By: Emmanuelle Feria
Dup Bap–a Korean, family-owned restaurant in town– has recently opened, serving authentic, high quality Korean dishes such as Kimbap, Dduk Bok Ki and Japchae, along with its delicious bubble tea. Dup Bap has 5 stars on Yelp and overwhelmingly positive reviews. It is open from 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM from Tuesday-to-Sunday and open for both in person and curbside delivery, along with pickup. The service is amazing as well, and you are consistently greeted with kindness and hospitality.
Dup Bap also has a Facebook account under the name DupBapnj, and an Instagram account under Dup.Bapnj. While their menu is fairly limited, for new Korean food enthusiasts it boasts a wide selection of dishes, many of which are varying styles of Dup Bap, giving the restaurant its signature name. It recently updated its menu, however, with a greater selection of dishes and foods to choose from.
While I’m not Korean, I have Korean friends who have introduced me to various Korean dishes, such as Dduk Bok Ki and Jajangmyeon. I also like to think that my palette is “more refined” since I lived in the food capital of the world–Paris– when I was young, so I know great food when I taste it.
Dup Bap opened during quarantine, and has been my own and my family’s go-to place for boba, aka bubble tea. For those who don’t know, boba tea is a sweet, sugary drink that is often chilled, with tapioca–boba– pearls at the bottom. Dup Bap boasts a variety of flavors, such as the classic flavors of taro, milk, and matcha green tea, along with the more tropical flavors of mango, pina colada, watermelon and honeydew. It also offers a mocha flavor— perfect for coffee lovers. While I haven’t ever tried boba tea from renowned, nationwide companies such as the Boba Guys, I’ve tried enough bubble tea places to consider myself a boba connoisseur.
I’ve noticed that less authentic, non-Asian run bubble tea shops tend to have lower quality bubble tea, with the boba becoming overly chewy or too stiff after a while, and the flavor becoming dull and watery. Unlike these shops, Dup Bap’s bubble tea is consistently flavorful, delicious and vibrant. It is more of a slushy style tea as opposed to a liquid type, which I personally prefer and consider more refreshing. My personal favorite flavors would have to be strawberry, mango, taro and pina colada. Insider tip: ask for extra boba!
I decided to order their most popular dishes, according to the owners: Jeyuk (Spicy Pork) Dup Bap, Pork Belly and Japchae with Bulgogi, along with their incredibly popular addition–Korean wings, which are offered in three different flavors— Original, Sweet and Sour and Soy Garlic. According to Daniel–one of the owners–the recently added Korean wings “sold out almost every day [they] had them.” It would be criminal to not try each of the wing flavors, so that’s what I set out to do. With the help of my sister, we discussed and evaluated the dishes based on flavor, texture, and presentation. We decided to evaluate the wings first. The soy garlic wings reminded us of a sort of teriyaki flavor. All of the wings had a nice garnish of herbs, with the Sweet and Sour and Soy Garlic wings being sprinkled with sesame seeds. They were, as were all of the dishes, delectable to the eyes and taste. The smell alone was enough to make our mouths water. My sister’s favorite of the Korean wings was the Soy Garlic flavor, while mine was the Sweet and Sour, because I liked its moderate spice level and flavorfulness. While both of us enjoyed the original wings, we felt that it could use more flavor. However, if you prefer more subtle flavors in chicken, the original flavor is for you. To each their own.
As a whole, the portions were generous given the quality of the meat and given how flavorful the dishes were. Neither of us got any fatty pieces and the meat was consistently rich in flavor. The prices were decent as well, costing a similar amount to Chinese takeout. Each dish came with small sides of kimchi, pickled radish and miso soup. As delicious all of the dishes were, I would recommend only getting one dish if you are eating by yourself. Even the single dishes had a lot of food packed into the container and the food was very filling, so you definitely get your money’s worth. You could even split a dish and be satisfied, given the generous portions.
Next, we tried the Jeyuk Dup Bap. I found it to be mildly spicy, while my sister thought it was moderately spicy. My sister has a fair tolerance for spice while I have a more moderate one, as spiciness is evidently subjective. However, we both appreciated the vibrance that the spices used brought to it visually and tastefully, along with the chive garnish. The spice came through, but not in an overpowering, burn-your-throat type of way, which I appreciated. Plus, the white, sticky rice and the pickled radish helps neutralize the spice if needs be and cleanses the palette.
We proceeded to try the Japchae with Bulgogi and the Pork Belly. The Japchae with Bulgogi is one of my sister’s favorites, as she’s often ordered it with her friends. I shared her enthusiasm for the Japchae, as I really enjoyed the flavor of the glass noodles and beef, which gave a unique twist to its salt and pepper essence. I also really liked the visual elements of the shredded vegetables and eggs and the juxtaposition of the crunchy vegetables with the bounciness of the noodles. In terms of the Pork Belly, it tasted almost identical to the Pork Belly that my sister and I had at a Korean Barbeque and was just as delicious. The texture was on point and we enjoyed the contrast between the thinly sliced onions on top, the rice, and the Pork Belly, as they all complimented each other’s flavors. The sauce in each of these dishes was distinct and bursting with tasty flavors. The side dishes were just as tasteful. The kimchi in particular was somewhat comparable to a relish or salad, and was extremely refreshing.
While I’ve yet to try all of Dup Bap’s wonderful dishes, I felt that these dishes, (and the ungodly amounts of bubble tea I’ve had during quarantine) represented what Dup Bap is about– bringing authentic, flavorful Korean dishes to everyone. Dup Bap’s opening added some spice to the selection of restaurants in town, bringing some refreshing variety to Caldwell’s palette. One of the owners, Daniel, explained “We’re committed to bringing clean, fresh, good food to people,” which is exactly what they have accomplished.
Whether you are a seasoned Korean foodie or not, I highly recommend trying Dup Bap. Its home style, Korean cooking will be sure to lift your spirits and enliven your “kwaranteen” giving you a nice break from the sometimes run-of-the-mill Italian pizzerias in town. Their commitment to gustatory excellence, passion, and dedication is undeniable. It’s the perfect place to stop by with a friend and try. It’s especially important to remember to support small businesses, and Dup Bap is the perfect one to support, as it is tried and true and will not disappoint.
Check them out at https://dupbapnj123.wixsite.com/dupbapnj
Categories: Arts & Reviews