Our Town: Korean restaurant offers food tasty, healthy

The last time I had a meal fit for a king it was in Seoul, Korea last summer. I was on my book tour and my publisher’s best friend threw me a dinner party. He happened to own a pharmaceutical company which means he was fabulously wealthy. I will never forget the meal. 

There were only four of us in his dining room and we were served by a staff of six. The meal looked to me more like artwork. Well guess what? You don’t have to go to Seoul to have a meal like this. 

Just go to the newly established Korean restaurant called Ara right at 3366 Hillside Avenue, just west of Herricks Road on the north side. 

The owner is a young entrepreneur named Joowon Kim. Actually he studied architecture in Korea but decided to come to America where his mother established Noble Nails in Woodbury.  

When I evaluate a restaurant I have a checklist which includes ambience, cleanliness, service and food. So let’s see how they did.

Ambience: Ara is a spacious restaurant with large windows and natural lighting. There is a sushi bar as you walk in and to the left is a big main dining room with new dark mahogany tables. There is also some special party rooms to the right. 

Cleanliness: Ara is freshly painted in soft beige and whites. The floor is spotless and I remarked that all the garage floors in Seoul were painted and shiny. He told me that Koreans are a very clean people and that’s just what a customer wants to hear.

Service: Service is that ability to make you feel welcome and wanted. Korea has a term for this and it’s called ‘jeong’ which means a feeling of mutual respect and kindness. In fact the name Ara means ‘warm and open ocean’ which derives from the same concept. 

Suhwa and Minho Kim are the Korean owners of Aroma Nails in Williston Park and are perfect examples of Korean jeong. 

So are the Korean owners of Pembroke Cleaners. 

The waitresses at Ara were all sweet and smiling but way too shy to have their picture taken for this article. They smiled at the request and said no, no, no.  

Food: Here is where Ara excels. In the photo are dishes of barbeque beef, flaming fancy roll, egg with rice and mixed vegetables and Chirachi Dinner which has more raw fish than you have ever seen on one plate. The Salmon roe were remarkable and so was the marinated barbeque beef. All these plates looked like little works of art just like the meal I had in Seoul. 

Korean food has lots of protein, vegetables, and flavor. It is the only food I have ever eaten that actually gives you more energy after you eat it. I think that’s because they use very little starch.

I went to a four story Korean bath house last week called Spa Castle. On the first floor the men and women go to separate baths and you get to see many American and Asian men in the raw. What is obvious to everyone there is that Asian men are slender and American men are not. It’s all in the diet. Who would think that all those little side dishes of seaweed, eggplant, kimchi and roots of lotus could be so tasty and also non-fattening. 

The only thing left is to spread the word about this place. I recommended that he invite the famous Korean singer/dancer Psy who invented Gangnam style. 

The owner looked at me as if I was crazy to hope for such a thing. Maybe that’s true but I will send Psy this article anyway. 

In the event that Psy doesn’t show up why don’t you lend a hand and also do yourself a favor and try out this sweet place on Hillside just west of Herricks. 

Get a taste of elegant, healthy and good tasting food that gives you energy and does not put on weight.  

About the author

Dr Tom Ferraro

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