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Austin Guide to Korean Food – Korean Restaurants in Austin

Updated on Oct 22nd 2013 to include new places (Rockin Rice, Hanabi, Ichiban) and closures (Shilla).

For a city of its size, Austin is an unlikely destination for Korean food. However, when you consider that Samsung, the largest Korean company and one of the leading electronics manufacturers in the world, has a huge factory here that’s staffed by many Korean nationals, it comes as no surprise that there are an abundance of Korean businesses in Austin.

Korean food in Austin is located mostly in the central part of town on Lamar Blvd, although some markets and restaurants are located up north closer to Samsung (which is located on East Parmer Lane near I-35). There are a few Korean fusion restaurants and mobile food trucks downtown, but for the really authentic stuff you have to look north of 51st Street.

Korean food is quite distinct, full of flavor, usually pretty healthy, and often red and spicy. In restaurants, most Korean entrees are served with numerous accompanying side dishes known as banchan (one of the reasons I like Korean food so much). Despite it being widely available, I feel that it’s one of the least understood Asian cuisines in America. The purpose of this guide is to introduce more Austinites to this wonderful ethnic genre and to talk about some of the best places to find Korean food in the capital of Texas.

If you are new to the cuisine, you might be interested in a few quick primers on Korean food:

  1. Wikipedia Article on Korean Food
  2. Korean Tourism Board Intro to Korean Food
  3. 10 Korean Foods you Have to Try

Austin, Texas Korean Restaurant and Food Guide 2012

While this is by no means a complete list of Korean food in Austin, these are among the better establishments that I enjoy. I’ve divided the list up into a few different categories: Traditional Korean restaurants, Chinese-Korean restaurants, Japanese / Korean combo restaurants, Korean Fusion restaurants, and Korean supermarkets.

I’d say my favorites as of 2013 are Together (for the samgyupsal), Rockin Rice (only for the chicken though), and Osaka or Hanabi for a combo Japanese / Korean place.

You can also browse this interactive map below to find a Korean restaurant near you:


View View the Austin, Texas Korean Food Guide locations in a full sized Google map

Traditional Korean Restaurants:

