E.M.Bop: Alpharetta, GA, USA
I got to try this new restaurant up in the suburbs for a friend’s birthday featuring Korean Fusion cuisine. They had recently opened on May 1, 2016, a little less than two weeks ago and had received five-star ratings from the few that they had on YELP so I was really excited to try it. We had about twenty (20) or so people there for B’s birthday bash so a lot of us got to share and try quite a few things:
- Kimcheese Fries: french fries topped with kimchi and sauce with melted cheese
- Chicken Wings: crispy and tossed in a sweet-sour gochujang sauce
- Stuffed Tofu with Mushrooms
- Popcorn dumpling
- Crispy Pork Belly “Bossam”: slices of pork belly served with pickled daikon and rice
- complimentary cheesecake and dark chocolate mousse cake for the birthday party
I like to give a thorough and unbiased review, even if majority of their 15 YELP reviews are all 5-stars, this was NOT a 5-star meal and I’ve had plenty of those. Sorry B and J
- huge quantity: even when shared among four people, we barely finished the dish
- nice kimchi flavor, has bits of bacon in it which you can’t go wrong
- fries were not soggy which meant they didn’t sit long
- nothing I would write home about truthfully. I honestly think I could come up with a bacon kimchi sauce and melt cheese as well, then pour it over some french fries I could make had I a deep fryer. While this is a step up from my aforementioned home cooking method, it’s not something revolutionary in flavor. If anything, you have to be able to tolerate the taste of kimchi which I’m not sure a lot of non-Asians may. I much prefer the garlic parm fries at MJ Tacos near Gwinnett Mall.
- very great flavor: that sticky sweet gochujang sauce reminds me a lot of Bonchon chicken up in NYC and in DC.
- Chicken was not undercooked being that the wings were deep-fried before tossed in the sauce
- part of the meat was de-boned on some wings. I realize that this is a “plating” issue, but I actually really like the skin of a chicken wing and when you rip off half of the wing, there isn’t that much left of the drumstick part.
- five wings per order. REALLY? The dish was about $10 so it’s a $2 wing, and not even a full wing.
- no FLATS.
Stuffed Tofu (with Mushrooms): deep fried tofu stuffed with marinated mushrooms
- nice thick large pieces of tofu, very similar to the stuffed Malaysian tofu if you’ve had a chance to eat it before.
- very stuffed with mushrooms, not stingy with the stuffing. I can’t remember if they scoop out some of the tofu in order to create room for the mushrooms though.
- flavor is off. It didn’t wow me when I took the first bite, and there was something odd about the flavor of the mushrooms. In fact, it was kind of bland truthfully.
- three to four pieces make it hard to share, maybe if you cut each piece into half.
Popcorn Dumplings: literally bite-size dumplings served in a cone. Don’t be fooled, you think that the entire cone is filled but it’s about 75% filled with deep fried rice-noodles, the kind you don’t want to eat. However, it was probably my most favorite out of everything I tried that night.
- good quantity (despite the fluff of the rice noodles below): we shared this between 4 to 5 people
- bite-size make it perfect for popping multiple pieces in your mouth
- great flavor: the meat was not overly marinated, no dipping sauce really needed
- crispy dumpling skin: but not soggy and soaked in oil
- those rice noodles are deceiving haha. Don’t think for a second that it will feed six or more people if they are hungry.
Crispy Pork Belly “Bossam”: boiled pork belly (making it “bossam”) that is then broiled (I believe) to create that super crispy pork skin on top. This is served with white rice and shredded light kimchi daikon
- generous portions of pork belly
- super crispy pork skin
- WAY too thick cuts of the pork belly. It came in 1-inch thick slices and was SO tough to chew my jaw started to hurt. I actually had to cut each slab into three or four smaller pieces to eat it.
- lack of flavor, bland bland bland: there wasn’t really a dipping sauce and the boiling process of the pork belly really removes all the flavor. Not to mention, I don’t think the pork belly was marinated beforehand. The rice was served as plain steamed rice so that definitely had no salt or sauce. I’d much prefer the chinese style roast pork because at least it goes well with white rice even though it is much greasier.
- truthfully, I don’t know if this was worth $25.
Complimentary Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake & Marble Cheesecake: I’m not sure if they make the desserts in house or not.
- the dark chocolate mousse was really nice: not too sweet (being that it was dark chocolate) and it came out cool but not hard. Some places have served me frozen dessert before.
- cheesecake was pretty good, not overly rich surprisingly. It was a good standard marble cheesecake
- the fact that it was complimentary, probably because it was for B’s birthday, was a really nice touch.
My friend’s gf wanted to try and keep their 5-star review but I honestly can’t lie. I didn’t really love the food. I didn’t hate it either, but the flavor wasn’t amazing and the dishes weren’t exactly something that is totally revolutionary either. As another friend at the party said, “[some of these] seem like korean bar food.” I’m sure it’s much nicer than that. For one, the interior design is much more pleasant than a dingy bar, and the plating is better as well.
I did have a problem though with some of the service. A separate friend didn’t get his entree served to him. At all. It didn’t even come out towards the end of the meal when everyone was eating dessert. Points off, especially since it was dead inside the restaurant minus maybe one or two other tables.
Also, they couldn’t split checks more than 8 ways. While I understand that most of us should bring cash knowing it’s going to be a large dinner party, I really hate chipping in towards the check because with large parties, as what happened, some people only wanted to pay their share, some people left early (and probably didn’t pay or didn’t pay as much) and thankfully I had enough cash for myself and then some. I think one friend just ended up taking the entire check for 10 ppl (since they split us into two groups) and hoping that people paid him what they owed. In summary, the food review is as follows:
- Kimcheese Fries: ***.25 (3.25 stars)
- Chicken Wings: ***.75 (3.75 stars)
- Stuffed Tofu with Mushrooms: *** (3 stars)
- Popcorn dumpling: ***.85 (3.85 stars)
- Crispy Pork Belly “Bossam”: ***.5 (3.5 stars)
- complimentary cheesecake and dark chocolate mousse cake for the birthday party: ***.75 (3.75 stars)
Even though I live maybe 15-20 minutes away, I don’t know if I would come back unless it was for an event like another birthday. However, if you wanted to check them out yourselves, you can find them here:800 N Main St.
Alpharetta, GA 30009
It’s always worth going and trying on your own. There are only 15 reviews on YELP, but I also want to say that the initial reviews are most likely people that the owner/chef/staff people know. It’s understandable of course, but I like to give a thorough and unbiased review. Sorry B and J!