Sushi and sashimi are never a value proposition for me. I can’t afford to eat at Masa or Yasuda, but I tend to avoid budget and all you can eat sushi like the plague. That said I had the best Korean sashimi lunch the other day for a mere $13, a fraction of the price I usually pay for such a meal. It was at Pa Do Hwae Jip—Sea Wave Sushi House—in Auburndale.
List most diners at Korean restaurants I’m fascinated by banchan, the array of complimentary dishes that accompany a meal, which sometimes land on the table before you’ve even cracked the menu. I am especially fascinated by the banchan at Pa Do. That’s because in addition to kimchi and various veggie items it includes a generous platter of sashimi, piled with slices of raw fish, and some marine life rarely seen outside of Korean sushi spots, sea squirt and sea cucumber. I am captivated by the orange flesh of the sea squirt, which tastes of the ocean, and leaves my mouth with the slightly anesthetized sensation of having eaten cloves. The chewy black blobs of sea cucumber do not captivate me in the least, but I always make sure to eat a few as my Korean dry cleaner Paulie Sunshine says, “they are good for men.”
One of the more unusual banchan was a platter of vegetation that looked more at home in a flower pot than on a table. Nobody at our table, Koreans included, had ever seen it. To describe it as crunchier less aromatic version of rosemary does little justice. From the stems to the leaves it was succulent, refreshing and thoroughly unexpected.
Our lunch began with a tiny bowl of clam porridge, which my friend Tommy the Korean barista says is a great way to stimulate the appetite. I was torn between the jang uh dup bap ($14.95), broiled eel over rice, and the hwae dup bap ($9.95). When I saw the latter contained raw fish I assumed it was a sashimi of sorts.
Hwae dup bap it turns out is not any old sashimi. It’s the love child of bibimbap and sushi. Sitting on top a bed of chopped lettuce and other greenery was a nice portion of raw fish, topped with orange tobiko, sesame seeds, seaweed, and shredded daikon. After applying a liberal amount of hot sauce, I mixed the whole lot up to find that there was rice underneath. Shot through with jalapenos and garlic, and packed with plenty of crunchy veggies as well as fish, it was a delicious and filling lunch.
My friends ordered a set meal of a stew and a magnificent looking fried mackerel. Dessert consisted of those little bottles of probiotic Korean yogurt drink. The tab for six people tax and tip included came to $13 a head. Now if that’s not a Korean sushi house bargain I don’t know what is.
Pa Do Hwae Jip, 171-53 46th Ave., Auburndale, 718-321-3047