King's Fine Korean Cuisine (Fridley, MN)

By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Star Tribune West
May 18, 2005

Korean cuisine is some of the best spicy comfort food on the planet. At the end of winter, when it's hard to remember being truly warm, head to King's for their soul-warming, substantial delicacies.

Two of the appetizers are exceptional. They call haemul pajun a pancake, but it's far more interesting than that. Shrimp, squid, and other seafood are mixed with scallions and fried in an egg and flour batter. The patty is more substantial than, say, tempura -- so delicious. It's easily big enough to share with friends.

We also recommend the mandu, the Korean version of pork dumplings. Pan fried are better than steamed. Both the mandu and the haemul pajun are served with ginger soy dipping sauce.

The pork bulgogi is delicious. It's the most accessible of Korean dishes, as it's not spicy. You can also order bulgogi made with beef. Thin slices of meat are stir-fried in a mixture of sesame, garlic, ginger, and scallions, and served over rice. Marvelous.

Korean cuisine is known for its hearty soups, and King's serves some of the best soups in the Twin Cities. We especially liked the haemul jigae, a spicy seafood soup with mussels, shrimp, squid, zucchini, onions, scallions, and thick white noodles. The menu also offers fish soups, meat soups, and vegetarian soups, all ideal to warm you up.

The jungol dishes are called "casserole" on the menu, but they're more liquid and stew-like. Cooked with beef broth, you can choose several combinations of seafood, beef, and even goat. We like haemul jungol (one of the seafood combinations). It's a little spicy. These are served in portions for two to share, and you'll probably have leftovers.

If you're feeling adventurous, order the nokji bokeum. This is a spicy octopus stir-fry with vegetables. It's wonderful. You can order the dish with squid instead of octopus, but sometimes the squid can be tough. And if tentacles for dinner isn't for you, you can also order the dish with pork.

Everything comes with pan chan, an array of tiny side dishes. These are all seasoned or pickled vegetables. They're served cold, and they're designed to act as a counterpoint, almost a palate cleanser, to whatever you're eating. The assortment changes, but expect a couple of kinds of pickled daikon radish, mung bean sprouts cooked but served cold, broccoli or spinach, and seaweed. If you finish any of the dishes, your server will be happy to bring more.

Its reputation causes people to be leery of kim chee, which is fermented Napa cabbage mixed with red chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce. King's version isn't as spicy as the hottest sauce at Taco Bell, but it's considerably more flavorful.

King's also has a sushi bar; and you can order traditional Japanese sushi at your table.

King's has a full liquor license, so cocktails are available. And their $9 lunch buffet is easily the meal deal of Fridley.

While the restaurant closes at 10 pm, there's a full bar and karaoke until 1 am. We like a place that serves such good food, and lets you party down as well.

Location:
1051 East Moore Lake Dr.
Fridley, MN 55432
(763) 571-7256

Hours:
Tue–Sun: 11am–10pm
Bar is open until 1am

Atmosphere: Bright and clean family-style restaurant
Service: Fast and friendly
Sound level: Can be loud if crowded, especially on karaoke nights
Recommended dishes: Soups, pork bulgogi
Prices: ($9–$14 entrees
Smoking: Only at the bar
Children: No special children's menu

earlier review: Tea House (Plymouth, MN)
later review: Muffuletta (St. Paul, MN)
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