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Just south of Seoul food: Art, authenticity mark Jeon Ju Korean Restaurant in Midwest City

Midwest City's Jeon Ju is a family restaurant serving authentic Korean cuisine in an environment literally dripping with art.
by Dave Cathey Published: September 18, 2012

Other condiments include what's generally referred to as Namul, which is virtually any vegetable or combination of vegetables lightly pickled or seasoned in the manner of kimchee. At Jeon Ju, the Namul includes Do Chua, the Vietnamese combination of julienned carrots and daikon mildly pickled. Also in the circle of flavor is Dongchmi, also called water kimchee, a briny broth in which daikon floats with a little scallion, carrot and cabbage — the broth is intended to be spooned out, leaving the vegetables. Kkakdugi is a variation of kimchee consisting of kimchee-seasoned daikon cubes. Kongnamul is boiled bean sprouts, drained and seasoned lightly with sesame oil, soy sauce, chopped green onions, sesame seeds and a hint of garlic. Also included were chilled marinated potatoes and a lightly pickled carrot and broccoli combination.

Banchan is to be eaten at the pleasure of the diner, whether mixed with bulgogi and rice, dropped into bibimbap or added to a kimchee hot dog.

It can also be added to Kimchi Soon Tofu, also known as Soon Dubu Kimchi, a soft tofu soup served with or without meat and plenty of gochujang chili sauce. For those who like to sweat when they eat, this is your weapon of mass perspiration. It's served with steamed rice, which offers fleeting respite from the incendiary nature of this addictive soup.

Yong also makes a handy dish called Kimbap, which will look a lot like a sushi pocket. Steamed rice encasing various vegetables and meats wrapped in gim (dried seaweed sheets), it can be sliced to look very much like sushi rolls. Yong wraps her Kimbap in plastic so you can order it to go. Also available to go is toasted rice candy. It will test the resolve of your dental work but wash sweetness over the smoldering trails of gochujang on your palate.

Original work of art

While the food at Jeon Ju will demand your attention, the explosion of color that adorns the walls will guarantee no lull in conversation.

Yong's daughter Cindy lives in New York with her husband, noted German-born artist Markus Linnenbrink, who is known for his work with brightly colored streaks and drips, including a line of Swatch-brand watches. In August 2011, Linnenbrink turned the walls inside Jeon Ju into a site-specific work of art called “SUDDENLYEVERYTHINGMINDGOESONHOLIDAY.”

Linnenbrink's works are on permanent display at places such as San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, the Herzliya Museum of Art in Israel, The Hammer Museum at the University of California in Los Angeles and the Neue Galerie of Kassel, Hesse, in Germany.

If you go

Jeon Ju is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 217 S Sooner Road in Midwest City. Prices don't reach far beyond $10, and family-style dining is a given. For more information, call 672-4644