As in all Korean restaurants the meal starts with banchan being brought out. Banchan are small dishes of food that come with every meal, always including kimchi, a backbone of Korean cuisine. The basic recipe for kimchi is napa cabbage, or other vegetables, fermented with hot chilli peppers and various other ingredients, and it is served at every meal. In fact, kimchi is so ingrained in Korean culture that when Koreans take photos they use the word kimchi much the way Americans say cheese. One may always ask for more banchan, it is part of the meal, and it is gratis. Here, while the banchan was not extensive, it was excellent. The regular kimchi, made with napa cabbage, was fresh, tasty, lightly fermented, and not too spicy. The cucumber kimchi was a bit spicier, and also lightly fermented. On the other hand, the radish kimchi also had a few green chili peppers, and was very fermented, slightly fizzy, and quite spicy. The last of the banchan was a dish made of sautéed bean sprouts that was tossed wth sesame oil, a refreshing and mild counterpoint to the spicier kimchis.
Additionally it came with mul-kimchi (water kimchi), napa cabbage and daikon in a light vinegary pickling liquid was also very refreshing.
"Without the, what was to me, overwhelming amount of spice, the well developed flavors of tofu, mushroom, and beef to sing on their own, with just a little hint of spice for those who don't enjoy spicy foods".