Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Fusion' menu feature of Meeso Korean and Japanese Grill

Everything about Meeso in Chester is about fusion, from the food to the colors — event to the name of the restaurant itself.

Han, a native of Korea, chose that name for the restaurant because her modus operandi is to do just that: make people smile when eating her food.

"I give them a smile," Han says. "They enjoy the food, they're happy, and they really have a good time in my place."

Korean and Japanese may be the name of the game in this buoyant, autumn-color little restaurant on Main Street, but Han is not averse to one day mixing up many other different cultures' recipes in with her own Korean style.

"I don't divide (the menu)," Han says, "As in this is Japanese, and this is Korean because in the future, I'm going to accept any kind of country's food. Now, there's no nationality. It's all mixed in. In the future, I'm going to try different ingredients from different countries."

The current menu already is quite diverse. It features items such as the Bulgogi box, which is thinly sliced beef, marinated with a mixture of garlic, sugar, fruits, sesame oil and soy sauce, and there also are a variety of sushi rolls, such as the eel and cucumber roll, the crab roll and the California roll.

But if meat's not your thing, there's no problem: Meeso has a pretty extensive vegetarian selection as well.

"I didn't expect that many people (to be vegetarians in Chester)," Han says. "Around here, there are so many vegetarians, so I was surprised. That's why you have a choice to get only vegetable or with beef. The people consider their health more (and avoid red meat). That's why I'm trying more recipes with vegetables."

One such item on the menu is the Bi-Bim-Bap, which is rice mixed with six vegetables and spicy sauce on the side.

"It's very healthy, and it's getting very popular," Han says.

With such an enthusiasm for the business, it's hard to believe that Han initially had no interest in feeding people.

"I came (to America) to study," she says, "I studied for my MBA, but I graduated after 9/11, so many companies didn't want to hire a foreigner."

Han's master of business administration degree is in information systems management, which she says is "unrelated to food." A friend suggested she pursue a career in food service if she couldn't find a job in her field.

She had worked in a restaurant while she was in college. "It was really hard — long hours. And I thought, 'I don't want to do that.' "

It was a good six months before she finally took the plunge into the restaurant world. But she didn't want to take the traditional approach; she wanted to try something different.

"That's why I said, if I stick with this idea, I don't want to serve the Korean traditional style. It's too much work, and you waste a lot of food," Han says. "All the side dishes that they didn't eat, we had to throw out. But with (the restaurant's fusion menu), it's a different item, a different product."

This different product seems to suit Meeso's customers just fine, and if it doesn't, she takes her customers' advice on how she can make it better.

She doesn't hesitate to recommend food to new customers.

"And we listen if they like it or not," Han says. "Usually, the regular customers, they're honest. Just like a friend, and that's very important to me, to make a relationship with the customer. I think that's very important."

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