- BOX DINNER: Shrimp, edamame, rice and rolls with a dollop of seaweed.
Good food and reasonable prices are two thirds of the secret to any good restaurant. The third, of course, is good service. Unfortunately, Kopan only delivers two thirds of that combination. The upstart Korean/Japanese restaurant posing as a private club in the slot formerly occupied by Hunan in Cabot has potential — a lot of potential — if the eatery can ever overcome service issues and delays.
We recently visited the restaurant on the recommendation of friends. The building was bustling, and few tables were empty. We considered this a good sign.
After we were seated, we chatted about the transition the interior had undergone from its days as a darkly lit Chinese buffet, admired the classy soy sauce service on the tables and shared admiration for the distinctive waiter outfits. But some 17 minutes later, we had yet to actually make acquaintance with one of these well-dressed young men. We chalked it up to a busy evening, placed our orders, and waited.
And waited. And waited.
Our drinks arrived about five minutes later. Our waiter told us our soup and salad would be out momentarily. Momentarily, in this instance, turned out to be an additional 15 minutes. Sadly, these too brought on disappointment, as the miso soup was cloudy with far too many scallions for our taste (none of the broth having given flavor to the tofu cubes within) and the ginger dressing for the salad reeked of vinegar without much ginger taste at all. Still, we enjoyed the fragrant iced tea.
The wait continued. We had incorrectly assumed that our appetizer would arrive shortly after soup and salad. Finally, after a conversation with the manager on duty, our entrees arrived — more than an hour after our arrival and nearly as long after we placed our order. And still no appetizer.
Fortunately, we were greeted with good food. My companion opted for the sushi and sashimi box ($17.95), which included five pieces of sushi (shrimp, yellowtail, tuna, whitefish and salmon) and two pieces each of tuna, salmon and red snapper sashimi. These offerings came with a choice of fried or white rice, edamame, the aforementioned soup or salad, a California roll, and a “daily special,” which seemed to be a dollop of whatever the cook wanted to stick in the box — this time it was seaweed. The sushi and sashimi were fresh, though not in a fresh-off-the-boat kind of way.
Our own choice was the bulgogi box ($16.75), with its steaming pile of thinly sliced beef in the restaurant's signature sauce, along with the same choices of a side our companion received. I enjoyed the fried rice, though it did seem to contain an awful lot of scallions (we wondered whether there had been a sale on them!). The bulgogi was delicious and plentiful, filled with tender beef, onions and plenty of savory seasoning and sprinkled lightly with sesame seeds.
One thing bothered us both, though. The California rolls served with our meal seemed to be rather soft, and the avocado overtook the rest of the rolls' flavor. We both wondered if perhaps the California rolls are made in advance, since they come with so many of the entrees. In fact, to substitute another roll in any of the dinners is an additional $3 fee.
Some five minutes after our entrees arrived, we received our appetizer, the Combo Kebobs ($5.95), a delicious surprise of chicken, scallops, shrimp, bell peppers and asparagus in the signature sauce. These we highly recommend.
We would have ordered dessert, which included a choice of green tea ice cream, red bean ice cream ($3.95 each) or creme brule ($4.99) — but considering how long our meal had already taken, we were concerned we might never make it home for the evening. As it was, it was two hours from the time we darkened the door until we were able to leave.
We would be more willing to give the restaurant another chance, but we've heard from others who had similar service problems. Eliminate those, and Kopan would be a shining star among Cabot's dining options.
Kopan Bulgogi and Sushi
701 W. Main St., Cabot
(across from Pizza Hut)
The restaurant is one of the few places in town where you can partake of alcohol; however, because of that you must sign up for a private membership at the door. As far as we could tell there's no charge for the membership. We're not certain what sort of alcohol is offered; though we asked for a beverage menu, we never received one. We did observe diners at other tables drinking a few Heinekens.
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 5-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Full menu available for takeout. Credit cards accepted. Alcohol.