Ask this North End restaurant maven what’s hot, and I’ll tell you: Korean food. Travel Highway 99 from Shoreline through Lynnwood, and you won’t drive two minutes without coming across a Korean restaurant. That said, it’s easy to miss Jeonju B’ Bop Fusion Rice Bar — one of a trio of Korean eateries set back off the highway just north of 188th Street Southwest. But now that I’ve found it, I’m addicted.
Wait! Don’t stop reading because you’re unfamiliar with the cuisine, uncomfortable around kimchee and unsure what to order when much of the menu is in Hangul and much of the staff speak limited English. Consider this a culinary journey-without-a-passport.
Picture steaming bowls of soup with rice cakes and dumplings, fragrant soybean stews and rib-sticking bibimbap. No salt and pepper on the table? Reach instead for the jars of salty fermented shrimp and flaky red chilies. Need a translator? Ask those folks taking chopsticks to pork feet. Now repeat after me: “This is an adventure!”
Stone-pot bibimbap (foreground), with complimentary kimchee on the side. [photo: Nancy Leson]
The menu: Ixnay the “Fusion Rice Bar” nomenclature. There’s no “fusion” here (and they’ve ditched their original buffet-style rice bar). This is Korean comfort food. Neophytes will appreciate the Korean Bento with Gal-bi (expect grilled short-ribs and you’ll be surprised, as I was, with a marinated beef patty: superb!). Have their stone pot bibimbap (I have, for breakfast): a vivid array of vegetables, sliced beef and raw egg, prettily perched on a pile of rice, served in a hot stone-pot with sweet chile-paste on the side. Go on: mix it in, mix it up and you’ll “B’ Bop”-‘n.
What to write home about: Kimchee, served as a complimentary side in earthenware crocks. The delicate seafood soup with chewy egg noodles and fresh clams. Perfect pa-jeon: crisp, pan-fried seafood pancake chockablock with scallions, red and green peppers and octopus bites.
What to skip: The Marinated Beef with Vegetables. Too salty, too sweet and too reminiscent of the style of beef with broccoli you’d find at a ho-hum Chinese joint.
The setting: Spare and modern, with nine large comfortable tables and 12 seats at a squiggly counter that bisects the room.
Summing up: Seafood pancake ($10.99); Korean Bento with Gal-bi ($10.99); and Seafood Noodle Soup ($6.99) came to $28.97 before tax and tip and served two people — with leftovers.
Where/when to find it: 18623 Highway 99, Suite 140, Lynnwood, 425-582-7015; Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sundays