If it's not already obvious, I'm not Korean. I am far from an authority on Korean food, but I do like Korean food. My absolute favorite Korean meal consists of kimbap (a sushi-like roll) and bibimbap (a big bowl of rice topped with assorted veggies), and I order it all the time, which makes my authority on Korean food very, very limited. I recently decided I should order something else, to see if I could fall in love with other Korean dishes as much as I have with kimbap and bibimbap.
And here enters Pastoral, a Korean restaurant in Philly that's simple-Asian-sleek inside, and easy to tuck into without a reservation.
My partner notes that when he ate at Pastoral a few years ago, there were no vegetarian offerings on the menu, and had to request something be made vegetarian. So, it's important to note that Pastoral now has a vegetarian menu. The vegetarian menu is seperate from the regular menu, so be sure to ask for it if it's not stuck in the regular menu, as it was absent in one of our menus, but present in the other. (Update: maybe my dining partner just wasn't presented with the veggie menu many years ago.)
The server at Pastoral was keen enough to ask if fish was OK in our selection of banchan, and it was, so that's why you see a dish of fishcake in our otherwise vegetarian banchan. This appetizer sized dumpling soup has only a few dumplings and scallions, but plenty of extremely yummy, buttery broth that is perhaps a little heavy handed with black pepper, but I can take it. Lord knows what was in the dumplings; they were of little consequence, it's the broth that was amazing.
And here's my bowl of Soon Tofu, a dish I've never had before, so I have nothing to compare it with. The dish is described as a stew of vegetables cooked with soft bean curd in a spicy soup. I asked for the dish medium in spice level, and the dish was spicy enough, but I would go up a notch next time. The hot, spicy soup seemed perfect on such a cold wintry night, except the broth lacked depth (perhaps a non-veggie version would cure that), and I dislike silken tofu, which was a prominent ingredient in the soup.
This is my dining partners bowl of Yuk Gae Jang, a soup with scallions, mushrooms, veggies, and noodles in a spicy broth. This dish had a very similar broth as the Soon Tofu, but was slightly tastier, making Yuk Gae Jang my prefered soup of the two main dishes. The dumpling soup won hands-down, though.
Ah well, Soon Tofu and Yuk Gae Jang at Pastoral did not sway me from my favored kimbap and bibimbap, but that's not to say I wouldn't return to Pasoral to test out other dishes or their bibimbap. But, sadly, kimbap is not on their menu - a disturbing absence I've noticed lately at other Korean restaurants.
205 S. 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Mon.-Sat., 11:30am-10pm; Sun., closed