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Best Korean food in Boston?

any suggestions would be great.

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  1. I am really interested in hearing responses. I used to work at a software company with several native Koreans and they all had conflicting opinions on places around the City. One thought the Koreana was great, another thought it was terrible. One liked the small place on Mass Ave in Cambridge, a few others didn’t. Different strokes I suppose but I could never find a consensus type place. Maybe it was a regional thing?

    1. I like Buk Kyung in Union Square, Somerville best, though it's not straight-up Korean food - it's northern Chinese-Korean. Their soups and noodles are really great.

      WuChon House, up the street, is my second favorite, with a bigger array of dishes. It's also a slightly nicer atmosphere and they serve beer & wine. Their pan chan is the best assortment in the city.

      Buk Kyung II in Allston is inferior to its Somerville cousin, but more T friendly.

      Korean BBQ up in Burlington is good for suburban fare and their set lunches are a great value. I'm not so fond of the BBQ there - the waitresses insist on doing it for you and the sauce is too sweet.

      Koreana between Central and Inman Squares in Cambridge is most upscale of the options and ok for BBQ.

      Seoul Food in Porter Square, Cambridge has consistently produced really greasy food for me, but it's on the ok side of mediocre.

      ChoCho's in the Porter Exchange mall in Cambridge is ok in a pinch. Probably on par with Seoul Food.

      Sushaiya in Chinatown produces ok raw fish, but I haven't tried any of their cooked dishes.

      Kaya is evil. Avoid it all costs.

      6 Replies
      1. re: gini

        Very nice summary Gini. I agree. The one addition I always chime in is Shilla, under Staples in Harvard Square does some decent options and a killer Pork Kimchee Bokeum.

        1. re: StriperGuy

          That's good to know about Shilla - I've never been there. I love Kimchee Bokeum - do they make a version with soft tofu? Any other suggestions for dishes there?

          1. re: gini

            Honestly the only dish I get at Shilla is the Kimchee Bokeum which is the best version I have had in Boston. Big pile of smokey pork, kimchee and dok (disk shaped rice noodles) with a big portion of soft tofu on the side. Panchan are always pretty good as well.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Thanks for the rec, Striper. A friend and I stopped into Shilla last night for dinner.

              We started out with an order of edamame, perfectly fine and nicely salted; sesame spinach, which had a great smoky flavor; vinegared "raw" sliced fish that was totally uninspired - rubbery octopus, overcooked shrimp and that fake crab that gives me the heebeejeebees. Banchan was at least a little interesting: cabbage kimchee, the eternal cucumbers, shredded beans, and lovely salted fish salad.

              My friend had the stone pot bibimbap, which she seemed to enjoy and I had the beef & scallion soup: shredded beef, soft scallions, soft tofu in a spicy broth that could have a had a little more body, but that's a minor quibble.

              I'd put it above Seoul Food, but I'd still like to try the kimchee bokeum - sounds great!

            2. re: gini

              Have never tried Korean food at Shilla, but they do very poorly with sushi.

          2. re: gini

            There's a place in Watertown called Asiana Fusion that I think has decent Korean food -- I would put it about halfway up on your list, above Seoul Food and ChoCho's (I haven't tried Koreana so I can't compare to that). I was skeptical at first -- the "fusion" menu features nachos and buffalo wings along with Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap -- but I really liked all the dishes I have had off the small Korean menu.

          3. color in allston for their korean fried chicken and bingsoo

            1. "Best" is maybe a bit ambitious given the local Korean scene, but I'd say the prepared foods at Reliable can be good, though pricey, and you can find a certain amount of ingredients there to cook Korean dishes at home.
              Among restaurants,I agree that Wuchon is probably one of the better local bets in my book (kind of homey, usually decent banchan). In the fancy dept, I've had better luck at the new Minsok, now in brookline, than at Koreana, though both push japanese-style dishes too. (Minsok has a decent soju list and good haemul pajeon, and has kept a lot of their stews from the comm ave location)

              I also agree that the somerville bukkyeong is better than the allston one; in allston, I'd head instead to hanmaru, maybe, if i wanted chinese-style dishes (like jajangmyeon). I don't think the noodles themselves are great at either place, but the soups are decent. And I personally put Koreana about on a par with Yasu in coolidge corner (both are tolerable). If you've gotten used to Korean food elsewhere, be aware that just about all of these places add some local flare (??) with unexpected little additions or modifications to dishes.

              I've had nothing but bad luck at ChoCho, Seoul Food, Han River, Arirang, and, sadly, worse than bad luck at Shilla and Kaya. (In fact, there is a Korean workshop in my field held at harvard every so often, and they had the dinner at Shilla a few years ago--some of my colleagues still talk about it! not fondly.)

              1. There is a good Korean BBQ restaurant in Medford called Chung Ki Wa. My Korean friend who grew up in L.A. said it is one of the better BBQ places in the Boston Area. The meat was tender and flavorful, however the portions were a bit smaller than I am used to in L.A. Good spicy soon do boo and there was also a great assortment of delicious panchan, which is key in my opinion.
                I have heard that New Jang Su BBQ is also good in Burlington, but I have not been there myself.

