Sik Gaek Chun Ha Dinner : For the Crustacean Lover
Last night, my husband and I (along with Henri) met up with our friends Coco, JM, Koa and Lisa (the latter two were visiting from Manila). We went on a spontaneous and very unique Korean adventure. We decided last minute to check out this Seafood Bar that Anthony Bourdain (who happens to be one of my main inspirations in pursuing a culinary career) featured in one of his shows. It was actually Coco who watched it and told us about that episode. She said that Anthony tried this dish with "live" octopus as in he ate it while it was still 'moving' and was freshly cut into pieces. This got us very intrigued and so last night, we found the opportunity to drive all the way to Flushing to check it out.
When we walked into the place, it was like we walked into Korea. The place had a sort of local bar set-up, very casual but not at all baby-friendly because the music was just too loud (poor Henri :(!) As soon as we were seated, they prepared a set-up right in front of us and made us an over and easy fried egg alongside an appetizer plate of carrot and cucumber sticks with a pasty pepper sauce. They also served a spicy rice cake "dukkboki" platter and an egg custard/omelette. So we browsed through the menu and immediately saw what we came there for : the massive seafood pot with crawling live octopus, lobster and a variety of clams, mussels and assortment of vegetables. Thinking that order wasn't enough for the 6 of us, we ordered another seafood platter that was to be grilled tableside and their beef bibimbap. We would regret this decision at the end of the night because the seafood pot was more than we could possibly handle! haha!
Our fresh seafood came first (since there wasn't really any special preparation to it). It was a generous assortment of shellfish (clams, scallops, mussels, big snails and 2 unbelievably huge clam shells with some kind of cheese topping). It came with a dipping sauce topped with chopped green onions and fresh garlic). And the grilling began...
The bibimbap came next but we left it untouched for a while because we were all waiting for the "main event". I actually wasn't able to eat this because my focus was on the seafood pot.
Finally, the much-awaited and highly rated seafood pot came. Our jaws dropped! It was GINORMOUS and I mean huge and overwhelming. And like what Anthony featured in his show, the octopus and lobsters were alive and moving. They squirmed and moved around along with the other fresh shellfish. And the 5 of us (minus Lisa that time because she unfortunately wasn't feeling so well!) clicked away with our cameras out of sheer delight! My husband Joel wanted to eat it already but the server told us to wait another 10 minutes before devouring the live creatures. The seafood combination, udon noodles and vegetables were simmered in a kimchi-based broth that was not too spicy and certainly very flavorful. JM scooped out a hearty serving for each of us and we each enjoyed the treat. Everything was very fresh and juicy that you could almost smell the saltwater breeze and imagine yourself near the water. The lobster meat was sweet and succulent and the moving octopus (when cooked) was incredibly tender. We enjoyed each bite and combined it with small soju shots to complete the whole experience.
Sik Gaek is definitely a place to try especially for those who are in love with seafood. It is heaven! We all agreed that it is a perfect place for a fun birthday get-together although at one point, the crowd got a bit too rowdy when they sang a loud and wild happy birthday greeting to one of the celebrants which ended in a cake fight. Joel had to take Henri outside for a bit and let the commotion die down.
After consuming as much seafood as we can, we all threw in the towel and agreed that we simply couldn't finish it. We were served a very refreshing cucumber juice to cleanse out our palates.
I must say that for a total bill of about $30 each, we did serious damage! :) *wink*
40-01 149th Pl., Flushing, NY 11354
(718) - 4604564