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Aug 7, 2002 09:16 PM

Korean in St. Paul and Minneapolis

  • t

I'm looking for a good Korean lunch in the Twin Cities. Any restaurant suggestions out there?

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  1. I am not a resident of the area, but when I visit I try to go to Snelling Street in St. Paul--there are several Korean eateries there, but the only one I've really been to--never disappointed me, so why change?--is Shilla, 694 N. Snelling Ave., (651)645-0006, closed Monday, hours on (ancient) card I have also indicate opened Sundays at noon, other days at 11:00. You might want to call & double check that these are still current.

    Loved their--whatdya call 'em?--pan chan, I think, appetizers, couple different types of kimchee, dressed bean sprouts, fried tofu, etc. Great bi bim bop and spicy hot noodles with raw skate fish. Plentiful selection of other stuff. I've always insisted to the staff there to bring me the stuff spicy, but I don't know if this is even necessary. Staff quite friendly and obliging.

    Have fun. We're jealous.

    If you want Mexican also check out Concord street in St. Paul.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bruce
      mark grossman

      there are i believe 2 other korean eateries in that same immediate area on snelling avenue just south of the Fairgrounds. the stpaul pioneer press did a korean roundup 2 or 3 years ago that you can probably find in the archive section of their web site.

    2. I haven't been there for a few years, but Hoban, in Eagan, is decent. It's in a strip mall, and all I really remember is that I had bulgogi and mandoo.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Erik

        Hoban is an excellent choice for Korean. The clientele is mostly Korean and the food is cooked well. The chap chae and chicken bulgogi are my favorites. Most importantly, it seems to be the cleanest Korean restaurant in the TC.

      2. My vote for best Korean, hands down, is King's in Fridley. Great stuff there - bibimbap and bulgogi are really good, and they also get my vote for best dumplings of any Asian restaurant in town. They offer a lunch buffet, too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pgokey

          Here is where we'll start to disagree...and I'll explain my perspective as thoroughly as I can. I do not like King's. And certainly I wouldn't choose King's over Mirror of Korea. However, in another post -I did state that I would go to King's for certain things.

          Specifically, if you were taking someone out for lunch who wanted to experience Korean food - the lunch buffet (I believe $15.95) is a good way to introduce people to Korean food without having to sit down and order a bunch of different entrees. Additionally, the two times I have been there, there are plenty of Koreans (and others) that eat here..(usually a good sign when Koreans will come to a Korean restaurant). If you like cocktails while you are eating, King's provides that as well. There is also selected sushi (though when I've gone, it was "not available"). Finally, the karaoke which is very popular in the evenings. As for the food and the quality - I believe Mirror of Korea is much, much better and here's why:

          The food is plentiful; priced reasonably and is good quality. I brought a first timer to King's and ordered the pork bulgogi. It was very greasy and the meat had a lot of grissle. Second, my companion ordered the squid and vegetable stir fry - there was not a whole lot of squid pieces and the pieces that they used were more end pieces (hard and without much flavor) .Additionally, the meals were quite pricey (15.95 and $16.95) and the portions were GIGANTIC, which is NOT typical Korean. And I find it strange that you can only order mandu as a 10 piece appetizer-there is nothing smaller. For two people, that is ridiculous. Beyond that, the spicing of the food was not enough so that it rather seemed bland.

          At Mirror of Korea - your oder of mandu is 5. That is standard when I've gotten it there, or at a Yummy Yummy by the U of M stadium; the pork bulgogi is well-seasoned and is much more reasonably priced $11.95. That is $4.00 less for much better quality and taste. The Na Jo Gi (which is a good starter chicken dish with zucchini, mushrooms, onions and carrots) is only priced at $8.95. The pork and kim chee stir fry is only $9.95....; the bi bim bop and chap che come exactly as it should - in its separated parts, with hot sauce on the side, and the egg on top....and the list continues. I believe the highest priced item on the menu is the jumbo shrimp which is $12.95. I also believe that the side dishes have better variety at Mirror of Korea. You get your kim chee, your sesamed bean sprouts, daikon, another version of kim chee with squid, and the seasoned room-temp potatos.

          Granted, Mirror doesn't have much for ambience- compared to King's - but what they don't spend in making the place look great translated into better quality food. It is always the same woman (who is neither nice nor mean - just seems indifferent all the time) - and if it is busy, it gets a little slower...but I've been there countless times, and the service is just fine. They only have limited beer selection - but you know it's mom and dad in the back preparing all of your food.

          1. re: snoboardbabe77

            Well, we agree that King's is pricey. But it's a fun place to go to, especially with the karaoke. One would want to plan on a mid-priced dinner rather than a cheap one, as often is the case with Asian places.
            Aside from that, King's is great. You won't leave unhappy with the food. Most Koreans in town (or, at least, the ones I've talked to) seem to pick that place over all others, too.

            I have not been to Mirror of Korea. Where is it?

        2. As a former resident of Korea, my vote goes to King's, hands down. Now if only the location were more convenient for me ...

          1. By far the best Korean food I've found in the twin cities is served at Dong Yang in Columbia Heights. Granted it's not a restaurant but more of a dining area in the back of a Korean grocery store, but the food is top notch. Both King's and Hoban have good dishes but they're not as consistent. I've been to all three places several times and have never been unhappy with Dong Yang's food. Heck, I just ate there this past weekend (kalbi and kimchee chigae) and the food was even better than my mom's cooking... and that's saying a lot!

            5 Replies
            1. re: doraji

              Don't you dare let your omma know that!

              It's quite hit or miss here, I think. I am yet to be impressed with Kum Gang San (formerly Shilla) and their prices seem ridiculous. I haven't been impressed with King's, but I will go down to Hoban since it's right down the street. I also like Mirror of Korea. *Don't* go to Hoban for chap chae... the chap chae at Mirror is much better. Do go to Hoban if you want dolsot bibimbap!

              1. re: SungSook

                Pgokey - Mirror of Korea is on Snelling Avenue -I can't remember the cross street but if you are going North on Snelling, it is past Kum Gang San on the left. It's on the corner with a blue and white awning - and it says "Taste the Flavors of Korea".

              2. re: doraji

                For my money, Doraji is right on.

                Dong Yang totally rocks my socks each time I go. As a non-Korean, I don't really understand the food, but the beef short-ribs are delicious. The pork stir fry is very good (and basically just pork with pepper paste). The soups are not to my taste, but they may be very proper Korean, I can not say.

                Rambling Korean Food Sidebar:

                We are host family for a Korean exchange student. She's a college freshwoman. She cooked rice cakes for us one night. When she said rice cakes, I thought of those horrible disks of rice crispy bound with some tasteless goo that people are always eating when they're on extreme diets. These were little, finger-sized, rice noodles that came in a freezer pack (fresh in Korea). She made a broth with pepper paste and malt syrup and beef broth and soy sauce and some garlic and onion and maybe some other stuff. Then she cooked them in the broth and added shredded cabbage and julienned carrots and chopped scallions at the end of cooking. It was super delicious.

                I'm going to take her to Dong Yang before schools out and see if she can teach me anything about ordering the food.

                1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                  Jim, sounds like a chowdown to me! And, sometimes, yeah, you can appreciate a meal just because it's delicious, even if you don't know all the reasons why. Thank you for that wonderful description.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Offering up a HUGE endorsement of Dong Yang also. Zero atmosphere, great food, awesome prices/value. We go there one or two times a month for lunch and have NEVER been disappointed. Much much much better than Mirror of Korea, etc. The ladies who run the kitchen at Dong Yang know what they're doing.