A Guide to Those Awesome Korean Condiments: Omi's Banchan
Without a doubt the most interesting part of any Korean meal is the banchan, a number sides that come to the table in tiny individual bowls to be eaten on their own, or used to compliment grilled meats and other dishes. The only problem: they tend to hit your table with little explanation, and you can often be left wondering what the hell you're pushing around with your chopsticks.
All picures by Lori Bandi, click to embiggen
While dining at Omi, the subject of this week's review, I cornered one of my waitresses and had her explain each dish to me. After I was done with my visits, I had photographer Lori Bandi capture some of the sides you'll likely encounter at Omi. Most of them are common enough that you'll see them at any Korean restaurant.
This is only a fraction of what you'll see in during a visit.
These bean sprouts are quickly boiled and then chilled. The flavors are a little bland but the crunch and coolness makes this banchan worthy of your chopsticks. They're great for adding texture to other bites. Now things are starting to wake up again. This eggplant is sauteed with garlic, chili, sesame oil and other seasonings for a slightly sweet, slightly spicy banchan that's good enough to eat on its own. Fish cake is what you get when you throw fish in a blender with additives and seasonings, form it into a loaf or sheet and steam it till it's rubbery. Some versions lean towards "fishy" flavors but Omi's fish cake is actually very mild.