodles with caramelized onions and braised cabbage.

Frog legs are not something you often see on menus these days. They were breaded and lightly deep-fried, served over saffron rice surrounded by a dark gumbo sauce.

For large plates, we ordered grilled flank steak ($16), fish and chips ($16), pumpkin risotto ($14) and grilled bone-in pork chop ($16).

The flank steak was great — marinated, rubbed and grilled. It was sliced and placed over an artistic pile of salt potatoes, creamed spinach, smoked blue cheese and fried onions.

Fish and chips consisted of a nice piece of cod with a lovely thin beer batter, decent hand-cut fries and house-made coleslaw with a nice bite.

The grilled pork chop was the most impressive presentation of the night. It was 1½ inches thick and sat on a bed of creamy mashed sweet potatoes surrounded by braised green cabbage and topped with dark spiced cranberry chutney.

Pumpkin risotto was flavored with leek and Parmesan, topped with a handful of crispy kale. It was a generous portion, served in a large rimmed soup bowl.

Desserts were homemade, of course. Chocolate chiffon pie ($4) and pumpkin bread pudding ($5) were both outstanding.

The bread pudding was an excellent creation, cut into cubes, served warm with crème anglaise and cranberry gastrique arranged between the cubes.

Dinner for four — four small plates, four large and two desserts — came to $100.58 before tip.

The preparations, the portions and prices were spot-on. The food at The Kitchen is, without a doubt, some of the best around.

St. Regis Café at Paul Smith’s College Routes 86 and 30 Paul Smiths, N.Y. (518) 327-6355

The St. Regis Café at Paul Smith’s College is one of the best-kept secrets in the Adirondacks.

Students majoring in culinary arts and hospitality management learn classic culinary techniques and service, and put them into practice here.

The students prepare and serve lunch daily in the café, as well as a weekly Wednesday night buffet. Both are open to students and the public. The meals are served in a beautiful, modern, Adirondack-style dining room.

A friendly young student hostess showed us to our table. Cloth napkins were skillfully folded and standing upright at each place setting; fresh flowers appeared at every table.

The menu changes weekly with a different theme. When we visited, the theme was “A Taste of the Caribbean.” It’s a prix fixe menu — $12 per person — with three courses, and three options for each course.

The food — each and every selection — was nothing less than amazing.

For the first course, there was corn and coconut soup with fresh crab; grapefruit and orange salad with roasted peanut dressing; and a tilapia and crayfish cake with mango salsa.

The soup had a coconut milk broth that included some chopped red pepper, onion and kale with a generous portion of real crabmeat in the center.

The salad consisted of two wedges of iceberg lettuce, orange and grapefruit sections and a light, subtle peanut dressing.

The panko-crusted fish cake was perfect with its golden fried crust and refreshing mango salsa.

The second course was even better than the first.

Jerked mahi mahi was served over jasmine rice and topped with a sweet tomato relish. Squash puree decorated the plate.

A grilled pork chop with homemade Caribbean-spiced barbecue sauce came on a mound of mashed sweet potato. A slice of grilled pineapple completed the plate.

Black bean cakes with poached eggs and Creole hollandaise was a tasty vegetarian dish. The eggs were perfectly poached, sitting atop a rustic-textured black bean cake. The hollandaise had hints of lemon and a lingering touch of heat from the Creole seasoning.

Dessert was equally impressive.

Chocolate rum and toasted coconut mousse was creamy and chocolatey. Crustless avocado cheesecake, served in a ramekin topped with whipped cream and slice of avocado, was fantastic. Gateau patate with cinnamon crème anglaise was delightful.

This was a lunch that we’d go back for in an instant. The food rivaled that of any fine-dining restaurant anywhere.

The restaurant is open throughout the school year and during the summer except for college holiday periods.

Freestyle Cuisine 2126 Saranac Ave. Lake Placid, N.Y. (518) 837-5228

Chef Richard Brosseau could well be considered the Emeril Lagasse of Lake Placid.

He has been creating and executing interesting and eclectic menus in the Adirondacks for decades — and he has another winner at Freestyle Cuisine.

Unlike Chef Brosseau’s menus in previous restaurants, there’s more than just fancy foodie entrees. This time, the menu is approachable while still giving familiar fare the twist that he is known for.

There are a good number of categories with lots to choose from. We decided on a “mix and match” approach.

Our “starter” course was spaghetti squash griddle cake ($12), pork cheek rillettes ($9), lump crabcakes ($19) and a lobster corn dog ($14).

