In the window of Edo there’s a New York Times review from 2004 that touts the virtues of Edo’s sushi, but that’s not the reason why we came. Sushi or Japanese food is not the reason to go to Edo. Sure, its name is Japanese, but we were there for the Korean fare. Like so many Asian restaurants in Fairfield County, Edo tries to squeeze multiple cultures into a single venue which isn’t always for the best, but go to Edo for the Korean dishes. You'll be happy you did.
The restaurant is in a large space, located at a random stripmall in what feels like the middle of Nowhere, Norwalk. The singular landmark is it’s a few buildings away from the DMV. Don’t let this deter you. Once inside, the restaurant, is spare and simple, adorned with blond wood and navy panels. Very Japanese. It’s also a bit dark inside, but that will just keep you focused on the food.
We did try a sampling of the sushi--salmon, yellowtail, and tuna--but it isn’t noteworthy. The rice was overseasoned and a bit mushy, and the fish, while fresh enough, was sinewy. The accompanying pickled ginger was a ghastly reddish pink color and tasted like air freshener. But things get better from here.
To begin, an assortment of tiny bowls is set before you like a miniature smorgasbord. One bowl is filled with bright yellow pickled turnip dotted with sesame seeds, another with tiny leaves of stir fried bok choy, there’s also slivers of firm, meaty tofu lightly seasoned with toasted sesame oil and fish sauce, a cold and crunchy bean thread salad, and kimchi, fermented napa cabbage that’s pungent and full of heat. It’s a party for the palate before your meal even begins.
Standouts include the Sizzling Stone Rice Bowls, a version of bibimbap (dolsot bibimbap), the mixed rice dish that is a signature Korean specialty. There’s a cold version with beef and vegetables, but hot it’s even better. Gob Dol, a choice of beef, pork, chicken, or tofu comes with a combination of vegetables--cucumber, spinach, and mung bean sprouts--and is topped with an optional fried egg. The stone pot retains heat, forming a crisp crust of rice on the bottom. Mixed with goshujang, a chili pepper paste that packs pleasant heat and a bit of sweetness, together it’s a satisfying combination of umami and texture. A Bulgogi version, tender marinated barbecued beef, is a must for the meat lover, as it comes without any vegetables. My favorite, Spicy Pork with Kimchi, topped with a tangle of watercress and chopped romaine, and underneath slices of pork marinated bulgogi style, each bite punctuated with a hit of kimchi. Seafood Gobdol was less successful. The sizzling treatment wasn’t kind to the seafood which ended up tough and rubbery.
Soup Meals are absolutely worth a try. Soon Tofu was completely addictive. We ordered the spicy version, whichhad a haunting smokiness and a pleasant heat, filled with cubes of silky tofu and bites of seafood and mushrooms. Yuk Gae Jang, also spicy, was a bowlful of shredded beef brisket, scallion, bean sprouts, and slippery, glassy potato noodles in a rich, satisfying beef broth. But if dumplings are what you crave, the Man Doo Guk is a must. Oversized handmade dumplings made from opaque potato noodle and inside, a delicate pork and vegetable filling with hints of ginger, scallion, and sesame oil. The chicken-enriched broth was full bodied yet light, with those wonderfully glossy potato noodles, fried shallots and egg.
While there are many multicultural and confused Asian restaurants in Fairfield, good Korean fare is harder to find, and regardless of its name, Edo has it. So skip the sushi and negimaki and go for what Edo does well and very well at that.
Japanese & Korean Restaurant
666 Main Avenue