Thursday, April 8, 2010

Seoul Hot Pot

Date: 4/5/10
Address: 2560 152nd Ave NE, Redmond, WA

Occasion: Dinner with Maman

Atmosphere: Cozy and bustling. This is a smallish restaurant – probably seats about 30 – and probably family-owned, so it had that small, family restaurant feel. It was about half full when we arrived so we were seated immediately. The place felt clean and organized and although they had some open storage in view (glasses, utensils, teapots, etc.), it, too, was organized so there was no visual clutter. Like many family-owned Asian restaurants, the wait staff wasn’t out of this world and super friendly but they were fast, got our orders right and were very good about refilling our tea. Works for me!

Food: Good. I can’t say this place knocks my socks off but it was pretty tasty. Six or seven plates of kimchi/pickled appetizers arrived shortly after our tea and Maman said they’re quite good. I don’t eat kimchi and pickled whatsits but since she does, I trust her judgment. Maman ordered the Sun Du Bu (a spicy tofu soup) at medium heat and I had the Korean BBQ rib eye. The food arrived promptly and was fresh and piping hot. The spicy tofu soup was bubbling nicely enough to cook the raw egg the waitress cracked into, and it had just the right level of spiciness with a good amount of cabbage, tofu, etc. The rib eye was delivered on a bed of onions on a sizzling plate and although it was good, it was also not very inspiring; it didn’t have the full level of flavor that I’m used to at traditional BBQ places. (Mind you, this has nothing to do with the onions; I may absolutely hate eating onions but I like cooking with them and the flavor they add to food.) Both dishes paired really well with rice, which brings me to that topic. They serve purple rice! Okay, I don’t know what it’s actually called but I do know that it’s some sort of bean/grains mix that you throw in with your plain white rice and it turns the whole batch purple, and it’s healthier for you, like brown rice. I always thought Maman was the only weird person with purple rice from “the Korean store.” You’re not alone in this world, Maman!

Price: The BBQ dishes ranged around the $15-$17, which is fine for a big plate of meat, and I think the Sun Du Bu was around $8. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of anything else on the menu. Six (or seven?) little appetizers, two hefty bowls of rice, a medium bowl of spicy tofu soup and a big plate of BBQ rib eye – not bad for $25.

Overall Recommendation: While this isn’t a destination restaurant for me, I’d probably recommend it if someone asked me for a place to eat in the Overlake/Redmond area. The food is proper Korean comfort food, familiar and well done, and the prices are good. Maman really likes this place so I’m sure I’ll be back again. Perhaps I’ll go with Bi Bim Bop next time. Or more BBQ. (I sure love me some Korean BBQ…)

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