Namoo: Korea Comes to Kent, Connecticut
Salad for the table
Kent, Conn. continues to expand on reasons to make the journey, enjoy the shops and galleries and, importantly, to have a meal. With the opening of Namoo in the Kent Green shopping area on the town’s near north side, the already excellent culinary offerings in the area have taken a substantial leap forward. Namoo translated from the Korean means “trees,” and its river valley setting, surrounded by rolling hills of trees seems to create its own sense of peace and harmony.
The Lee family — Chuck and his wife Sarah (and through the summer, daughter Grace) — bring a legacy of Korean cuisine to the ample menu offerings. As managers of the seafood offerings at both The Sharon Market and Bantam Market, the Lees have long understood sourcing and preparing the freshest ingredients.
The three-page menu is a roadmap to creating the dining experience. Ordering is as easy as “A, B, C, D, T” (for teriyaki). Starting with A.2 — Haemool Pajeon — brings an ample scallion and seafood pancake to the table that easily serves as a table appetizer. The Jeon Sampler (A.6 to those of us with limited ability to pronounce languages other than our native tongue) brings eight of the chef’s selections to the table for sharing.
Although listed as an appetizer, the shrimp tempura combo is easily ample enough for a meal and is light, fresh and set off beautifully by the accompanying sauce. The same is true of the Dak Gang Jeong, eight fried chicken wings with a choice of sauces. Since a side serving of rice or Ban Chan (side dishes) are only $1, assembling a meal based on an appetizer is quite possible.
That, of course, would mean the guest would not be able to explore the entrées — the Ban Sang page of the menu. The bulgogi (mentioned above) is superb, served with an array of side dishes and crisp lettuce leaves for wrapping. The spicy pork BBQ is tender and beautifully set off by the piquant gochujang sauce. With seafood a family specialty, there is little wonder that the grilled branzini, mackerel and squid are fresh and quite tasty. For those who prefer vegetarian dishes, the Lees offer a rich variety of dishes to please. In keeping with the affinity for fresh seafood, Namoo will soon add a sushi bar to its daily fare.
There are wonderful noodle options, too — black bean, vegetable ramen, Yaki Soba and tempura — and seafood, beef or chicken teriyaki dishes.
The menu is priced very reasonably, with dual pricing (lunch or dinner portions) with only a few of the teriyaki items and the prime short rib entrée more than $20.
Desserts at Namoo are primarily ice cream based, but for every table, there is a fresh fruit sampler provided that offers a refreshing, healthy way to punctuate the meal.
This is good food, well prepared and modestly priced. Namoo is clearly off to a great start.
12 Kent Green Boulevard in the Kent Green Shopping Area, Kent, CT
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