  • Cho Sun Galbi – This restaurant, named after a dynasty of Korea, used to be an Outback Steakhouse near Highland Mall but is now one of the nicer (and more expensive) Korean restaurants in Austin. Like the name of the restaurant suggests, they serve up pretty good galbi (marinated cross-cut beef ribs) here and it can be added to almost any order for just 4-5 dollars. Another dish that is good here is Naengmyeon (cold noodles), which is good on a hot, Texas summer day. If you want to try bizarre foods here, you can eat the Agujjim (fish and bean sprouts in a spicy sauce that they usually serve with sea squirt here).  Lately Chosun Galbi has been a little hit and miss, but it’s usually pretty good.
  • Together Restaurant – This is a Korean restaurant frequented almost exclusively by Koreans (which means it passes the authenticity test but communication might be a little difficult as 1/4th of the menu is in Korean with cryptic English translations). At this hole in the wall you’ll always find Korean TV on in the background, Korean Hite beer and soju flowing on the tables, and good Korean bar style food at almost any hour of the day. My favorite things to order here are the samgyupsal (uncured thick bacon cooked at your table – DELICIOUS), deep fried chicken, grilled mackerel, or stir fried spicy chicken. Lunch specials are good and inexpensive. You can also order get exotic dishes such as stir fried silkworms here. The woman that runs Together is very nice and I enjoy the banchan side dishes here a lot. Together is open all day and it gets crowded late when people come in to drink.
  • Korea House – an Austin institution that’s known for good Korean food and decent, inexpensive sushi. Chances are that if you’ve had Korean food in Austin, you’ve been here. This might be a good restaurant to start at if you are a novice to Korean cuisine, because they have good service, but it’s not the best Korean place around (notice that few Koreans eat here). Dishes I like at Korea House include the pork bulgogi (spicy), beef bulgogi, and jjamppong (spicy seafood soup). The staff is very friendly here and this is a good place to eat before catching a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse next door.
  • Misung 888 – Like Together, 888 is another restaurant frequented mostly by Koreans that opens late. This smallish restaurant at the intersection of Lamar and Anderson lane has authentic fare and is a popular drinking destination for Koreans. Perhaps the most interesting item on the menu is the Korean version of escargot, Golbangee Muchim, or snails in a spicy red sauce over rice noodles. Their gamjatang (spicy pork soup) is also decent, but again this place is mostly known as a drinking destination instead of being known for good food.
  • Manna Korean Restaurant – this is a no frills, inexpensive self-service eatery attached to the Han Yang Korean market that serves fast-food style Korean. Here, you order your at the counter, get your own tea and soup while you wait, and 10 minutes later they will call you to pick up your food on a plastic tray. The tradeoff is that most dishes are $6 but they skimp out a little bit on the quantity of meat. Decent dishes here include tofu jjigae (spicy soup) and kimchi fried rice. In 2013, this restaurant went through a makeover, and expanded it’s menu.   It’s slightly more pricey now, but the food is better.
  • Rockin Rice – cheesy as the name may be (the sign says let’s go bowling with rice), this is my favorite place for KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN in Austin. The Korean fried chicken here “keeps it real” – it’s literally a whole chicken, chopped up, battered, and deep fried.  There are 3 different flavors of whole chicken, and one soy marinated flavor if you want to just stick with wings.  I’ve tried the original (the best!) and the sweet and hot (also very good).  I’m not sure about the other dishes, but the fried chicken is where it’s at here.
  • Shilla / Haeundae (CLOSED in 2013) – Also located next to Highland Mall, and named after an ancient Korean dynasty, Shilla is a relatively high quality Korean restaurant with slightly higher prices. Shilla is also a good place to eat Korean BBQ beacuse the meat is cooked full service, right at your table. Other dishes that are good here include their Gaeran Jim (steamed egg and tofu dish) and Pajeon (seafood scallion pancake). The restaurant is a little hard to find because it’s on the back side of a shopping complex near the corner of East Highland Mall Blvd and Middle Fiskville Road.

 

Japanese / Korean Combo Restaurants

  • Odaku – A mostly Japanese restaurant that happens to serve good Korean food in North Austin on Parmer Lane. The soondubu tofu bowl is good here and the banchan (numerous Korean side dishes that come with the main course) are good as well. On the Japanese menu, their pork katsu is quite good and filling (and it comes with banchan).
  • Osaka Mansun – Another Japanese restaurant that happens to serve good Korean food, and possibly some of the best sushi and sashimi in town. If you are going to eat sushi, it’s fun to sit at the bar and watch the experts do their thing. If they have it in stock, the uni (sea urchin) sushi here is always fresh and delicious. Our favorite Korean dish here is the Maeuntang (spicy fish soup), which is big enough for two people.
  • Ichiban – This dark, quiet, old school Japanese resturant has a Korean menu by request. They have a good HwaeDupBap (Korean chirashi) – which is a rice bowl with salad greens and raw fish.  They also have decent sushi and good Korean MaeUnTang.  This is a good place to eat if you like traditional lowered asian tables and private booths.  They also have Japanese beer on tap, a koi pond in the front, and decent service.
  • Hanabi - Although the food is mostly Japanese here, the restuarant is run by Koreans.  For an unassuming strip mall restaurant, the quality of food here is excellent.  I would say they have one of the best omakases (for taste, quantity, and value) in all of Austin! You will find traces of Korean influence throughout the menu.  They have a kimchi pasta dish, kimchi’ed veggies served with entrees, and sushi specials that are Korean specialties.  Sit at the bar and chat with the very nice head chef.  He’s cooked in some really great restaurants in Korea and America so he knows his stuff.

