The prices might seem a little high at first glance, but the quality of the panchan more than makes up for it
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., July 28, 2006
911 W. Anderson #114, 302-5433
The old 888 Cafe (not to be confused with 888 Vietnamese on Oltorf), now Misung 888, has gone traditional Korean. Owner Misung Park's nephew tried a sushi/bento-box menu for a while, and from reports we received, it was excellent, but we couldn't get it on the schedule before it had vanished. The new traditional Korean menu works well for us. You'll see dishes here that are unavailable elsewhere in town.
The restaurant interior has been redone, with dark wood covering the walls and a line of fairly private booths lining one side, the opposite wall covered with smoked mirror tiles to create a larger sense of scale. It now seats about 50 in a cozy atmosphere. Service is pleasant and efficient with no language problems for non-Korean speakers.
The menu contains about 28 different offerings, all of which come with the traditional Korean panchan accompanying items.
The leadoff menu item, and the most popular according to staff, is the Spicy Pork Bone Soup With Potato ($16.99 to $32.99, depending on the size ordered). We saw a family feasting on it with glee, but it was too hot for us to eat soup that day. We chose instead BBQ Short Ribs ($16.99), Fried Pork and Kim Chee With Tofu ($12.99), and Fried Korean Style Pork Sausage ($14.99). All came with excellent panchan tidbits: a dish of sliced squid stewed with garlic and red pepper; a dish of dried tiny anchovies stir-fried with garlic, salt, scallion, sugar, and chile (addictively good!); a very light and chunky blend of seasoned potato with scallion; and a delightful, fresh kim chee.
The BBQ short ribs arrive on a bed of sliced onion, caramelizing on a cast-iron platter, the dish presented as a large mound of thinly sliced beef-rib meat. The meat is marinated and deliciously sweet, garlicky, and piquant. It is so tender that it literally melts in your mouth, and the portion is large enough for two.
The stir-fry of pork loin slices with kim chee and tofu arrives as a bed of half-inch thick slices of medium tofu, covered with the stir-fry of thinly sliced pork, pickled Napa cabbage, garlic, red pepper, and scallion. It is delicious: salty and tangy from the cabbage, mildly spicy from the pepper, nutty from the tofu.
The fried sausage is more like jap chae: a bed of stir-fried mung-bean noodles with scallion, zucchini and carrot slices, garlic, and Napa cabbage in a soy-based sauce. Tossed with it are slices of soon-dae sausage, made from rice, garlic, seasonings, and blood: the Korean version of butifarra sausage, if you will. We ordered it based on seeing another table chowing down on it with fervor. I can now say I've eaten it, but blood isn't one of my favorites. It did season the noodles perfectly; we ate those and relished them, but most of the sausage remained uneaten. Our fault, not theirs.
There are several dishes on our short list for the next visit: Grilled Freshwater Eel ($19.99), Spicy Snail With Dried Squid ($14.99), a spicy stir-fry of Octopus With Vegetables ($14.99), and Sliced Fish Cake Soup ($12.99). Portions at Misung 888 are ample, and the taste is big and hearty. The staff is friendly and helpful. The prices might seem a little high at first glance, but the quality of the panchan more than makes up for it. We loved our visit and will return.
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