Well, it’s been ages, folks, but I’m back. It’s hard to focus on writing when there’s so much going on. We are on a 6-week road trip in our Airstream Interstate, and since I’m writing for Dave (Rvroadies.com), I may as well write for sflocalsguide.com. Girin in Seattle will be the re-entry.
We are in Seattle, and we went to the Mariners game (they’re doing pretty darn good this year) with friends. It was a beautiful day with well over 80 degree temperatures. Girin is located near the ballpark, so it was a perfect choice, especially for a San Francisco foodie. Brandon Kirskey is the chef there. Seattle Magazine named him one of their Best New Chefs, even though he had absolutely no experience cooking Korean food. I knew him from his stint at Flour + Water in San Francisco, one of the top restaurants in SF. Owner Steve Han sent Kirskey to Korea for two weeks and also placed him with some experienced Korean chefs for training, and man did it pay off. Girin is a gem of a Korean restaurant. What I think also attracted Kirskey to Girin was the in-house butchering, something really taking off in upscale restaurants.
Here’s a special thing you need to know. The restaurant is at 501 Stadium Place W, but that address isn’t yet in the GPS, phone or car. Girin is located at the corner of 2nd and King, right next door to the beautiful Paul Allen Institute building.
Ssam is one of my favorite Korean dishes. I make it at home all the time, and my guests are usually quite impressed. First, there’s the lettuce, used as wraps. The filling is thinly sliced meat – Girin has over 10 choices, including pork belly, hangar steak, ribeye. They also have a lunch set, with a smaller portion of meat, for $15. The meat was cooked perfectly and sliced thinly enough to add several pieces to the kim chee, marinated bean sprouts, ssam sauce – spicy, pickled vegetables, etc. We chose to buy a $2 side rice to add to the ‘taco’. What I like about how this food is served is everyone gets exactly the amount they want. The short rib serving was $32, but there was more than enough to serve 3 of us along with a serving of pork belly.
The featured image is Barbara’s Dolsot Bibimbap. It was a stone pot rice bowl with
bok choy, bean sprout, cucumber kimchi, poached egg and supposed to be served with either beef tongue bulgogi or spicy octopus. Barbara chose the octopus, and soon, the waitress came out to tell us the octopus would be 20 to 30 minutes. Since we were on the way to the ballgame, Barbara opted for delicious fried tofu cubes. I wish I had taken the time to have a bite, but my plate was more than full.
The last treat from the lunch menu was Sullungtang – 2 oxtails, beef broth, rice cake, braised daikon, green onion, served w/ radish kimchi & rice. It was a little lacking in broth flavor, but a little shoyu (soy sauce) made it quite tasty. One oxtail was loaded with meat and the other just barely. Regardless, we were quite pleased.
The atmosphere of Girin is absolutely beautiful with a lovely fountain and coi at the entrance. Everything looks bamboo with traditional Korean decorative plants. The bar, on one side of the entrance, is large and comfortable. The dining room opens up with traditional Korean seating for trendy communal seating. The kitchen is open to the remainder of the restaurant with nicely done lattice separations.
And finally, service. It was excellent. You have a main waitperson, but that person is assisted by others, insuring that dishes are brought out in a timely fashion and that refills of lettuce cups and other ssam makings are delivered pronto.
I highly recommend Girin if you’re in Seattle, particularly if going to a baseball or football game. I’m told by some Seattle-ites that, although the food scene is raging in the Emerald City, ethnic food is not as prolific as, say, San Francisco. Girin will fit the bill for you.