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Status of Korean Food in Monterey area?

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Hello All,

I will be fortunate enough to be in Monterey over the weekend and have a huge craving for Korean food. I was wondering what the general consensus opinion is on the best Korean restaurant right now. I have identified Nara in downtown Monterey and New Korea in Marina as possible dining destinations; which of these two are better and am I neglecting to look ant any better places?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. There is also the one-woman Wonju in New Monterey on Lighthouse.

    However, the best Korean in the area is at Shinla on Carmel St in Marina. No tabletop cooking, but excellent food at reasonable prices. It's in the middle of a residential area with other Korean businesses. Last time there, we had outstanding fried mandu, very good Kalbi, and great black goat soup.

    I did a post on the place when it was called Shinra, but new owners have improved the food quality in general, though the ban chan is not exceptional.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ed Dibble

      Ed, in addition to Shinla, I've had Nak Won at 330 Reservation Rd. in Marina on my list to try. Would you know if they're still around or worth a visit? Thanks for the tip on Wonju.

      1. re: PolarBear

        To be honest, I haven't tried the large Korean place on Reservation Rd simply because my local contacts much prefer Shinla. But if you try it be sure to report back.

        I've always liked Wonju; the owner/chef is very gracious, everything is homemade, including the whole leaf kimchi, which she cuts at the table. She specializes in the cuisine of her home city, so most meals come with a large gray pancake and almost too hard to eat black beans (that I find addictive).

    2. Thanks for all of the great advice so far. Now, comes the hard part of making a decision because I want both and can only have one!

      I have seen Won-Ju on Lighthouse for as long as I could remember but never stopped in. The whole-leaf kimchi that is cut table-side sounds amazing. When you refer to the black beans, are they inedible or just too hard-to-stop eating ?

      Both restaurants sound authentic and I love supporting local business,but am currently leaning more towards Won-Ju since the banchan is not as good at Shinla and I'll be staying in PG. (As a side-note, I am trying Tico's for the first time tomorrow on the way in and can't wait!)

      Thanks!

      2 Replies
      1. re: gmk1322

        I had the same plan for tomorrow AM, but unable to accompany my wife going over this afternoon due to a nasty head cold. Please report back.

        1. re: gmk1322

          Hope you like Tico's.

          Report back on Wonju as it has been probably 3 years since I have eaten there. Wonju wouldn't be so good for a large party, but I have always enjoyed.

          The black beans are not cooked to a mealy texture; I guess (to use a cross cuisine term) they could be considered very al dente. But I like them, partly for that reason.

        2. I will definitely report back, both on Won-Ju (I've made a decision) and Tico's. The black beans sound interesting, from the way you describe them they remind me of the black bean sauce served with the Bao Tze at Hunan here in Fresno. I like the al dente texture of those bans in the sauce so I will really be looking forward to Won-Ju now!