Chinese – Korean Restaurants

  • Hunan North + Hunan South – A Chinese-Korean restaurant in an older strip mall that specializes in two Korean dishes – Jajangmyeon (noodles mixed with a black soybean paste) and jjamppong (spicy seafood noodle soup). My favorite is the Jjampong but if you can’t handle spicy food, you might want to skip. The other Chinese-Korean dish that’s pretty good is a sweet fried chicken dish called Kkanpunggi. All of the Korean / Chinese fusion dishes are on one page of the menu, the rest is completely Chinese. You can learn more about Chinese-Korean food on Wikipedia.  Hunan South on William Cannon is the better of the two.  I heard they used to share the same owner, but now after a split, the south location is the one to eat at.  At the south location you can super size your bowl of noodles for a couple of extra bucks.

Korean Supermarkets – restaurants aren’t the only places to get Korean food. At supermarkets you can get excellent banchan (side dishes) such as kimchi, dried anchovies, and seasoned beansprouts. Also, there are many Korean snacks and drinks that are worth checking out.

  • Hana World – the newest and largest Korean market in Austin. Located on West Parmer Lane about a mile from Samsung, this market has a small food court with a cheap Korean fast food joint, and an Asian noodle restaurant specializing in Vietnamese cuisine. They have a wide selection of Asian produce, a large meat and seafood counter, and many snacks and drinks. They have opened a prepared foods section too and they make good, savory Kimbap (pickled radish and egg sushi roll). Also, this is a good place to buy thin sliced shabu shabu meats. Hana World is owned by the same family as New Oriental Market.

  • Han Yang Market – Located on Lamar Blvd and Airport Blvd next to Austin Karaoke, this market is just a 1 minute drive from the New Oriental Market and is about the same size, but a little bit newer. They sell several kinds of banchan here as well in addition to prepared foods such as Tteokbokki (rice cakes and fish cake in red sauce) and Japchae (sweet potato noodles in sesame sauce).
  • Mom’s Taste – A little known shop that sells hand made fresh banchan, like mom used to make. If you get a few different banchan they will last for a week if you eat them as side dishes and have another protein as a main dish. This is a cheap option for getting home style Korean food that you can eat at home. Good dishes here include Myulchi Bokum (stir fried spicy anchovies), kimchi, Jangjolim (soy sauce eggs) , Jokbal (sliced pig knickle with garlic and pepper) and Kkaennip (seasoned shiso perilla leaves).
  • New Oriental Market*** NOW CLOSED as of early 2012 – has moved to Hana World *** an older, medium sized market on Airport Blvd near Lamar Blvd. They used to have a great self service restaurant in the back (in my opinion better than Manna Restaurant at Han Yang Market) but that restaurant will soon move to Hana World on Parmer Lane. I used to like their Kalguksu (hand cut noodles in clear broth with veggies and seafood) – hopefully that dish appears when the restaurants at Hana World open.

Korean Fusion Food

  • Koriente – A small restaurant in the middle of downtown that has been around forever. Despite the name, by no means is the most authentic restaurant in town but it does have some very healthy items and a lot of loyal customers. Rice and noodle bowls here are inexpensive and if you are downtown and are craving Asian food, this is a decent choice.
  • Burger Tex UT – Another Austin institution that serves primarily American style burgers, but they do have a Korean Bulgogi (marinated beef strip) burger on the menu that earned the honor of one of the top 50 burgers in Texas from Texas Monthly Magazine.
  • Chilantro – One of the original food trucks in the mobile food craze that took off in 2008-2009, Chilantro is a late night fan favorite. Stop by their truck after a night at the bars and you might have to wait in a long line for their Korean tacos, burritos, and kimchi fries. I’ve eaten their whole menu, and my favorite items are the beef bulgogi and tofu tacos. The pork taco is also good, but a bit spicy. Chilantro also serves a bulgogi burger like Burger Tex.
  • Coreanos – Coreanos is another Mexican / Korean fusion truck in Austin known for their tacos, burritos, and fries covered in meat, spicy sauce, and cheese. There’s a bit of debate over which Korean food truck is the best in Austin, as both Coreanos and Chilantro consistently receive high marks on review sites.

