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[whitespace] Cheap Eats

By Traci Vogel

Smile House
86 S. First St., San Jose; 408.293.1640
Lunch 11am-4:30pm Mon-Sat; dinner 4:30pm-8:30pm Mon-Sat; closed Sun
Take-out available

BABY BLUE IS the color that defines Smile House, which is decorated like the inside of a cloud. A tiny storefront holding steady at six months in mostly empty downtown San Jose, Smile House serves up traditional Korean dishes tasty enough to bring on storm fronts of salivation. Savory marinated short ribs, called Kal-Bi ($8), have a toasty sesame tint; and the vegetarian version of Bi Bim Bob ($6)--a mix of stir-fried zucchini, shredded carrot, fried egg and steamed rice (sounds strange, but it's a heavenly combination)--can be mixed to taste with hot sauce.

Patrons may revel in a lunch-time buffet, priced by item ($5.95 for any two items, $6.95 for any three, etc.), but even on the main lunch menu, no dish exceeds $7. Choose from the fun-to-say Bulgogee (thin slices of marinated beef, $7) or the Korean noodle soup known as U-Dong ($6-$7).

But what really keeps this writer addicted to Smile House is the melon-flavored Bubble Pearl tea ($2.50), to which I offer up this haiku:

O, sweet melon bubble tea
Pearls rest on my tongue
Gulp! Down like raindrops

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From the June 6-12, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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