The sign outside is just a large yellow banner that says Korean Restaurant in bold black letters. The first thing you hear when you walk in is an aggressively irritated Korean woman announcing how long you will have to wait for your food. It's noon and she is out of kimbap and nothing more will get done until there is more. On the right of the entrance is a hostess station that looks long out of use. You need to walk the length of the restaurant past a dozen or so unadorned tables to the counter in the back. There is a polite young woman behind the counter taking orders and payments as the older woman barks prices at her. The older woman is made up like a bad Hollywood stereotype - powdered white face, bright red lips, heavy black eyes. She looks at me and says like it's a challenge, "30-minute wait. You wait 30 minutes?"
I look around and see mostly foreigners like me, no Koreans, and I turn around and head for the front door. As I am walking out, I consider where else I stand a chance of getting japchae in Harford County. I turn around and somewhat reluctantly head back to the counter.
There are exactly two menus in the place, both in plastic sheaths, so there is not one I can take with me. But it is brief and consists mostly of familiar Korean dishes - japchae as well as bulgogi, bibimbap, kimchee, spare ribs. My japchae has a choice of beef or tofu. I choose beef. When asked, I also choose spicy. I head over to Ollie's to wait out my 30 minutes.
I return 20 minutes later and my food is ready. I pay $9.00 cash and head home.
Now, based on what I saw, this could either be the worst Korean food ever, or one of Harford County's best kept secrets. As the fragrance of Korean food fills the car on the drive home, I am hopeful that this is the latter.
It's a decent portion of japchae along with white rice and a promising kimchee. There is a nice assortment of veg, including onions, broccoli, red and green bell peppers, carrots, and celery. And it is actually spicy - not white girl spicy like you would expect in Harford County, but good, Korean peppery spicy with a lot of that fiery red sauce that is also slightly sweet. They did not skimp on the beef either. I'm happy with my small portion. I'm also very happy with the overall quality. This is as good as what I get at the Hanoori Korean cafeteria in Ellicott City next to the HMart, and noticeably less garlicky. Before I am even half-way through, my lips are burning and my nose is running and my mouth is full of delciousness. This is a definite win.
And even though kimchee was one of the first foods to hit my Murtaugh List, I give it a try. I like that there is zucchini in it, as well as slivers of carrot and daikon on the side. These are a nice addition to the spicy, pickled bok choy and make it the best kimchee I've had.
Located in Ollie's Plaza back in the corner by the store front churches, Aberdeen's Korean Restaurant takes credit cards for orders over $10. The dining room is spacious with slightly more charm than the woman who runs the place. But the food is worth the wait, and I think she exaggerates.