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Good Korean in MSP

I get a real craving for Korean food now and then, unfortunately it has been quite a while and I am not sure where I should go to quench this thirst for kim chee and the like.

I used to go for lunch to Dong Yang a lot and loved it. Always the best food for the money. But I would like something a bit better in atmosphere and open later. What are peoples' thoughts on Kings? The one time I tried to go it was closed (a sunday or monday night). Also which of these places have a liquor license. Korean food just needs a good beer to go with it.

thanks

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  1. We're big fans of King's. It has a full bar (although we had to show them how to make a martini, they kept serving us gin and tonics in a martini glass). It's also nice that they have a sushi bar so you can mix and match Korean and sushi. We brought friends there who had recently been to Korea and they were very impressed with the quality of the food. The only downside is that they have karaoke (after 9?) and I find it really irritating. We've been there when no one was interested in singing so the staff went ahead and performed. We wished they would have just let it go. Also, since it's in Anoka County they still have smoking there which annoyed us.

    Mirror of Korea on Snelling is a favorite when we don't feel like driving to Fridley. I've always been happy with my dishes and like the variety of pickled veggies they serve with meals. I believe they have beer but no hard liquor. The staff are friendly although last time we had to convince them we could handle spicy.

    1. Not exactly responsive to your question, but I really like this little Korean market on Snelling, just North of University Avenue, in St. Paul: Kim's Oriental Foods and Gifts. It's a great little resource for St. Paulites.

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31509...

      ~TDQ

      1. I used to go to Sole Cafe on Snelling, but am not sure if they are still open. It is/was a small place that was quite cozy with excellent food. Has anyone been there lately?

        By the way, Kim's Grocery on Snelling has a great selection of Korean dumplings etc.

        1 Reply
        1. re: misterpatrick

          Sole Cafe used to have the best, most authentic Korean food (in my opinion). However, they've only been doing karaoke and alcohol for quite a while now.

        2. Just a note: All Korean restaurants (except perhaps Hoban?? since I've never eaten there) are closed on Mondays. I am Korean and the debate over which Korean restaurant is "better or best" is well, an individual thing. If I want a bit more ambience, and the choice of having some decent sushi, I will go to King's. However, there is something that I do like about a no-frills, old mom and pop korean restaurant like Mirror of Korea. It is always the same woman - and though she's not always the most hospitable, I think the be bim bop and bulgogi are better than the others.

          1. I am also Korean and I prefer Kings, hands down. To answer Misterpatrick's question: no, Sole is no longer open, hasn't been for a long time (the last time I noticed).
            Kings also has a Korean grocery store next door with many products. Kim's Oriental Grocery store on Snelling has been around forever and also has a large selection.
            Hoban Rest in Eagan - I don't recommend, but if you just have to have Korean and don't want to drive to Fridley, it'll do in a pinch.
            Mirror of Korea - I agree with snoboardbabe77. it's like going to your Korean neighbor's house for lunch or dinner.
            What used to be Shilla on Snelling Ave (across from Kim's Oriental Groc Store) has apparently changed ownership/management in the last year or so. I haven't been there in years because the last couple times I went there, it was too Americanized for my taste.
            There's also a Korean restaurant over on the U of M campus across the street from the Alumni center that was okay - again, a place "like going to your neighbor's house for lunch" feel - adequate quality food, very casual atmosphere.
            I like King's. I think they have the best quality Korean food in the Twin Cities. Try their buffet during the week: japchae, bulgogi, kim-chee, sushi! Can't beat it! Closed on Monday's!
            Kam-sa-ham-ni-da! (Thank you!)

            2 Replies
            1. re: rviot

              I love Kim's. I "discovered" it for the first time 3-4 months ago. What do you think it especially good there? I've been getting a lot of the freezer items, and those little "buns" out of the refridgerated case in the front, but, I'm just experimenting rather than seeking specific items out. I don't have a lot of experience with Korean cuisine, and would love some pointers.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I get the seaweed, the kind billed as kelp, in the purple bag in, I believe, the freezer case (might be refrigerated though). I make a little seaweed salad with hot sauce (that rooster kind), seasame oil, some soy sauce, and scallions. Not sure what's really in seaweed salad, but this is good. Very salty, which I like, yet the packaging claims it's not high in sodium.

                I also like the rice crackers wrapped in seaweed, which you can find in other Asian grocerties. I live near Kim's and I don't know why I don't go there more often. It's wonderful. I'll have to look for the little buns. Now I'm craving that salad.

            2. I found the Karaoke @ Kings to be inspired entertainment and not the least bit irritating...perhaps as a result of Soju in excess, but entertaining no less. As a matter of fact one of the best meals I've had in the TCs was a big steaming bowl of Kings Bi Bim Bop preceded, accompanied and followed by several bottles of Soju.

              1. are there any good well-ventilated Korean BBQ (charcoal griller in the table) restaurants in MSP? They are ubiquitous & delicious in LA, but I have yet to find one here.

                1 Reply
                1. re: g rote

                  I don't think that there are any charcoal grill bbqs in MSP. I've had Korean barbecue over an electric grill at Kum Gang San (where Shilla used to be) and I think that they advertise that they have the only Korean barbecue in the area.

                  (I have no idea if this is true. I've only eaten there once and generally go to King's for Korean food -- although I'd like to try Mirror of Korea and the place by the U sometime.)

                2. While we’re on the subject, there was an article in the NYTimes yesterday about Korean fried chicken that made it sound mighty tasty....

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/07/din...

                  Does anyone know if there are places in the Twin Cities that serve this?? It really sounds like something I’d like to check out...

                  Uncle Ira

                  1. Don't discount Hoban's dolsot bibimbap... it's VERY, VERY good!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: SungSook

                      Hoban is good but they do not have BBQ.

                      1. re: SungSook

                        I had the Bibimbap at Ringo's in St Louis Park a few months back and am still craving it....

                      2. I find Kum Gang San (the new restaurant that took over Shilla) to be overpriced. However, it is the only restaurant in town that has real barbeque at the tables.

                        Over the years I've really mourned the absence of Sole Cafe for food. I usually go to Hoban since it's just down the street from me and I know the staff there. I went to King's a few times this summer but mainly just to check out the hot sushi chef. *sizzle* I didn't find the food spectacular at King's.

                        1. for some reason, (what is nowKum Gang San) what was Shilla's has bbqing at the tables, but as I understand it, it is a fire code issue as to why other Korean restaurants do not offer it. I too miss the bbqing your own bulgogi that I had in LA!! That's part of the whole Korean food experience... bum.

                          1. Hey now, somebody is spreading vicious rumors that ALL korean joints are closed Mondays.

                            Au contraire Mes Amis! Mirror of Korea is closed TUESDAY. Takes some getting used to, and I always think "hey, korean sounds good" only to realize, it is Tuesday.

                            If you havent tried Mirror, do. Its cozy/homey Korean...not fancy in atmosphere, and service consists of one entertaining but overworked person--so it can be a little bit slow.

                            Food is excellent, but again is more towards the homey Korean style rather than the flashy Shilla style.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: eatoatmeal

                              Hey, just wanted to bump this up, our wonderful friends at Heavytable just reviewed Sole, which is back in business and it looks incredible!
                              http://heavytable.com/sole-cafe-in-ha...

                              1. re: doctor k

                                Thanks for the heads up, doctor k! We went to Sole tonight and the Jahpchae and banchan were delicious. The owner/cook, Kimberly, will be featured during the state fair on September 4th at 8am. She couldn't remember the channel though. I hope to return soon.

                                1. re: tipitina

                                  We went to Sole tonight - fantastic. The service was excellent, the owner came out to chat and the food was so good. It wasn't at all busy (although the waitress said that Friday night was quite busy). The seafood pancake had a ton of seafood in it and the Japchae will make a great breakfast tomorrow.

                                  1. re: fromtheD

                                    Now I am jealous of both of you! This weekend did not permit us getting over to Sole, so it is on tap for this evening.

                                    1. re: fromtheD

                                      hey fromtheD I think I was there the same evening as you (there were two couples there that night). HAD to post on here, our food was delicious! We had the pork blugogi, FULL of flavor along with the ojingo bokum (sauteed squid and vegetables in a spicy sauce), and the seafood stew and pancake. Everything was as authentic as my mom's cooking (I'm half Korean) and by far the best in the T.C. (in my opinon). We have been to all the other korean restaurants in the T.C and this place is comparable to all the korean gem restaurants you find on both coasts.
                                      All the side dishes were excellent as well, especially the cabbage and cucumber kimchi's...prices are really decent for what you are getting, and the leftovers are even more flavorful the next day...we enjoyed this so much!

                                      1. re: tleea

                                        Tall blond guy, short brunette, lots of food on the table -that was us! I loved the cucumber kimchi and the fish cakes. We are definitely headed back there.

                              2. Sole is my favorite...I love the HT article citing that Sole means evergreen/forever in Hangul. I thought they may had a bad spelling translation. That said, I love the flavor and the owner, but am not a fan of the ambiance. I overlook the tables and decor because EVERYTHING on their menu is the best I've eaten in the Twin Cities. Delicious!--Ma chi sayo/ma-si-sseo-sseo-yo맛있었어요.

