We’ve been wanting to try one of the newest restaurants in Newtown, PA since it opened in mid-July. KO exudes a cool vibe with a minimalist, modern decor serving Korean cuisine, and is situated in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center (the old location for OISHI, which moved to another spot within the center.) Initially it was a BYO but they got their liquor license in October and now have a full-scale bar complete with top-shelf brands, saki, beer and wine offerings.
Our maiden excursion to KO happened early on a Sunday, a day usually reserved for cooking at home. But Russ had been away all weekend, not getting back until late in the afternoon, and our last meal had been breakfast, so we were both quite hungry. Arriving at 5:30—we never go out this early—there was only one other couple dining at the time. Once seated, along with their regular extensive menu, we also received a Happy Hour Specials list—one benefit of going early. While much of it pertained only for Tuesday through Thursday (they are closed on Monday,) Bento Boxes were an option on Sundays.
What is Bento? A meal usually served in a lacquered or elaborately decorated box
that is divided into sections for holding individual portions of food, common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware.
I’ll tell you, we were hard pressed to make decisions about what to order because the many selections included soups, salads, stews, sides, small plates, dumplings, rice and noodles, meat platters, and grilled items. We finally culled it down to a soup each, splitting a dumpling platter and ordering two Bento Boxes which also come with side salads.
One of the most satisfyingly tasty soups, my order of Oishi Spicy Soup—cellophane noodles, sprouts, scallions, and beef, was out-of-this-world good! Russ ordered the Oxtail Soup—cellophane noodles, scallion & braised beef, and enjoyed the flavorful ingredients, although we both agreed that my soup was the best. Before we could finish our soup, the Sampler A Dumplings platter—a combination of four steamed vegetable, three steamed Shumai, and three fried beef/pork dumplings—arrived with a side of dipping sauce. We had plenty of time to enjoy these at a leisurely pace before our entrees came.
While Russ has been known to order Bento Boxes on many occasions, I never had. But on special at only $18, I thought this might be a good time to try one. The choices were many. You choose options in each category to personalize your entree: A. Choose One—Beef Bulgogi : Chicken Bulgogi : Spicy Pork Bulgogi : Steak Teriyaki : Salmon Teriyaki : Chicken Teriyaki : Shrimp Teriyaki : Spicy Calamari. B. Choose Any Two—Avacado with Miso Dressing : Wok Fried Brussel Sprouts : Vegetable Tempura : Tuna & Salmon Sashimi : Dynamite Chicken or Shrimp : Edamame Dumplings : Meat Dumplings.
Lynn’s box consisted of brown rice, Wok-fried Brussels Sprouts, Salmon Teriyaki and Dynamite Chicken. Those incredible sprouts “wowed” us! Now I am on a mission to get the recipe. The salmon was also very gratifying, but the Dynamite Chicken was a bit too sweet and therefore not my favorite (with plenty of everything left over for take-home.)
Russ’ box: white rice, Spicy Pork Bulgogi, Tuna & Salmon Sashimi and Dynamite Shrimp. Whereas I was not thrilled with my Dynamite Chicken, he really enjoyed the shrimp version; and had only compliments for the remainder of the meal.
As we dined, patrons were quickly filing in, including many of Korean descent, which usually lends an authentic stamp to the establishment. And for those of you so inclined, we also noted they managed a successful take-out business from the front desk. But I think it’s worth the trip to physically enjoy the well-appointed interior first-hand.