lower level + sushi bar
traditional korean rice wine ($12.95)
kimchee pancake ($8.95)
vegetable porridge ($8.95)
stone pot bibimbap
stone pot bibimbap + beef bulgogi combo ($18.95)
Having grown up in Duluth GA (which has become a mecca for non-LA or -NYC Koreans), I definitely used to take good, cheap Korean food for granted and assumed that every city had a sprawling Ktown. One of the challenges of living in Boston, is being without good, cheap Korean food! I don't eat Korean food on a regular basis, but there are just some of those nights when I crave some good Korean grub. Last night was one of those nights.
I dragged my boyfriend to Beacon Hill to try Seoul, which underwent a rebranding strategy around two months ago (formally Ma Soba). Given Seoul's traditional and extensive menu (easily trumps Samurai and Jae's Cafe), I was really excited to try this new spot!
VENUE // Located on the intersection of Cambridge + Hancock street right in front of Whole Foods, Seoul has a great location and is hard to miss. The venue is spacious, bright and clean and complete with a full bar and sushi bar. The best part of Seoul though has got to be the open window seating -- nothing beats a cool breeze and good Korean food on a warm summer night.
FOOD // I was really impressed by the menu here. Seoul goes beyond the traditional Korean appetizers and entrees, and offers Korean + Chinese fushion dishes as well as sushi. I was feeling a little under the weather so ordered the vegetable porridge and my carnivore boyfriend ordered the stone pot bibimbap + beef bulgogi option. Oh and can't forget the massive kimchee pancake we ordered as well. Including our traditional rice wine and side dishes, I was surprised our table could hold all of our food.
I'm usually hesitant to order porridge at restaurants because it's so easy to end up with a bowl of bland mush, but the porridge at Seoul was wonderful. The tender bits of cooked rice + carrots + mushrooms was cooked perfectly and seasoned well. My boyfriend's stone pot bibimbap + beef bulgogi combo was also delicious -- the bibimbap was teeming with fresh veggies + ground beef, and the bulgogi was tender and sweet. My only knock on Seoul would be that the kimchee pancake was tad on the greasy side (interestingly enough though, this was my boyfriend's favorite dish).
DRINK // We usually always order the traditional rice wine when we dine Korean. Made from fermented rice, makgeolli is creamy white, a tad bit sweet, and is about 6-8% alcohol by volume. Makgeolli is also traditionally served in a clay pot + laddle + metal bowls which adds to the authentic dining experience. It's definitely the perfect complement to spicy, hot Korean food.
SERVICE // Service here is great. Our waitress was incredibly friendly, and the food and drink service were timely. Definitely no complaints here.
FUN FACT // Same owners as Ma Soba, just a different chef = same drink menu. Seoul offers a full bar with great domestic / imported beers and wines.
DINING TIP // The traditional way to eat the stone pot bibimbap is to mix the rice + veggies without scraping the rice from the sides of the stone pot. That way while you are enjoying the rice + veggies, the rice on the sides of the stone pot will crisp up for a tasty snack. I know this sounds a little odd, but I love eating it this way, and is probably one of the only reasons I even order this dish!
DRINK TIP // Makgeolli can range in terms of sweetness, creaminess and carbonated / non-carbonated options. I always opt for the sweeter, creamier and carbonated option. Although Seoul offers a full bar, try the traditional option. Nothing says authentic Korean dining experience like drinking alcohol out of a metal bowl.
156 Cambridge Street