Nak Won is the Portland Area's Greatest Home of Korean Soul

Among the cluster of Korean restaurants in central Beaverton, Nak Won is the standout.

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.

Related: Nak Won's Chef Has Never Missed a Day of Work

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. $$.


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