Korean is fast becoming one of the hottest food trends in the Ocean State this summer. Luckily for me, my intern, photographer Ashley Farney Caldarone, studied abroad in South Korea and knows a thing or two about what makes for great Korean food. Now, maybe you remember (that) we also stumbled across a place called DenDen Asiana Cafe on Benefit St. in PVD last month. We had drinks (FYI: Their coffee is pretty great!) and swore we'd go back to taste test the food ASAP.
Well, the other day, we finally made it back. And I asked Ashley to order some dishes that she would recommend to anyone trying Korean food for the very first time (Uh, that would be me. And maybe you too?). Here's what she chose:
Ashley: These translucent, or 'glass', noodles* are made from sweet potatoes. You can get yours with pork or beef or (if you're a vegetarian) without.
Patty: I give this two big vegetarian thumbs up - Tasty! (And if you can't use chopsticks to save your life, "they" will give you a fork to eat the japchae with. Good to know, right?)
Verdict: A dish that's light (because the noodles are made from veggies) and not at all spicy. It's essentially a Korean stir fry with the sweet potato noodles, mushrooms, spinach, and carrots. An excellent choice to satisfy, and silence, the vegetarian or healthy eating fanatic in your party.
*The noodles also photograph well, in case you're looking for the perfect something to post on FB or Instagram about your meal at DenDen.
Ashley: The stew with the tofu, at the end of the table, next to the chopsticks, is called Jjigae. It's a spicy stew cooked right in the same (communal) pot it's served in and brought to the table bubbling hot. Enjoy it with a side of white rice. Our's had seafood in it. You can get yours with beef or pork if you like.
Verdict: A perfect option for anyone in your party who's slightly more adventurous and/or lives for foods with a little bit more of a kick (aka, heat and spice). This might even help you out - by clearing your sinuses - if (like me) you're suffering from any mid summer humidity induced headaches.
Ashley: Tteokbokki is a stir fry cooked in a red chili sauce (It's spicy!) with chewy rice cakes, vegetables, and fish cakes. It also usually has a hard boiled egg on top...It's actually a popular snack in South Korea that's sold right out on the street.
Verdict: For the people or person in your party who isn't afraid of scorching hot and foods with different textures - Of course, I'm referring to those 'chewy' rice cakes.
Ashley: The final dish is Bibimbap (in the wooden bowl on the right), which means mixed rice. It's one of the best dishes to try the first time you have Korean food. Made with rice and veggies, it usually comes a fried egg on top. In addition, there's a spicy red sauce you can add - which we didn't partake of because we already had two other spicy dishes on the table - the Jjigae (#2) and Tteokbokki (#3).
Ashley: Kimchi, the red side dish (or bantam, Korean for side) in the pix above, has endless health benefits (because it's made from fermented veggies, including cabbage) and the taste is amazing. I usually judge a Korean restaurant based on their kimchi and DenDen's is top shelf.
Ashley's Wrap Up
Den Den is now one of my favorite Korean places in RI. They beat out my regular restaurant because of their impressive coffee and drink selection, and (because) their Japchae is one of the best in the state. I would absolutely go back any time I'm in Providence. There's no end to the (menu) options. It also helps that they have Wifi and power outlets at every table, which I think also makes it an amazing place to go to if you're studying or working on something for your business.
Ciao For Now,
Ashley & Patty J
Photo Credit: All photos courtesy of Ashley Farney. To see more of her work, click here.