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What's the best Korean restaurant?

soccermom13 May 28, 2012 05:15 AM

What's the best Korean restaurant in the Twin Cities?

I've heard good things about Hoban in Eagan and King's Korean in Fridley. And there's at least one Korean restaurant on Snelling in St. Paul.

Anyone out there who can advise?


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  1. ibew292 RE: soccermom13 May 28, 2012 06:59 AM

    The best??? What a can of worms....I like Dong Yang Oriental Foods
    (763) 571-2009
    Columbia Heights
    735 45th Ave NE
    Minneapolis, MN 55421
    Restaurant in back of store. Very rustic........

    4 Replies
    1. re: ibew292
      discus RE: ibew292 May 28, 2012 08:19 AM

      I like Hoban in Eagan the best. Some of my Korean friends like it, others don't. But it's by far the cleanest Korean restaurant in the Twin Cities...

      1. re: discus
        JimGrinsfelder RE: discus May 30, 2012 08:15 PM

        Mirror of Korea was very well kept. So is Dong Yang. Korea Restaurant is a bit ... tired. And smoky.

        1. re: JimGrinsfelder
          discus RE: JimGrinsfelder Mar 23, 2013 06:45 PM

          I finally tried Dong Yang and agree that the food is very good. Maybe the best in the Twin Cities. However, I feel compelled to mention a few quirks.

          My wife and I showed up around 7:15 pm to order. The store is open until 8 pm, but they stop serving at 7:30 pm. We got the food around 7:25 pm, but they started rushing us out at 7:43 pm. The old lady picked up the main dishes and poured them into styrofoam containers.

          Now, I understand running a restaurant is tough and people want to get home. But why not stop serving earlier or tell people they have to get done before 8 pm?

          One more thing. When the old lady poured our entree into the styrofoam container, she used her hands to push the food! Not good. If I go back, my wife won't be coming with me.

          1. re: discus
            JimGrinsfelder RE: discus Mar 27, 2013 04:42 PM

            Yeah, I agree, they're not as good after 6 pm. Go for lunch or go by 6 pm for dinner. Maybe 7pm at the latest. When you're really good, you can be eccentric. They're really good. They're tired by 7 pm. My grandmother was asleep by 7 pm most nights....

    2. m
      mn_praline RE: soccermom13 May 28, 2012 02:57 PM

      Of Hoban, Mirror of Korea, Dong Yang, and Sole Cafe, I like Dong Yang and Sole Cafe the best. Mirror of Korea was our choice for take-out since it was closest to our home, but I feel that Sole Cafe and Dong Yang are tied for my favorite Korean meals as of lately.

      1. k
        kevin47 RE: soccermom13 May 28, 2012 09:33 PM

        Sole Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants period, though Dong Yang is very good as well. It's a steep drop off from there, in my experience.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kevin47
          soccermom13 RE: kevin47 May 29, 2012 04:31 AM

          Hey MSP hounds,
          Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.

          p.s. Sometimes it's interesting to open a can of worms :0)

          1. re: kevin47
            JimGrinsfelder RE: kevin47 May 30, 2012 08:16 PM

            Do you hit Sole Cafe for lunch or dinner or both? I went for dinner and it was dead on a Saturday, they served me hot tea in a plastic cup (bleh) and the food was not particularly good.

            1. re: JimGrinsfelder
              docfood RE: JimGrinsfelder May 31, 2012 02:41 PM

              My sentiments exactly for Sole Cafe. I really wanted to like it, but alas, it was tired.

              1. re: JimGrinsfelder
                kevin47 RE: JimGrinsfelder Jun 1, 2012 03:11 PM

                I have had both lunch and dinner. It is dead all the time. Their beverage service is a sore spot all around. I've never had anything but great meals there, though. I'm addicted to the pork stir fry.

            2. j
              JimGrinsfelder RE: soccermom13 May 29, 2012 05:33 AM

              I have eaten at Dong Yang, Korea Restaurant, Hoban, Sole Cafe and Mirror of Korea.

              Dong Yang is my fave. Korea Restaurant is #2. I had a really lackluster meal at Sole Cafe and ditto for Mirror of Korea.

              For me, Hoban is complicated and I will probably give it another try. I used to work not to far from Hoban, but it was more than 10 years ago. I enjoyed it at the time. Then they hit a rough patch (bad food, rundown interior, unpleasant odors). Apparently they came out of that rough patch because here it is more than 10 years later and they are still in business.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JimGrinsfelder
                soccermom13 RE: JimGrinsfelder May 30, 2012 03:58 AM

                Is Korea Restaurant the one on Oak Street near U MN?

                So far, Dong Yang has the most votes..... Is that the one that's in the back of a grocery store?

                Thanks, all.

                1. re: soccermom13
                  bob s RE: soccermom13 May 30, 2012 11:40 AM

                  Yes, Korea Restaurant is on Oak Street and Dong Yang is part of the grocery store of the same name. Both are very good.