We got the corn dog mostly out of curiosity. It consisted of lobster meat formed in the shape of a hot dog, covered with cornmeal and fried, skewered and served over mixed greens, finished with a drizzle of spicy mustard sauce.

Spaghetti squash griddle cake was squash pan-fried in the shape of a pancake and topped with a sweet celeriac and apple slaw.

The pate-like pork was lightly spiced, complemented by cranberry/strawberry jam. We slathered both onto a beautifully toasted baguette supplied with the dish.

The lump crabcakes were perhaps the best crabcakes we’ve had in awhile. Two tall, panko-crusted cakes were plated with a fennel, red onion and orange salad.

We ordered a second course to share: hearts of palm-avocado salad ($9) and beet and goat cheese terrine ($9).

A heart of palm cut into rounds was tossed with dressed field greens and decorated with wedges of avocado. For the terrine, goat cheese was layered between slices of beets — ingenious.

For our main course, we chose sautéed flounder ($25), grilled farm chicken ($24), fire-roasted portobello ($15) and braised lamb shank ($20).

The flounder was lightly breaded and topped with a lemon-caper sauce. Roasted purple fingerling potatoes were tasty and a nice touch.

The chicken dish consisted of a large chicken breast prepared with flavorful Portuguese piri piri pepper sauce.

The portobello mushroom dish consisted of two marinated, grilled portobellos set over rye toast and topped with roasted red peppers and a vegetable slaw.

Braised lamb shank was excellent, the meat falling off the bone, set over mashed potatoes and covered with gravy made from the braising liquid that was bursting with flavor.

An Ubu s’more cake ($9) — the batter made with the local brewery’s iconic beer — was set over a pool of molten chocolate and topped with a homemade marshmallow. The plate was decorated with Ubu gastrique. You could actually taste the beer in the syrupy reduction!

Dinner for four came to $178.17 before tip.

Chef Brosseau’s food is accessible and affordable. His menu is casual, if that’s what you’re after, but it also has a lot of attention-grabbers for foodies.

Table 21 Steakhouse and Oyster Bar 157 Pitt St. Cornwall, Ontario (613) 933-9117

This second-floor steakhouse and oyster bar in the heart of downtown Cornwall imparts a sense of elegance from the first step in the door. The furnishings … the décor — definitely classy with a contemporary look.

The menu was skillfully printed on large chalkboards on the wall and reinforced on heavy marbled paper, simply typed in a plain font and devoid of any fancy descriptions.

Starters were definitely fancy, with offerings like seafood bisque, jumbo prawns, beef carpaccio and lobster poutine. A similar number of entrees included four varieties of beef (filet mignon, porterhouse, rib-eye and New York strip) along with lobster, swordfish, lamb and veal osso buco.

The starters we chose were all good: raw oysters ($2 each), raw scallops ($3 each), beef carpaccio ($12) and lobster poutine ($16).

Yes, poutine has gone upscale. A generous portion of lobster meat was served with some crispy matchstick frites and a smooth gravy.

The carpaccio was lovely, raw beef sliced paper-thin and meticulously arranged on the plate, set off with wisps of red onion and caper berries.

The oysters on the half shell were from New Brunswick, fresh as could be and just the right size, too. Raw scallops on the half shell came with Mignon sauce, grated horseradish and lemon wedges.

Entrees were all excellent as well, and nicely plated.

Filet mignon with “cherry blossom” sauce ($31) an 8-ounce cut of tenderloin had a pocket sliced and stuffed with blue cheese. The sweet and tart cherry sauce complemented the blue cheese.

The 18-ounce rib steak with peppercorn sauce ($32) had great texture and a great grilled taste. The sauce was quite flavorful. It was a top-quality cut of meat with flawless marbling.

Swordfish was not available the night we were there, but they substituted halibut for the preparation with mango chutney ($29). It was a beautiful piece of fish with an excellent rub. The chutney was excellent as well.

Lamb shank Casablanca ($29) was extraordinary. The meat on the two shanks literally fell off the bone into a marvelous, rich gravy subtly laced with cinnamon and other Moroccan spices.

All of the entrees were served with roasted mashed potatoes piled on a lightly marinated and grilled portobello, all smothered in a saucy blend of slow-cooked bell peppers, onions, carrots and asparagus.

We passed on dessert.

Dinner for four came to $193.08.

This is an impressive big-city steakhouse in the little city of Cornwall, Ontario with a personality all its own. It was a great experience.

Jose O’Connor’s 17 Bridge St. West Carthage, N.Y. 493-0081

A little more than a year ago, Keddy’s restaurant in Carthage quietly changed its name to José O’Connor’s.

