Oma Bap, which I chronicled last week, is trying to make Korean food accessible by color-coding its bibimbap and muzzling traditional spices. Meanwhile, a Bremerton restaurant has adopted a mishmash approach to wooing non-Korean diners--and may have hit on the more successful formula.
My lengthy "to eat" list doesn't include any Bremerton establishments, so I wasn't sure where to take my hunger when I found myself in the city this weekend for a disc-golf outing. The McGavin's Bakery staffer who sold me a pre-lunch sticky bun and shortbread cookie suggested a neighboring cafe, but since she'd never made the 20-foot trek to eat there, I wasn't swayed by the recommendation.
I opted instead for Suzy's Kitchen, a plain-looking dining room at the end of the block. Suzy's serves Korean food, but its menu is rounded out with plenty of American classics: There's meatloaf and meatballs and country-fried steak, and kids can order chicken nuggets with French fries. The meal comes with a Capri Sun juice pouch.
My expectations for Suzy's were so unfairly low that I didn't bring my camera, which is why I can't illustrate this post with a picture of the restaurant's excellent soondubu. The tender tofu soup, spiked with hunks of marinated flank steak, featured a hearty, brick-red broth with a welcome sting. It benefited from a splash of soy sauce, but was still a surprisingly good rendition of the iconic warm-you-up stew. The banchan were also impressive: I especially liked the thinly battered zucchini pancake and pickled radishes.
In a city where the Korean population numbers 88 people, a diverse customer base is critical. Suzy Goree, who opened her restaurant two years ago, tells me "everybody" eats at her restaurant. She estimates her clientele is "40 percent Caucasian, 10 percent black and probably 15 percent Korean." The remaining 35 percent of diners come from the Philippines, Hawaii, and other Pacific islands.
Goree says "a lot of people" have never sampled Korean food before encountering it at Suzy's Kitchen. "They love it," she says. "It's very healthy."
Posts on Yelp, where Suzy's Kitchen has scored 4.5 out of a possible five stars, suggest the restaurant's reach. "My experience with Korean food is fairly limited, but after Suzy's that is going to change," vowed one comment writer, who may not have appreciated that few restaurants outside of Korean commercial districts do Korean quite as well as Suzy's.