Now that Mrs. Hackknife and I had finally finished exchanging what amounted to lavish dining gift excursions for our 10th wedding anniversary, the actual date of our anniversary had arrived. As you might imagine after two weekends of straight indulgence, we were seeking to do something a little more mundane to celebrate this time. A trusted source at the office recommended what may very well be Tampa's best place to experience Korean cuisine, Sa Ri One (3940 W. Cypress, no website), so this is where we headed on a recent Friday evening while my in-laws were still in town to watch the progeny.
The building where Sa Ri One is located is a little ramshackle and could easily pass for a speakeasy or massage parlor if not for the signs out front advertising Korean cuisine. Trying to convince myself that the restaurant's name must have a profound meaning in the mother tongue and doesn't simply indicate how the diner will feel after eating there ("Sa-Ri-One"...think about it), I headed inside and began poring over the typically-prodigious Asian menu (see photo below):
After flipping through page upon page of choices, the missus and I opted to play it safe (our direct experience with Korean food is pretty limited thus far) and ordered some tried-and-true favorites. First up was the seafood pancake appetizer (hae mul pa joun), which we had been advised to try by Mrs. Hackknife's co-worker:
Arriving at the table much larger (!) that we were expecting, the pancake was filled with tender octopus pieces, scallions, shrimp, and possibly other seafood bits that remained unidentified. Accompanied by a small dish of chili dipping sauce, the pancake's texture fell somewhere between soft/firm and could have easily provided us with a full meal (I should add that the leftovers were quite good).
For our entrees, I picked a platter of delicious bulgogi beef (a widely-ordered dish in Korean restaurants consisting of thin beef slices marinated in a sweet sauce before grilling) that came with steamed rice and six different bowls of pickled sides, including cucumbers, kimchi, sprouts, greens, and a couple of mystery ones:
I probably could have polished off the whole platter of beef myself (which would have been a bad idea) and I also enjoyed most of the pickled sides (hard to pick a favorite). Mrs. Hackknife was more taken with her entree choice, a plate of katsu pork (breaded deep-fried pork slices) that resembled something one is more likely to find in Japanese cuisine:
Finding the pork to be a bit on the dry side, I was happy to stick with my bulgogi beef. Regardless, we were both pleased with the meal as a whole and are anxious for our next visit so we can try some of the less-common dishes...