Strong endorsement for Maru in Ann Arbor
OK, my Korean friend Y. just got off the plane from Seoul, and we went to Maru. She had Military Stew, which contains spam as an ingredient among other things. She had just had the same dish at a restaurant in Seoul a few days ago, but she said this one was better. Ann Arbor's collection of Korean restaurants is a real find.
Maru's definitely good. I remember a few years back when I read a piece saying there were more Korean restaurants in Ann Arbor than any other kind, more than 2 dozen.
So if you like Korean there are more to try as well, like Maru's owner the original Seoul Garden on Boardwalk, Panda on Packard, and Arirang near Target off of Ann Arbor-Saline Rd.
Maru is at the corner of William and Thompson, one block from the U-M campus. It draws crowds of Korean students. The Military Stew contains sausage, Spam, bacon, ramen noodles, kimchee, tofu, and cheese in a spicy broth. I had a codfish egg stew that had a similar broth but more veggies; the fish eggs were made into small fishcake-like bars.
Prices at a place like this are low--$7.95 to $10.95 for an entree. There's no alcohol or anything; if you go to a full-service place you pay a bit more, but it's not an expensive cuisine, and you get a lot of food--there are always cold veggie side dishes, one of which will be kimchi (spicy ground-fermented cabbage). Most selections are variations on a few basic types: stews like the ones we had, stir-fries (indicated on the menu as "spicy chicken," etc.), barbecue dishes (often beef), bi bim bop dishes (meat over mixed cold vegetables and rice, topped with a fried egg and served with hot sauce), and noodle dishes. The classic Korean dish is beef bi bim bop. The stews are sometimes served in a hot pot, coming to your table boiling. In the winter I love these--they have an incredible stick-to-your-ribs quality. I like the Yukgaejang, shredded beef stew with egg drops. The basic stir fries are also good; they come in a spicy sauce, with peppers and onions, and spicy squid is often an option. This is tricky to cook right, but generally these places nail it. Vegetarians can always get tofu dishes.
There is a Korean place closer to Berkley--I went there once and liked it, but I can't remember the name. It had liquor, and it was a bit fancier, but still not really expensive. It is located where 11 Mile bends northward and meets Telegraph south of 12 Mile, just east of the Glassman car dealer.