Perched on top of Hillsborough St., looking down on the ever-evolving street, is an NC State mainstay that survived the endless construction that took its toll on many Hillsborough St. businesses. Waba has always been somewhat of a mystery. Searching the restaurant's name on Google doesn't find a official site, not even a functional Facebook page. Reviews of the restaurant are months to years old. Pictures of the inside of Waba are nonexistent and pictures of the food are slim to none.
Out of everything that has failed on Hillsborough St., from the amazing Frazier's or the all-you-can-eat cereal joint Bowls, how was it that Waba was the one that survived?
As I pushed Waba's door open and meandered up the stairs, my excitement began to build. Like the masked magician revealing magic tricks, I was finally going to unravel the mystery that has been Waba. What greeted me was a little less dramatic then what I've been building in my imagination-- it's a tranquil and quiet place. I approached the counter to place my order from a simple menu full of typical Korean dishes. Every dish is numbered and pictured for those unfamiliar with Korean cuisine. And as I read over dishes like bibimbap and bulgogi, it was the stews that caught my eye.
Craving the fermented goodness of kimchi while still wanting something hot, I decided on the kimchi stew. Served in a clay pot to keep the stew hot throughout the meal, it was scalding by the time I brought it to my table. Pieces of cabbage, pork, and tofu floated around in a bright red broth. The unique fermented flavor of kimchi was the highlight of the dish. Throw in to the pot the rice and egg served on the side, and the meal is warming and satisfying, especially on cold winter afternoons. In the end, behind the mystery of Waba is simple food that satisfies.
Now... if only I could figure out the mystery behind Gangnam Style.
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