For this week’s Buford Highway experience, Adam and I were joined by Ashley and Stephen. We had an awkward incident at El Dorado, and moved along to Cho Sun Ok, a korean restaurant just north of the Treasure Village shopping center. Upon entering, we were asked if we wanted to do korean barbecue at a grill table, or off of the regular menu. We elected for the barbecue of course, and were escorted to the back of the place, to what was obviously an exterior porch once upon a time.
The menu was decently-sized, and we has a bit of a tough time deciding what to get. Ultimately, we decided to get two items from the grill and two from the non-grill menu, so get a better sense of the restaurant’s offerings than we did at Hae Woon Dae. We ordered SoGalbi (grilled beef ribs), SoBulGogi (stir-fried marinated beef), KimChiJjiGae (onion/scallion and kimchi soup), and a dumpling and rice cake soup. I missed the name of this last item, but it’s some romanization of this dish’s korean name.
We also ordered a bottle of Hite, one of Bokbunja ju, and one of soju, just to make it a party.
The korean barbecue part of the meal went more or less as we have experienced elsewhere (in addition to Hae Woon Dae, see Han Il Kwan and Honey Pig). Hot coals were brought to the table, then the raw meat. The server tended to to meat, though perhaps a bit less than we have experienced elsewhere. It was pretty much up to us to ensure that the meat didn’t burn and to serve ourselves, which is fine by me.
In the photos, the two meat entrees are hard to tell apart. I am used to getting the ribs on-the-bone, but here they were already removed, or I missed the part where our server cut them off the bone for us entirely. Later, I saw her get those little morsels very close to the cut off and put them on the grill like a little bonus round, which was nice. But that’s the only time I recall seeing the bones, so I am not sure if they grilled them separately in the back or what.
It’s possible I was too distracted by the soups to properly pay attention to the ribs. They both hit the table at the same time but the kimchi soup was, as is typical, served boiling furiously, so we had the dumpling and rice cake soup first.
This soup was both interesting and a little boring at the same time. The broth was extremely mild, as were the rice cakes and dumplings. The rice cakes have a unique texture, though, so that was interesting. The dumplings had a very intriguing taste/texture that we couldn’t place at first, until Ashley looked closer and pointed out that the filling of the dumpling included glass noodles. A like digging around on Google reveals that this is a pretty common ingredient inside of dumplings, it was just a little unexpected to me. Neat.
After we dug into the kimchi soup, Ashley mixed a little of the spicier sauce into the mild broth of the dumpling soup, which actually went pretty well and made the broth a little more interesting.
The kimchi soup was unlike any one I have had so far. It tasted strikingly – and undeniably – like a can of SpaghettiOs sauce with kimchi and green onions in it. It was a seriously eerie throwback to our collective youth. As a result of the SpaghettiOs taste, both Steve and I found the soup to be a bit sweeter than we would have liked. Both Ashley and Adam seemed to like it fine.
Here are Ashley’s thoughts on Cho Sun Ok: “As far as Korean barbecue goes, it seems like middle-ground. It didn’t wow me, but it was definitely good. The soups were a nice addition to dinner, though (as an inexperienced American) I found the dumpling and rice cake soup slightly on the bland side and the kimchi soooo tasted distinctly of SpaghettiOs. Mixed together, they were tasty. The service was kind from the start. The prices seemed to fall in line with the $20-$30 per group plate we’ve seen at other restaurants. I would probably put it at 3.5 stars with our previous Korean barbecue restaurant (Hae Woon Dae).”
I agree with much of Ashley’s sentiments, most especially that the food was good but nothing wowed me. The service was generally friendly and prompt, and the food was solid, but not mind-meltingly so. A solid choice for korean barbecue and cuisine. 3 stars.
Cho Sun Ok
5865 Buford Highway NE
Doraville, GA 30340