S is for Seoul Korean Restaurant

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I’ve driven past Seoul dozens of times without even realizing it. You probably have too. It is on Prospect Avenue on the eastside–across from Urban Outfitters.

Adam selected it because he had enjoyed the lunch buffet when he worked in the area. He said:

I try to pick places that other people in the group would never try on their own. I feel like that is part of the fun of doing this–to step outside your comfort zone and experience what people from all walks of life call “food.”

The rest of us never had never tried Korean food before, so we’d be out of our comfort zone.

The first nice thing about Seoul was the free parking lot provided for customers. Anyone who has been to the eastside knows what a hassle it is trying to park. We milled around in the lot a bit, waiting for everyone to arrive. Adam said:

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The staff was extremely polite, greeting us in the parking lot. This service continued once we were seated and throughout the meal.

When we got inside, it was easy to see why we got the greeting. We were the first people there for dinner. A small, seemingly unused bar greets diners, beyond the bar is the dining room, which is windowless, brightly lit and inviting.

We were seated and studied the exotic menus–it took us a long time to decide what we wanted–there were many items, all with Korean names, and lots of ingredients. TJ said:

My disdain for asian and seafood has been well documented on this journey. I’m starting to come around on seafood a bit but I was not thrilled about our trip to Seoul. The menu seemed robust but nothing particularly caught my eye.

The easiest decision that some of us had was to try the Korean beer, Hite…which I nicknamed Miller Hite. The nicknamed turned out to be apt, Hite was crisp, cool and very, very filtered.

Fried tofu

Fried tofu

Appetizers

There were a lot of different appetizers that we wanted to try and we ended up ordering four.

I was interested in trying the fried tofu, since I enjoyed the age tofu at Kyoto. The tofu came out hot, with a seemingly soy-based dipping sauce. It was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. I thought it was excellent.

Steamed dumplings

Steamed dumplings

Adam couldn’t decide between steamed and fried dumplings, so we got them both. Both came with the soy dipping sauce. He said:

I typically order these when we get Chinese food, although these weren’t quite as substantial as I’m used to.

Kimchi pancake

Kimchi pancake

Mike was drawn to the kimchi pancake. It was nearly everyone’s favorite appetizer, and it also came with the soy dipping sauce. I that out was salty and delicious. Michelle said:

The Korean pancake was excellent, if I go back to Seoul I would just order that as my entree.

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Prior to dinner coming out, they brought out some free soup as well. I was very excited because it looked like miso soup, but it ended up being rather fishy. Mike said:

The soup tasted like dirty fish water.

I needed to wash the flavor away with another Hite.

Spicy chicken (dak gui)

Spicy chicken (dak gui)

Dinner

In short order, the food came out–maybe too fast. Mike said:

We usually get in good conversation while eating but it just seemed like everything was rushed. Maybe they needed to take longer to bring us our food, which seems odd, but I enjoy the time before–and after–the meal.

Shannon and I ordered the same dish. I believe it was called dak gui, but it was basically spicy chicken. Shannon said:

It came with large romaine lettuce leaves and rice for wraps–fajita style. The spicy chicken wasn’t very spicy and kinda grossed me out. It was very stringy and “tendon-y”.

I skipped the lettuce and ate my dinner with the rice. The tomato-based sauce was a nice compliment to the chicken, it was somewhat tangy and not overly spicy. At $13, it was a bit overpriced.

Spicy pork (je yuk bokem)

Spicy pork (je yuk bokem)

Adam and Mike chose the spicy pork. Mike said:

The spicy pork was probably my favorite and it did the job.

Adam said:

I seemed to remember this was something that was often featured in their lunch buffet. I enjoyed it, but I also missed the opportunity to try a number of different things as I had been able to in past visits.

Rice with beef, veggies and eggs (dolsat bibimbap)

Rice with beef, veggies and eggs (dolsat bibimbap)

Cindi chose dolsat bibimbap, a beef, vegetable and rice dish served with a spicy sauce and fried egg. She said:

Anyone who knows me will know this speaks volumes…I did not take home my leftovers–which I had lots of.

Korean ramen

Korean ramen

TJ selected an old college standby with a Korean twist. He said:

I had the Korean Ramen which was fine when I didn’t get a taste or whiff of fish. My issue with the restaurant was everything I tried tasted way too fishy. Maybe that is how Korean food should smell and maybe it’s really good that way. It’s just not for me.

Seafood soup

Seafood soup

Michelle went with seafood soup. She said:

I thought I couldn’t go wrong with getting seafood. The portion was huge and the seafood part of it was good but it was very hard to eat. I’m not good at eating noodles with chopsticks and probably should’ve asked for a fork. The taste was good but it was just too hard to eat and I didn’t take it home.

We elected to skip dessert–we were full. For the most part, we thought the food was okay, but it just wasn’t flavors that we were used to or really enjoyed. Adam said:

I’m no expert on authentic Korean food, but I guess people say Seoul is a pretty good representation. If somebody asked me for a good Korean joint–which will never happen–I would tell them about Seoul…mostly because I don’t know of any other Korean restaurants.

On the plus side, Shannon said:

The food came out very quickly and the service was very friendly and attentive.

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Cindi echoed that sentiment. She said:

It is getting more and more difficult to bring Marilyn to dinner. It always helps when the staff makes an effort to welcome your child. They were very kind and accommodating. The highlight of this dinner was watching my one-and-a-half year old successfully and repeatedly use chopsticks to feed Mike. I have no idea how she learned it but I was impressed.

Mike said:

If a one-and-a-half year old can use chopsticks better than you, use a fork…don’t be embarrassed.

Ratings for Seoul Korean Restaurant were, as follows:

Adam: 5.75
Cindi: 3
Michelle: 5
Nick: 5
Shannon: 4
TJ: 5
Mike: 5

Seoul Korean Restaurant cumulative rating: 4.7

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Nightcap

Mike had gotten downtown early and popped into Yield, one of our most frequented eastside bars, for a drink. It was buy one, get one…so he still had a free drink token.

Cindi, Shannon and Marilyn skipped Yield.

The rest of us had a few drinks and sat at the bar while indie rock played over the speakers, talking about everything we didn’t cover at dinner, happy to spend a weekday evening among friends, food and music in Milwaukee.

See an incomplete menu from Seoul Korean Restaurant at here.

Photos courtesy of TJ UTTKE PHOTOGRAPHY

Losing nominations for ‘S’ were: Smoke Shack (Shannon), Sanford (Nick), Simple Cafe (Michelle and Cindi), Smyth (TJ) and Shooters (Mike).

Introduction to the ABCs of Milwaukee Dining
AJ Bombers: 6.8
Beta by Sabor: 7.9
Comet Cafe: 7
Distil: 5.8
Eatery on Farwell: 6.2
Fajitas Grill: 5.3
Ginger: 7.4
Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub: 7.5
Irie Palace: 6.2
Jow Nai Fouquet: 6.9
Kyoto: 6.3
Louise’s Trattoria: 5.2
Meritage: 6.5
Newsroom Pub: 5.4
Odd Duck: 8.2
Pizza Shuttle: 5.2
Quivey’s Grove: 6.9
Rumpus Room: 7.2
Seoul Korean Restaurant: 4.7

WHERE ARE WE EATING NEXT?

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