Generally, a pretty good marker of the authenticity of any type of ethnic restaurant is if people of that ethnicity eat there. If you see a bunch of Brazilians in a Brazilian restaurant, there’s a good chance it’s going to be authentic food like you’d get in Sao Paulo. If you go to a Lebanese restaurant filled with people from Beirut, you’re probably in for a treat. The same is true of Korean food, and my latest review, Choga at 6920 W. 105th St. in Overland Park is no different.
I first discovered Choga several years ago, when prior to my marriage, I was dating a Korean girl. Always an adventurous eater, she invited me for Korean food one evening, and this was the place we ended up. I was instantly smitten by the flavor and quality of the food and have been back several times, most recently last Friday with my lovely wife Natasha, who had the day off from work.
Choga doesn’t have the greatest location in the world. It’s in a rather old strip mall off Metcalf in South Johnson County where the nearby presence of Buffalo Wild Wings, D’Bronx and Winstead’s overshadow it. With a non-descript interior with second-hand booths, the rear of which is used as a storage closet, it’s hard to believe that Choga offers the best Asian food in town, but it does.
Like I said, I’ve eaten here several times and never been disappointed. This most recent trip, we went at lunchtime, and had the lunch box special. I had braised baby octopus with green onions, while Natasha had the braised short ribs. Both were served with sticky rice, sweet potato noodles, a salad with a light and refreshing vinaigrette, a pair of dumplings, kim chee and a spicy sesame-chile dipping sauce, plus half of an orange for dessert. Everything was delicious. Octopus had an amazing flavor, and the short ribs were fantastic. The sides were all good, especially the kim chee, which I love anyway.
In fact, the only bad part of the meal was the tea. We had ordered a pot of green tea, and were quite disappointed to receive a teapot of hot water and a teabag. As any tea drinker can attest, the tea used in bags is the scraps and leftovers, and as a result, generally doesn’t taste nearly as good as loose leaf. Despite this, our meal was fantastic.
The service was good, though a bit understaffed. With only one waitress for the full dining room, I could tell our server was a bit snowed under, but she did a good job anyway.
Prices were reasonable, around $9 for most of the lunch boxes, with dinner entrees at around $15 for a generous portion. The menu offers a good selection of Korean fare, without being overwhelming to non-Koreans.
In closing, I love Choga and strongly recommend it.