Seoul Restaurant - Great Lunch Specials for Quality Korean Favorites
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
Seoul Restaurant is located across the street from the Reef Hotel and shares a building with Fuji Ichiban Ramen and Miki Market. You can't miss its huge red and blue sign, nor the blue and red Korean yin-yang national emblem on the front glass doors. It is obviously a Korean restaurant smack dab in the middle of our tourist district, the kind of place a lot of locals tend to avoid for a number of reasons, price being a major one.
Well, have I got good news for you! Seoul Restaurant is a remarkable find, serving traditional Kalbi and Bulgogi in a manner and at prices that will amaze you. Seoul Restaurant has a lunch special that discounts fifteen of their most popular entrees by 35%! The Kalbi (charbroiled marinated beef rib) is regularly $17.95, but during lunch it's priced at $12. It is cooked in front of you on a table grill that uses special briquettes imported from Korea. The aroma and flavor imparted into this marinated beef by these coals defies description and begs trying for yourself. I will say that it's the tenderest, tastiest Kalbi I've had on Guam.
Although I've passed by Seoul Restaurant countless times, and have even stopped in a couple of times for fact-finding as well as to say hi to friends who were dining, I'd never actually sat down to eat here, though it was always on my Food Guy "to do" list. It's possible I'd have put off reviewing it even more if I'd not received several e-mail recommendations from good friend and former GPD chief, Ed Kabina. He and wife, Toni, are avid GuamDiner.com newsletter readers and gave a glowing endorsement to Seoul Restaurant. They were so right!
Aside from a broken front glass panel door (typhoon-related), this restaurant is well-constructed, clean, and authetically-Korean in its decor and layout. There are private rooms for floor sitting as well as tables and booths. It's apparent that a significant investment was made in the design, furniture, fixtures. It's the food, though, that will give Seoul Restaurant its greatest returns!
We were served by Sung, the owner's sister, and we ordered a Kalbi and a Bulgogi ($15 dinner/ lunch $9.50). After Sung placed the special hot briquettes inside the grill basin, she delivered a colorful array of "pan chan" (the small dishes of vegetables and kimchi). The kimchi is made fresh at Seoul Restaurant along with their other appetizers. Notable among these was a delicious eggplant dish.
Sung brought us a pot of Kalbi (rib) Soup ($13 dinner/$8.50 lunch), which we consumed with fervor. It was a wonderful soup, made with eggs, green onions, and beef pieces complete with bone. The broth was fragrant, light, and energizing. Sung recommended the Spicy Beef Soup if we wanted a hotter dish. This was just fine. We asked about the use of MSG, and she said it wasn't used in their soup dishes, however, the marinated Kalbi did have some. If you have an MSG concern, please advise Sung or your server.
The Bulgogi was served next. We were impressed by the large portion of this shredded beef cooked with onions and carrots. We were surprised to see Chop Chae (clear rice noodles and vegetable slivers) mixed in together with the Bulgogi. It was our first time having it this way here though Sung told us it was popular in Korea.
The Kalbi is my all-time favorite though, and the Kalbi at Seoul Restaurant is exceptional. Sung attributes the marination and food quality to their chef, Mr. Cho. There's something about beef and embers that's primeval, appealing to our hunter's instinct. When beef is marinated Korean style, it takes on another life, with sweet hot flavors tantalizing the palate.
The regular menu is nicely laid out with color pictures showcasing some of Seoul Restaurant's popular dishes. The Lunch Special menu is on a flyer that lists the entree, the regular price, and the discounted (35% off) price. This includes such items as Beef Soup with Cabbage, Korean Miso Soup( $7.50 special), Seafood Casserole ($30 dinner/$19.50 lunch), Spicy Raw Crab ($15 dinner/$9.50 lunch), Seafood Pancake and Kimchee Pancake, both $15 at dinner, and $9.50 for lunch. The lunch special runs from 11:30am - 2:30pm, and the restaurant is open from 11:30am - 11pm daily. Their phone number is 649-0990.
Seoul Restaurant is certainly worth a visit if you enjoy Korean cuisine. They serve Jinro and other Korean beverages, wines, and domestic/imported beers. Near the entrance is a photo display that has pictures of famous Korean movie stars, soccer players, and other VIP's who have visited this restaurant. Speaking of VIP's, they do give you VIP rewards for eating here. Savor delicious Korean food at Seoul Restaurant in Tumon!