Korean Food News
Dallas food explorer tries out 3 hot Korean restaurants in Carrollton
Editor's Note: In prior stories, CultureMap contributor Lila Levy has chased down the top bagels in Dallas, sampled lavender lattes, and tackled hot dogs. Now she tries out a new cuisine: Korean food.
The Dallas area is well known for being home to the largest Korean American population in Texas, and one of the top five in the U.S. One fringe benefit of the bustling Korean population is the fact that DFW has dozens of Korean restaurants — particularly in Carrollton, where you can find entire shopping malls dedicated to Korean-focused goods.
I don't pretend to be anything but a Korean food newbie, but I was drawn to the various meats, vegetables, and spices commonly used in this cuisine, and decided it was better late than never to start getting a taste.
My approach was far from scientific. I looked for Korean restaurants with positive reviews online — not always the last word but helpful if you're starting out and don't know where to try first. I visited at lunch, not dinner, when prices are a little cheaper.
Here are three of my favorite new Korean finds:
Gen Korean BBQ House, 2540 Old Denton Rd. #134, Carrollton
Gen Korean BBQ is a chain founded in California with more than 32 locations across California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New York, and Texas, where they have four outposts including this original in Carrollton, plus Frisco and another opening in Dallas in the fall.
They offer an interactive experience where you're brought raw meat, sometimes marinated, which you cook on a table-top grill. I went with two friends so that we could share and sample a wide variety of meats including beef bulgogi, garlic chicken, honey chicken, honey soy beef belly, Hawaiian steak, shrimp, and spicy chicken. There was also a fun array of side dishes, called banchan.
We also tried their Japchae, a noodle dish combining stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables with a sweet-and-savory interplay. No wonder it's one of Korea's best-loved dishes.
Grilling with friends is part of the fun and the appeal of places like this. But none of us are chefs. We weren't sure if we were cooking the various meats for a long enough period of time.
The food was fresh and service was diligent: The waitstaff came and cleared out the used grilling containers and replaced them quickly, so that any new meats we were grilling did not mix with the residue of what we had already grilled.
Chanmaru, 4070 SH 121 #220, Carrollton
Locally-owned Korean tofu house in northwest Carrollton specializes in soft tofu soup, with an astonishing 15 options ranging from seafood to beef tripe to clam to mushroom to a quirky ham & cheese.
We started with Kimchi Jun, an amazing pancake made with a little flour and loads of kim chi (Korean fermented cabbage), which we ordered as an appetizer. Savory, spicy, delicious, and huge, it was almost a meal unto its own.
"Entrees" were Mushroom Soontofu soup with ramen, and Dolsot Bibimbap, a steaming-hot bowl of rice topped with carrots, mushrooms, bokchoy, beef, and a fried egg. Red chili paste (gochujang) gave the dish an extra flavorful kick that was addictive. In English, "dolsot" means "stone pot."
It was accompanied by a generous selection of Banchan, including Korean bean sprouts, spicy cucumber salad, raw Kimchi, cold green beans, eggplant, and mushrooms.
Crispy fried garlic tofu bites.BCD Tofu House
BCD Tofu House, 1050 E. Trinity Mills Rd., Carrollton
Founded in California's Koreatown district, BCD is a small chain specializing in soft tofu soup, with about a dozen locations in California and on the East Coast. This is the only one in Texas, which they opened in late 2018.
At a Saturday lunch, we started with fried popcorn dumplings — bite-size dumplings filled with a flavorful mix of beef, pork, and vegetables, deep-fried until crunchy and crisp.
I couldn't resist the Hot Stone Bibimbap, their version of the rice dish with beef, bok choy, onion, carrot, mushrooms, and zucchini. We also ordered BBQ short ribs, served on a bed of white onions, sporting appetizing grill marks, and accompanied by steamed white rice along with Kimchi, sprouts, onions, broccoli, cucumber salad, and even a whole, small fried fish.
Strangely, we did not order soft tofu soup, despite the fact that it's the specialty, and the tofu does not stop there: They also have an appetizer of fried crispy garlic tofu bites, and a Japchae featuring glass noodles and vegetables topped with battered and fried tofu cut into julienne-style strips. They call themselves "The House That Tofu Built."