To say Siu Korean BBQ/Asian Express has an unassuming exterior would be the understatement of the year. While there is a sign, so you know you’ve reached your destination there seems to be little or no activity. My dining companions wanted to leave, to come back another time, and I wouldn’t let them go. Once inside we were enveloped by the scent and the sleek decorating style, stayed and had the best of times. Siu Korean BBQ is a deliciously enjoyable experience.
Siu Korean BBQ offers excellent quality meats and seafood, in a modern-looking space and, oh yeah, a full bar – because we all don’t enjoy soju and would prefer a cocktail. The array of meats and seafood are cooked on a ceramic lid-grill (or so-ttoo-kkong). The exhaust hood for the grills are very good – so feel free to go on a date, he/she will not be obliterated by the smoke. Korean barbecue has been around for years and there is always the debate of charcoal vs. Teflon grills. Nothing quite matches up to the genuine charcoals and the grill/grate that impart a backyard-barbecue sear and that incomparable smoky flavor. My opinion, there is something primal about grilling meat, well marbled beef hissing atop a grill, and remember Korean barbecue is all about the burnt edges.
Make sure you order some lettuce (I’ve always had it brought to the table but at Siu you need to request it from the sides menu) which is the traditional way Korean barbecue is consumed. Along with your meat, small plates are served to you called banchan and they are meant to complement the meal (but feel free to graze on them at any time). You will get kimchi, seasoned spouts, black beans, potato chunks, etc.; at Siu the banchan are on the milder side, without a lot of fermented funk or spice. Mix them with your meats in the lettuce leaves and bundle in a tight or loose package (like a lettuce wrap) and consume. Ask for refills of the banchan and the sauces. We enjoyed bulgogi beef and some snappy pork belly that had been marinated in lovely kimchi sauce, just enough fermentation but not over the top where some kimchi can go.
Korean barbecue is one of the most fun and delicious communal dining experiences one can have but it can be a little intimidating the first time. What kind of meat/seafood do you order, how much meat should you order, how do you cook it and, for gosh sakes how long do you cook it – since you will be looking at a slab of calamari that you need to cook (it’s on the menu). The staff at Siu is happy to help you with the grilling. Trifles: Where was the potato salad I have always enjoyed at Korean Barbecues? Siu Korean BBQ and Asian Express, 754 N. McCarran Blvd. Sparks 775-502-3222
I felt like I was Queen Elizabeth II at 999 Pho. Why? I was able to enjoy the famous and hard to find bánh xèo (Vietnamese pancake). Bánh Xèo (pronounced Ban say-oh) are thin crisp pancakes made with rice flour, coconut milk (or beer in fact), turmeric and water. Traditionally they are filled with pork (thinly cut port belly strips) and prawns. But in my case, 999 Pho brought me a side of their ‘grilled pork paste’ (which is really a grilled pork loaf) and allowed me to fill away. Bánh xèo are also known as ‘happy pancakes’ and you’ll know why after your first bite. The rest of the menu is equally delicious, the staff is charming and I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy eating here. The bánh xèo is only served on specific days so give call before you go. 999 Pho, 2309 Kietzke Lane (in the Franktown Corners center) Reno 775-686-6599.
Is there ever too much exposure in the restaurant business? My opinion, yes, there is. So many restaurants have begun hiring Public Relations/Marketing firms to promote either the restaurant or chef. These PR firms need to deliver so they are busy contacting television (morning TV is a favorite), radio (bring something delicious to the station for the talent to eat on air), print (would that be me?) and other glossy publications (please note I have omitted Yelp). It’s the other publications that I think are the culprits who make me see someone too much instead of just enough. Recently a local restaurant was overexposed; I saw them in three publications all in the same month. Now I am less likely to go there since I know my entrées price reflect what they are spending on PR, after all PR doesn’t come free – and that too isn’t fair to the restaurant they have the right to run their business as they like. Moral of the story, there can be too much of a good thing.
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