Among the cluster of Korean restaurants in central Beaverton, Nak Won is the standout.
Contrasted with customarily utilitarian premises, here the lights are dimmed a bit, seating is comfortable, and service flows smoothly. Lest it be confused with a date-night contender, the 60-seat dining room features several big-screen TVs, blaring what we presume to be favorite programs from the ROK. On a late-summer Monday night, the place was full with a short wait.
The menu of solid Korean standards, with photographs included for initiates and the faint of memory, offers abundant options to follow the included six-dish ban chan presentation highlighted by brick-red cabbage kimchi, slices of bean jelly and a seaweed salad. Stews and soups are abundant and delicious. Consider the stir-fried spicy octopus ($17) or squid ($16) with vegetables, a mounded platter partially immersed in red, moderately hot, slightly sweet wok liquor.
Carnivores and the less adventurous will favor the generously portioned kalbi-style cross-cut short ribs. The sweetly glazed slices are thin-cut and tender, with just enough tug to let you know it's beef you're biting into. For larger groups, several dishes can be super-sized for $38.
Eat: Try the Military Stew ($16), an oddball postwar mashup of ramen noodles, Western cured meats and Korean seasoning. It's unexpectedly delicious.
Drink: There's plenty of soju, Hite beer and that Korean oddity, makkoli, a milky-colored, lightly alcoholic and slightly sweet rice beverage.
Most popular dish: Everyone orders the seafood pancake ($14).
Noise level: 60/100. As crowded as it is, a couple can still carry on a normal conversation.
Expected wait: Short.
Who you'll eat with: A portion of the local Korean community intermixed with plenty of non-Koreans in the know.
Year opened: 2001
4600 Watson Ave., Beaverton, 503-646-9382. 11:30 am-2 pm Monday-Saturday, 5-8:30 pm Monday-Thursday, 5-8 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.