I recently dined with a friend at the Korean restaurant Bistro Mee, prompted by the good press it has been receiving lately. I had high hopes that it would be as original as the restaurant Jong-no Samgyetang, a hole-in-the-wall place serving food fit for a palace, far from the usual fare in Paris‘s Korean restaurants.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. A glance at the menu showed that Mee offered fairly standard dishes, but there was still hope that they would be of supreme quality.
I started off with the daepha jon, a leek crepe I was expecting something like the colorful, crispy and flavorful dong nae (spring-onion pancake) I had had at Jong-no Samgyetang, but no such luck. This small crepe was oily and bland, livened up only by a dab of the side dish of kimchee my friend had ordered.
Her first course of dak tuiguim, or Korean fried chicken, had a nice sweet-and sour flavor, but the chicken and its breading were unpleasantly hard and chewy.
She followed that with a dish of fried mackerel, which came in a dismayingly small serving with a few leaves of baby spinach and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, and a little bowl of raw white radish on the side. She was pleased by the quality of the fish but otherwise underwhelmed.
I did better with kimchi isigae, a stew of kimchi, pork and leeks, which arrived at the table steaming hot in its cooking pot. I, too, was unimpressed at first, but the dish grew on me as the flavors melded and the heat from the kimchi was released. By the end, I was happily spooning down the last of the sauce. This dish also exhibited a lack of generosity, however; it contained the meat of only one mini pork rib.
For dessert, we had a hybrid Korean/Western dish called pattdongi: red beans with vanilla ice cream and “five cereals” (glutinous brown rice, black turtle beans, brown rice, barley and black sesame) ground up into a tasty, sweetened powder. It was perfectly pleasant but did not elicit any exclamations of joy.
While the food at Bistro Mee is by no means bad, and the decor is pleasing in a rustic way, it didn’t live up to the reviews, although I had perhaps unfairly high expectations based on that meal at Jong-no Samgyetang. We left feeling vaguely dissatisfied, a sensation quickly dispersed by a cocktail at the nearby Harry’s Bar, a place you can count on to live up to your expectations simply because it never changes.Favorite