Sejong Korean Restaurant - Traditional Taste & Exceptional Quality
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
If you like Korean cuisine, then you'll love Sejong Korean Restaurant. Located behind the Boy Scout Center in Tamuning (you have to turn right just before the Guam Girl Scout Center to access Sejong), the Sejong Korean Restaurant has just made my "A" list for Korean eateries, period. Immaculately clean, beautifully furnished with seating to accommodate traditional Korean dining (on cushions at low tables) and Western-style seating at tables with chairs, Sejong would be an ideal place for novices to become acquainted with Korean food, especially at lunch time when specials for residents run between $7 - $8. Not only that, but Sejong's proactive management team is offering a free Sejong Discount Card for residents, which gives 10% off on food and drinks."
This was my first visit to Sejong, and I was a late lunch guest of Vicki Lee from SunSoy Tofu and her family friend, John Kimmons, an ex-Marine (actually there "are no "ex-Marines" says John. "Once a Marine, always a Marine!"), who also owns the Harmon Mini Storage. Vicki's family has been in the tofu business on Guam for 30 years, and I was first introduced to their quality tofu products by her sister, Renee Harrison. Vicki has been following my healthy eating journey and our menu selections were made with that in mind.
Our order included the Busuk Jungol (Mushrooms and Beef with Vegetable Soup, M-$25/ L-$35), Young Yang Dolsot Bap (Sejong Special Rice, $13.00), Den Jang Jiige (Korean Miso Soup $10), Mool Naengmyon (Buckwheat Noodles in Cold Broth $11), Yangeyum Kalbi (Beef Short Ribs), and Grilled Pike ($13). Our waitress, Kyong Yae, competently and attentively served us during the meal, helping in arranging foods for picture-taking. The panchan (the small side dishes of kimchee and vegetables Korean cuisine is famous for) were delivered first, followed by the Busuk Jungol (this special soup is cooked on the table). Four types of mushroom are featured in this delicious dish: shiitake, matsutake, inoki, and button, and they are stunningly arranged along with tofu, green onions, cabbage, bean spouts, carrot, and a small quantity of flank steak. The soup cooked for about ten minutes while we ate other foods, but when it was ready, it was my perfect meal. The clear broth was not salty, just flavorful, and the mushrooms, tofu and vegetables combined to raise the "great food" bar on this one!
The Young Yang Dolsot came in a stone pot filled with wild rice topped by black beans, chick-peas, dried dates, and gingko nuts. Once the veggies are stirred into the rice, this is in impressive, healthy meatless dish that is quite popular. For those who want a little meat, Sejong's menu lists a side of Kalbi for $6 (small size). One of my side dishes (panchan) had four pieces of tofu that was lightly battered before light frying, with a spicy vegetable sauce on top for flavoring. These were really good - and great for promoting SunSoy's tofu.
The Mool Naengmyon was cold buckwheat noodles in a tangy chilled broth, julienned cucumbers, and a boiled egg. This was the most refreshing dish and is popular during the summer. The hand-made noodles were so fresh! The Den Jang Jiige was a thick, rich blend, kind of like a super-miso soup, and probably a little saltier than I would want to eat when trying to have less sodium in my meals. It had onions, bean sprouts, scallions, and squash, which had all been cooked down to thicken the stew. The Kalbi was tender and had a good flavor...they use quality meat, and it was delivered pre-cut for easy eating. The portion was more than adequate. The broiled pike was bony, oily, and briny, which some find appealing, whereas I prefer less work and more meat when I'm picking on a fish.
Sejong's menu probably includes the most extensive and diverse selection of traditional Korean dishes I've seen on Guam, with some 15 yakiniku (self-cook tabletop) entrees, a host of noodle and rice dishes, and a variety of meat and seafood dishes. The menu has brilliant color photos of some menu items, so you can see what you are getting. The front entrance has a display case showing some of the menu items using the plastic food replicas so popular in Asia. All items are listed in the menu in Korean, Romanized Korean, Kanji, with English descriptions. It takes a lot of patience learning to pronounce Korean...don't feel bad - at least you're trying something new!
Sejong's Chef/owner is Mr. Ho, who has 30 years cooking experience and he previously worked as the head chef at Korea Palace. Sejong's General Manager is Mr. Baik, who also was Korea Palace's manager for many years. I was delighted to find both gentlemen here, as I know they have always assured quality dining where they've worked. There are 12 local specials I mentioned before and these include BBQ Chicken ($7), BBQ Beef Ribs ($8), BBQ Fish ($7), Kimchi Spaghetti ($7), and Cold Noodles with Vegetables ($7). Sejong's phone numbers are 649-5556/9, and they are open daily from 11am - 10pm. I highly recommend a visit to Sejong Korean Restaurant to explore the exotic and flavorful variety of traditional Korean cuisine.