Dolsot Bibimbap  

9205-D Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95826. (916) 366-3323

For some reason, everytime I go to mention Pine Tree House (a Korean restaurant) I get mixed up and call it Pioneer House (an old folks, senior living community in Midtown) which inevitably earns me a confused look from whomever I'm speaking to.  The food there is anything but slow or old, so I'm not sure what the deal with my early onset Alzheimers is. Name issues aside, Pine Tree House located in Sacramento's "Little Korea" (the portion of Folsom Blvd that runs from La Riveria to Zinfandel that houses several Korean restaurants and shops) is a solid place to grab Korean fare. It's clean, the service is friendly, prices are reasonable and the food is remarkably good.
On my first visit, I went with a friend that spoke fluent Korean and he took the helm. He ordered us some bulgogi, a seafood-tofu stew and some pajeon. We started with the pajeon (a Korean pancake made of eggs, rice flour and scallions served with a dipping sauce), which was good. It was light and fluffy and a nice dish to balance out the highly flavored entrees we ordered. The bulgogi (tender bits beef marinated in a soy-based sauce served on an iron plate) was tender, well marinated and not overly fatty like at some establishments. And our last dish, the seafood-tofu stew warmed us up quickly-- it packed some heat and had an ample amount of juicy claims and mussels, which made me happy.
My second visit to Pine Tree House was with a friend, who like me, spoke absolutely no Korean. We decided to go with three appetizers and one entree so we could get a nice variety of dishes. Our waitress smiled at our order...little did we know, the appetizers we chose were huge. We ended up with enough food to feed the Korean army and then some! (Side note: Since we used the point and order method at dinner, I had to ask one of my Korean friends afterwards what the names of the dishes I had were called.)  
Our meal started with about a dozen banchan dishes (an assortment of fermented vegetables and custards). Our waitress was kind enough to explain what all of them were and cut our kimchi up (with kitchen scissors) for us. We then moved on to some kimchi pajeon and jap chae. I liked this version of pajeon better than the plain version, the kimchi gave it more flavor. The jap chae (cellophane noodles tossed with sesame oil, soy sauce and mushrooms) was delicious. The noodles stuck together in a giant clump but the taste was smooth and clean. We then fumbled through the special of the night - a platter of yangnyeom gejang (miniature crabs served cold with sliced jalapenos and a spicy/sweet chili powder sauce). The sauce was good but the crabs were a bit difficult to contend with (even after we asked the waitress what the proper way to eat it was). I'm sure the staff had a good chuckle when one of the crabs went rogue and tried to escape by exploding all over my friend's sweater.These incidents must happen fairly regularly as the waitress was over pretty quickly with wet napkins to help sop up the mess. Our last dish, was the traditional bulgogi...which was just as tasty as my last visit. Our waitress concluded our meal with a cup of complimentary sujeonggwa (a punch made from dried persimmon, ginger, peppercorns and cinnamon, served cold and garnished with ice) which was wonderful. I'm definitely going to have to learn how to recreate that drink for the summertime...maybe even an alcoholic version.
Overall, a messy but pleasing meal. If you haven't hit up "Little Korea" or are just looking for a new Korean restaurant to try, I strongly urge you to stop by Pine Tree House. Just a bit of advice-- don't wear white if you plan to eat the crab, those things are slippery!

March 2012

I've returned several times since my initial visits to Pine Tree House and each time the staff has been courteous and the food fresh. I've also found that they prepare the best dolsot bibimbap in town and it's become my go to dish when I visit there.
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