The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

More than meets the eye

In Queens, there is no scarcity of Asian cuisine – in fact, on every corner there is at least one Chinese, Japanese, or Korean eatery to be found, but one night, I truly craved seafood and decided to give the recently opened Samdado Restaurant a try.

The décor is nothing remarkable: cheap potted flowers in traditionally auspicious yellow and red, and bamboo sit atop the barriers between booths. Fake ivy decorates the art-deco inspired sconces and occasionally, a theatrical mask adorns the walls. Although less ostentatious than most Japanese restaurants, it still looks the part.

I was quickly seated and poured a glass of water by the busboy, who then brought me a small bowl of a warm, porridge-like substance known as Jun Bok Juk. Not a typical Japanese dish, Juk is originally a Chinese medley of rice and leftovers. Samdado’s variation consists of rice, bits of carrot and abalone, a medium to large sea snail, lending the porridge a savory taste. Juk is quite versatile and customizable – I noticed people at other tables putting red roots, green beans, and anchovies into their Juk for extra flavoring.

I skimmed through the menu and found that there was not much originality, so I decided upon the classic Spider Roll ($8.50) and Uni ($4.00), or sea urchin sushi to start. Within about 10 minutes, the waitress emerged with a bowl of miso soup and my sushi.

Upon sipping a few spoonfuls of the soup, I realized two things: one, the scallions were incredibly fresh, and two, there was no tofu in my miso! Luckily, the soup was tasty even without the tofu, but it still put a damper on my experience.

My first time eating Uni, I didn’t know what to expect. The creature was bright orange and appeared viscid and its scent reminded me of potpourri. I popped it into my mouth and was immediately overpowered by an extremely strong taste that I can only describe as super-smoky. It felt buttery, but bordered on slimy, and tasted very fresh. As far as my personal tastes are concerned, the Uni bombed.

The taste and smell lingered, so I reached for a piece of the Spider Roll, which turned out to be delectable. The lettuce, cucumbers, sesame seeds, and above all, the crunchy crab were very fresh.

Last to arrive was the Kotge Maegun Tang ($12.95), a crab casserole in a piquant broth, infused with what tasted like chili powder. The crabs were good, although I had trouble opening them without the appropriate tools. What I managed to eat was, like the other seafood, very fresh.

As my waitress arrived with my bill, she put a small bottle of Biofeel on the table. Biofeel is a sweet Korean milk substitute made with several different sugars and Lactobacillus casei Culture. In short, it’s a shot of sugar for the lactose intolerant. I took a sip and it was like drinking a Starburst I had never before tasted.

Samdado may look like another Japanese restaurant, but, as their Chinese wait staff who serve food as mixed as their clientele will prove, there’s more than meets the eye or the palate here. While the menu may lack innovation now, the restaurant’s dedication to freshness during such early stages in its life proves that under the right management, Samdado can continue down a very lucrative track.

Samdado Restaurant
221-20A Horace Harding Expressway
Q30 to Springfield Ave & Horace Harding Expwy.

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