The Best Korean Restaurants In Seattle guide image


The Best Korean Restaurants In Seattle

Kimchi tofu stew, cheese-topped ​​ddukbokki, truffle ribeye bulgogi, and more.

You can always count on Korean food for a sensory experience. There’s the banchan that refills itself. Sizzling dolsots that you can only hope land on your table. Kimchi tofu stew that clears sinuses with one sniff. Blazing hot barbecue grills that could singe a carefree forearm. Spice, fermentation, marinated meat, and more—this guide to the best Korean food in Seattle has it all.


photo credit: Nate Watters

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11 Mercer St, Seattle
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We would buy Kraken tickets and wear our Buoy The Sea-Troll costume just for an excuse to go to Paju beforehand. The interior is simple at this Queen Anne spot, but the food is so special occasion-worthy that you'll probably be looking down at your plate the entire time anyway. Squid ink-infused kimchi fried rice with bacon, truffled ribeye bulgogi topped with crisped-up quinoa and charred enoki mushrooms, and lemon verbena yellowtail with slivers of green apple make Paju the best Korean restaurant in Seattle.

Wero is where to go for big ssam platters and cocktails made with things like matcha and sesame oil. You can easily book a big booth for a group with just a few hours' notice, even on weekends. The menu is a truly delicious grab bag, almost like a White Elephant exchange without the silly gag gifts. Start with bites like blistered rice cake skewers with smoked sausages, sweet-and-spicy chicken wings, and butter-roasted potatoes with gochujang mayo. Then pick between steak kalbi, pork belly, tofu, or salmon ssam served alongside plenty of perilla leaves for wrapping, tangy fermented beancurd paste, and a variety of seasonal banchan. You’re in the best hands with either their incredibly meaty fried tofu or pork belly with melty fat and crackly edges.

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At this cozy Madison Park spot, appetizers steal the show, like fried rice cakes with a donut-like chew on the inside and a caramelized sweet chili sauce on the outside. The fried ghimmari—peppery glass noodle bundles wrapped in seaweed and deep-fried—is another non-negotiable at Hanok. Share a larger entree or two, like dolsot bibimbap delivered in a sizzling skillet that leaves behind a crispy rice bottom worth fighting over. With easy parking and quiet neighborhood surroundings, Hanok rules for a casual weeknight dinner or date night. 

At first glance, Dark Room is a cocktail bar. Fine, it’s also just a really dark room. But this Greenwood spot is not merely a place to stumble in for a mai tai and something crunchy. The small dishes here are fun but self-aware at the same time—like Crocs and Amy Schumer—and are perfect for mixing and matching outstanding Korean small plates to construct a perfect meal. There’s tangy pimento cheese made with kimchi and Beecher’s, teriyaki-glazed Spam rice bowls, and a shrimpy pork patty sandwich on a milk bun that deserves its own publicist.

This Beacon Hill bar wields two essential tools: a flame-powered grill, and a heated glass case. The former does a stunning job smooching hamburg steak, gingery pork loin, and tender chicken legs with fire. And inside the glass case are tightly wrapped foil to keep snacks steamy, like spam sliders with scallion mayo, gooey bean burritos, and hulking cheeseburgers covered in mozzarella shreds. Add on a bowl of kimchi stew featuring hand-torn pasta that plumps up in the broth, and you have a meal that slaps a rainy night in its sorry soggy face. We’d even swing into 손맛 By Tae just for an ice-cold Manhattan while watching classic films play in the background.

Right off The Ave, there’s a crowded basement packed with chatty students, steamy windows, and that vague awkwardness that happens when you enter a room and nobody notices. No, this isn't a UW fraternity party. It’s Korean Tofu House. And instead of the various vices found at college keggers, there are sizzling skillets of short ribs and umami-filled pots of kimchi tofu stew while trays of banchan whizz by. Try not to fill up on the sesame bean sprouts and fish cakes before your first entree arrives.

This completely gluten-free Pioneer Square counter spot has a short menu of hot entrees as well as a deli case full of banchan you could also build a meal around, like apple cucumber potato salad, spicy squid, or, our favorite, marinated eggs. The eggs are jammy in the middle and tamari-soaked on the outside, and are well worth including in a banchan-based trio—or added alongside gochujang-y bibimbap with bulgogi and greens. And if there’s an atmospheric river in the forecast and only something soupy will do, order the spicy potato stew "Sara's Way," which means the addition of rice and chili oil. It's hard to imagine a better lunch around Downtown.

Joule is an absolute Korean staple in Seattle, and while you might be scouring this list looking for their sister spot, Revel, we much prefer Joule’s steak-focused situation. The iconic kalbi-marinated short rib is a wonderfully charred slab of beef, and the rest of the menu is stacked with equally as exciting bites—like smoked tofu drizzled in soy truffle vinaigrette, chewy rice cakes with spicy chorizo and pickled mustard greens, and one of the city’s best burgers, a.k.a. a thick kalbi-seasoned patty covered in creamy horseradish sauce. Plus, there’s bright blue wallpaper patterned with little ribeyes. How appropriate.

Sure, there are saunas at a spa, but for an even better pore-opening experience, there is Meet. This Korean BBQ spot on Capitol Hill feels like a self-care party the moment you step in. Platters of luxurious cuts of meat like A5 wagyu and dry-aged ribeye make this a perfect place to celebrate something (anything) with a big group—plus, they take reservations. Catch up with friends, sip soju cocktails, and pile plates with crackly chicken wings, gochujang pork shoulder, and cheesy corn. 

Even on a Thursday at 3pm, this lunchtime café in Fremont is packed with people just enjoying life. And while our first thought is, “Don't these people have jobs?” our second thought is that with food this good, we'd blow off work at 3pm, too. The daily bento is a must-order, with bits of savory bulgogi, a soft-boiled egg, bouncy japchae noodles, and tempura kale so crispy it shatters like glass. They also make kimbop daily (we like the salmon kind), sweet treats like a Twix-adjacent shortbread bar, and hemp cashew milk for coffee drinks. 

You could drive up and down Aurora all day eating excellent things, but you should hang a sharp U-turn (safely) for Hae-Nam Kalbi & Calamari's...kalbi and calamari. Head here the next time you want to pile in a big booth with some friends and order a memorable feast of unlimited banchan, bibimbap, melty cheese-topped ​​ddukbokki, and charred kalbi. The o-bool-sah is particularly a standout, as this spicy hot pot filled with curling calamari, paper-thin slices of tender bulgogi, and vermicelli noodles could easily feed four people. Pair this with some soju, beer, and/or the Korean cooking shows that play on their TV in the background.

This all-day Lynnwood lunch counter makes bulgogi handheld by stuffing it into burritos for a lunch that’s well worth exiting Seattle city limits to seek out. Beyond marinated beef, fillings include spicy pork, and a mix of crispy cod, crab, and calamari. There’s even a wrap with deep-fried chicken dumplings inside of it, along with mayo-based sauces and plenty of greens.

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