Sun & Moon Korean Restaurant
Sun & Moon Korean Restaurant
95 Warren Avenue, East Providence
Open Tues-Sat, 12-10 Pm, Sun, 12-9 Pm
Major Credit Cards
Not wheelchair accessible
If kimchi, that spicy-hot fermented cabbage, has been your only introduction to Korean food, read on. The Sun & Moon Korean Restaurant will convince you that the country’s cuisine ranges far wider than hot to hotter. Remember when you learned that about Thai cooking, and the joys that followed? Like that.
The place is halfway into its fourth year, tucked away in East Providence, but word has certainly gotten around by now. Hearing yet another recommendation from friends, we finally decided to check it out. After just discovering the place on their own, Stuart and Cathy had already been to the Sun & Moon twice that week, but they didn’t have to be talked into indulging again.
How could a restaurant with dishes called Dukguk and Dolshot Bibimbob not at least be fun?
The space is small, however, so to keep the lines down, please, let’s not all act on the following recommendations at the same time. Tables for two line the wall at the left, ending with a single four-seater at the end. Everyone else has to sit at the counter, with the exception of the two or three duos who can fit around a single table at the front window. The walls are sunshine yellow, mottled with orange, quite Floridian. Paper lantern globes dangle festively above the counter.
We ordered hot tea, and along with that came complementary condiments — four small dishes for each couple — with more to follow as the meal progressed. There was kimchi, of course, the traditional pickled Chinese cabbage, crunchy and not overly hot here. Next to it were slices of daikon, marinated yellow and sweet, rather than peppery like the Japanese kind. There were also a flavorful, spicy red sauce and sesame seed-sprinkled soy sauce. Lightly vinegared mung bean sprouts, as well as sweetened cucumber slices, arrived later. Varied and subtle taste sensations are obviously on this cuisine’s agenda.
A dozen appetizers range from Korean sausage through spicy squid, and rice rolled in seaweed to simple vegetable dumplings, fried or steamed. We had the latter version, Jin Man-do ($7.99), plump rimmed hats that hold soy sauce nicely. We also shared a couple of other starters. We couldn’t not have the Japchae ($7.99), since a typo rendered the description as "sweat potato noodles w/vegetables." The briskly moving, hard-working cooks behind the counter obviously prepared it correctly. The vegetables were mainly shredded cabbage with some greens sprinkled on top, and the sweet potatoes came pleasantly through with the correct adjective in full functioning order. We enjoyed that better than the Jol Myun ($8.99), which had noodles made from regular potatoes. They were blander, or subtler, but became spicier when swirled in their sauce.
Our appetizer high point was the Haemul-Pajun ($11.99), described at our table as a Korean fritatta and on the menu as a Korean pancake. I’d say Korean omelette: eggy and full of seafood and scallions, quite delicious.
The three main dishes we chose each had an interesting sauce that was distinct from the others. The Ojinguh Dup-Bob ($8.99) was squid over rice, the fire-engine-red rings tender and quite hot. My Korean BBQ ($15.99) was a stack of sweetly marinated beef ribs, country-style, with just a cross-section of bone at the side of a quarter-inch slice of meat; the carnivores at the table appreciated their moistness. A ketchup squeeze bottle of a richly spicy sauce was there to add complex flavor. Most interesting was Johnnie’s Saengsun Gatsu ($9.99), fried flounder thinly battered and crosshatched with a sweetly flavorful "special sauce" that puts McDonald’s to shame. The Korean sauce fetish culminated on that plate with squiggles of American ketchup and Italian mustard sauce dancing in sweet/hot rapprochement on a pile of shredded cabbage.
For dessert, we were brought complementary slices of Korean pear and Korean apple on toothpicks; simple, sweet, appreciated.
Chef/proprietor Eunha Kim grew up in southeastern South Korea, where her family ran a restaurant. At Sun & Moon, she passed on the tradition quite convincingly to our table, foodies unfamiliar with Korean cooking. What a welcome addition to the pan-Asian offerings in a region where, not all that long ago, Chinese restaurants had the only woks in town.
Bill Rodriguez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.