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‘Seoulful’ Korean Eats

By Alana Folen Photos By Anthony Consillio
March 30, 2014

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Release your inner carnivore at Seoul Garden Yakiniku, an authentic Korean establishment on Kapiolani Boulevard. Since owner Yun Hee Im opened the restaurant for business a little more than a decade ago, both locals and Korean natives alike have been in awe of the vast menu complete with more than 100 options, as well as all-you-can-eat barbecue.

The All-You-Can-Eat Meat Set reigns in popularity, and it’s quite obvious as to why. Priced at $16.95 for lunch and $28.95 for dinner, this meaty platter features morsels of beef flank, kalbi, beef brisket, beef tongue, pork belly and mountain tripe — all cooked to your personal preference on the tabletop yakiniku grill.

“We offer our customers quality and quantity, especially with our meats,” says Im, who is grateful for all the support from customers.

As diners place the delicate raw meat atop the grill, all it takes are a couple flips of the tongs and the intoxicating aroma of yakiniku quickly permeates the entire restaurant — such a tease to the appetite. Once the meat is cooked to your liking — charred is best for beef brisket and pork belly — grab ahold of it with your chopsticks, pair it with a bit of fluffy white rice and bring on the heat with a helping of kimchee. Integrating all three unique flavors and textures into one bite is euphoric to the palate.

The all-you-can-eat yakiniku menu also offers a choice of Soft Tofu Soup, Miso or Kimchee Soup, along with a green salad and steamed egg.

And while the all-you-can-eat yakiniku sets are a big draw for diners, Seoul Garden Yakiniku also is home to other traditional Korean must-haves, such as pot stew, noodles, Korean soups, Kalbi Plate ($12.95), BBQ Chicken ($8.95), Spicy Pork ($11.95), Bulgogi ($11.95), Meat Jun ($8.95), Fish Jun ($8.95), and Porgy ($9.95 lunch, $16.95 dinner) — a special type of fish sourced directly from Korea.

“Kalbi, BBQ Chicken and Bulgogi are very popular,” says Im, noting that all three types of meat are soaked in a special marinade for 24 hours before it’s cooked and served to guests on a sizzling iron plate.

Im, who is originally from Korea, made Hawaii her home 40 years ago. Throughout the years, her dedication to her restaurant has never diminished. In fact, she works harder to present her customers with only the best-quality ingredients and exceptional service. Proof is in the assortment of photos that adorn the wall — a wall of fame for the numerous celebrities who have dined here. If you look closely, you’ll be able to spot Korean pop stars in addition to local celebrities, such as Daniel Dae Kim, pictured alongside Im.

Seoul Garden Yakiniku is ideal for family-style dining or sharing a meal among friends or business partners. A slew of banchan, or authentic Korean side dishes, accompany each entree, and for many the vast array of banchan is a highly anticipated part of the dining experience. Side dish selections vary day to day and include Shoyu Potato, Daikon Kimchee, Marinated Squid, Watercress, Eggplant, Cucumber Kimchee, Fish Cake, Shoyu Anchovy, Cabbage Water Kimchee, Won Bok Kimchee, Bean Sprouts and more.

Seoul Garden Yakiniku is open daily. Lunch is available 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 3 p.m. to midnight. If dining with larger groups or celebrating a special occasion, the restaurant also is equipped with private rooms, including an area that can seat up to 80 people or sectioned off for smaller parties.

Valet parking is available, and the restaurant will accommodate takeout orders.

Seoul Garden Yakiniku

1679 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu
944-4803
Daily, 9:30 a.m.-midnight