Central Ave., Colonie, 452-6878. Serving lunch 11:30-2:30
Mon-Sat, dinner 5-9:30 Mon-Sat. AE, D, MC, V.
Korean, Japanese, Thai
price range: $9 (noodles with bean sauce) to $20 (sushi
out can provide surprising shots of self-knowledge. While
studying the menu at Arirang, I heard my wife and daughter
toss back and forth the name of one of the popular Korean
dishes: bi bim bab.
good,” my wife, Susan, said. “Rice, meat and vegetables. Bi
bim bab,” my daughter repeated, chuckling.
be such tourists,” I growled. “Don’t make fun of the language.”
not!” said Susan. “I’m celebrating it. I like the sound of
To which my daughter added, “Lighten up, Dad.”
Was I really that uptight? Our server overheard the menu item
being repeated and hurried to the table, graciously answering
Susan’s query about the meaning of the phrase. “It means rice
that’s all mixed together with vegetables.”
She proved even more helpful when the dish was served. Bi
bim bab ($12) by itself looks to be a pleasant dish, mixing,
as we were told, veggies and rice with your choice of meat,
but there’s added theater in gob dol bi bim bab ($13), which
puts the ingredients in a hot stone bowl so that your rice
sizzles to crispness as the veggies (Korean: namul)—including
julienned carrots and cucumber, mushrooms and sprouts—were
bunched attractively near chunks of chicken, and topped with
a fried egg, which itself got a seaweed garnish.
have to mix it,” our server said. Susan, caught mid-bite,
looked up in alarm. “You have to mix it all together.” She’d
been eating it section by section, but soon got into the freeform
rhythm of the dish, adding dabs of gochujang, a traditional
chili pepper paste.
is a Korean folksong, taking its title from a word that refers
to beauty. Many thus-named restaurants are revealed by a quick
When we were last at this location, in early 2006, the emphasis
was sushi and Thai food, under the aegis of chef Mino Kawaguchi.
But he moved north to Saratoga, and the space easily transformed
into a Korean-Japanese-Thai combo owned by Steven Kim, well-known
for the Asian market that bears his name on Central Avenue.
The current trend is to mix Asian cuisines, so this menu’s
mixture of items is unsurprising but very welcome, especially
where Korean food is concerned. You won’t find the variety
(or the tableside grills) that characterize the eateries on
Manhattan’s West 32nd Street, an area known as “Little Korea,”
where the menus are dauntingly expansive, but Arirang boasts
a solid list of favorites.
It has to be difficult to cater to a clientele unused to such
customs as the traditional mealtime array of banchan, small
side dishes, of which the spicy fermented cabbage called kimchi
is best-known. But how nice it is to be able to wait for one’s
dining companion while shelling edamame ($5), those crisp
little soybean peas that pick up just enough salt from their
Other starters include gyoza and shumai (two types of dumpling,
$5-$6), small portions of tempura ($5-$7), Thai spring rolls
($5), satay chicken ($7) and a spectacular-looking dish called
goong salong ($7), featuring large shrimp wrapped in a flurry
of thin noodles, crisply deep fried and served on a handsome
plate with a side dish of sweet, pungent dipping sauce.
A separate menu gives the sushi variety, much of the listing
given over to the fanciful rolls and other Americanized assemblies.
This is where you’ll find favorites like a spicy salmon or
tuna roll, some with crunch, served with the same attractiveness
and care as the other dishes.
Most entrées are served with a salad or miso soup; the former
mixes iceberg lettuce with slices of cucumber, tomato and
carrot under the expected ginger dressing.
In terms of sheer number, Japanese dishes dominate the menu,
but many of those are one-ingredient variations on hibachi
dinners ($14-$15, and apparently not cooked tableside, for
no teppanyake grills were in evidence), teriyaki-seasoned
fare ($11-$15, including a couple of tempting-looking noodle-based
items) and sushi and sashimi presentations.
Despite my orders to stay with the Korean dishes, my daughter
rebelliously decided that life would not be worth living were
she to be denied a bento box, which puts an entrée and its
accompanying items on a segmented rectangular black lacquer
tray. She ordered the beef teriyaki box ($14), which, alongside
thin, sesame-coated slices of meat, presented sticky rice,
kimchi, vegetable stir-fry, noodles and orange segments.
Beef featured in my dinner, the classic bulgogi (fire beef,
$13), a very nice take on a dish I’ve found elsewhere with
more spice and tenderness. Other Korean entrées include grilled
beef ribs ($15), highly recommended by other reviewers, soups
of seafood ($15), dumplings ($12) or noodles ($11), stir-fried
spicy pork ($13) and a $12 kimchi stew.
On the Thai side, there’s pad Thai ($15), mixing noodles with
chicken, egg and peanuts, among other ingredients, Thai fried
rice with your choice of meat ($14), pad see ew ($14), which
mixes rice noodles and Chinese broccoli with egg and your
meat choice, and an array of curried or stir-fried dishes
It’s a diverse-enough menu to invite repeated visits, and
the location and available parking certainly make this place
convenient. Although it’s been open for just over a year,
it was quiet the evening of our visit, so we enjoyed close
but discreetly offered attention. I’d like to return and try
some Thai food. I’d like to return and sit at the sushi bar.
All in good time, I hope; I can’t see Arirang not picking
up a following.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
a Taste of Madison from 11 to 3 on Saturday
(Oct. 3), as a number of businesses and restaurants
share their bounty. Among the eateries: the Muddy
Cup, Dunkin’ Donuts, Xing Long, Variety Pizza,
Curry House, Junior’s and Mahar’s. Tickets are
$8 in advance, $10 at the event. There also will
be music, games, a bookmobile, and what promises
to be a challenging Waiters’ Race awarding
$250 in prize money to the fleetest. It’s not
just speed: The contestants will have to navigate
a 500-foot course carrying—with one hand!—a tray
with a water bottle and serving glasses. They
can’t break a walk (not to mention any of the
stuff being carried), can’t behave badly to the
other contestants, and will have to serve water
to the judges at the end. Among the obstacles:
enough tables and chairs to ensure the track isn’t
straight, and a couple of dozen volunteers from
a nearby sorority who’ll wander the course talking
on cell phones. In other words, just like a real
restaurant. For advance tickets and more info,
call Steamer No.10 Theatre at 438-5503. . . .
Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland.