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Nov 15, 2006 07:42 PM

The search for Korean BBQ continues...

I recently moved to Seattle from the NYC area. There is a significant Korean community in northern New Jersey, and through leads and contacts, I was able to locate an outstanding Korean BBQ place, So Moon Nan Jip. There is nothing quite so satisfying as a well-made Korean BBQ meal, with all the panchan.

I am looking for a place like this here. I tried Kokiri in Federal Way, but found it a bit lacking. One feature that I consider essential is charcoal or wood fuel for cooking instead of gas-Kokiri uses gas. Also, they didn't offer up lettuce wraps until we asked; maybe we got gringoed.

I have some details on Hae-Nam, Ho Soon Yi, Old Korean Village, Shilla, Mirak, and Ka Won. Can anyone comment on the relative qualities of these places, and specifically, whether they use charcoal?

I have some names I pulled off the Seattle Korean Professionals site that I could not locate any other information on, at least not in english. See

Many of these names are not in English, and I'm too tech-illiterate to translate the page unless I'm prompted to do so. Has anyone been to any of these:

22716 Hwy 99 N. Edmonds, WA 98026

11620 Pacific Hwy S.W. Lakewood, WA 98499

CHOSUN B.B.Q (조선갈비)
21025 Hwy 99 Lynnwood, WA 98036

8601 So. Tacoma Way Lakewood, WA 98499

JIN GO GAE (진고개)
920 N. 160th St. Shoreline, WA 98133

14040 Aurora Ave. N. Seattle, WA 98133

Thanks for any insights

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  1. Hey,
    Grew up in the Seattle are but just moved down to LA, so as far as good Korean food goes in Seattle I can let you know whats up.

    Kokiri: Probably one of my least favorite korean restaurants in Washington. Honestly. It lacks in everything.

    For be honest. I have never seen a charcoal BBQ place in WA. I just moved down here and I cant get enough of it. In Federal Way there is Mi Rak. Pretty busy spot that is always decent to eat at. I would always go to 4 Seasons (Sa Ghe Chul) in the shorline area. Its right off of the 175th st exit. Just head north on Aurora and you will see it on your left. Good bbq and great Jungool.

    HooSoni isn't a BBQ spot. Its actually a Soon dubu restaurant. I have been to many soondubu houses and this one is the best. In Korea and anywhere in the US. This place is a must. Be ready for a wait though if you go during dinner on ANY day of the week. Also try their seafood pancake (Haemul Pajun)

    Hope that helps

    5 Replies
    1. re: HooAe

      Back in 1988, I spent a month and a half in Korea. Friends of mine went to Seoul about five years ago and they told me about Mi Rak.

      Let's just say this, I wouldn't recommend any other Korean restaurant other than Mi Rak. I recently had a conversation with a Ah ju mah, the owner of another restaurant, about the two more recent Korean restaurants. She recommended Mi Rak.

      If you sit on the west side of Mi Rak, all of the food comes to you already cooked. If you sit on the east side of the restaurant, that's where the grills are. Now as to whether the grills are charcoal or gas, I do not know. What I do know is that I've been there a few times and it is the only Korean restaurant that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

      If you want a true Korean experience, Mi Rak is it.

      1. re: TheAfricanQueen

        Mi Rak might have been "the" place back in 1988 but it has fallen behind the competition in Federal Way. Tobang BBQ and Chang Ahn Jung are both much better in terms of menu, meat quality, and banchan variety and taste. I live in Federal Way and I just cannot figure out why Mi Rak has such a great reputation.

        1. re: Ligament

          has anyone tried the mi rak in lynnwood? i thought the food at the federal way location was pretty decent, but not any comparison to the stuff they have in parents recently went to the mi rak in lynnwood and seemed to have enjoyed it, although i didn't really grill them on the entire experience.

          1. re: soypower

            I thought they closed that place down a year or two ago.

            There's another Korean restaurant in its place. The beef quality there is really bad, I thought.

            1. re: HungWeiLo

              wow. i guess what seems 'recent' to me was actually 2 years ago...i have no sense of time...eek.

    2. When I was looking for korean bbq that uses charcoal a while back, I was told that Washington doesn't allow it. Can anyone confirm this?

      6 Replies
      1. re: Lauren

        No, I have still not looked up the citation, but I did see a similar mention of the fact that the safety codes here will not allow this, though eager proprietors ma be testing various dodges pending adjudication. I shall take it as a good sign that the new owners of Chowhound care more about the purity of the chow mission, which I surely appreciate, than about the liability that will be exposed by the first good lawyer who subjects historical deletions warning of the danger to diners and staff to discovery. We live in a cool climate, not at all like that of a number of recent immigrant populations. Recent news accounts of many deaths in Seattle area cold-snaps caused by newcomers attempting to stay warm by burning charcoal indoors should have caused health-and-safety regulators to act, and I believe they did, which is why you will not find indoor charcoal in these parts. Please stay alive to enjoy the chow.

        1. re: mrnelso

          Pity, but it does get cold in Korea - and in New York, for that matter, where finding Korean BBQ using charcoal is no problem and where there are more immigrants from warm countries in the 5 boroughs than there people in Seattle, period.

          There are restaurants in Seattle grilling indoors with wood - Palace Kitchen anyone? - so I wonder if there really is a legal issue.

          1. re: terrier

            I am surely hoping for final information, as it may really be a safety issue, and I thank you for your contributions.

          2. re: mrnelso

            Chicago manages not to burn the entire city down despite using real charcoal in a vast number of Korean BBQ places. I do not buy the argument that charcoal in a well ventilated Korean BBQ place is dangerous in the least bit.

