Korean restaurants outside Koreatown and its suburban outposts often seem to pander to feeble Western guts, sapping strength from dishes that should make eaters leap tall buildings with a single bite. The name of Korean Seoulfood Cafe may pun on South Koreas capital, but owner Dan Choi employs a cook from Chonju, in the southwest of the country. There, in the rice bowl of the peninsula, the food is spicier, saltier, and generally more highly regarded than the rest of the nations--and here in Chicago the cook isnt trying to coddle patrons with oversweetened glop. Chonju is the home of the ubiquitous rice dish bi bim bop, and at Seoulfood its available with chicken, shrimp, or pork as well as the more common beef. Its a deep bowl filled with quality grains, but like most items on the menu, its a mite pricier than what youll find on the northwest side. Then again, thats where youd otherwise have to go to find less common dishes like beo-sut jeon gol, a hot pot filled with chap chae and assorted mushrooms; Harry Met Sally, a special of spicy stir-fried pork belly and squid; and nak ji bok keum, broiled octopus with noodles and vegetables thats usually eaten while the critter is still in its death throes (not here, unfortunately). A few panchan come with each order, including a salty-sour jalapeno kimchi Id never seen before. The house cabbage kimchi is fresh and crisp, and though I prefer a bit more funk myself, it has a respectable burn. I like this place--even if some dishes are served in tinfoil containers like TV dinners, giving the impression that theyve been held and reheated. I guess thats the price of offering such a large menu of relatively obscure items.
Payment Type: American Express, MasterCard, Visa