Korea Restaurant

Twin Cities, Minnesota


rating star

Despite confusion on the "veganness" of some dishes, the noodle dish, dumplings, and tofu dish that I tried were pretty good and the portion sizes were pretty large. And the fact that one can find anything even vegetarian at a Korean restaurant gives it some extra points.

Avoid going here during their very busy weekday lunch hours, as you will feel rushed when ordering and may have to wait a while to find a seat. During slower times, it would probably be easier to identify what can be made vegan with the assistance of the cashier/server.

A couple improvements they could make--have veg options listed more clearly and use non-styrofoam cups for water.

Image for conde.kedar

rating star

I'm not sure why this restaurant has such a high rating on VegGuide. The menu doesn't have anything inherently vegan or vegetarian; all of the tofu dishes contain seafood, the menu is more than a bit confusing, communication about ingredients was a chore and constant worry, and there's no ambience. It's super popular with Korean students and some adventurous Americans but doesn't try at all to attract newcomers to Korean cuisine (I'm not a newcomer, but I'm not well-versed, either).

Ultimately, using tips from previous reviews, we had a vegetarian dumpling dish ($6) which was edible, but not very flavorful on its own. Also, my friend and I were both confused and worried about the ingredients, as there are small chewy, roundish balls that looked like some kind of meat. When we asked, the answer was that they were dried radish. If I had to guess, it was texturized vegetable protein (I hope) or something I'd rather not think about. I still don't know.

We next had a Tofu Jorim (~$10), also at the suggestion of the previous reviewer. This dish wasn't on the menu, so I'm glad my friend had remembered the name of the dish. It was okay, but also not terribly flavorful; there was no "sauce" per se, it was served luke-warm and it was basically just tofu with green onions and red chili, but had no kick to it whatsoever. It came with a meager portion of super-sticky and compacted white rice, which was not impressive.

Finally, we had a noodle bowl dish, the name of which I can't recall (also ~$10). It was not good. It consisted of tofu over long wheat noodles, covered in a black-colored gooey sauce that had a bizarre flavor---not sweet, not smoky, not salty. I don't know what it was, but it was not something I cared for after a few bites.

The side dishes and pickled foods were pretty decent, especially the eggplant and the kimchi.

This place gets packed at peak hours, so avoid it then if you don't like crowds. I wasn't a fan of all the styrofoam and disposable utensils either. I also didn't like the cafeteria-style service, where you order and pay, wait for your number to be called, eat and then have to bus your own table.

In the end, this place makes me even more suspicious of the vegetarian credentials of Korean food. It's a shame, because dishes at other tables looked really tasty and fresh, but they all had meat. If they could replicate that freshness vegan-style, I'd be back in a hurry. I'll try again, because I think Korea Restaurant can make good vegan food if I knew how to order it, and the service is friendly enough. But if you are vegan or vegetarian, and know nothing about Korean food, do not come here.

Image for Dave Rolsky

rating star

This place is pretty veg-friendly as far as Korean restaurants go, which is to say they have 4-5 veg entrees, as opposed to 1. The trick to having a good experience here seems to be to get the right server.

The tall young woman (the owner's daughter, IIRC), is really good about making sure the vegetarian stuff has no seafood, no eggs, and serving you only veg side dishes too. The other server I've had there, a not-quite-as-tall young man, brought me a dish full of shrimp and oysters.

Anyway, about the food ... I really like the Tofu Jorim, which is about a pound of tofu fried with onions, scallions, and shredded carrots, topped with a nice spicy sauce. I love tofu! The Soon Do Bo (tofu stew) is also really good, but make sure to request it vegetarian (no seafood).

The Goon Mandu dumplings are good as well, and the tall woman says they have no eggs. They have a lunch special of six dumplings for some ridiculously low price like $3.50. Some dumplings, rice, and side dishes would make for a delicious ultra-cheap lunch, though I haven't had a chance to try that yet.

It's no Hangawi or Franchia, but if you're curious about Korean cuisine but you've been frightened off because of its veg-unfriendliness, this is your best bet in the Twin Cities.

rating star

Loved it! The most accomodating Korean restaurant in Minnesota for vegetarians. The server even went to the extent of saying that they will try to make most everything on the menu vegetarian. Obviously the dishes that consist solely of meat would not be able to make this transition, but by-in-large many of the soups, rice and noodle dishes can easily be made both vegetarian and vegan.

rating star

Most every Korean restaurant brings out an assortment of side dishes that are refillable throughout your meal. When I was there in the summer of 2006, I didn't let them know I'm vegan and they brought out mostly all veggie-friendly side dishes except one was dried anchovies. I was there in December of 2006 and let them know I'm vegan so they brought out just veggie side dishes. Instead of the dried anchovies, they brought out very tasty tofu. Other side dishes include potatoes, bean sprouts, and of course, kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage). All are prepared with tasty seasoning. Ja Jang Myeon, a noodle dish with black bean sauce is good, as well as Jap Chae, made with clear potatoe noodles. I tried the Den Jang Chigae, a soup that came out bubbling hot and was made with tofu and other veggies. It often has pork, but they made it without with no problem. Other Korean restaurants in the Twin Cities have told me that they cannot always prepare the menu items free of meat and seafood (probably due to the food being prepared earlier), but so far Korea Restaurant has been more than willing to do so which is why I keep going back. Not to mention the price is the best compared to other Korean restaurants in Minnesota. The lunch buffet is also very good. You can get that on weekdays only. There are enough veg options on the buffet to make it worth your trip.

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