              2. k
                KCMPLS RE: soccermom13 Jun 1, 2012 01:10 PM

                Another vote for Dong Yang. Try their beef shortrib grill, spicy pork grill, stone bowl of rice.

                9 Replies
                1. re: KCMPLS
                  soccermom13 RE: KCMPLS Jun 2, 2012 06:20 AM

                  Okay, hounds, Dong Yang got the most reccs. How rustic is it? Are there tables to sit at? If we don't speak or read Korean, will we be able to decipher the menu? (I am all about rustic, but we will be going there with friends.) Can we order beer or wine? And what dishes do you like at Dong Yang? (I've already noted KCMPLS' picks: beef shortrib grill, spicy pork grill, stone bowl of rice. Is the stone bowl of rice their version of bibimbap?)

                  Looks like we will have to detour to get there. I94 westbound is closed this weekend between 280 and 55.


                  1. re: soccermom13
                    KCMPLS RE: soccermom13 Jun 2, 2012 07:53 AM

                    You can sit down but the place is not fancy, think school cafeteria. It's in the back of the grocery store, which is next to Harbor Freight Tools, about a block west from Central Avenue. The menu is posted with English and Korean with pictures so you know what you are ordering. Stone bowl of rice is bibimbap and it comes out sizzling so you can finish the cooking by stirring the contents. No beer or wine. The drink selection is dismal but who cares--the food is great. They will also bring out a lot of small dishes of pickles, veggies, etc, to round out the meal.

                    1. re: KCMPLS
                      JimGrinsfelder RE: KCMPLS Jun 3, 2012 04:04 AM

                      On my most recent trek to Dong Yang, I realized the self serve hot tea was pretty good. Also, it is clean, not grimy like Korea Restauraunt on Oak Street. The lighting is a bit harsh but the seating is comfortable and I have never felt particularly rushed... But you pick up the food when the stern Korean grandmother yells at you and you bus your own table when finished... Like you would if you were a good guest at an informal meal in someone's home. IMO, all part of the charm.

                      1. re: KCMPLS
                        BigSal RE: KCMPLS Jun 3, 2012 05:08 AM

                        Bibimbap is mixed rice. The version with the stone bowl is dolsot bibimbap. Dolsot bibimbap is my preference - even in warm weather. I love the crunchy, sesame oil seasoned bits of rice.

                        1. re: BigSal
                          soccermom13 RE: BigSal Jun 3, 2012 05:27 AM

                          Thanks, BigSal. We ordered Dolsot Bibimbap. The waiter steered us to that version, and it was good. I too like the crunchy rice.

                          1. re: soccermom13
                            BigSal RE: soccermom13 Jun 3, 2012 07:56 AM

                            I haven't had a chance to eat at Dong Yang yet. I've only been there to shop thus far. Did they serve the Dolsot bibimbap with a raw egg or a fried egg?

                            1. re: BigSal
                              soccermom13 RE: BigSal Jun 3, 2012 08:03 AM

                              Hi Big Sal,
                              We ended up at Hoban, not Dong Yang. At Hoban, they serve the egg partially cooked on the Dolsot Bibimbap.

                              1. re: BigSal
                                KCMPLS RE: BigSal Jun 3, 2012 09:53 AM

                                The egg is like sunny side up with very soft yolk, the egg white is almost cooked. So it is like 70% cooked. I usually stir it into the sizzling rice bowl so everything finishes cooking. It is still soft.

                                1. re: KCMPLS
                                  BigSal RE: KCMPLS Jun 3, 2012 05:37 PM

                                  Thanks. King's serves their dolosot bibimbap with a raw egg yolk

                    2. s
                      soccermom13 RE: soccermom13 Jun 3, 2012 03:23 AM

                      Thank you so much, hounds, for your help. We ended up at Hoban because one member of our party really wanted to be able to sit comfortably and not be rushed. I thought it was good. We ordered a bibimbap which I thought was the best dish of all, a spicy pork dish which was very good, a grilled beef dish, and an onion pancake.

                      But now I can't stop thinking of Dong Yang, so I see a trip there in my near future.

                      Thanks again for your generous help!

                      p.s. Hoban was packed! And there were lots of Korean people there. That's a good sign :0)

                      1. s
                        stepawayfromthetable RE: soccermom13 Jun 3, 2012 06:49 PM

                        I like Hoban and Dong Yang, but for ultimate taste and skill, I recommend Sole Cafe on Snelling. Got take-out with friends to sit outside Friday night and it was delicious. I'm not a fan of their Chicken gogi, but the Kalbi, the jap chae and the veggie pancake were great!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: stepawayfromthetable
                          stymie RE: stepawayfromthetable Jun 3, 2012 07:38 PM

                          Does Hoban sell beer?

