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Korean classics

Original post made on Oct 10, 2016

If your knowledge of Korean food starts and ends at kimchi, then Song Pa in Mountain View offers an easy introduction; if you are looking for the latest in jjajangmyeon, bingsu or tteokguk, you might need to go elsewhere.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 10, 2016, 11:16 AM

Comments (3)

Posted by resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2016 at 12:57 pm

With the growing non-white population in Mountain View, "toned down for local palates" may be a poor marketing decision.

Posted by eyes Open
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Local = white? Ha, wow, do you live in this town?

I agree they shouldn't tone it down, but I think it's a bad decision because of all the hugely well traveled foodies who live in the area. I don't have a specific color in mind when I say that, but they reward authenticity.

Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 11, 2016 at 10:49 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Totoro (the former Korean restaurant in this low-key spot) was itself reviewed multiple times in the Voice -- for example, this early review, Web Link which remained posted in the restaurant's glass door (and still relevant) until Totoro closed. So there is some journalistic context at Embarcadero Media, though the restaurant itself changed; also I believe Totoro's former owners are now Song Pa's landlords -- an element of continuity.

Totoro gained quite a local fan club for its reliable specialties and friendly owners. Some of those local fans returned for last meals before Totoro's announced closure, then for early meals in the new restaurant Song Pa. The interior is unremarkable, yes, but also is noticeably cleaned up and modernized since Totoro.

I was mainly interested to compare the cooking. At least one popular Totoro specialty (spicy grilled pork, dwaeji bulgogi) was judged better, more flavorful and just as tender, in Song Pa's version when we tried it. Also, Totoro had featured prominently on its menu, and sold many, hot bubbling individual tofu hotpots (fresh egg on the side, to break and cook in the boiling stew). I tried one at Song Pa: identical to Totoro's. Song Pa's banchan side dishes expanded in variety compared to Totoro (which regularly house-pickled just a few vegetables, those becoming very familiar to repeat customers).

After those Song-Pa experiences, I was surprised to see this review's broadly critical tone. My last Song Pa meal was a few months back, so conceivably the style has changed. But I also wonder if my different take, compared to this review, reflected particular choice of dishes. For example, we found the seafood version of Song Pa's pajeon (savory pancake) delicate, satisfying, the cooked batter feather-light. This reviewer tried the kimchee version, and reported its flavoring weak; maybe that's just not the one to order? Also, the iron-pot tofu stews were such a signature of Totoro (and apparently, well executed at Song Pa) that I thought a new Voice review might try one and report.

However, all this is just an encouragement to return to Song Pa, see how it's cooking now, and try as many dishes as possible.

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