SHORELINE — Don’t wear your best clothes to Old Village Korean BBQ in Shoreline.
It’s not that you don’t want to look nice. Despite the industrial air vents, you’re likely to leave this traditional Korean restaurant perfumed by the smoky charcoal grills that top every table.
Diners here can find all sorts of exotic Korean fare, including goat, beef tongue, grilled baby octopus and fish egg soup.
That shouldn’t frighten less adventuresome eaters. There’s plenty of options for every palate.
The portions are generous, so it’s best to go with friends. That way parties can share the ginger, sesame and garlic marinated meats and can divvy up grilling responsibility. At Korean barbecue, the wait staff brings platters of raw food to the table and let diners cook it themselves on the table top.
The name may be Old Village, but the restaurant’s black ceilings and walls make the interior more modern chic that old-time quaint.
Booths line the walls, long tables fill the center and a string of metallic beads hanging from the ceiling separates the dining room. Several televisions will help catch you up on the latest Korean shows.
Many Korean barbecue places have gas grills, but Old Village adds charcoal to the mix. I think the combo makes for even tastier food. There’s an air vent over each table that raises and lowers like some kind of space-age robot arm and helps eliminate some of the smoke.
Diners can choose from a variety of marinated meats to barbecue, including pork, seafood, chicken, veggies and several cuts of beef. Prices range from about $15 to $30, but the portions easily can serve two or more. Some of the meat is served delicately shaved to showcase the prized marbling.
If cooking your own feels like a chore, you can always ask the chef to grill up your meal in the kitchen. But that’s not as much fun.
Every meal is accompanied by about eight traditional Korean side dishes. When I went recently these included two kinds of pickled radish, a bean-sprout salad, an American-style potato salad, marinated tofu and kimchi, the spicy hot, red-chili pickled cabbage.
There are as many kimchi recipes as there are Korean cooks. Old Village’s recipe is flavorful and fresh without packing an overbearing amount of heat.
I’m not a huge fan of spicy food and I love the Korean flavors. It’s less hot and more alive with flavor and zing.
At Old Village, the grilled dishes also are served with a huge bowl of fresh salad greens dressed in a sesame-ginger vinaigrette and individual bowls of white rice.
If those aren’t not enough starters for you, there are plenty of appetizers.
We tried steamed kyoza or pot stickers filled with fresh vegetables and pork ($6.95) and a seafood-green onion pizza ($13.95). The pizza is a fried pancake full of crab, shrimp, mussels and calamari.
For our dinner, we ordered the grilled chicken and veggies ($15.95 each) and shared. It was more than enough food and easily could have fed four.
It took us a while to realize that once the charcoal started to fade, the heat could be supplemented by the gas flame. Don’t be shy about asking for help. Our service was attentive once we got up the nerve to ring the call button at our table.
The restaurant has lots of nonbarbecue meal options, including a variety of affordable lunch specials. There are also tofu soups, noodle dishes and hot pots.
The menu only has two dessert choices: ice cream ($3.95) and tempura ice cream ($5.95). We went for the tempura, a generous softball-sized mound of vanilla ice cream, surrounded by chocolate brownie and coated in a light batter, then drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. I wished I hadn’t been so full!
It may not look like an old Korean village, but this restaurant comes through with traditional Korean favorites.
Old Village Korean BBQ Restaurant
15200 Aurora Ave., Shoreline; 206-365-6679
Specialty: Korean barbecue
Hours: Lunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily; dinner, 3 to 10 p.m. daily
Alcohol: Beer and wine
Vegetarian: Numerous options
Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, firstname.lastname@example.org