There’s a lot to be said about living on the Eastside of Seattle, but when it comes to real authentic Korean food the area is sorely lacking. A good, homey place that doesn’t put on airs or try to be all polished and contemporary is basically impossible to find. Korean food in the area is either painfully hip or mid-tier barbecue which doesn’t really work to just get a quick bite.
For those looking for a taste of Korea the way it is in Korea, there’s only one solution for the weary Seattleite – to get out of Seattle. There are two very strong concentrations of Koreans in the area, to find where they eat one can either head north to Shoreline and Lynnwood or south to Federal Way.
I chose the latter course of action and after over an hour and a half of public transit, found myself at an eatery near the Federal Way transit center known in English only as “Korean Traditional Beef Soup.” It’s not often that a name for a restaurant makes me want to go, but when there is no English name past a direct translation of the Korean name for the restaurant, I feel that I am in for some ridiculously authentic food.
Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Korean Traditional Beef Soup is one of the most authentic and delicious Korean restaurants I have ever been to in the US, with a taste and a feel that brought me right back to my time in Korea.
With a very sparse menu, Korean Traditional Beef Soup unsurprisingly focuses on one dish, a Korean beef soup called seolluntang. With a broth made so meticulously it comes out milky white, an assortment of meats and some noodles, the seolluntang was tremendous.
Korean Traditional Beef Soup sells four different types of seolluntang, one with brisket, one with tongue, one with cartilage and tendon and one with a mix of all the meats. In addition to the seolluntang, they also sell dumplings, dumpling soup, seafood pancakes and meat plates.
Diners all get two types of kimchi, green onions to spoon into their soup, and a spicy mixture of chili paste and soybean paste called ssamjang. One of the biggest criticisms of local Korean restaurants is that while their main dishes may be good, the kimchi is marginal at best. This is not the case with Korean Traditional Beef Soup, the kimchi is on par with some of the best homemade kimchi I’ve had.
Service is wonderful, with an upbeat and attentive gentleman doing a fantastic job of balancing western-style service that emphasizes attentiveness and constant water glass filling with Korean-style service where diners are generally left alone. I truly felt like I was in a small slice of Korea yet not that far from home.
It can be a bit of a trip, but I cannot recommend Korean Traditional Beef Soup enough, for anybody who wants to get a real authentic taste of Korea in a very Korean restaurant.