Cheap eats 2014: Korean Food


Spring Restaurant

3975 SW 114th Ave, Beaverton, 641-3670. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday.

Finding Spring Restaurant is a little like geocaching. First, locate the grocery store G-Mart, on the outskirts of Beaverton's thriving Koreatown. Ignore the delicious, exotic goodies and imported cosmetics, and find the wooden staircase at the back. But even if you get lost, there's a stream of like-minded people headed to the same place.

You can point at what you'd like on Spring's giant picture board, or take note of a few key terms: Mandu are dumplings, and jjigae, guk, tang and jang all refer to soups and stews. Baps are rice dishes, and myeon are noodle dishes.

Most entrees at Spring are big enough to be shared, especially with their wide variety of banchan, those mysterious little side dishes that range from kimchee to cold bean sprouts to cooked soft potatoes in sweet syrup. Though Spring Restaurant caters to a number of office workers grabbing a quick bowl of bibimbap ($8.95) in a steaming earthenware hot pot, we recommend arriving with several friends and an hour or two to spare. Order several dishes and watch with awestruck wonder as the waitress brings 20 different plates, bowls and platters that will eventually cover the entire table.

A shared kimchee pajeon ($13.95)—a fried pancake with kimchee—makes a great appetizer, especially when dipped in the accompanying sweet chili soy sauce. Move on to a sizzling platter of tender daeji bulgogi ($12.95)—marinated beef, eaten over rice—or a piping hot bowl of gamja tang ($9.95), a spicy, savory stew with meaty pork bones bobbing in a nest of potatoes, green cabbage and sesame seeds. Spring also does takeout. But stow your stew container securely, or your car will smell like fermented bean paste for weeks. ADRIENNE SO.

Du Kuh Bee

12590 SW 1st St., Beaverton, 643-5388. Dinner and late night Monday-Saturday.

Travelling all the way into the depths of Beaverton for Korean hand-pulled noodles may seem excessive. But one bite of the ropy, chewy perfection of DKB's signature dish ($14 with shrimp) will make you forget about the money you just dropped on gas, provided you can find the tiny shotgun joint shimmed in between a much larger Korean restaurant and a beauty salon. The gratis kimchee banchan they serve may not be as expansive as other K-food establishments, but what they do serve is dialed in to a degree that speaks wonders for the advantages of specialization. Round out your table with a large Hite beer ($6) and reflect on how not everything in the West-side sprawl is worth ignoring. BRIAN PANGANIBAN.


Hae Rim

11729 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton, 671-9725. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday. 

The vast parking lots of Beaverton are dotted with nearly anonymous storefronts like this one. But not every dining room contains a Korean cornucopia of barbecue, noodles and kimchee-accented side plates. The latter are intended to be mixed into the former, and the avuncular waitstaff will offer gruff guidance on that point—gesturing that the squid bits belong in the bulgogi ($14.95), but the candy-creamed broccoli does not. First, they will make sure the glass noodles in your japchae ($9.95, highly recommended) are properly cut with a giant pair of scissors. AARON MESH. 

So Kong Dong

2850 SE 82nd Ave., Suite 11, 808-9990, Lunch and dinner daily.

For East Portland's Asian community, the Fubonn plaza might as well be Boardwalk and Park Place: The restaurants lucky enough to claim real estate have plenty of prospective customers. So Kong Dong lures them with Korean barbecue and velvety Soon Tofu soup—tacked on to the bulgogi and bibimbap meals—served hot enough to instantly cook the accompanying egg. The banchan (appetizers) are limited but excellent, including a crispy potato, a shredded cabbage with tangy dressing and bloody red kimchee in big, crisp hunks. Bulgogi is lean—for, well, bulgogi—and pairs well with japchae (potato noodles) stir-fried with big scallion bulbs. MARTIN CIZMAR.

 Top 5 Food Carts of the Year | 20 Amazing Bites for $7 and Under

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