The Monitor, McAllen, Texas, Amy Nichol Smith column
Feb 15, 2013 (The Monitor - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
When a friend told me about Komex, I misunderstood what the restaurant would be serving. The name "Komex" is a portmanteau of "Korean" and "Mexican," so I thought it was safe to assume I'd be eating something like Korean tacos or chorizo-filled spring rolls. Nope.
At Komex, which is located in a tiny spot in a strip mall, the Mexican part of the restaurant is breakfast. Until 11 a.m., Komex serves breakfast tacos in the basic combos of potato and egg, chorizo and egg, etc.
The Korean part is only during lunch, which is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then they're closed for the rest of the day.
Be sure to ask what's available for lunch because their menu only shows what might be cooked, but it's really up to the chef, I guess.
Adam (online editor) and Juan (graphic designer) joined me for lunch. Both of them were interested in trying the Bibimbap, so I asked for the rice omelet. Denied. The two women running the joint informed me of what was available, so I chose the bulgogi with rice.
We were all served bowls of warm, slightly spicy fish broth with bean sprouts and thin strips of carrot. I would've preferred the soup to come out before our meals because we all sort of pushed the soup aside in favor of our entrees.
Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish, which is essentially mixed rice. At its simplist, Bibimbap is rice, vegetables and egg, which is exactly what Adam and Juan got at Komex. Chili pepper paste was served on the side, and our server instructed Adam and Juan to stir it into their dish. (Dining at Komex is a lot like eating at a friend's mom's house. It's casual, but you feel compelled to do as the family does and clean your plate so as not to offend.)
I tried a bite of Adam's dish, and I made sure to get a bit of egg, rice, carrot and seaweed. It was all very fresh, though I wanted more depth in flavors.
My dish wasn't quite what I expected. It looks delicious. Strips of marinated beef are grilled and served with slices of carrot, red bell pepper and onion. A bowl of rice is served on the side. I dug into my dish and found the vegetables were cooked tender-crisp. They picked up more flavor from the sesame oil and seeds than anything else. There was a thick gravy pooled on my plate, which I expected to have tons of flavor, but it was surprisingly bland. Also, the meat was a bit overcooked, but still edible.
Komex only offered a couple of banchan (side dishes) including bean sprouts tossed in a chili sauce and topped with sesame seeds and kimchi, which was very sour (I would've preferred it to be spicier).
At the end of lunch, we were all fairly satisfied, but not weighed down. Korean food seems to be filling, but never heavy. I still would've preferred more seasoning in everything I tasted at Komex.
Oh, and if you go, be sure to stop by an ATM first. Komex only accepts cash.
(La Cocina Komex, 1010 S. 10th St., McAllen; (956) 994-8155)
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