Open Tab: Soban Korea’s dishes brighten up a cold Evanston winter


Luis Castañeda/The Daily Northwestern

Soban Korea provides a quaint and cozy atmosphere and delicious food that will have you coming back for more.

Kunjal Bastola and Rachel Schlueter

Soban Korea brings warm, home-cooked flavors that are sure to cure the winter blues. 

Located at 819 Noyes St., Soban Korea has been serving food in Evanston since 2018. The restaurant has booths lined up against the walls with tables and chairs set out in the middle. It offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, especially in the middle of the Evanston winter. 

The staff was extremely friendly and the food came out very quickly, which did wonders for our hungry stomachs. 

As an appetizer, we ordered the kimchi jeon, or kimchi pancake. The large, orange pancake was crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, and the kimchi embedded throughout created a salty, acidic taste. When dipped in soy sauce, the pancake was a blend of sour and salty flavors. 

One of the restaurant’s popular menu items is bulgogi, a type of thin-sliced, marinated meat. The restaurant offers a choice of beef, chicken or pork. We chose beef and were not disappointed. 

Soban Korea’s beef bulgogi is the epitome of comfort food. Each piece is tender and packs a sweet flavor that we couldn’t get enough of. The bulgogi is served with a side of white rice and a marinade with a sweet, ginger flavor. The concept of meat and rice may be simple, but Soban Korea does it justice. 

Also on the menu was tteokbokki, a traditional Korean dish consisting of stir-fried, cylindrical rice cakes. We ordered gungjung-tteokbokki, a savory version of the dish. The term “gungjung” means “royal court,” and it was historically a staple in Korean upper-class cuisine. The warm, inviting flavors of the gungjung-tteokbokki certainly made us feel like royalty.

The rice cakes had a dense, chewy texture similar to gnocchi, and the saltiness of the soy sauce they were served with was complemented with sweeter hints of garlic and sesame. The gungjung-tteokbokki was completed with tender pieces of stir-fried beef. And, a blend of carrots and onions helped freshen up the dish and add a layer of crunchiness. 

If you love fried chicken, Soban Korea is the place to be. The dakgangjeong is the restaurant’s classic Korean fried chicken dish lathered in sauce. Customers can choose between a spicy gochujang or soy garlic sauce. We went with the soy garlic, and it did not disappoint. The sauce was just the right combination of sweet and salty that left us licking our fingers clean. 

There’s only one thing better than bibimbap: dolsot bibimbap. Bibimbap is a dish that is a rice bowl with meat and veggies, such as cucumber, spinach and corn, all topped off with a soft egg. The dolsot bibimbap serves up the traditional bibimbap in a hot, sizzling stone bowl, resulting in a nice, warm meal throughout the whole dinner.  

No meal is finished without some dessert. Soban Korea’s samanco is a fish-shaped ice cream sandwich with a layer of red bean paste. The texture and consistency of the dish were perfect, and it had just the right amount of sweetness to balance out our meal. 

We left our dinner with full stomachs and full hearts. With a variety of wonderful dishes, Soban Korea is worth a journey through the wintry elements. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @kunjal_bastola

Email: [email protected]


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