Thursday, November 3, 2011

Earl Sushi in Gyeongnidan

Look at this man staring deeply into his date's eyes.
I went to school in Boston, which hosts some of the best sushi restaurants I've ever been to (save Tokyo and New York City).  I miss American-style sushi with its creative take on Japanese traditions starting from the California Roll and venturing out to one of my favorites, the Spider Roll.  Sushi in Korea has gravitated towards a perplexingly BAD-tasting direction.

If I order sushi in Korea, many times the fish comes out frozen.  When I've inquired about this, I was told it's more "refreshing" this way.  I don't think tuna-flavored ice cubes are refreshing.

The biggest qualm I have lies with the maki here.  Holy god are they revolting.  Covered in squiggles of different mayonnaise sauces of every color under Seoul's polluted sun, the actual roll is stuffed with bland crap - usually a blend of mayonnaise and fake crab meat.

To preserve my standards, I had stopped eating sushi in Seoul unless my relatives are footing the bill at Sushi Hyo.

When Earl opened in my neighborhood earlier this year, I had made a mental note to try it since restaurants in my neighborhood tend to aim for authenticity.  That was nearly eleven months ago.  Last week, I finally went.

Earl is small.  I've actually tried several times before to go to Earl, but they have only TWO tables, so each time, I was turned away.  When the weather is warmer, there's al fresco seating and the bar is also an option.

In order to show the smallness that is Earl, Noel must sacrifice his anonymity.
The service is attentive and friendly.  The sushi chef is clearly a victim of going under a knife-not-his-own (eh hem, plastic surgery), but that doesn't detract from his skills as a sushi chef.

We started with a set of twelve pieces of nigiri - half maguro (tuna) and half sake (salmon).  It was around 12,000 won; that's cheaper than E-Mart sushi (and more delicious).  We also ordered a bottle of sake.

The nigiri was DELICIOUS.  The salmon was well-marbled, fatty, creamy, and smooth.  The cut wasn't perfect, but the fillet was well-trimmed - no strands of connective tissue or tough bits - and full of salmon flavor that wasn't in the least bit fishy.

The tuna was equally impressive.  The texture was awesome - smooth and satiny.

Next, we had the Rainbow Maki, which was about 12,000 won as well.  The maki comes out with 4 pieces of nigiri so it's quite a deal.  But, I probably won't get it again.  The maki is filled with the fake crab crap that I hate.  When I asked the chef what was in the maki, he said it was a California roll.  California rolls have avocado and cucumber; this didn't.  Also, typically, a rainbow maki is topped with thin cuts of salmon, tuna, avocado, and maybe one other white fish.  This rainbow maki had a slice of every living sea creature strewn across it.  It's weird to have a piece of maki with a chewy piece of squid or octopus on top.  I didn't like it.

Sushi isn't the most filling meal and since I was extra HONGRY, we ordered a seafood udon.  It was flavorful and satisfying.  Nothing spectacular, and a tad too sweet.

While we were nearing the end of our udon, the chef sent us some oysters as "service" (fo' free).  I love oysters and I love free stuff, but I couldn't eat this.  The oysters were fresh and in season.  But that sauce was stupid.  It's some kind of cream sauce.  Oysters need acid or some kind of bite - perhaps a squeeze of lemon or dash of tabasco or red wine vinegar.  Oysters already taste a bit coppery and metallic.  That coupled with warm cheese has got to be the nastiest combination.  But it's the thought that counts, and I'll definitely be back for the nigiri.

Earl's is right next to Lazy Sue's in Gyeongnidan.  From Noksapyeong Station, walk out of exit two, cross the street via the underpass by the bus stop.  When you come out the other side, you'll be more or less in front of Earl's.

To conclude this sushi post, I will tell a sushi joke that will be sure to stun and amaze the masses with its hilarity.

What did Sushi A say to Sushi B?
Wasaaaaabi! (Wassup, B!)

Earl Sushi can be found on MangoPlate, a restaurant discovery app available in English and Korean.


  1. hello neighbor! I also live in Kyeongridan area. I wonder, is this visit to Earl since they changed owners? I recommend you try the Nagasaki champon some time, i was pretty good.

  2. The last time I went there was in early November. I wasn't aware that they had changed owners. Sounds exciting! Thanks for the recommendation.



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