When new owners, skilled chef Jose Alvarado and partner Amiee O’Connor took over, they attempted to upscale the dinner menu by offering sophisticated dishes.

That didn’t work. Their clientele was looking for simpler, basic fare.

So they came up with their “All Day Menu” consisting of soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches, artisanal pizzas and homemade favorites like hand-cut potato chips with barbecue sauce, bacon-wrapped chicken wings, truffled french fries and José’s salsa with pico de gallo.

But even Jose’s downscaled food is prepared just right. And he still offers nightly specials for anyone who wants something a little extra special.

We decided to order a few items from the regular menu as well as some of the evening’s specials.

Truffled fries ($7.50) consisted of hand-cut shoestring fries drizzled with truffle oil and sprinkled with salt and Parmesan cheese.

Margherita pizza ($12) was layered with sliced tomatoes, basil and a zesty homemade sauce with a crust that was exceptional.

Summer squash and sausage soup ($5.50) was a hearty soup with lots of flavor, tomato-based with ground beef, onions and peppers, slices of sweet sausage and large pieces of yellow squash.

We ordered the char-grilled pub burger ($8.50) served on a toasted bun with two large-cut battered onion rings and homemade barbecue sauce.

Southwestern chicken wrap ($7.95) was freshness in a wrap, with chunks of tasty grilled chicken breast, lettuce, generous slices of avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream, chipotle mayo and salsa roja.

Shrimp basket ($12.50) was one of the specials, and it was certainly special. Nine noticeably large shrimp were tempura/beer battered, lightly fried and served with crisp fries.

Another special, available every Friday night, is prime rib. We got the king cut ($20.50), which was massive. It had to be 2 inches thick and must have weighed well over a pound. It arrived tender through and through and perfectly seasoned.

Possibly the most intriguing thing on our table was a side of José’s award-winning homemade sauerkraut. It was mild and not overly sour, with rich, complex flavor — slightly sweet with just a touch of smokiness.

Desserts are all made right there and all really good.

Rice pudding ($4.50) was extraordinary — homemade, custard based, served warm and dusted with cinnamon. Remarkably flavorful. An exceptional version of a classic dessert.

Dinner for four including two beers was $119.58 before tip.

José takes ordinary food to another level. What could be ordinary becomes extraordinary.

River Mill 2 Cataraqui St. Kingston, Ontario (613) 549-5759

The River Mill restaurant is located a little way out of Kingston’s downtown hub. It takes up the waterside portion of an attractive, renovated late-19th century factory building.

We were impressed by the classy red-brick exterior of the old place. Inside, the dining room is softly lit; the tables were covered in white damask cloths. The only nod to an industrial past was the tastefully painted exposed ceiling ductwork.

Where Kingston’s downtown restaurants tend to be trendy, the River Mill seems old school in its menu offerings. French onion soup. Baked Brie. Charcuterie platter. Tableside Caesar salad. Braised lamb shank. Stuffed pork loin. Bacon-wrapped scallops. Grilled beef tenderloin.

There was a large selection of interesting appetizers. We decided on baked Brie ($13), Creole shrimp ($15) and the charcuterie for two ($24).

The Brie was very good, paired with maple pecan butter, red onion marmalade, apple slices and toast points.

Creole shrimp was nicely executed, with five impressively large shrimp. The Creole sauce, made with tomatoes, shallots and roasted garlic, was mighty tasty and not overly spicy.

The charcuterie consisted of house-cured meats and local cheeses. We enjoyed prosciutto, pulled pork with the flavor of cumin and wild boar carpaccio. Alongside were selections of blue cheese and cheddar, slices of apple and some delicious grilled buttered bread.

Our entrees were skillfully prepared, with attention to detail and interesting flavors.

A generous portion of locally raised pork ($25) was stuffed with red onion and roasted garlic, plated with a “cassoulet” of white beans, roasted shallots, carrots and golden beets with the addition of maple brown butter cream sauce.

The River Mill’s venison tenderloin ($32) was tender as can be, served with roasted potatoes, a tasty mushroom ragout and a thyme/ginger demi-glace.

The scallop preparation ($27) tantalized us. Four enormous sea scallops arrived wrapped in thick, meaty bacon, served on a bed of spinach and set around a mound of shiitake mushroom risotto.

The River Mill’s vegetarian dish ($20), consisted of a pan-seared portobello “steak” on butternut squash risotto served with salsa cruda, a very simple mixture of tomatoes, onions, chiles and cilantro.

