Guess what guys! ANOTHER KOREAN RESTAURANT REVIEW!!!!
YAAAAY! Now you know MORE places to try (or avoid) when in the search for a most delicious Korean style meal.
Korea House has consistently been one of the top rated Korean restaurants in the Tucson area and has been on my list for several years now. Somehow I was always able to make it to Seoul Kitchen, but not just a few blocks over to Korea House. Until the other day.
Very last minute plans worked in my favor and my friend joined me for a delicious Korean lunch! Just off of Speedway and Alvernon, the building hides between a coffee shop and a music shop. And by hide I mean it seems more inconspicuous and generic than the colorful building to its left and the quaint peaked roof café to its right.
The inside was rather generic Asian restaurant themed, but it does have a very neat booth section – each table is partitioned into privacy along the left side of the restaurant with wallpaper that features a mixture of Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters on it. Don’t ask me why, I didn’t study Asian linguistics, but it was neat to look at!
My friend and I had actually just arrived after a VERY large party had vacated the premises. There were dirty tables all around and, though we were the only two customers in the restaurant, the poor sole server had to bus us a table for us to sit at. But he was really affable and sweet, joking around with us and recommending we choose the more flavorful-y marinated pork to the quickly sauced beef or chicken. He was also super quick and efficient, without us feeling rushed.
The food was good too! Just very different from what I’ve had before.
Firstly, the menu had all of the traditional items I expect to see at a Korean place. But everything was spelled slightly different. Bibimbap was spelled Beebumbap, most of the words I usually see spelled with a ‘b’ were instead spelled with a ‘p’ and the separation of words/syllables was different as well. Not a bad thing at all, just… different and I am intensely curious as to why they are spelled so different!
I ended up ordering the Kimpo II – the combo plate with beef, chicken or pork bool gogi (bulgogi, as I’ve more often seen it), a bowl of soup, rice, two mandu and chap jae!
Plus unlimited refills of banchan. ❤ ❤ ❤
The soup was similar to kinds I’ve had before – a clear broth with a few vegetables and potatoes cooked in it. I wasn’t terribly thrilled with the flavor balance in this broth, though. It was too peppery, and though I enjoyed the potatoes and onions, it was simply frustrating to have to fish for a measly 3 peas in my soup cup.
Then my main dish and the banchan came out. The plate was full of what it said it was but, like the menu, it was all slightly different from what I had grown accustomed to.
Firstly, the mandu were fried. Every other time I’ve had dumplings they’ve been steamed. It was nice having a crunchy dumpling, and the beef or pork (not sure which) was a slightly spicy and finely ground mixture. Though I thought it was too salty, but my friend thoroughly enjoyed hers, so perhaps I added too much dipping sauce?
The bulgogi was different too. The waiter had convinced my friend and I to order the pork, instead of the beef, because it sits in the marinade full of flavor. I also tried it medium spicy. It was very good! But even from the picture above you can notice that they are prepared differently from what I’ve blogged before. The marinade is reddish and thick. There was a definitive coating of spices and seasonings on each slice of tender pork. It was a very different bulgogi experience than ever before, though I did immensely enjoy it. Bulgogi meat is always so tender and flavorful!
There was so much slight variation in my dish that it was nice to notice the chap jae was the same. As were the banchan. We were served three dishes – one of cucumbers dressed in vinegar, kimchi, and bean sprouts. Both the chap jae and banchan were very good and EXACTLY how I’ve had them before. It gave a nice point of reference to this off-kilter meal.
Though it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I did really enjoy the meal and the atmosphere of the place. I’d love to come back when there are other customers, some weekend evening, perhaps, to see how the ambiance truly shines. Also, I just discovered they serve Jjajangmyeon (I really need to just start asking if they serve it because I never find it on the menu!) so I am REQUIRED to go back and try that dish.
Try Korea House! It is good, the portions are filling, and the price is just right!