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[Cheap Eats]

Damoah Grill
A Korean classic
BY RUTH TOBIAS

on the cheap
Wonder Bar Gourmet India White Horse Tavern Paris

Even her name brims with laughter: all childlike enthusiasm and motherly generosity, Tae Hee Lee has got to be the bubbliest proprietress this side of Seoul. And since she works the kitchen with as much soul and spunk as she does the dining room, Lee guarantees the good name of Damoah Grill along with her own. Her country-kitchenesque décor provides a charmingly incongruous setting for serious Korean food: the menu has a way of making you think about, as well as enjoy, the shifts that occur in the very meaning of flavor and texture as you move from West to East.

A whole new experience of both hemispheres might begin with duk buk ki ($6.50). These steamed-rice-cake sticks are mildly sweet, with an oddly pleasing sponginess that nicely absorbs Lee’s pungent chili sauce. The shrimp shumai ($4.25) are so light they’re practically translucent. She also serves fascinating follow-ups, such as pyung yang naeng myun ($10.95): cold buckwheat noodles topped with slivers of tender beef, hard-boiled egg, and crunchy pickled veggies. Afloat in a sour, beefy broth, the whole is as coolly refreshing as leaf-shade. Also try the classic bibimbab ($9.95), an assortment of veggies and beef mixed with sesame oil, chili sauce, and gently cooked egg, served over rice that lines the bowl with a layer of crunch. Many other hot-pot options are available in the $10 range, all accompanied by an array of kim chee dishes. With the money you save on main courses, you can certainly afford to ask Ms. Lee about the off-menu sweet-and-sour tofu — made gleefully rich with deep-frying — or the unexpectedly top-notch sushi, such as the three-fish-strong Asian maki ($6.50). Then again, you can save it for next time — rest assured, you’ll want to go back for more.

Damoah Grill, located at 117 Chiswick Road, in Brighton, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call (617) 783-2116.

Issue Date: September 27 - October 4, 2001