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Jeollado

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Another restaurant that offers extra-culinary activities is Jeollado (116 East 4th Street; 260-7696). This new Japanese-with-a-dash-of-Korean place has a small video-screening room with disgusting-to-look-at-but-great-to-crash-out-on brown sofas. Diners can bring their own videos and watch movies as they eat or drink.

But the flicks are just a sideshow. The real action unfolds in the Bierkeller-like dining area. It's a rather spartan setting, not least because the tables are arranged in an uncompromising grid, as if examinees rather than diners were expected; and when a member of my party humbly requested permission to bring in a nonalcoholic beer (not available at Jeollado), he was made to feel like the boy who forgot his No. 2 pencil. But the food is far from testing. The fragrant miso soup ($1.50) has the sparse tofu population that I like; hijiki (shredded seaweed, $3.50) is just the ticket (crunchy, not oversweet); and the slivered Jeollado salad (seaweed, mushrooms, cucumbers and sesame dressing, $4) is ultrafresh. The sushi (around $4 for two pieces) is generous, the untruncated strips of fish sticking to the rice like garden slugs. Special mention must go to the uni ($5.50), which was as fresh an echinus as you could wish to eat.

However, Jeollado's glory is the house rolls, wonderful culinary creatures that make ordinary maki look like pale simpletons. The house rolls revolve around a core of real crabmeat surrounded by seaweed, rice, and, if you wish, a piece of salmon or avocado. The whole is then draped with shrimp and/or eel and/or yellowtail or whatever else takes your fancy. The Fonya (octopus and toro, $6.50), the Carla (eel, shrimp, and avocado, $6), and the Erik (yellowtail, tuna, and salmon, $12.50) are just three varieties of these crabmeat-centered rolls that I loved.


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