            1. re: mrnelso

              I asked the restaurant regulators at Public Health and they helped me find the fire regulators at the Fire Department,who said:

              "Restaurants are not prohibited from using charcoal in their cooking in the City of Seattle. Many pizza restaurants actually do use solid fuel (i.e., wood or charcoal)

              After a discussion with our Senior Plan review engineer, we determined that the most likely reasons that relatively few restaurants (other than pizza restaurants) utilize charcoal is 1) the problem of disposing of the ashes and 2) the ability to meet the requirements of NFPA 96 (Solid Fuel Cooking), the Seattle Mechanical Code and the Seattle Building Code. One restaurant in particular has been responsible for a number of dumpster fires due to improper disposal of ashes.

              As for Fire Code issues, the Seattle Fire Code address Open Flame in Section 308. But it does not prohibit charcoal cooking in ovens approved for doing so.

              So it appears that any limitation on the number of restaurants utilizing charcoal is driven internally by considerations the restaurant must make regarding the previous items."

              Thomas W. Heun
              Special Events
              Seattle Fire Marshal's Office
              (206)386-1348 (FAX)

              1. re: mrnelso

                You are awesome. Thanks for researching that.

          3. Ah,

            An Enlightened gastronome who knows about Korean food. So to answer a few of your questions:

            23830 Highway 99
            Edmonds, WA 98026
            (425) 775-8196

            Hoosooni's is famous for the draft tofu soup. Sounds not so good, but delicious. Stock is probably made from a combination of pig and beef bones. So it's a rich and meaty stock that has been heavily seasoned with Korean chili with your choice of meat and ingredients along with the tofu. Also try their BBQ pork which are thinly sliced and marinated pork that are charred a bit and always a hit. The seafood pancake is also delicious.

            15004 Hwy 99, Ste A
            Lynnwood, WA 98087
            (425) 787-6484
            KaWon Restaurant is my new favourite Korean restaurant. All their food and banchan is top shelf. The real stunner is the egg custard (garan chim) is a savory egg souffle type dish that might not translate well to those who are not Korean...kind of like a comfort food that is the best I've ever had anywhere. This place also has long waits and it's well deserved, they probably have the best Korean food in washington. Period.

            Mirak, I don't have the address or the number, but if it's the one in Federal way, take the 320th st. exit head towards the mall and hang a right on hwy 99 about 2-3 blocks on the right. If you hit the Pink Elephant car wash, you've gone to far. Great restaurant and all their food is good. Used to be my favorite. Nothing bad to say about this place.

            As far as the others, stay away from Shilla...found it to be overpriced and quality not up to par. You either got to go North, South or East of Seattle to find good Korean food. I've heard of a few nice places in Bellevue but haven't been out there for Korean food.

            Hope that helps you out.

            5 Replies
            1. re: MightyMac

              honestly, kokiri has the best korean food in the seattle area. being a transplant from cali, i was lookin for the charcoal action also. i was told by the waitress at mirak that charcoal is not allowed in wa. i've tried most of the spots mentioned but honestly i found kokiri to be pretty damn good. mirak was not that great. kawon was decent but their kimchi jjigae was blanD! wth. don't expect nyc or cali type charcoal action in wa. you'll only be let down. we can QQ all we want about charcoal. i gave up and just have my fill when i visit back home. just look for quality meat. the meat at some of these places reminds me of the cheap bulk crap i used to buy at safeway with my college roomies.

                1. re: Lauren

                  I don't think its true that charcoal is not allowed in WA, because I went to Old Village a couple months ago and they were using it (in a curious way-it was supplemented/ignited by a gas flame). Also, I must respectfully disagree that Kokiri has the best Korean food in the area. I've been there, and I think Old Village was better for BBQ (but still leaving something to be desired), and Hoo Soon Yi better for stews.

                  I heard that one of the two former Mirak locations is now something else that is worth a visit.

                  1. re: Lauren

                    kokiri is in federal way. it is clean. the food really isn't that great. i don't know why people keep insisting that the food is that good. im going to go back and try it again but i hate wasting the $$$. akasaka has pretty good korean food but it is limited and the service is terrible. my favourite place in federal way is chang ahn jung. it is a hole in the wall and kind of hard to find. it is also not frequented by nonkoreans. the food is a little bit on the sweet side because it is seoul style. i don't know why people haven't found this place, but i really like the service and the food.

                2. re: MightyMac

                  In Bellevue, there's Southgate BBQ (by the 148th exit on I-90) and Blue Ginger. Southgate is a little cheaper than average, but the food quality is not as good. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there. Blue Ginger is alright - but I find their Japanese rolls at lunchtime to be better than their Korean food in general. But not too bad overall.

                3. I recently tried Old Korean Village and it was GREAT. The meat was beyond tender, the little kimchis (10 little bowls of constantly-replenished snacky fun) were all interesting and delicious, and the servers were super helpful and nice. We also tried a mushroom clay pot dish that was delicious. I highly recommend it!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: burritobelle

                    If you're looking for Korean flavor and don't feel like driving to Lynnwood, Joule in Wallingford (45th St.) serves up some very tasty short ribs with radish kimchee side. Also can vouch that the spicy beef soup is rich and tasty, too.

                    Not traditional Korean (more Korean-inflected foodie), but close and yummy. I'll be back.

                  2. I have been to Ka Won a few times and have enjoyed it very much. The have a wonderful assortment of panchan and the meat has always been of very good quality. Their grills are gas but did not ruin the flavor of the meat for me. I think we had to ask for lettuce once but can't remember if they just brought it along with everything else the last time we went.
                    Good luck and report back on what you find!