On Hillsborough Ave, tucked away on the side of a Korean grocery store, hides a small, family run Korean restaurant named, most appropriately, One Family Korean Restaurant. You can occasionally find karaoke there, but the real draw is the food.
Like most restaurants, One Family offers a lunch special. Laura and I have eaten there for dinner in the past (which is great, with large, flavorful portions,) but we wanted to see how things panned out during lunch.
I got one of my favorite Korean meals, bulgogi. It is a pile of beef, cut into thin strips, that is marinated in soy sauce, green onion, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, sugar, and black pepper. The meat is the cooked and served sizzling on a skillet. One Family Korean serves theirs with a good amount of the marinade, which is fantastic as it is so delicious you can almost drink it alone! On the lunch special, they are a bit more frugal with the sauce, so if you need more, do ask. It comes with white rice, which is good for cleansing the pallet in between bites of the accompanying sides, which can vary a bit depending on the meal. Anything from spicy kimchi and refreshing watermelon to pan fried dumplings and chewy seaweed can be brought to you. Part of the fun is seeing what sides you’ll get that day. I think I’ve tried around twelve so far, including a few truly unusual ones, like sautéed minnows and a type of sweet, partially cooked bean. Anything I wasn’t partial to Laura scarfed down and vice versa, so nothing has ever gone to waste.
Laura went with the meal she gets at One Family Korean every time, the bi bim bap. This is a dish you’ll find in many Korean family households. In fact, it is probably the single most well known Korean dish in existence. There are many differing recipes for which ingredients to use, but they all follow an essential game plan of taking separately cooked items and placing them in the bowl in individual piles over a bed of steamed rice, and creating a circle of tastiness which is then topped by an over easy egg. Traditionally, this is done in a hot stone bowl so the rice cooking at the bottom gets slightly crunchy for a different texture. Laura can’t eat over easy eggs, so she got hers sans egg, but the rest remains true to form. They used julienned carrots, bean sprouts, seaweed, mushrooms, and the lot to create a frame for the sliced beef in the center. The presentation is beautiful, but doesn’t last long as you mix everything up to eat it. The crossing of flavors and textures teases the tongue, making each bite a little mystery. Do you get more carrots next time? Perhaps less seaweed? It’s quite a fun dish to eat, especially when you have that egg oozing down over everything, adding its creamy yolk to the party.
One Family Korean Restaurant is a mom and pop business. Don’t go in expecting a staff of thirty waiters and waitresses all marching along like worker ants. Take it for what it is: a smaller, much more laid back restaurant where they’re inviting you to join in their culture in the best way possible, with excellent food.
One Family Korean Restaurant
7030 W. Hillsborough Ave.
Tampa, FL 33634