December 22, 2004
The menu fits on one page, but that’s all you need. There are several appetizers to start you off, like skewered shrimp or green mussel stew ($5.95). Lunch entrees arrive hot and fresh, and none cost more than $10. The Bul Go Ki is boneless, marinated beef, thin and lacy as a doily ($7.95). Bits of carrots and scallions add color and crunch. As with every entrée, Bul Go Ki comes with a good measure of rice and side dishes of kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), cucumbers, and bean sprouts. The cucumbers here are at their most charming, having been wrung of their water and salted, leaving delightfully squeaky crunches. Bean sprouts taste lightly of sesame. Kimchi is medium-hot, not searing.
Chap Chae is a classic Korean dish of noodles made of mung bean, also known as cellophane noodles for their translucent appearance. Here, the highly absorbent mung bean noodle produces a dish that is very flavorful without relying on a sauce ($7.95). Entangled in the noodles are crisp-tender vegetables like spinach, carrot, green onions, and broccoli.
Rolled seaweed rice and vegetables with pot stickers are finger-friendly ($7.95). Essentially, these are nine pieces of tightly wrapped vegetable and egg sushi. The tiny slivers of vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, seaweed, pickles) and shredded egg show off the chef’s knife skills. Three pot stickers have an interior of chopped mung bean noodles and mixed meat, and they are long, rather than fat, which means less filling, more wrapper.
Totoro offers a few soups to cure the winter blues, like spicy beef stew with vegetables and vegetables with noodle soup ($5.95). The noodle soups use the thicker wheat noodle called u-dong (like the Japanese udon). You can have yours with chicken and/or deep fried vegetables ($8.95). The broth is the best part—those with a chest cold take note—it is steaming and rich.
The furnishings are modern, the service is friendly, and the food is delicious. Simply put, you should go.
From journal Restaurants in Silicon Valley