                                I have not been to Hoban and am curious about the kareoke. Are there salon/LAstyle private rooms? I'd love to see more descriptions because I will make it out there.

                                Kim's is wonderful too (across the street from Sole). I buy my staples there--soy, sesame oil and toasted seed, rice vinegar and wine, chili sauces, noodles ...and I break down and buy potstickers. I just experiment myself, tasting them (they are never better than homemade). I like their prepared pan/chan and kim chi's-they are packaged in tiny clear deli boxes. Crunchy garlic stems, soy beans or dried fish, the taste is very good; also, the owner lady is very nice. She also has marinated meat there too for a quick bbq of kalbi ribs. I cook a lot of Korean!-also a dashi stock for soups. I think tofu is cheaper at Seward and organic.

                                If I lived near Dong Yang, I think I would eat there often. I went out there because I heard they had jja-jjang myeun. I just moved here in Oct. from LA. It was delicious (no egg and I had to ask for cucumber), but it was 10$ which is a bit dear. Fyi-You can buy the premade package that is just as good in the korean grocery...but I guess you may not want all the prep. I also got a pancake and it was greasy(but so is Sole's).

                                Well I've rambled about my favorite food that I love. I guess I can be excused seeing what board I'm on!

                                oh and here are some great women who have just recently exploded on the internets!
                                http://www.maangchi.com/
                                http://aeriskitchen.com/
                                Maangchi was even out at MOA in last year?!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: stepawayfromthetable

                                  Hoban is very good and they do have decked out private Karoke rooms.

                                2. Any body have Korean at Kabuki in Eden Prairie. I'm interested in a nothe opinion. The Chef is supposed to be Korean but I wasn't very impressed. Could have been an off night though.

                                  1. Do yourself a favor and try Korea Restaurant over in Stadium Village.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                      I go to the Korea Restaurant a few times, usually on my own. The food is okay and very inexpensive. I'm usually there on Friday nights, and find virtually no Koreans dining there. Everyone is Chinese - I mean everyone.

                                      I agree with others that the best Korean is Sole Cafe on Snelling. The dishes taste like they're home cooked. The short ribs are juicy and succulent, absolutely outstanding.

                                      1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                                        Is Korea Restaurant different from the Kimchi Tofu House near the U? I ate at the Tofu House and had a good, inexpensive meal there. Small place, the owners are all Korean, and I loved the flavors.

                                        1. re: linfr21

                                          Korea Restaurant and the Kimchi Tofu House are different restaurants. They're a block apart on Oak Street in Stadium Village. Korea is north of Washington Avenue, and Kimchi is south (closer to the river)

                                          Korea Restaurant:
                                          http://www.chow.com/restaurants/28177...

                                          Kimchi Tofu House:
                                          http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/201...

                                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                                            I tried the Kimchi Tofu House a few days ago. Arrived right before the dinner rush. Ordered "Curry Soft Tofu" and ordered it "very very spicy"...

                                            While it was good and filling, it wasn't at all spicy. Attempts to get some spicy condiment to add to it was met with confusion, because "curry not very spicy" - so if you have options for spice levels at the top of the entree list,, why didn't you tell me that you wouldn't/couldn't spice it up when I ordered it ? I am not at all familiar with Korean food, so can someone tell me if they just don't believe in condiments to add heat?

                                            Weird vibe. May go back, but I'm not in a hurry.

                                      2. Sadly, there really isn't. I'm from NYC and the Korean available there is simply amazing. Here... forget it. Seriously. Get a cookbook and make it yourself.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: lstereo

                                          So lstereo, what place have you eaten Korean at in the Twin Cities?

                                          1. re: doctor k

                                            The various incarnations of places on Snelling near University, Hoban, and Kings.

                                            -----
                                            Snelling Cafe
                                            638 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                                              1. re: lstereo

                                                lstereo, I think you should give Cafe Sole a shot, it is a two woman operation, and it is fantastic. I agree completely with you on Hoban and I have not really been a fan of Kings.

                                            1. I am not sure of the name, but there is a little restaurant inside a Korean Food Market off of Central & 45th Av N.E. in Columbia Heights. It is in the same location where Tasty Pizza has been for years, but next to the hardware store at the end of the little strip mall. The food is very authentic and in my opinion very good. It's not as fancy as King's, which is my favorite, but a more casual place with quick service and a good selection of food. Perhaps someone knows the name of the place?

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: mausey

                                                Dong Yang

                                                -----
                                                Dong Yang Oriental Food
                                                735 45th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

                                                1. re: mausey

                                                  Love us some Dong Yang. Great place.

                                                  1. re: mausey

                                                    Yeah thats dong yang, easily the best korean in the tc..imo. no frills, just good eats. I'd eat there every week if I lived closer.