BiBimBob (before stirring)
Our expert stirring the BiBimBob
BiBimBob (after stirring)
JjamPong (spicy seafood noodle soup)
Kimchi pancake and vegetables
by Dorothy Puch Lillig
Blink and you might miss the sign on the corner of Hammerly Boulevard and Gessner Road letting you know you’ve found “Grandma Noodle.” On the building, the signage is all in Korean. Inside, everything and everyone is Korean as well, from the chef to the wait staff to the majority of the customers. If you call ahead, the phone will be answered in Korean.
And that’s how you know you’re in the right place for authentic Korean cuisine.
Even if you are not familiar with the Korean language, culture or food, do not be intimidated by Grandma Noodle in the Spring Branch District. You won’t be sorry for taking a chance on a new experience and, before you leave, you will feel like you’ve made new friends. Or maybe gained a new grandma.
We were greeted warmly at the door and seated by the window, near a display of live plants that give the restaurant a homey feel. I couldn’t help thinking about my own grandma, who had an extensive plant collection in her dining room.
Our waitress dashed from table to table, filling waters and delivering copious amount of food. We noticed other customers had brought bottles of spirits to share with their family and friends, as the restaurant is BYOB, and we made a mental note to do that next time.
It was clear from our surroundings we had stumbled upon not just a restaurant but a community center of sorts, as we noticed one family enjoying their dinner and then a woman stopping by to pick up food to take home. Realizing they knew each other and calling to each other from across the room, soon that woman was joining the family already seated to enjoy her to-go meal at their table and share in their drink.
For our family, we started with kimchi pancake (#53), which was very tasty and so large we had leftovers to take home. We also ordered Beef Bulgogi (#63), which was marinated well but not so much that couldn’t taste the beef, and it was cooked to perfection. So perfect, in fact, we ordered a second order to take home for the next day.
The JjamPong (#19), or noodles with seafood in a hot spicy sauce, was true to its name. The soup had a kick to it, the seafood was plentiful, and the noodles were soft but not overly done. The waitress brought bowls for me to share with my family, and we were all blown away by the intense flavor.
The highlight of our meal, though, was the (#57) DolSot BiBimBob, rice with assorted vegetables (spinach, bean sprouts, zucchini, carrots and more) and a spicy paste in a stone bowl with a fried egg on top. The waitress, knowing we were new to the restaurant, asked if we wanted help stirring up the rice dish and adding the sauce, which she called “paste.” (We believe it was a homemade Kochujang Sauce.) She expertly and lovingly combined the vegetables and egg into the rice using two spoons she ran to the kitchen to retrieve, adding sauce in between stirs several times. The result was delicious and obviously authentic.
As if that wasn’t enough food, our dinner came with an assortment of vegetables on the side, including crunchy beets, radish, cucumber and kimchi. All of the veggies were fresh and crunchy.
Midway through our meal, the chef came out inquiring if we enjoyed our Korean meal. She beamed as we looked up with full mouths, filling bellies and happy faces.
When we couldn’t eat another bite, our waitress came over with stacks of containers and packed each item tightly to take home and enjoy the next day. It was the most precise packing job I’ve ever seen, and not a drop of soup was spilled at the restaurant or on the way home.
“See you soon!” our waitress called as we left later. Yes, you will, Grandma Noodle!
10226 Hammerly Blvd # A, Houston, TX 77043