There are certain Asian dishes that roll off the Northwest tongue with easy familiarity—General Tso’s chicken, sushi, pad thai, even pho.
But when it comes to Korean fare with bouncy names like bulgogi, bibimbob or kimchi, many are unsure what to expect. Redmond’s new may be evidence that the cuisine’s popularity is on the rise.
The dining room at Stone is large, tastefully painted and brightly lit with blown-glass lamp shades. An eclectic mix of Asian art and original paintings adorn the orange and yellow walls. The apparently all-female staff were dressed smartly in white button-ups and black pants.
Like many Asian menus, the options seemed numerous, but really boil down to variations on a basic dish. Thirteen types of tofu soup were available, from mushroom, vegetable or kimchi to oyster, beef or pork—all with a spiciness option from non-spicy to extra-spicy. A word to the uninitiated: extra-spicy in Korean is volcanic in heat proportion.
We ordered two texturally oppositional starters. The crunchy deep fried dumplings disappeared faster than you can say ghun-mahn-doo, only briefly lowered to dip in the chili garlic or vinegar sauce. Our seafood pancake was snipped up table-side, long green scallions bonded by batter to the pieces of squid and octopus. This traditional Korean specialty was also great dipped in the chili garlic sauce.
Some Korean barbecue restaurants feature a grill right on the table, but Stone bypasses this by serving kalbi and bulgogi on a sizzling cast-iron pan (think fajita or heavenly beef). The sweet sauce can be mild or spicy.
A wide array of condiments were served with our dinner: moderately spicy kimchi (pickled cabbage), soft potatoes, chili-garlic cucumber slices, bean sprouts in sesame oil and on and on. They are particularly useful to spruce up the fried egg topped combo rice bowl known as bibimbob.
But the star of Stone Korean Restaurant may surprise you. Its name can be snatched from the air as customers order and servers recommend. Twelve pieces of fresh, hot and impossibly crisp fried chicken available in plain or sticky-sweet marinated—or, even better, a combination of the two. Our chicken arrived last after we had already consumed a large amount of food. And, yet, it seemed to vanish into thin air as if the Tasmanian Devil whirled past our table leaving only a pile of bones as evidence of his visit.
Stone’s atmosphere is cheerful and family-friendly, but most importantly it is taste-bud-friendly. Big bold flavors run the sweet-salty-spicy-sour gamut complimented by a satisfying array of textures. Stone Korean Restaurant might be just the bump bulgogi needs to find itself rubbing shoulders with General Tso.
Stone Korean Restaurant is located at 16857 Redmond Way. Hours: Mon.-Thu. 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Phone: 425-497-0515.