On to the desserts. The Black Forest semifreddo ($9) looked like a Japanese pagoda, a little cylinder of frozen chocolate mousse topped with a thin, rectangular slab of chocolate, like a roof.

Poached pear ($9) was beautiful and delicious, poached in red wine and sugar to a deep, dark red and served on a swirl of raspberry coulis and vanilla sauce.

Lemon meringue ($8) was a winner, a rich and tart lemon dessert topped with browned meringue. It was served in a vanilla cookie “bowl” that had the texture of biscotti.

Dinner for four came to $210.41 before tip but did include nearly $24 in Canadian taxes.

We enjoyed superior food and a somewhat inventive menu that still offers solidly prepared traditional dishes.

Sboro’s Restaurant & Chop House 836 Coffeen St. Watertown, N.Y. 788-1728

Sboro’s Restaurant has beefed up its menu.

One of Watertown’s truly revered family-owned restaurants in May installed a state-of-the-art infrared broiler, enabling them to turn out steaks and chops rivaling some of the top steakhouses in the country.

At the same time, they updated the restaurant with new tables and chairs, reupholstered the booths, painted the walls and installed new lighting.

And of course, they introduced a new menu featuring many tried and true favorites as well as the new “Chop House Features”: filet mignon in either 8- or 12-ounce portions ($28/$33), a 16-ounce New York strip steak ($25), a 20-ounce bone-in veal chop ($34), a 16-ounce pork chop ($18), and to make a bold statement, a 28-ounce porterhouse ($32).

Sboro’s fine dining tradition continues with their signature chicken, veal, duck and seafood dishes as well as appetizers like lamb pops, panko-encrusted goat cheese, pan-seared tuna and more; signature dishes like roast duckling, chicken and veal Marsala, Parmesan haddock and Atlantic salmon.

We began our culinary adventure with rich lobster bisque ($10), with ground lobster that gave it a nice texture — creamy with a touch of sherry.

We sampled an ongoing favorite on the menu, Sostanza peppers ($9). The stuffed cherry peppers had a mild kick that did not overwhelm the salty prosciutto, smoky bacon and cheesy filling.

Lamb pops ($10) consisted of two small chops cut from a rack of lamb and served on a bed of grilled asparagus spears with a mint pesto sauce drizzled over the top.

“Absolutely Scallops” ($12) — about a dozen tender scallops — was served in a light tomato vodka sauce that was creamy and yummy, tossed with linguini and topped with melted Italian cheeses.

We forged on to the main course, two from the Chop House Features category and two from Sboro’s Signatures.

Filet mignon, their 8-ounce center cut ($28) of beef tenderloin, arrived perfectly as ordered, rare, with mouthwatering tenderness. Rosemary-roasted potato wedges were crisp and flavorful.

The porterhouse pork chop ($18) was 2 inches thick and weighed in at a full pound. It was cooked to medium as requested, and proved to be tender and juicy.

Pollo Feta ($20) was a good-sized chicken breast stuffed with spinach, red onion, bacon, feta and cream cheese, rolled in a walnut coating and topped with an apricot-teriyaki sauce.

A wedge of acorn squash baked with brown sugar, butter and walnuts was delightful.

Veal Marsala ($20) featured thinly pounded veal dredged in flour and lightly sautéed. It was topped with a Marsala sauce made with lots of rich, heavy cream and loaded with sautéed mushrooms and served over linguini.

Our server tempted us with a tray full of great-looking homemade desserts, but there were no takers after a filling meal.

Four appetizers and four entrees cost $141.15 before tip.

The Sboro family has been a longstanding member of the Watertown culinary community. With 20 years behind them at Sboro’s, it looks like they’re off to a good start on the next 20 with the new Chop House addition to the restaurant.

Billy’s Italian-American Restaurant 3047 Route 28 Old Forge, N.Y. 369-2001

It’s a bit of a hike to Billy’s Restaurant on Main Street in Old Forge but well worth the trip.

Billy’s has a reputation for fine food from the old country — red sauce, pasta, cheese, sausage, green salads, crusty breads — woven into familiar dishes like chicken riggies, veal Parmesan and shrimp scampi, or for more adventurous diners, veal Francaise, chicken and scallops Dijonaise and a pasta dish called “hats a la broccoli.”

The dining room is compact and comfy, with a dozen or so tables at most. It is modestly decorated, the highlight being thousands of corks from wine bottles lining the walls.

