I just moved to Redmond recently and loving Korean food, and having noticed this restaurant, I knew I wanted to try it, so today was the day. When I walked in at 2:00 in the afternoon I noticed immediately that all customers there were Korean, which for me is always an excellent omen, so I was pleased already.
I was greeted by very friendly woman and sat down with the menu, looking for one of my favorite Korean dished, Jap Chae. Stone Korean Restaurant is a hot pot restaurant, which means that a the dishes are served in stoneware heated bowls that keep the food hot for a very, very long time.
The decor is great, and it's a pretty large place, with very comfortable earth tones and lots of big windows. It's very relaxing and comfortable, with a lot of physical space so you don't feel crowded if other tables and booths near you are full. The menu is printed in English and Korean, is very easy to follow and has a big variety of food with a basic explanation of each dish. The staff is very friendly and I have no doubt would be happy to answer any question, and in fact, asked me if I needed to know what anything was when they placed the small side dishes that come with every meal on my table. I already knew what everything was, so I didn't need the help, but it was a nice thing to ask. They also asked if I was OK with chopsticks. They have silverware if you don't handle chopsticks well, so no worries.
I decided to order one of the tofu soups since I'd not had those before. The tofu is a soft one, so it's a gentle texture if tofu isn't your thing due to texture. I happen to like the taste of plain tofu, but this is soup so the flavors are completely blended and the tofu is part of the broth, though in pieces, and very soft. I ordered the vegetable tofu soup and it had big, flavorful pieces of zucchini, mushroom and onion. You can choose what level of spiciness and I went with mild. That was perfect for me. The soup arrives in a VERY hot bowl and stays very hot for a long time, as I said. I loved this! The soup was flavorful, spicy but mildly so, and the vegetables stayed the same texture throughout; they didn't cook more and get mushy, even though the bowl stayed so hot.
The meals come with their signature hot pot of rice, which keeps cooking as it arrives sizzling, and forms a wonderful crunchy crust. If you don't want that crunchy crust, stir up your rice immediately. The thing is, though, that you generally do want that crunchy crust, hence the whole reason for serving it that way. It's great, and I love that, so was happy to let it sit for awhile and cook. I added it to the soup on some bites and it stayed crunchy while soaking up all that broth.
All Korean meals come with small side dishes of whatever the kitchen wants to serve you, and always include the Korean national dish, Kimchi. Their kimchi is fantastic! Not too spicy and fresh, flavorful, and with excellent texture. They are very proud of it and make it there. The small side dishes consist of pickled vegetables and things like fishcake, some being spicy, and are varied based on what they've made that day. I had a sweet pickled cucumber, pickled sesame bean sprouts, potatoes in a soy/ginger sauce, a soft, whipped potato salad (a first for me in a Korean place), pickled spicy turnip, seaweed salad with sesame and onion, and that excellent kimchi. You can get more of these side dishes if you ask.
Others around me were ordering hot steaming stone bowls of other dishes and all smelled wonderful! Being a vegetarian I didn't have any of their meat dishes, but they specialize in BBQ meats and some smelled amazing. Their bulgogi (a marinated, garlicky beef that is tender, grilled and a favorite among non-Koreans as well given it's delicious teriyaki-type marinade) is hugely popular and a great dish to try if you've never had Korean food before. Also, Jap Chae is offered, as an appetizer (I've usually gotten it as an entree, so was surprised by this), and that's another great dish to try for a first-timer. It is a noodle dish (yam, which is super low in carbs if you are diabetic or watching carbs; similar to rice noodles), sauteed with vegetables and beef (or tofu, if you ask), with a sweet-ish sauce that is very mild and flavorful, and like Pad Thai, very popular!
You will not leave hungry with all those side dishes and big pot of rice to go along with your entree, so know that your $9 or $12 dish will be enough for two meals and will fill you up! I'll definitely be going back. If you want great Korean food made fresh and in a place that lots of Koreans dine in, Stone BBQ and Tofu Restaurant is for you! (They do have lunch specials as well as full menu).
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