Hidden behind a Red Mango, on a bustling street filled to the teeth with flashy bars and home-style Korean grub-hubs offering gut-bursting amount of kimchi jjigae and banchan in New York Cityâ€™s K-town, is a large food court.
Within, dressed with gleaming white fixtures, reminiscent of an eerily sterile modern mess of a hospital, lies Pastel 2; one of five restaurants on the first floor.
Unlike its colorful namesake, Pastel is not quite as palatable. Their one-man kitchen dishes out playful plates of Japanese and Korean inspired Italian dishes, which while aesthetically pleasing, leave much to be desired.
The Omu-rice, a Japanese omelet stuffed with seasoned rice, is quite tasty when the sparing chunks of under seasoned beef are taken out. Maybe the contents donâ€™t matter as much when one considers that itâ€™s all smothered in a combination of its traditional ketchup and a savory, yet subtle amber house sauce, which canâ€™t really be appreciated due to its tangy tomato rival.
This is all paired with a large grainy dollop of potato salad speckled with carrots, shredded cabbage, a small soup and a miniscule amount of kimchi.
The potato salad was grainy and could have been whisked or infused with a hint of cream. Sadly, it was not and to add insult to injury, the temperature just made it inedible. Half way between freezing and room-temp, this white lump while looking like an appetizing cone topper seemed to have been frozen and then thawed leaving it dry and papery.
The salad composed of shredded American cabbage smelled faintly of onion, and was dressed with a creamy, pink condiment, similar to Thousand Island.
By far the worst part of the meal was the soup. Little more than slightly discolored water; more flavorful liquid could be caught raising ones head to the melting snow outside. It looked appetizing though after trudging around in the cold and seeing the flakes of seaweed in the bottom.
Much better soup could be found three paces away at the stall next door, or up and down the block for that matter. I would even give them a pass, if the soup was made from the powdered stuff sold at the market a few doors down, briny and grainy though it may be.
The mealsâ€™ last saving grace was the thumb-sized dish of kimchi. Although it could have been saltier, that pungent fermented pepper flavor was definitely there. Considering, kimchi is a major staple in Korea, one eaten at almost every meal, there would have been no excuse for getting this wrong. I only wish there was more of it.
The meal was filling but considering it cost $9.74 with tax, I wonâ€™t be ordering it again unless a kinka is serving it instead of a powdered up Ajuma.
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