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The new owners of Satto, on Union Turnpike just west of Lakeville Road, reorganized the space. (Restaurant designers take note: Its fresh new approach would be of interest to you). This narrow restaurant has been airily compartmentalized with blonde wood. And the art is striking square black and white Orientals, framed in silver.
You'll find the bar and sushi bar up front. We were seated in the back behind the main dining area in a "semi room" with a tatami feeling but with Western style tables and chairs. A few of the tables had built-in Korean barbecues and a square, black burner is brought when a Korean casserole is ordered. (Our "neighbors" at Satto had a lobster casserole. We loved viewing the waiter cutting it with scissors.)
We were dazzled by page after page of Japanese and Korean specialties, described in detail. Finishing off the listings was "Early Moon Dinner," which included everything from appetizer to ice cream with soup and salad for $15.99.
For starters, there was a Japanese version of lobster Newburgh. At Satto, the seafood was crab and clams in a Newburgh-type sauce, presented in a very Oriental fashion. A fourth-inch high rectangular foil dish was set on a matching wooden tray, and a fourth-inch layer of rice was topped with the Newburgh mixture. It was so good. We reminisced about Newburgh in its glory days and bemoaned its dropping out of bite.
Appetizer No. 2 was rice cakes with spicy sauce. This was a Korean number with thin, 50-cent-sized cakes of cooked rice pounded to a paste. The sauce was spicy, very spicy, but had transparent rice noodles as well and they slipped down soothingly.
My dining companion ordered an avocado salad. The dressing came on the side in a tiny silver sauce boat. It was made from grated daikon, the big, white Japanese radish, and the texture was fascinating. My entree came with soup and salad and my house salad had a similar dressing. It was so very good. My soup was delightful - not miso, not dumpling - just smoothly delicious.
And now for the entrees. My dining companion chose a Korean item, chicken and rice, which she described in glowing terms as fried rice. "Brown rice. And it even has limas in it."
She ate every last kernel. In the Korean manner, kimchi, a very fine soy bean sprout relish, and sliced zucchini relish were accompaniments.
I've been told in Japan that eel is the most favored item by visiting Americans. As much as I like eel I could not quite believe that, even though I dined at an all-eel restaurant. (The Japanese have all-soy, all-this and all-that restaurants. Some even go to several restaurants to complete a meal - a movable feast.)
My eel entree was slices of eel, butterflied and arranged on rice with a luscious sauce. Flowerettes of broccoli, cauliflower and carrot bordered the precisely arranged eel.
Dessert was an extra thick slice of incredibly delicious orange (and they invariably are). And then we ordered ice cream: She had green tea, and I had red bean. My red bean was unusually excellent.
Never before would I have categorized a Japanese/Korean meal as comforting. Here at Satto the food, prepared by a South Korean chef, is comforting - the soup, the salad and the "Newburgh," an ultimate comfort food. As a vegetarian, my dining partner described her "fried" rice as "comforting," however, bagging the rice cakes - more like fire coming out of your mouth, dragon-like - for judicious at-home consumption.)
The page on drinks in the menu bears consideration. Soju was listed plain, as an herbal version and as a cocktail. It is a vodka-based Korean drink. Perhaps if the waitress presented that page to diners, they would be intrigued. Me, for instance.
The Bottom Line
Trendy Japanese-Korean restaurant. New ownership. Saki and soju poured. Extensive menu. Sushi, barbecues, Korean casseroles. Oriental comfort food. Good service.
Japanese & Korean Restaurant
271-11 Union Tpke
New Hyde Park
Seafood Korean Pancakes...$4.99
Japchae - Beef, Chicken, Shrimp (stir-fried rice noodles with assorted vegetables and beef)...$12.99
Pan Broiled Kimchi & Pork (pan broiled pork loin with special spicy sauce)...$14.99
Udon - Beef, Vegetable or Chicken (Japanese noodle soup with vegetables)...$9.99
Dolsot Bibim - Chicken, Beef, Kimchi (mixed vegetables over rice in hot stone pot)...$12.99
Ice cream (green tea and red bean)
Cuisine: Japanese and Korean
Setting: Light wood, silver framed art
Service: A profusion
Hours: L & D 7 days
Parking: Street Location: N side. W of Lakeville Road
Credit cards: All major. No Discover
Private parties: To 40
Off-premise catering: Yes
Noise level: Fri & Sat: moderate
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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