Richard Kim has a knack for filling niches in Lincoln’s dining scene.
His latest effort is the Korea House, which, as the name implies, is a new Korean restaurant in the Alamo Plaza at 56th Street and Nebraska 2.
It opened Sept. 20.
Kim has more than 20 years running restaurants in Lincoln, including Shogun, known for its teppanyaki cooking; Kabuki, one of the first restaurants to specialize in sushi in the city; and Tokyo Steak and Seafood House, which combined teppanyaki and sushi dining.
Some of the city’s Chinese restaurants include Korean dishes on their menus, but few restaurants specialize in it, with Panda Garden and Yami coming immediately to mind. So Korea House, with its sizzling hot stone pots and bulgogi entrees, is a welcome addition to the scene.
The restaurant took over the spot once occupied (for a long time) by House of Hunan. Kim gave the location a facelift, providing a semi-formal restaurant that looks as good as the food tastes.
Korea House’s fare is impressive from its kimchi (fermented vegetable sides) to its main entrees, speciality dishes and soups.
My wife, another couple and I sampled four dishes: beef bulgogi (a Korean staple, $15), seafood hot stone ($15), rice cake and dumpling soup ($14) and jam-bong ($15), a spicy noodle soup with seafood and vegetables.
The bulgogi was marinated beef strips tenderized in a house sauce -- flavorful steak pieces that I couldn’t get enough of. My wife’s soup featured large dumplings swimming in salty-enough beef bone broth. The spicy noodle soup raised beads of sweat on my friend’s head, while the seafood hot stone came out of the kitchen sizzling.
The noodle soup featured a nice mix of seafood, but the seafood hot stone primarily contained bite-sized shrimp. We expected a little more variety. Still, the hot stone had a nice mix of veggies (bean sprouts, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach) and a fried egg on top.
Korea House recently introduced a lunch menu with reduced prices and smaller portion. The restaurant also has a small wine list and, of course, hot teas. Grade: A-
Kim has created an attractive, cozy restaurant. Black booths, including a couple that are rounded, run along the back wall. Tables with black wood chairs dot the tiled floor. Prints of food and Korean sites cover the walls, a yellowish-tan in color. The light fixtures are ornate with an Asian flair to them. There is party room that doubles as overflow from the main dining room. Grade: A
Other than not having any of the house cabernet left, my group had a good experience. Our server was quick with recommendations, and, when the hot stone, was delivered to table, he asked if we needed a tutorial on how to eat it (We didn’t). The kimchi arrived just before the entrees. The restaurant provided some nice touches: bright red cloth napkins and music played at a low decibel. Grade: A-
Most entrees, including the soups, are made with beef, pork and/or seafood, but there are a handful of vegetarian options. They include a vegetable hot stone ($14), made with rice, bean sprouts, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach and broccoli, and a vegetable fried rice ($10). The menu also includes several veggie-friendly appetizers, including a seaweed salad ($5.95), edmame ($4.95) and vegetable tempura ($5.95). Check with the server about gluten-free options as none were marked on the menu. Grade: C+