Odette MacDonald

Dear Foodies,

Take note! This is a little hidden oasis I found thanks to an excellent source. When I first found out about this new take-out restaurant that offered Korean and Mexican food, I had only one thought ó this will be interesting. I couldnít wait to see the menu!

I decided to invite my good friend Lydia Maatouk, a wonderful cook and local artist, because I had a feeling she would appreciate this experience with me. The minute I walked in I felt a sense of peace and harmony. The décor was exquisite. The walls are painted pumpkin orange and autumn green which bring great warmth to the restaurant and the traditional Korean pieces that are displayed. éed with sesame oil (gives it a nutty and robust flavor), fresh garlic and sesame seeds.éed with garlic also added color to my plate and tasted wonderful. My dish also came with slices of Korean egg pancake. I had to ask Chom where she did her shopping when it came to their rare vegetables. She said San Antonio has a large Korean market that carries a wide array of vegetables and fruits she purchases for her authentic Korean dishes and teas.

I had the great pleasure of meeting owner Chom S. Cabrera that afternoon. I definitely needed her guidance when it came to ordering. La Cocina Komexís concept is “take out” for breakfast or lunch, but feel free to stay and enjoy your meal if youíre not in a rush.

The menu is not overwhelming at all. Chom (Korean) and her husband Jose (Mexican) decided it was time to open up a restaurant that offered traditional simple dishes they grew up with. Hence the name “Ko-Mex.” Chom had been an interior decorator for 30 years and decided it was time to turn a new leaf. She mentioned cooking was always a hobby she enjoyed, so why not open up a place in McAllen?

Chom recommended the Bibimbop which is #5 ($6.99). All I knew was that I was going to get an array of Korean delights on a plate and I was more than ready for the unknown.

Korean food has a long tradition of offering various contrasting flavors, such as salty, sweet, hot and sour. In addition, balancing of colors, textures and nutritional foods, such as vegetables, grains, meat and seafood are also important to the Korean meal.

Once our dishes arrived we slowly began to savor each vegetable and tried to guess what it was. We loved all the exotic flavors and spices. I had Chom sit down with us and surprise us with the answers to our questions. What I thought was jicama was actually thinly sliced daikon (Korean radish) seasoned with Korean chili pepper which is mildly spicy and is saut

What I thought was tamarind was actually “Go chu jang,” which is their homemade Korean hot jam (paste), which went well with the perfectly marinated, thinly-sliced beef (tender).

Of course there was steamed white rice, a staple in Korean cuisine. They use medium to short grain rice and when cooked it becomes moist and slightly stickier than long grain rice.

I really loved the unique and delicious “Gosale” which is bean sprout, spinach and tolaji. This vegetable was brought in from Washington D.C. Chom explained to us that this rare vegetable can only grow in places where there is moisture for it to grow. Once I found out it was 100 percent full of fiber, I said this is a keeper!

The Korean watercress saut

Chom had a wealth of nutritional information and I was more than interested. After all, Iím not getting any younger and I need all the help I can get in order to live a better life. The Korean radish salad I had is rich in vitamins and high in beneficial digestive enzymes. The Gosale, which has the mung bean sprout, is known for their high protein content. After I ate this wonderful plate of goodies I felt satisfied and knew I could splurge on a sweet. Chom said, “I have a special Korean ice coffee ($1.15) you have to try!” Lydia and I sat in our cozy cubby hole by the window and waited like anxious little girls for our treat. The iced coffee tasted like smooth coffee candy that refreshed our pallets and made us cry for joy. Seriously, itís that good.

If you visit Cocina Komex for breakfast, which is from 10 to 11 a.m., you can treat yourself to some traditional Mexican egg taquitos. Thereís chorizo, ham, bacon, bean, potato and a La Mexicana all under $1.49. How about treating your work staff or friends to some delicious stir fried rice (beef, chicken, shrimp $5.99) for lunch to go? Maybe some light and tasty spring rolls ($4.99). You must try their variety of teas and Korean specialty drinks, like their famous punch. For example, date tea is good for those who have diabetes and high blood pressure.

Obviously, preparing an authentic Korean meal can be a daunting task if you plan on making it at home. However, Chom has brought her Korean traditions and dishes to the Valley along with her love for Mexico. She is cooking up Korean comfort food with love and enthusiasm. $

Your new

loyal customer,

Madame Gourmand

KOMEX: 1010-A S. 10th McAllen, 956-994-8155. Close to the H.E.B. South, by the Strip Mall and next to Floreria Lee (Behind Taco Palenque). Hours 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.