                          1. re: stymie
                            soccermom13 RE: stymie Jun 4, 2012 05:01 PM

                            Yes, Hoban sells beer and wine.

                            1. re: soccermom13
                              stepawayfromthetable RE: soccermom13 Jun 4, 2012 05:35 PM

                              Yes! and they have Kareoke with $1 beers! Hite and OB. Sole Cafe has beer too, but sadly Korea Restaurant and Dong Yang do not.

                          2. re: stepawayfromthetable
                            bkmnus RE: stepawayfromthetable Sep 11, 2012 07:31 AM

                            Totally love Sole Cafe and Dong Yang. I haven't seen any comments on here about the Kimchee Tofu House, also on Oak St. near the U (actually next door to the former Oak St. Cinema, now an apartment building. Sundubu (soft tofu soups) guaranteed to clear your sinuses when you get a cold.

                            I am off to hit Hoban today after a visit to Hockenberg's restaurant supply store.

                            1. re: bkmnus
                              kriminalrat RE: bkmnus Sep 12, 2012 02:42 PM

                              Dong Yang is the best I have had.

                              I have ben to Hoban twice and it was good but not at Dong Yang level.

                              One spot that is popular in the western suburbs is Kabuki...Ate there once and it was good. There are some other threads saying that is is excellent.

                              1. re: bkmnus
                                bkmnus RE: bkmnus Sep 13, 2012 12:05 PM

                                I had the buffet at Hoban on Tuesday and can say it is ok. When I get back I will try to order off the menu to get a better feel for Hoban.

                                Today I had chicken bulgogi at Kabuki in EP, extra spicy, which was quite good. The cook even came out to make sure that I was happy with the level of spice. The sides were better than average, but what really made it perfect was the last bite of kimchi after I finished up the bulgogi, the sour taste went perfectly with the spice in my mouth.

                                Definitely will be back to Kabuki, especially since it is the closest to where I live.

                            2. k
                              KapitalK RE: soccermom13 Feb 20, 2013 07:12 PM

                              Hoban is the most original Korean restaurant since they have been open for 20 years with the same owners. Mirror of Korea would be just as old if they hadn't had a change of ownership 5 years ago. Anyways, Hoban definitely has the largest selection of food and actually looks the most like a restaurant. I like their food the best especially because Korean food goes way beyond bulgogi and bibimbop. I like the hard to get foods like Gamja Tang, Dakdori Tang and Bossam. Even with a large menu everything seems to taste great. Another great feature is that it is only 5 minutes from MOA so it's a great place to stop in when you are in the mood for some shopping.

                              1. j
                                jeff55432 RE: soccermom13 Mar 23, 2013 07:30 PM

                                Just a note: While Dong Yang does not offer alcoholic beverages, you are more than welcome to bring in your own provided you keep it discreet (i.e. don't bring in a whole bottle of whiskey and attempt to get trashed). My wife and I have dined here many times and brought our own beer and have never been questioned by the owner/chef even when we admitted to her that we BYOB'ed. Basically she said, "just don't get drunk". :)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jeff55432
                                  jeff55432 RE: jeff55432 Mar 23, 2013 07:54 PM

                                  And while this may be off the topic, but if you order take-out from Dong Yang, and if the weather is nice, if you head east on 45th and go up the huge hill and take a left on Stinson Blvd., there is a sweet little park where you can eat your Korean take out on a picnic bench and bask in the highest elevation point in the entire 7-county Twin Cities Metro area. The view is breathtaking (you can see both downtowns and if you look west and north, you can see the entire north/west suburban sprawl.)

                                  1. re: jeff55432
                                    soccermom13 RE: jeff55432 Jul 19, 2013 06:03 PM

                                    Yo Jeff55432,
                                    Do you mean Hilltop Park?
                                    I'm in the mood for a picnic with Korean food :0)
                                    Thanks very much.

                                2. John E. RE: soccermom13 Jul 19, 2013 10:43 AM

                                  We (my dad and brother) have been going to Harbor Freight on Central Avenue for years. I've always wondered about the store next door. I finally went in and discovered the cafeteria in the back of the store. My wife and I went there a couple weeks ago for lunch on a Saturday. It was packed. We wandered about the store for quite a while before a table opened up. We ordered the dumplings and spicy pork. It was really good, but we had to box up more than half of it because the servings were generous.

                                  It was really hot in the restaurant and the pork was spicy. We want to return for the beef short ribs but will probably get it as takeout, depending on the temp and how long the wait is for a table.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: John E.
                                    bob s RE: John E. Jul 19, 2013 10:46 AM

                                    I assume this is Dong Yang?

                                    1. re: bob s
                                      John E. RE: bob s Jul 19, 2013 10:58 AM

                                      Yep...I didn't even notice I wrote that entire post without once mentioning the name of the place. I guess the Harbor Freight reference gave it away, but detective work should not have been necessary. Thank you.

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