Providence, Rhode Island is one of the oldest cities in the United States but that doesn’t mean it’s somehow behind the times. Providence is home to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, an extensive library system including the fourth oldest library in the country, a thriving downtown, and Sura Restaurant – the best Korean & Japanese cuisine in town. Sura offers a wide array of Japanese and Korean dishes from the exotic – eel teriyaki – to the more familiar – garlic chicken – and everything in between. All it takes is a cursory glance at their website and you’ll be planning your next trip to Sura Restaurant - the home of Korean & Japanese cuisine in Providence.
MuMu Cuisine’s chefs whisk diners away on tour of Asia’s culinary landscape with a menu of Chinese favorites served alongside regional victuals from Shanghai and Taiwan. Bold flavors from tasty entrees, such as the spare ribs with sautéed garlic and the peking duck with pan-fried pancakes, send a wakeup call to dormant taste buds so diners don’t have to devour salted alarm clocks. Behind MuMu Cuisine’s brick façade, eyes can feast on bright yellow walls donning Asian artwork and framed reviews from magazines and newspapers.
Trafficking in traditional Korean barbecue and sushi, the chefs at Apgujung engineer a poly-flavored menu populated with a flotilla of entertaining edibles. Apgujung kick-starts midday meals with teriyaki, tempura, or katsu bento boxes ($9.50) or ladles of spicy soondubu jjigae soup ($9.95), a soft tofu stew known for its mix of seafood and tendency to back down from fights. Sea fare sneaks its way into dinner with pancake appetizers adorned with seafood, scallions, or kimchi ($7.95–$9.95) or oysters masked by a deep-fried chrysalis of japanese breadcrumb batter. Chefs grill the shrimp-and-scallop teriyaki ($17.95) in a house glaze and marinate the thinly sliced pork bulgogi ($17.95) in a fiery chili sauce. The house special okdol bibimbap ($12.50–$16.50) lands on tables in a hot stone bowl to give its contents a toasty flavor and time to cook while the guest eats to save chefs time to work on their culinary mystery novels. Diners can meander through a daunting collection of sushi offerings, including thin seaweed rolls and inside-out rolls, or charter 30-piece sushi boats ($39.95+) for the night captained by stern, bearded bottles of soy sauce.
Banchan are the small side dishes served with Korean barbecue, and at Yasu, you get 10. As diners pile these pickled vegetables and seafood concoctions on sizzling short ribs and cuts of ribeye, chefs slice gems of raw fish for sushi and cook up hot katsu and tempura dishes.
Sushi Box's menus draw from the culinary traditions of Japan, Thailand, and Korea, filling white-swathed tables with pan-regional dishes. Chefs glaze entrees of beef ribs, stir-fried kimchi, and thinly sliced pork with incendiary sauces, earning praise from the Boston Phoenix in 2009 for their ability to "showcase the joys of Korean cuisine." They also simmer vegetables in thai curry sauces and fill their specialty maki with premium sushi ingredients, including sweet-potato tempura and nori harvested by mermaids.
The cocktail known as the Charles River Fishbowl at Myung Dong 1st Ave is named after the waterway that snakes through Boston, but that’s where the similarities end. The quart-sized Fishbowl—which is also available in a half-gallon version for up to four drinkers or one off-the-wagon goldfish—isn’t filled with water, but soju, a sweet South Korean rice vodka, which mixologists elevate with fruit juices and a garnish of gummy worms. When opening their business, the founders of Myung Dong 1st Ave tailored their offerings to attract a young dive-bar crowd, and they’ve certainly achieved that goal. Thumping hip-hop tunes set the mood as revelers sip the country’s liquors, beers, and wines, many of which come in vessels that require two hands to hold. A reviewer from The Boston Phoenix particularly enjoyed the soju-soaked honeydew melon, a combination that makes the already tame alcohol “sweet to slurp.” A sip of Korean alcohol is bound to inspire cravings for Korean cuisine, and luckily, Myung Dong pairs its libations with a full food menu. Some bites are specifically meant to go with beverages. The aptly named dried beer-snacks platter contains helpings of dried squid, peanuts, and other slightly salty, easy-to-munch items. But many plates constitute a full meal, and typically require utensils or sleek, stainless-steel fingers for consumption. Selections include the barbecued beef short ribs, bibimbop bowls, and the eel teriyaki, which the Phoenix reviewer lauded simply as “really great.”