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Korea House dates back to 1982, and while that's hardly early history in terms of the city's evolution, the restaurant was nonetheless a pioneer on the dining scene. For many years, it was the only local eatery offering a taste of the Land of the Morning Sun, and now it's among the few.

Even today, the phone book lists just two other sources for Korean food: Korea Garden, which is down the street from Korea House; and Korea House Oriental Super Market on Edgewater Drive, which is completely unrelated to the restaurant. Oddly enough, there are more Korean churches than restaurants: six in all. There's never been the mainstream acceptance of Korean food as there has been for other Asian cuisines.

Even today, the phone book lists just two other sources for Korean food: Korea Garden, which is down the street from Korea House; and Korea House Oriental Super Market on Edgewater Drive, which is completely unrelated to the restaurant. Oddly enough, there are more Korean churches than restaurants: six in all. There's never been the mainstream acceptance of Korean food as there has been for other Asian cuisines.

Korea House offers a tour of classic Korean flavors: garlic, ginger, soy and hot pepper. The atmosphere is at once genteel and bohemian. There's a Spartan quality to the dining area, with just 10 tables, a few paper lanterns and rice-paper partitions. At night the overhead lighting is far too harsh. But there is a quiet throughout the room, even as servers deliver tray after tray of delicacies to the customers.

Korea House offers a tour of classic Korean flavors: garlic, ginger, soy and hot pepper. The atmosphere is at once genteel and bohemian. There's a Spartan quality to the dining area, with just 10 tables, a few paper lanterns and rice-paper partitions. At night the overhead lighting is far too harsh. But there is a quiet throughout the room, even as servers deliver tray after tray of delicacies to the customers.

Korea House rivals the average Chinese restaurant in terms of price and value. For the cost of a $32 dinner for two, we received an overly abundant amount of food. We tried: yaki mandoo, pan-fried dumplings stuffed with beef and vegetables and crimped into crescents ($4.25), sushi-esque kim bap, seaweed rolls filled with beef and vegetables ($3.95), a bowl of tofu soup with miso and spinach ($1.95), and a generous platter of bulgogi beef, which is kind of like Korean barbecue, marinated in a sweet garlic sauce ($9.95). The pizza-sized pajuen, a fried potato pancake laced with scallions, oysters, clams, peppers and rice, was delicious, but unwieldy and difficult to slice.

Korea House rivals the average Chinese restaurant in terms of price and value. For the cost of a $32 dinner for two, we received an overly abundant amount of food. We tried: yaki mandoo, pan-fried dumplings stuffed with beef and vegetables and crimped into crescents ($4.25), sushi-esque kim bap, seaweed rolls filled with beef and vegetables ($3.95), a bowl of tofu soup with miso and spinach ($1.95), and a generous platter of bulgogi beef, which is kind of like Korean barbecue, marinated in a sweet garlic sauce ($9.95). The pizza-sized pajuen, a fried potato pancake laced with scallions, oysters, clams, peppers and rice, was delicious, but unwieldy and difficult to slice.

There was much variety among the side items, with 11 offerings included with the meal, gratis, including cucumbers in sweet vinegar sauce, marinated bean sprouts, pickled turnips and pan-seared tofu. We sampled several varieties of kimchi, the pickled cabbage dish that is the cornerstone of the Korean diet. We had a traditional version, which had been fermented with hot peppers and caught us off-guard with its spiciness. A dish of house soy sauce added a mild, sweet dimension to different dinner items, and it wasn't salty in the least.

There was much variety among the side items, with 11 offerings included with the meal, gratis, including cucumbers in sweet vinegar sauce, marinated bean sprouts, pickled turnips and pan-seared tofu. We sampled several varieties of kimchi, the pickled cabbage dish that is the cornerstone of the Korean diet. We had a traditional version, which had been fermented with hot peppers and caught us off-guard with its spiciness. A dish of house soy sauce added a mild, sweet dimension to different dinner items, and it wasn't salty in the least.

For a culinary adventure at Korea House, you won't need a lot of money, just a hearty appetite and an open mind.