We began our culinary journey with appetizers: calamari ($8.95) and “greens” ($9.95), Billy’s version of Utica greens.

The Utica greens were faithful to the sautéed escarole element, but rather light on salami, roasted red pepper, breadcrumbs and mozzarella. Hot cherry peppers, usually an integral part of this dish that originated in Utica, are offered as an option.

Calamari was lightly hand-breaded in-house and deep-fried, tossed with a judicious amount of hot peppers and seasonings and served tender and delicious with a homemade marinara sauce.

The entrée menu is approachable and sophisticated, extensive without being overwhelming. We entered our order for pork a la Billy’s ($15.95), ziti a la Adrianne ($19.95), frutti di mare ($23.95) and chicken Marsala ($16.95).

Salads preceded our entrées. They were simple and good, made with fresh, chopped, dark-green romaine lettuce dressed with Billy’s own balsamic vinaigrette.

If you put your name on a dish it darn well better be good. Billy’s pork creation was more than good — it was fabulous.

Slow-roasted pulled pork was mixed into a marvelous marinara sauce, tossed with al dente ziti and dusted with pecorino Romano.

The ziti entrée was another winner, generous chunks of tasty sweet sausage sautéed with roasted red peppers in a rich and creamy blue cheese sauce. A delectable lick-the-dish entrée.

Billy’s menu offers frutti di mare with marinara or shrimp and scallops fra diavolo. Ordinarily the seafood dish we ordered is not prepared fra diavolo, but the kitchen was happy to accommodate us.

The preparation was perfect in every way: fresh shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari and mussels, each perfectly cooked, in an incredible seafood/tomato broth with just the right amount of heat, intermingled with al dente linguini.

Chicken Marsala was pretty straightforward, several moist and tender chicken breasts lightly sautéed with mushrooms, garlic and sweet Marsala wine.

Desserts, priced at $4.95 apiece, were quite good, a nice complement to an excellent meal.

The standout was the tiramisu, made on-site, nice and light with the customary components: liquor-laced lady fingers, mascarpone cheese and coffee essence.

Dinner for four cost $139.45 before tip

The food was excellent — freshly prepared, wonderfully seasoned and generously portioned. Service was pleasant, efficient and accommodating.

Taste of Korea 29845 Route 3 Black River, N.Y. 773-0302

Traveling along the 45 mph stretch of Route 3 just outside Fort Drum, you’ll find Taste of Korea.

Walking into the eatery is like walking into someone’s house. It’s small and friendly.

Menus were presented — six pages containing more than 70 items.

I understand kimchi and bulgogi and pork belly and squid. But dwen jang ji gae and dong tae jji ga and boo dea jun gol?

Thankfully, the menu contains English translations.

With suggestions from our server, we entered our order for six items. Portions are large and easily shared.

We started with a seafood pancake ($10.95), spicy rice cake (($9.95) and fish cake soup ($10.95).

Korean food is hot. Spicy hot. Most all of the dishes at Taste of Korea are available either medium or hot, but not mild.

Seafood pancake contained green onions and bits of shrimp and octopus. It came out as one big pancake on a plate. You have to attack it with your metal chopsticks, hacking it apart into manageable pieces.

Spicy rice cake is not really a rice cake. It’s more like a dumpling, made with sweet rice flour and served with crisp veggies in a fiery chili paste sauce.

The fish cakes in the soup were kind of weird — various sizes and shapes of what looked like scrambled eggs from an Egg McMuffin floating in a savory broth in a serving bowl that resembled a wok.

For our main course, we ordered stir-fry bulgogi ($12.95), barbecue pork belly ($14.95) and spicy octopus ($13.95).

Bulgogi is pretty traditional — thin strips of beef that have been marinated for hours in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. It’s a pretty a safe place to start if you’re new to Korean cuisine.

We ordered the spicy octopus (seasoned with red chili pepper paste and stir-fried with onions, green pepper, carrots and squash) in medium hotness and it was HOT.

The pork belly might well have been the highlight of our meal. Pork is big in Korea. Most of the fat is rendered until you’re left with tasty morsels of meat resembling chewy crumbled bacon.

Most meat dishes come with white rice on the side, as did this one.

Every meal comes with a number of side dishes, including three types of spicy kimchi — cabbage, cucumber and radish — little Korean “salads” that are seasoned and fermented, as well as bean sprouts and diced potatoes.

There are no desserts available.

Dinner for three came to $81.96 before tip.

While we ordered six entrees with the intention of sharing, there are a dozen appetizers (some just smaller portions of main dishes) that you may want to consider.

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