After months of waiting, Koreander Fusion Restaurant has opened its doors at the corner of Watchung Avenue and North Fullerton, the former site of QBA and Orbis.
The space has been transformed into a warm and welcoming eat-in or take-out restaurant with a dash of requisite Asian flare.
The menu at Koreander is a fusion of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisine.
Before I delved into the menu at Koreander, I had to familiarize myself with some Korean language like “bibimbap.” Bibimbap is a traditional Korean presentation loosely meaning “mixed meal,” essentially a base of white rice topped with sautéed vegetables, and optional proteins like egg or beef. “Bulgogi,” another term I was unacquainted with, translates into “fire meat,” and generally refers to cooked, marinated meat. Finally, “deopbap,” which means “covered rice,” is another traditional Korean preparation and offered on the menu at Koreander.
Now that we’ve got the basics, we could move onto the menu which begins with the Lunch Box options of Kalbi (barbecued beef short ribs), bulgogi (cooked marinated beef), Jeyuk (pork), or Chicken (chicken ;). Each lunch box comes with miso soup, rice, and 4-piece California roll and Salad. Priced from $9.99 - $12.99, that’s a pretty good deal.
Then there’s the bibimbap burger ($8.99), a beef patty cooked in a sweet and savory sauce, topped with coleslaw, pickled carrots, cucumbers and an egg. As well as the bulgogi burger ($7.99) which is marinated in a bulgogi sauce and served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and “sometimes” cheese. I also noticed the kimchi bulgogi dog ($3.99), which is basically kimchi with beef on a bun – nothing tubular, but a must to satisfy my curiosity.
The menu also offers special rolls and regular rolls, a variety of fried rice, seafood pajun, which are Korean style seafood pancakes ($7.99/$12.99), and chapchae which are stir-fried cellophane noodles with beef and vegetables ($14.99). Koreander offers fried dumplings ($4.99/$7.99), a variety of deopbap, as well as miso soup ($2.99), fish cake soup ($3.99) dumpling soup ($3.99), seaweed salad ($4.50), and more.
On my first visit I deferred to the manager, David, who recommended the Korean staple, bibimbap ($11.99), rice mixed with assorted vegetable with sesame seeds and special spicy paste, topped with beef and an egg. I simply loved it. The vegetables were crisp and refreshing and the beef was soft and flavorful. I was completely satisfied, with no post-lunch guilt!
On my next visit, I look forward to trying the L.A. kalbi, Korean barbecued beef short ribs ($15.99). The menu mentions “Korean and Mexican flavors are an unexpectedly delicious and savory pairing.” As such, a bulgogi taco ($5.99) and a kimchi taco ($6.99) are on the menu as well.
And yes, there is Bubble Tea ($4.95), yogurt with toppings, and smoothies ($4.95).
For the menu, visit www.koreandercafe.com (website still under construction).
Koreander Fusion Restaurant
128 Watchung Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07043
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Thursday
11 am – 9 pm
Friday and Saturday
11 am – 10 pm