Sunday, July 17, 2005

Return to Soonja's

This post actually belongs earlier in the week, on Tuesday night, but the mood has been up and down, mainly thanks to my aging car. But I try to keep my non-cooking woes out of this blog as much as possible, so on to Soonja's.

It's been a while since I've really eaten out for any reason other than a birding trip. On Tuesday, though, I decided to celebrate my hopefully solvent future. I also wanted to thank The Deacon for her various forms of support, so I treated her to dinner at Soonja's Restaurant in Princeton.

Soonja's is a small pan-Asian style restaurant much favored by the local populace. We got there early on a Tuesday in July, however, so we practically had the place to ourselves. Later in the evening, and at times when the university is in session, that would be a neat trick indeed. Soonja's features dishes from Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai cuisines. They have an extensive sushi menu. They also have a "create your own noodle dish" option, which is what The Deacon had on this visit (she chose soba noodles, chicken, and ginger scallion sauce). Although The Deacon doesn't do raw fish, she had the oshinko maki (Japanese pickle) roll for a first course.

In keeping with my recent reading on Korean food, I had beef bulgogi. This was the first time I'd had bulgogi and I was impressed with the rich smoky flavor. The bulgogi was served with rice, vinegared bean sprouts and slivered carrots with a touch of sesame oil, and miso soup. I had a tempura appetizer as well. It was very generous (8-10 pieces), mostly vegetables with two shrimp. Unfortunately, this tempura didn't come up to the quality of past favorites such as the tempura from the Fuji in NYC or from Sukeroku in Little Falls. The batter on the shrimp was not light and fluffy, but more of the consistency one would expect from conventional fried shrimp. The batter on the veggies was much better.

As for beverages, The Deacon had a pot of oolong tea, while I indulged in a sweet Thai iced tea. We were too full for dessert, alas. Maybe next time, because there certainly will be a next time (and next times after that). Soonja's provides an assortment of good Asian food from several different countries. The atmosphere is casual and enjoyable (one quibble: the lighting is on the dim side). It's definitely one of my favorite local restaurants.

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