Korean restaurants in Somerville (and Boston)

I have a load of restaurant reviews that I’ll probably never catch up on, but here’s an attempt to start a dent in the pile. I don’t make it out to Buk Kyung (290 Somerville Ave) or Wu Chon (9 Union Square), two Korean restaurants pretty much next door to each other in Union Square, all that often because I’m too lazy to take the bus out there and neither offers up food that’s distinctive enough to make a special trip. But I happened to revisit both recently when relatives were in town, so I thought I’d offer up a quick recap.

Wu Chon is more of the typical Korean restaurant, and it does a fairly serviceable job. Nothing too special, but it does have the famous Korean barbeque as a point of focus, and the prices are better than the nearby (and now much sleeker than before due to renovation) Koreana (158 Prospect St).

In contrast, Buk Kyung specializes in more Chinese-derived dishes, especially the black bean noodles called jja jang myeon which are not often found in Korean restaurants in the States. Online there’s more information about their second location, Buk Kyung II in Allston (151 Brighton Ave), e.g. here’s a good review of BKII from a Boston blogger. I’ve been to that location as well and, as you’d expect, the food is pretty much the same and the newer location has a much shinier decor. The original Buk Kyung has a more hole-in-the-wall feel, which also gives it a more intimate, homier feeling which is nice. Similarly the food at the original location has a more homier feel than other places, and depending on what you’re used to you may find you prefer food from other restaurants that is a bit more Americanized (e.g. a bit sweeter or has less-traditional ingredients added in, like watercress).

To wrap up, I suppose I should add some info about my personal favorites in Boston. Being Korean-American I’ve pretty much tried them all many, many times, and my favorite for a long time was Suishaya in Chinatown (2 Tyler St). But they changed management, and although the food survived the transition decently well (although far from completely unscathed), there was a sudden huge drop in the quality of the service. Perusing the reviews on Yelp it seems I definitely wasn’t the only one who noticed the change, and the bf and I had so many mediocre-to-downright-lousy waiters in a row that, combined with the lesser-quality food, we ended up pretty much giving up on it. Too bad.

So what does that leave? On the cheap the Korean place in Super 88 in Boston (1095 Commonwealth Avenue) is definitely worth checking out. I end up going to Shilla in Harvard Square (57 JFK St) a lot because it’s convenient and not too pricey, and on average the food is pretty good (although their chigaes, while flavorful, are watery and not at all hearty like the traditional Korean style).

But the surprise winner for the moment for when I need a dose of Korean food is actually Chocho’s in the Porter Exchange (1815 Massachusetts Ave). It’s a surprise for several reasons, the main one being that their menu includes many non-Korean dishes including pad thai and udon. The Pan-Asian approach is usually a bad sign when it comes to finding good authentic Asian food, but Chocho’s’ Korean dishes are great and their non-Korean dishes have been highly enjoyable as well. They take a sort of middle-of-the-road approach in terms of hewing to the traditional styles, but they succeed in providing the heart of each dish without adding unnecessary frills. The service is always good (although being a small staff they do get busy), and their consistency is fantastic, something I’ve really come to value in all my years of eating out. I can honestly say I’ve never ever had a bad meal there, or even one I didn’t enjoy, which is no small thing. Aack! Now I’m totally jonesin’ for some BBB from Chocho’s. Even though I was just there this weekend, after writing this post I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up back there next weekend as well. Or sooner! 😉

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2 responses to “Korean restaurants in Somerville (and Boston)

  1. Pingback: boston arts blog « Fat is flavor

  2. Pingback: Two restaurant closings « Nine Dots Boston: Boston Arts Outside The Box

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