Jin Mi Restaurant - Authentic Korean Eatery Revisited
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Though it's been nearly five years since my review of Jin Mi Restaurant, my return visit was like deja vu, since little if anything has changed in this popular eatery that's frequented by local Koreans. Located along Route 16 and directly across from the Montessori School, just a block from the McDonald's and GPA intersection ,Jin Mi has limited parking...you may have to park in the rear, which you have to access anyway to drive around when parking in the front of the restaurant.
Jin Mi has long been a favorite of many island residents who value Jin Mi's adherence to quality and to the use of fresh ingredients in the meal preparation. Mrs. Jung Soon Kim, Jin Mi's owner, shops every day before opening to assure this freshness .It is a simple restaurant, ideal for informal and relaxed dining. The tables in Jin Mi are separated by dividers, which offer a bit of privacy for diners. The partitions are topped by boxes of plants, which give the restaurant a garden-like ambiance.
We ordered three entrees off the menu for this review. The first ,of course, was the old standby Western favorite, the Galbi* (marinated and grilled beef ribs $16), which is a dish that many claim Jin Mi makes the best. This was followed by my partner's order of Bee Bim Bam (rice, vegetables and meat $11), along with an order of the Soon Tofu Soup (tofu soup $10). We were served water in little cups that later were joined by a full plastic bottle. When I asked the server if Mrs. Kim was there, she answered jokingly that in Korean restaurants, there were many "Mrs. Kims"! It so happened that her name was Mrs.Kim, too! I gave her my card and then she remembered me from my first visit.
Our server brought out our pan chan, those delightful little dishes of assorted vegetables and kimchi first, followed by a bubbling cauldron of hot soup. The soup is slightly spicy, and has crushed tofu, baby shrimp and clams, with some vegetables in a flavorful beef broth. I would call it comfort food, and would recommend it to anyone who wants a soup that's hearty without being overly spicy or meaty.
The next dish delivered was the Bee Bim Bam, which had a semi-cooked, sunny-side up egg atop a variety of eight portioned vegetable ingredients, including carrots, cucumbers, radishes, bean sprouts, sea weed, and spinach. We stared at this for a while and then summoned our server over after we concluded it was not what she'd ordered, or what she'd intended, which was Hot Stone Bee Bim Bam, which comes with a raw egg that mixes in with rice, vegetables, a little beef, and chili paste for seasoning and spice. The Hot Stone Bee Bim Bam is not on menu, but the Bee Bim Bam is, and there is even a photo of it served as a meal, complete with pan chan. So, we asked for the Hot Pot Bee Bim Bam since that's what my companion really wanted in the first place.
While awaiting the Hot Stone Bee Bim Bam, our Galbi was delivered. Looking at this pile of seasoned grilled beef cut up in pieces and piled alongside the rib bone, I assessed that it was a little bigger portion than the one served at UriJip. It was definitely a lot of meat sizzling on that metal platter! We shared this entree, enjoying the peppery taste of the marinated beef combined with different panchan and rice. Eating Korean food this way is blissful as I love the taste and texture variations.
When Zee's Hot Stone Bee Bim Bam came, she was relieved and immediately started to stir the egg, vegetable, meat and rice mixture up the side of the bowl, adding more and more chili paste to season this popular cook-it-yourself dish. After a few minutes, it was cooked and blended to her liking so she started eating it. The sides of the bowl retain heat for a long time and the rice that sticks to it turns crunchy, which is one of the coveted pleasures of this dish - crispy rice Korean-style!
Jin Mi's menu includes other delicious traditional Korean dishes such as Sam Gae Tung ($15), which is a cornish game hen stuffed with sweet rice, garlic, ginseng, and jujubes simmered in broth; Bul Go Gi ($15); Spicy Squid Stir Fry ($13); Shrimp Stir Fry ($15); Kim Chee Stew ($12); Spicy Crab Soup ($15); and Fried Man Doo ($10) which are similar to gyoza and stuffed with tofu, beef, green onions, bean sprouts, carrots, and onions.
What we didn't try during this review was the Gae Jang that I'd shared with my Korean friend, Renee, during the original review. Gae Jang ($16) is fresh raw crab seasoned with ground red pepper and mixed with vegetables. This is a bona fide "dining adventure" entree, since eating raw crab is not on everyone's favorite food list. It was a seminal experience for me, however. I recalled Renee's emphasis on the freshness of the crab, and how you would not eat this crab delicacy at just any restaurant. She trusted Mrs. Kim's high standards in selecting and preparing this dish. There are many who share Renee's confidence in Mrs. Kim's home-style cooking. That's why they keep coming back!
Jin Mi Restaurant is open Mon-Sun from 11am-10 pm. The phone number is 637-4398. I recommend a visit to Jin Mi Restaurant, where you can dine from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Chal Mok Ge Sumnida!
*All dishes are spelled as they are on the restaurant menu.