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Staff Pick

Meju’s Korean Fusion

July-August 2015

Spicy rice cake topped with fresh vegetables

Spicy rice cake topped with fresh vegetables

Photograph courtesy of Meju

Exposed brick walls, wood furniture, and mod chandeliers give a rustic-sleek vibe to Meju in Somerville’s Davis Square. The Korean-fusion restaurant (sister to Bibim in Allston) opened earlier this year; it offers traditional dishes with a few twists, along with potent libations. (Imbibers, beware the “Korean Pear Smash”—fruit, bourbon, syrup, mint, and lemon—and the cocktails made with Korea’s signature, vodka-like, soju.)

We started with spicy pork buns ($8): surprisingly light and fluffy, they came with gochujang (red chili paste) aioli and crunchy alfafa sprouts that nicely balanced the pork’s tang. Our gluten-free friend sampled the dukbokki ($9)—traditional Korean street fare consisting of garlicky rice cakes, here made gooey and pasta-like by melted mozzarella. The pork-belly tacos were paired with a house-made kimchi that cut the richness of the meat. Entrées include bibimbap ($16) served in a piping-hot black stone pot. The dish—enough for two people—offers a choice of protein (beef, tofu, octopus, or eel) layered among fresh steamed vegetables and rice and topped by a softly fried egg. Zingy pepper sauce comes on the side. A southern BBQ-loving friend praised the beef bulgogi ($19)—sweet-soy-marinated beef ribeye, scallions, and mushrooms—as the highlight of his meal. Although the desserts are limited, the green tea- and strawberry-flavored balls of mochi (short-grain glutinous rice pounded into paste) filled with ice cream ended a pleasurable evening out.

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