I’ve always had a rule that you could still wish someone Happy New Year all the way through January 31. After that, the trajectory of a person’s year is pretty much set and if it isn’t going well then you’re just taunting them.
But this year is an exception because today, February 1, is the beginning of Lunar New Year, the Asian holiday that celebrates the beginning of the year based on the lunisoar calendar with festivities lasting up to 16 days. The lunar year is designated by an animal. Last year was an ox and 2022 is the year of the tiger. I hope the ox got away in time.
Lunar New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and often called Chinese New Year, but other Asian countries, though not all, observe it too. In Vietnam it’s known as Têt and in Korea it’s Seollal.
So let’s celebrate Seollal with a quick visit to Nifty’s Korean BBQ & Ramen in downtown Orlando.
Nifty’s is a small and rather cluttered eatery in the breezeway of the Plaza building where sunlight never shines. It always reminds me of the dank underground of New York’s Penn Station. Inside, there are so many tables that one has to scoot past one just to place an order.
I should mention here that I’m not really certain what the official name of the restaurant is. I’ve seen it as Nifty’s Korean BBQ & Rame, Nifty’s Ramen. Nifty’s Smoothie & Juice Bar and Nifty’s Korean-American Craft Cooking.
Let’s just call it Nifty’s.
It has a large menu for such a small place. We’ll ignore the ramen items because that’s Japanese and Japan does not observe Lunar New Year. For my lunch visit I selected the cupbap bulgogi beef. Cupbap (also cup-bap or cupbop) is a one-container offering of rice with various toppings. This one had bean sprouts, zucchini, ribbons of carrots, scallions and sesame seeds on top of the rice along with the bulgogi style beef. The beef had a chopped texture, almost like ground beef but not as fine, instead of the usual thinly sliced barbecued meat. It was a bit mild on the seasonings but I fixed that with some sauce from my own cupboard. And I liked the one-bowl conglomeration.
Nifty’s also features Korean soups and stews and fried rice entrees, as well as Korean bento boxes and bibimbap. And yes, there are smoothies, juices and boba teas, too.