Tucked, literally, in a by-lane off Azaiba’s busy commercial zone is Muscat’s only Korean restaurant – Amazing Chicken
Amazing… We concur with Seung Ho Seok, head chef and proprietor of the Amazing Kitchen restaurant, whose moniker – ‘Amazing’ – befits everything that spells food in the restaurant. Not only was the chicken, crisp fried in spice and soy sauce, amazing, every dish on our luncheon menu, from Kimchi Jeon to Bi Bim Bab was absolutely amazing!
Seok’s unpretentious approach to décor, whether in the façade or the interior, is reflective of his modest personality. Even as he hosted for us a festive spread of some of the choicest dishes on the menu, he hardly made his presence felt, letting us devour our lunch with abandon. He would only pop up to pronounce the Korean name for us and demonstrate, in his own quiet way, his love for cooking and for all things Korean.
It was a blazing summer noon when we decided to park our car in the marked parking area, adjacent to the restaurant, and find our way by foot. As instructed, we looked for the road leading towards the back section of the Taste of India restaurant, and found it convenient to walk from the first available parking spot and work up an appetite.
The restaurant does lose out on the visibility factor with a construction barricade along the road, leaving no choice for foodies to home in on the restaurant from the road. A little pathway, at the end of the barricade, opens to an unpaved parking lot, facing which is the Amazing Restaurant, with its quaint picket fence and the simple dark façade stating, matter-of-factly, ‘Taste of Korea’.
And we had our taste of Korea. A traditional Korean fare…a culinary trip to Korea, replete with the country’s flag, little Korean trinkets, K-pop in the background and music videos of young Korean dancers screening on the large television set.
We have to admit that Korean food was a novelty to our palate, but we weren’t apprehensive about the luncheon, having read all the rave reviews from foodies and the media. We were, in fact, looking forward to the Korean Kimchi and the Japchae. And were we in for a treat…
The dishes came marching to our table like food soldiers, all assigned to keep us busy with scrumptious starters, mains, sides and the quintessential Korean tea. While the names of the dishes took some learning to get the pronunciation right, recalling them has been another task.
Like this dish with glass noodles in it… It is called Japchae and is said to be one of the most popular Korean dishes – even at Amazing Kitchen Restaurant, most guests choose it over the others. The dish is a sight to behold with colours so vivid. Packed with stir-fried potato glass noodles and mixed vegetables, the Japchae stays with you long after you have burped your satisfaction.
Another popular Korean starter on our menu was the DukBokki, a dish of seasoned rice and fish cakes with chilli paste and vegetables. The confluence of vegetables, rice and fish, in a rich gravy, gives it a wholesome taste and feel.
The Kimchi Jeon, in contrast, is a crispy fried starter; it is a Korean style pancake and quite a scrumptious affair. Another Kimchi that we savoured came in the form of a soup. It is a tangy and spicy soup with tuna and vegetables. With dishes coming in quick succession to our table, we stopped keeping a count on the starters and the mains. The generous portion sizes and appetising presentations was all that got our attention. And, of course, the taste. We made sure that we had a sampling of everything that came to our table, to compare and make notes on what to repeat the next time we visit Amazing Kitchen.
While Japchae will most definitely feature in our next tryst with the restaurant, what will also remain the highlight of our current Korean rendezvous is the ‘Ju Mul Leok’, marinated beef with garlic sauce, which is barbecued right on the table on an electric grill, with onions, mushrooms, garlic and green chilli.
We quite relished the Bi Bim Bab with the bulls-eye egg resting on top of a bed of rice and a variety of fresh vegetables. It is accompanied with chilli paste and a clear soup, making it a complete meal by itself. Interestingly, the main course is complemented with an array of sides, including Korean dry fish, squids and rolled eggs among others.
The big platter of Half and Half Dak Gang Jung took us completely by surprise. This large platter, filled with two heaps of chicken, is just what a hungry stomach needs. It features two portions of fried chicken – half with spice sauce and half soy sauce – and an accompaniment of shredded cabbage.
The luncheon also got us to taste a Korean version of sushi called KimBab.
To give our luncheon a proper Korean finale, we sipped on warm Korean Green Tea and made our bows in appreciation of an amazing meal.