There you have it, my own personal overview of Korean restaurants in the Austin, Texas area. If you want to see other food guides in the Austin area, go to the 2012 Austin Food Bloggers City Guide roundup.

Happy Tasting!
Peter

Posted in Food, Reviews.


19 Responses

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  1. Jonathan says

    This is awesome. Thank you for bringing awareness to all the wonderful Korean businesses and eating destinations in ATX!

  2. Jodi says

    What a great resource for Korean in Austin. Thank you, Peter!

  3. Huanger says

    New Oriental Market shut down a couple of weeks ago. Rumor has it they will open eateries in Hana World, however.

  4. Thao says

    Very nice list! Thanks!

  5. Hilah says

    Hooray Hooray Hooray Hooray!
    Korean is one of my absolute favorite cuisines. Cho Sun Galbi and Korea House are the only ones I’ve tried in Austin. Reading this got me in the mood for all kinds of delicious. Thanks!

  6. Kathryn says

    Wow, Peter! What a comprehensive listing. I am excited to expand beyond Koriente to try some of the traditional Korean restaurants you mentioned right by my house!

  7. margaret christine perkins says

    Banchan, I’m going to try more of this!—thank you for teaching me a little more about a cuisine so tasty, yet so new to me. Now I’ll order something other than bulgoki (though that’s quite good!)

  8. Heather @midnitechef says

    I’ve been to Korean House and enjoyed it. Ichiban also offers Korean dishes like bulgogi, but I did not try it. This is a great write up and thanks for including the markets, those are always fun to explore.

  9. Mary Helen (@MaryHelenOrama) says

    Thanks for posting such a well thought out guide! I’ve been wanting to try some Korean BBQ in Austin for a while now. I think I’ll have to visit Shilla soon.

  10. Rebecca says

    I have a whole list of exciting places to try now. Thank you!

  11. Mandy at Bite of Austin says

    So many places I want to try! What a great list!

  12. Eli Castro says

    Such a fantastic list – I rarely get north of 51st. Looks like that’s about to change.

  13. Eli Castro says

    Quick second thought – posted on the AFBA page, but Jodi wasn’t sure that was a place you still hung out. Completely loving the use of the interactive map. I wasn’t able to get that to work when I tried – is there a tutorial somewhere? Would love to put better maps on Grubbus.

  14. Shef says

    Korean food is one of the Asian foods least known to me. I’ve always been unfamiliar with it and I’m so glad you put an intro with links to learning about Korean food! Thanks! Great list.

  15. Dianne Roman says

    Thanks Peter! Looking forward to trying Together Restaurant. My current favorite is Manna. Love the grilled mackerel, kimchi and suntubu chige!

  16. Optimista says

    Wow, what a fantastic post! I hadn’t even heard of Misung 888…Korean escargot…WHAT? Will you and MJ come with me so you can eat the rest if I don’t like it? :)

  17. Mippa says

    If you haven’t, Korean Grill MUST be tried! I lived next to Tokyo’s Korea Town, and this place by far matches the experience! Best Korean in Austin, IMO!

  18. Peter Tsai says

    Hi all, thanks for visiting this page about Korean food in Austin over the past year. Hope you have all enjoyed some delicious Korean cuisine!

    Update: The list is new and improved: I’ve eaten many more types of Korean food since I wrote this (I even went to Korea for 2.5 weeks)!

    With my new knowledge, I’ve refreshed this list with better descriptions and I have reflected some new restaurants and closures. I’ve also picked a few favorites in Austin!

    @Mippa, I have been to Korean Grill only once – I’ll try to write it up if I go back and get a better understanding of their food

  19. Anon says

    not to be picky but isn’t jajangmyeon actually of chinese origin? and jjampong although it technically began in japan, it was created in a chinese restaurant for chinese customers based off a chinese dish.



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