There are all kinds of pioneers - from Elon Musk to that guy from college famous for inventing undeniably ingenious ways to Smirnoff Ice someone. Come to think of it, he’s probably still there.
We’d put Trove, the Korean barbecue place, in this category as well. Which isn’t surprising if you’re familiar with Revel and Joule, its sister spots, that take classic Korean flavors and mix them with other cuisines (in the first case, to create great noodle dishes, and in the second, to make delicious steaks). Trove applies the same model to Korean BBQ, and while it’s definitely a more casual place than the other two restaurants, the food is pretty great, too.
Seattle has several traditional Korean BBQ spots, and they follow a pretty predictable template, with classic grillable options like bulgogi and short ribs. Trove puts its unique spin on this setup by offering more unexpected cuts of meat from around the world. Beyond cured pork belly and kalbi-marinated beef, you can grill meats like duck breast with tamarind, lamb with anchovy and miso, and Spanish-style sausage. You can also get bibimbap bowls, and there’s a separate noodle bar with dumplings, rice cakes, yakisoba, and pad Thai. However you structure your meal, you should be saving room for dessert - Trove does soft serve ice cream parfaits with toppings like boba and housemade graham cracker and raspberry pop rocks. (You can get them at your table, or also to-go.)
photo credit: Nate Watters
Long story short, we’d be coming back here even if it had the worst atmosphere of any restaurant in Seattle - which luckily, it does not. The dining room has a pop-art-meets-Ikea kind of look, and it’s actually ideal for an early in the game date, since grilling your own dinner is a helpful distraction from any potential awkwardness.
Of course, since you’re cooking it all yourself, there’s room for error - we can’t guarantee your experience at Trove will always be perfect. But we can guarantee you’ll have a great time here, regardless of whether you’ve done Korean BBQ before. Just don’t ice anyone, and you’ll be fine.
This is the signature app from Trove, and it should absolutely be on your table. It’s cauliflower that’s battered, fried, and served on top of bagna cauda, a.k.a. salty anchovy sauce. A bite of the cauliflower, along with the anchovy and some lemon juice, is something you need to experience.
Turns out smoked chili and almond are really good things to mix with cucumbers. A great fresh bite alongside your barbecue, but beware: it’s really spicy.
Wagyu Tri Tip, Kalbi
This is by far the best of all the grillable meats here. It has a savory-salty soy marinade, grills up perfectly, and the marbling makes it really tender.
Beef Belly, Shaved
This is the cut that’s most like bulgogi in texture, but it’s not as flavorful as the tri-tip. You’re going to need a lot of the miso paste and sesame oil to spice it up - but we’re not saying you should skip it. Just make sure you get the tri-tip too.
Pork Belly, Garlic Cured
The flavor of this pork belly is great, though the garlicky cure only covers the outside, so savor those bites. Also, this cut tends to seize up on the grill, so put someone in charge of keeping an eye on it to make sure it’s evenly cooked.
Sweet Sausage, Longanisa Spice
We were pleasantly surprised to see this Spanish-style sausage on a Korean BBQ menu. Get it.
Hot Stone Rice Bowls With Eggs
If you’re not getting BBQ, you want one of these bibimbap-style bowls with smoked brisket, Szechuan peppercorn, rapini, and rutabaga. If you are getting BBQ, consider ordering one of these anyway for the table.
Soft-Serve Ice Cream Parfaits
If you come to Trove and don’t get a mason jar soft-serve parfait, please remove yourself from the restaurant. While the three parfaits rotate seasonally, our recent favorites include double chocolate custard with a housemade graham cracker and torched marshmallow, and a surprisingly creamy vegan guava sorbet with hibiscus and big chunks of coconut jasmine boba. Use your spoon to deflect others from stealing a taste - they can get their own.