                7 Replies
                1. re: n.cole

                  I didn't care for New Jang Su in Burlington ... most things seemed too sweet to me, but I don't know the cuisine well enough to say if this is "authentic"ly sweet or just not to my palate.

                  I have enjoyed Wuchon house and Byuk kung in Somerville, with a slight edge to BK for the noodles. I should check out Chung Ki Wa in Medford because it's close, but I'm also reminded by this thread that I'd like to try that fried chicken at Colors in Allston. It sounds yummy.

                  1. re: yumyum

                    I have been to Chung Ki Wa many, many times and like their panchan but I think their bulgogi is too sweet. Pork belly is good and kalbi is a bit better than the bulgogi. I've liked the stews although I think Buk Kyung II in Allston does a great job at Kimchee Bukeum...very fresh tofu but this was a year ago at least! Recently dc had a lunch special of sushi bibimbop that was beautiful to look at and delicious and a steal at something like $8...will definitely order that myself next time!!!

                    1. re: yumyum

                      New Jang Su has changed management a few times. The latest incarnation serves pretty good food but not on the level of say Koreana.

                      1. re: robertlf

                        I've enjoyed the food but the place could use a good cleaning. I'm pretty laid back about neat-and-clean so if I think a place is dirty, it's dirty!

                        1. re: three of us

                          I have never found New Jang Su to be dirty. The location in a run-down strip mall is a bit depressing but never had any issues with cleanliness over many visits.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Last time i was there, there was enough dried up old food on the menus to count as a app course. The waitress kept putting the tongs she was serving us meat with back on to a plate of raw chicken juices.

                  2. Man, this thread makes me really miss Choe's on Comm Ave. I'm still in mourning, so I haven't had the heart yet to try it's new incarnation as Minsok in Brookline.

                    These are great ideas, though -- thanks, eggplantempress for posing the question!

                    1. best korean bbq is in burlington (called korean bbq i think) & maybe koreana (cambridge)

                      1. Hi Everyone,

                        This post is a little old, so I was hoping to get it updated. I have a Korean friend coming in town next weekend who used to live in Boston and declared that he was not satisfied with the Korean food options when he lived here. That was some number of years ago, so I want to bring him somewhere authentic while he is visiting and see if I can't get him to change his mind.

                        What is the BEST place for authentic Korean food in the Boston area? We don't need fancy, we just want good chow. What is the pricing like also? Unfortunately, my knowledge of this food is zero. So far on the list of considerations:

                        Han River
                        Wu Chon
                        Buk Kyung
                        Koreana
                        Minsok - but maybe too Japanese food focused. I want pure Korean.

                        Thanks much!
                        www.thevitullos.blogspot.com

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: kristinayee

                          I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I like Chung Ki Wa in Medford Square. The food is good and there are always Asians eating there.

                          1. re: pemma

                            Koreana and Wu Chon are the two best choices closest to Boston. Koreana is a little nicer inside and a little more expensive, and gives you Soo Jeong Gwa (persimmon punch) at the end of the meal. They have a terrific Kimchi jon (Kimchi pancake), among other things. I find the quality of the meat at Wu Chon to be a little higher, and their Dduk bok ki (spicy rice cakes) are second to none. A Korean friend of mine loves their Gul bo ssam, (pork and oysters to be wrapped in cabbage).

                            For Chinese-style Koreaan food try Buk Kyung (Hometown) in Union Square right next to Wu Chon (but not Buk Kyung II in Allston, which I find to be much worse).

                            Chung Ki Wa in Medford is generally slightly better than Koreana and Wu Chon. As an added bonus you get a little bottle of the yogurt drink after the meal.

                            The best Korean restaurant in the Boston area is New Jang Su BBQ in Burlington. The meat is marinaded more flavorfully, the Kochujang tastes stronger and the panchan are even more plentiful.

                            All of these restaurants are quite good, but none is super terrific. I wish there were a slam-dunk Korean restaurant in Boston, but we do have a number of very good options.

                            I would strongly warn you away from Shila, Seoul Food, or Apollo. I should probably warn you away from Kaya as well, but they are open very late, and I've had some good times grilling and packing away Galbi there after midnight. I wouldn't go there for a normal dinner, unless you have >10 people and want to sit in the little screened off private room.

                          2. re: kristinayee

                            Minsok is terrible especially for Japanese food. One time I went for lunch and the sushi chef did not know how to prepare sushi with tempura flakes. They offer shabu-shabu but have no idea what ponzu is. The chapchae was greasy.

                            1. re: kristinayee

                              I think Koreana is the best from the restaurants listed. Further from Boston are New Jang Su in Burlington, Woo Jung in Ayer, Little Pusan in Maynard, Dynamite Sushi in Hudson, NH. Woo Jung has it's followers but it's a dive in the middle of nowhere with so-so food - IMHO. Little Pusan is an ok lunch spot but nothing special. Dynamite Sushi is EXCELLENT. None of these restaurants have grill tables.

                              Anyone been to Hee Bin in Lawrence? or Gooung Choun in Nashua?

                              1. re: robertlf

                                King BBQ in Canton is very good for korean bbq. Just don't waste your money on the buffet.