It’s not terribly often that I mention where we go when eating out. When I do it’s because we’ve found a place that’s generally added to a “usual spot” for dinner options. That only happens when it’s a good mix of price, options, food, or some other intangible. For the moment in Seattle it’s been Obasan Sushi and Toulouse Petit - both two-minute walks from our comfy abode and both for their happy hour fare. Unbeknownst to us until recently – Toulouse Petit is one of the Ten Best Happy Hours in the Nation – at least according to CNBC. I’d go along with that. It’s fairly epic.
Tonight we decided we’d go out for dinner and a movie. For the dinner portion we sort of just winged it and turned to Yelp. I’d had some recommendations for a great Thai place that’s just around the corner, but we opted to give a Korean restaurant on
hipster-village Capitol Hill a shot. It looked promising, many positive reviews on Yelp and it looked vaguely hole-in-the-wall-ish.
and walked over to the restaurant. It’s one of those tucked inside a building, walk down a hallway and find a small sign that denotes the entrance – kind of place. More promising is that there was a line. And there were Korean people all over, eating. And hipsters. Nothing speaks more highly to the food at an ethnic restaurant than if it’s filled with people from that very country. Less so hipsters.
We got a table pretty quickly – then were asked to move to another table after about 10 minutes because a larger party was waiting. Hmmm. I was slightly annoyed with that – I’m fairly certain that’s a no-no no matter what restaurant you’re in, but we rolled with it and got tucked up against a giant wall of what I’m guessing Chinese script. It’s a tiny place, it’s clearly family run, and it was absolutely packed. It’s certainly not the cleanest restaurant and it’s not particularly polished, but it won a place in my heart nonetheless.
Some of the reviews on Yelp were rather whingeing about the service. I can’t register the same complaint at all. Friendly, helpful, and efficient. Some folks on Yelp also – in all seriousness – said there were too many white people frequenting the restaurant. OK then.
I ordered the Dohl Soht Bi Bim Bap – mainly because the description sounded like something that I needed. “Freshly seasoned vegetables assortments, egg, beef over rice, comes in Sizzling Hot Stone Pot. (Emits far infra red ray which sustain the radiant heat & give Ki-energy to food you’re having). Indeed. I don’t know about you but I need some far infra red ray and Ki-energy in my food – like now! My other half got Hot Pot Bul Go Gi. Which is another Hot Pot (Ki-Energy!) dish that’s in a broth.
The food came out quickly, I got a Kirin which was gigantic and was all of six bucks. I don’t think I ever realized that Kirin was Malt Liquor. Clearly I needed a brown paper bag to drink that out of. The “orange juice” and “lemon juice” on the menu were in fact San Pellegrino orange and lemon sodas. I’m already a fan of this place and the food hasn’t gone into my mouth yet. And when it did show up that sealed the deal.
My Bi Bim Bap could be used to conquer the earth, I’m fairly certain. Ditto the broth in the Bul Go Gi. Holy shit! I ate the whole entirety of my far-infra-red emitting bowl. Positive Ki-Energy received! What a meal. They send out a whole array of kimchi and other sides to go along with the meal. Six little side dishes I think. I tried some of them, some I wasn’t quite brave enough. Every dish I saw coming out of the kitchen looked good enough that I considered sticking my chopsticks into the plate at the next table. That good.
I’ve been to other Korean and Korean BBQ places before and I’ve not found one that comes close to matching this food. Clearly I’ve not eaten in Seoul but it’s a dollar worth of gas to get here and not a few grand in plane tickets. That’s worth a few points of authenticity in my book – not that I’d know an authentic Korean meal if it slapped me in the face (if I’m being honest.) I can only report that this place fairly rocked my world, and that doesn’t happen all that often.
I’m no Korean food expert but I’ve got to say that I’m smitten with this little hole in the wall. It looked like three or four women ran the place, and they were clearly women on a mission. No nonsense, no fooling around, just good food. This is certainly a place I’ll be back to, no doubt about that. Lunch portions are a little less – but beware that they charge dinner prices on the weekend during lunch (also a common gripe on Yelp – get over it – it’s a buck or two at most.) They don’t seem to have a website at all – but do check out their Yelp and Urban Spoon reviews and if you’re in town you very well may find me licking the last bit of Ki-Energy from the bottom of my Hot Pot.