It’s hard to say which I loved more during my first outing to the Korean House: waitress Audrey or the chicken bulgogi. Whichever it was, I can’t believe it took us so long to find this place. Given its warehouse exterior in a nondescript strip mall on Carlton Road, it’s understandable how we could miss it. But as soon as we stepped into the equally warehouse-feeling interior, complete with conference room furniture, I knew it was going to be good. With decor like that, the food could only be awesome. Even more promising, it smelled like a garlic-umami-scent wonderland in there (and be forewarned: the smell lingers on your clothes long past the meal).
We started with vegetable and tofu dumplings, which had a nice texture and a tangy dipping sauce. But the main courses really stepped things up. I highly recommend the bibimbap, a mixture of rice, beef, egg, and veggies served in a sizzling bowl in which to mix everything together. It’s a classic Korean dish and they do it well. But my favorite dish of the evening, and one of my favorite foods in recent months, was the chicken bulgogi. Chicken, garlic, soy, spicy goodness. A big assortment of pickled sides came with our dishes, and unlimited barley tea was the perfect balance to the food.
Even if the food hadn’t been so delicious, I still would have fallen in love with the Korean House thanks to Audrey and her parents. Audrey deserves some kind of award for sweetest server in Charlottesville. After a warm welcome and enthusiastic order taking, we had waited perhaps all of 7 minutes for our food when Audrey came up so full of apologies I thought she had gone outside and dented our car or something. She apologized profusely for the “long” wait due to a large group that had ordered ahead of us, brought us a free plate of food, and assured us it would never happen again. And her face lit up when we told her how much we loved everything. Her mom also came over throughout the meal to encourage us to use more pickles or to stir the bottom of the bibimbap. I defy anyone to go to the Korean House and not fall in love with the entire family. One of my new Charlottesville casual food favorites!
Jed says: “A little greasy and salty and fluorescent in there, but totally worth it.”
Rating: Erin: Jed:
Pros: Delicious food, family-run.
Cons: Pricier than you would expect, bare bones ambience, no liquor license.
Price: $40 for a big meal (with leftovers) for two.
Parking: Plenty of parking in the lot.