The heart of Beaverton's K-town belongs to Tae Ok Lee. For 20 years, the legend goes, she's never missed a single day of work at Nak Won—as good an argument as any for kimchi's health benefits.
The sextuagenarian chef, imposingly regal under a prim dome of white hair, cooks alone. Her vast array of banchan appetizers arrives with the generous spirit of any matriarch, enough to form a light lunch all by itself.
And her many reps show up in the preternatural consistency of her dolsot bibimbap. The rice has just the right dry crackle each time, below a stew of veggies and soft grilled beef.
Nak Won's trademark haemul pajeon—a stacked-up seafood-onion pancake—is equally consistent, airily crisp and pungently intense, especially topped with its burning chili sauce that comes on the side.
Never forget to order the soondubu chigae, a vermillion soup swirling with spice and made custardy with soft tofu. As at home, eat while watching television—usually K-pop videos.
Pro tip: Don't show up near closing time and expect to be served. Lee has been cooking for long enough that she decides when she's done. Good luck telling her different.
GO: 4600 SW Watson Ave., Beaverton, 646-9382. 11 am-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-2:30 pm and 5-8:30 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.