The little cottage tucked next to Kim's Karate on East Colonial has housed many food venues through the years, from fancy to funky to fried fish. Shin Jung, offering traditional dishes from its Korean kitchen, might just be the one that stays.

Interior design touches are few, but the spotless cleanliness of the place is enough. There are four booths along the west wall, a half dozen four-top tables and one large table in a back corner. Add in a few community-event posters, written in Korean, and that's it. No ferns. No frills.

Interior design touches are few, but the spotless cleanliness of the place is enough. There are four booths along the west wall, a half dozen four-top tables and one large table in a back corner. Add in a few community-event posters, written in Korean, and that's it. No ferns. No frills.

The main dish offerings ($7.95-$15.95) cover an exotic gamut: Hawe nang myun, which is a cold-noodle dish served with hot-spice stingray, to al by tang, a short rib of beef soup. For my midweek lunch, I experimented with dolt bib bb ($8.95). First presented is a large stone bowl filled with steamed white rice, containing shredded vegetables: carrots, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts. Arrayed nearby are smaller dishes of veggies: a mild combo of seaweed, more bean sprouts, scallion tops, radishes in sweet marinade, tofu slices sautéed in a sesame sauce, cabbage in a Korean red-pepper broth and a cup of delicious steamy broth of a mild white-radish soup.

The main dish offerings ($7.95-$15.95) cover an exotic gamut: Hawe nang myun, which is a cold-noodle dish served with hot-spice stingray, to al by tang, a short rib of beef soup. For my midweek lunch, I experimented with dolt bib bb ($8.95). First presented is a large stone bowl filled with steamed white rice, containing shredded vegetables: carrots, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts. Arrayed nearby are smaller dishes of veggies: a mild combo of seaweed, more bean sprouts, scallion tops, radishes in sweet marinade, tofu slices sautéed in a sesame sauce, cabbage in a Korean red-pepper broth and a cup of delicious steamy broth of a mild white-radish soup.

The smiling server treated me like the new kid on the block, hurrying over to take my chop sticks from my hands to show me that I should be tossing and stirring the rice dish in my stone bowl because "delicious sesame oil hiding in the bottom." (Sesame oil and seeds are a mainstay in the cuisine.) She checked frequently to see if I was enjoying my meal and to fill my water glass.

The smiling server treated me like the new kid on the block, hurrying over to take my chop sticks from my hands to show me that I should be tossing and stirring the rice dish in my stone bowl because "delicious sesame oil hiding in the bottom." (Sesame oil and seeds are a mainstay in the cuisine.) She checked frequently to see if I was enjoying my meal and to fill my water glass.

There is also a 10-item barbecue list ($7.95-$14.95) that gives ultra-authentic choices to more stalwart diners -- for example, unmarinated beef tongue, beef tripe and beef intestine.

There is also a 10-item barbecue list ($7.95-$14.95) that gives ultra-authentic choices to more stalwart diners -- for example, unmarinated beef tongue, beef tripe and beef intestine.

The last part of the menu presents the house specials ($7.95-$39.95), which include everything from an eyebrow-raising "Korean intestine hot pot" to "assorted meat portions" to a seafood pancake. I opted for a green-pepper pancake, a lacy affair about the size of a small pizza, concocted of shredded hot Korean green peppers and bits of carrot dusted with flour and sizzled quickly in a tad of sesame oil. It was spicy, but delicious.

The last part of the menu presents the house specials ($7.95-$39.95), which include everything from an eyebrow-raising "Korean intestine hot pot" to "assorted meat portions" to a seafood pancake. I opted for a green-pepper pancake, a lacy affair about the size of a small pizza, concocted of shredded hot Korean green peppers and bits of carrot dusted with flour and sizzled quickly in a tad of sesame oil. It was spicy, but delicious.

My service was so attentive and my lunch there was so tasty that I'll be going back to try the noodles in a stone pot. You carnivores who think you've tried it all . . . beat a track, the gop chang jun gol is waiting.

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