by Rebekah Chan
A casual and relaxed Korean restaurant, Suragan is conveniently located in the Quiz building 30 seconds from the east exit of Ebisu station. The first thing you notice as you walk down the lighted stairs to the basement restaurant are the huge jars full of fruits. It looks a bit like a science experiment, but those familiar with Korean culture will know that these are jars for flavoring sochu (Korean alcohol).
The waitstaff is always attentive and ready to anticipate customers’ needs, but do so in a discreet and non-evasive manner. The restaurant is cozy, seating around 40 people, and on Thursday and Friday nights it is packed full. The seats are situated around an open glass kitchen, where you can see the quality and care that goes into preparing your meal.
The true test of a good Korean restaurant is its kimchi (pickled cabbage). After several kimchi making lessons with my mother-in-law, I can appreciate the difficulty of making good kimchi versus the salty, soggy store bought kind. Suragan’s original assorted kimchi (¥1,050) includes seven different varieties of the dish. Aside from the perfect balance of sour, salty, spicy and crunchy, the seven kinds of kimchi are beautifully displayed with a radiant flower in the middle.
The menu consists of a wide range of sashimi (starting at ¥880) and bulgogi (marinated beef, starting at ¥2,910), but if you want something for the chilly autumn evenings try something from the ‘Soup & Chige’ section (starting at ¥880). Served in a hot stone pot, the florescent orange stew comes with your choice of tofu, vegetables, pork or seafood, but don’t be fooled by the bright color. Although the kimchi is very authentic and the stews and spicy dishes mimic the appearance of spicy food, the hotness cannot compare to spicy food from Korea. This is the only disappointing aspect of Suragan, that their ‘spicy dishes’ taste a little more sweet than spicy, in order to suit the Japanese pallet. Other than that, it is always a satisfying experience at Suragan, particularly when your meal is finished off with another hot towel and complimentary cup of bori cha (barley and roasted corn tea).Open daily (5pm- 12am)
Ebisu 4-3-1, Shibuya-Ku