Saturday, November 15, 2014

Grub Club: Seoul Restaurant

I don't know what it is (a longing for my second home, perhaps?  Or maybe just the deeply ingrained belief that Korean food makes me skinny?), but I've been eating a lot of Korean food this fall.  Thus, it makes sense that we'd end up at a Korean restaurant for my first successful Grub Club pick of the school year.

Seoul Restaurant is not just any Korean restaurant, though - it was the #1 Korean place as chosen by UB Foodies, and the 12th restaurant out of 169 UB restaurants on TripAdvisor.  It is on the grounds of the Children's Park, just after Tumen Ekh, in an unassuming round building.

We were wowed from the beginning by the decor.  The central area of the restaurant is decorated in cool light and wedding palace grandeur, not to mention lots of naked people - I was a particular fan of the diving naked men fountain on the walls as you go up the stairs.  There's also a more rustic, hunting lodge seating area around the outside front, with a moose mounted on the wall at one end and a deer at the other, grills if you're there for galbi (we weren't), and much warmer light.
Once we were seated (at a table by a glass window that looked into the interior of the restaurant, where a young-ish couple sat and made googly eyes at each other for part of our meal), we were presented with five menus.  FIVE.  Seoul offers not only Korean but Chinese, Japanese, Western, and threw in a separate menu for side dishes.  The side dishes are also listed on the corresponding menus, so I had to wonder exactly why they needed their own menu, but hey, it is a Korean restaurant, and we all know how Koreans feel about the number 4, right?*
I was super excited to see one of my favorite anju (drinking snacks) on said side menu - dubu kimchi.  It's firm tofu, sliced and steamed, served with a fry-up of kimchi, peppers, and pork.  I ordered it for everyone but ended up eating most of it myself (everyone liked it - I was just greedy and scarfed most of it down myself, even before I could get a photo).
Blondie has a broccoli addiction, so this dish off the Chinese menu was right up her alley, in spite of the mushrooms in it.  She shared this one and the next with Engrish.
I sniped a bite of their crispy chicken dish, and it was perfection.  A lot of times when you order Chinese chicken it is a fatty mess, or filled with little bits of bone, so you can't just strap it on like a feedbag (one of Blondie's sayings, for those of you wondering).  The crispy chicken, though, was exactly what you would dream it to be - lots of savory little bites of chicken wrapped up in crunchy goodness.  Her dining experience was so good that Blondie gave me 10's across the board.
I also ordered the fried mandu and dolsot bibimbap (not pictured).  The mandu were tasty, but just a little too big.  The bibimbap...well, it was just okay.  I gave the food a 9, thanks to the bibimbap - I've had better, even here.  Champ and Lil' Miss Catwalk also ordered Korean food - ramyeon and kimbap for the former and bulgogi for the latter - and they seemed to like it alright, but were not as effusive as me and Blondie.  At any rate, it was a delicious meal and I can understand why Seoul ranks as highly as it does.  And now - off to brave the Black Market in search of silk and coffee cups.

*It's bad luck.  The word for death sounds very similar to the word for 4.

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