Asian cuisine has always been a favorite of mine. It has tons of variety, is fairly healthy and is conducive to sharing when eating with friends and family. From now until May 1, Breadbar West Third Street presents a modern take on Korean pub grub: SeoulTown Tapas.

If you’ve ever experienced the art of tapas – by way of, say, Furaibo on Sawtelle Boulevard or Izakaya Honda Ya in Little Tokyo – a big part of your dining experience is passing small plates around the table and sharing what your palate picks up, be it subtle or not. Chef Debbie Lee, a former finalist of Food Network’s fight to the finish cooking competition, “The Next Food Network Star,” offers her take on tapas, Korean-style, with her SeoulTown Tapas preview.

Chef Lee got her start as a caterer, which allowed her to hone her craft of combining Asian and American cuisines. She was raised in the South where her Korean mother and grandmother showed her the world of food, building the foundation for her bold and brave culinary creations. Her showcase preview of Korean pub grub reflects just that – her ambitiousness with ingredients like flattened, boiled rice cakes rolled into a cylinder wrapped in maple-flavored bacon and a citrus-marinated pork with Fuji apples, complimented by spicy Kimchee.

The menu is divided into small, medium and large offerings – the small being literally one or two bites of food. Simple but complex throughout the menu, Chef Lee’s Chicken Meatballs with Magnolia Pepper Glaze aromatics stem from the Chinese Magnolia and smell like the glaze may be a little spicy, but it’s actually slightly sweet and balances the seasoned meatballs.

The Sesame Flatbread was slightly out of place on the medium plates menu, as the size of it was one of the biggest of the evening and easily could feed two to three people. Braised with soy, the pork on the flatbread takes a back seat to the dominant pesto and roasted tomatoes.

There is also a Korean noodle item in the form of Udon with chiffonade eggs, fish broth and a requisite fish cake.

Her large plates are definitely meant to be shared, like the family recipe Mama Lee’s Meatloaf. Unlike others who use ground beef, Chef Lee uses expensive ground Rib Eye, making it almost a ground steak if anything.

Her self-proclaimed hangover cure is the Pork and Potato Stew, with spicy Korean parsley and peppers.

The Xtra Large plates include a crispy, non-greasy fried chicken. I highly recommend going for the by-request chili glaze. Though the fried chicken in itself was tender, juicy and satisfying, the chili glaze gives the chicken even more depth.

Hopefully, I’ll make it back before April 10 to try the slow-cooked cod with roasted Daikon.

Should you need the staple to almost all-Asian cuisine, fear not ... SeoulTown Tapas offers Mountain Rice, as well as homemade Kimchee, winter vegetables and more.

Chef Lee’s desserts keep with the fusion technique with plates like Butterscotch Cream Puffs with Chile Chocolate Mousse and Sesame Doughnuts with Chestnut Glaze. Chocolate has always been a great base for unusual pairings and this one is smooth with a faint spicy aftertaste.

Maybe when Chef Lee opens up her Pub Grub in late 2010, the Grilled Nutella Sammie (brioche and berries!) will have just a bit more Nutella. No one can deny that hazelnut spread makes everything better!



For more information, call (310) 205-0124 or visit breadbar.net.