For my birthday this year, we went to Gaya for dinner. I’m not sure why, but I was just in the mood for korean, so instead of going to 69th street, we decided to drive a bit. I usually do end up picking korean food on my birthday, in the same way that my mom always picks sushi. Some things never change. I’d been to Gaya once before and really enjoyed it. It’s a nice place all the way up in Blue Bell. All their banchan is good, and they throw in a lot of stuff that you may not find at other korean spots.
One thing that’s particularly cool about Gaya is that whenever you eat there, they bring out a giant tray of ssam stuff. For those of you in the know with the momofuku enterprises, you know there is one called momofuku ssam. They specialize in dishes that are basically wrapped in various things. So here, you get a whole bunch of wrappings… multiple lettuces, multiple cabbages, seaweed, and some hunks of carrot and cucumber for munching. I think every restaurant should do this, all the time.
Behold my favorite banchan – gaejang. It is raw blue crab that has been seasoned with a sweet and spicy sauce. It looks like plain red hot mess, but it is actually hacked quarters and half of crab absolutely drenched with sauce. Now I do not know why I love this so much, but I just do. I could just eat this as a meal. I just feel that the sauce is a perfect complement to the fresh raw crab meat on the inside. The meat is mushy and slimy since it’s raw, and the spicy and sweet just goes with it so well. And all I know is that you can’t get this at many places, and especially just free as part of your meal, so I love Gaya just for this fact.
My mom got the ok dol bibimbap. I didn’t know what this was. When I asked her what that was she said she had no idea! It’s basically dolsot bibimbap, but it is presented in this little wooden contraption. It’s just extra fanciness for bibimbap. It’s good, but nothing great.
Since I’m so obsessed with ojingaboekum, of course that’s what I got. We got that the last time we were here and Iiked it then, so I had to go for it again. What a stark contrast from that crap one I had at August Moon the other week. This ojingaboekum has tons of thick and fresh squid pieces. The onions are cut correctly and are cooked all the way through. And the best part of it is are the udon noodles that come on the side. You mix everything together so that not only can you eat the squid pieces with rice, but you can also eat it with the udon noodles. The sauce is good on rice, but it’s also amazing on udon noodles! Seriously, everything is better with udon noodles and it doesn’t get much better than this for me.
Service here is good. And the food came out amazingly fast. It almost came out too fast. But when I thought about the fact that the squid was probably just stir fried very quickly and the bibimbap ingredients were probably already prepared, it wasn’t that surprising. But it did come out lightning fast, which I always love. It is a bit of a hike, but I’m willing to make that hike!