Bool Chul Pan Korean Hot Grill

On our morning walks, we often pass by the complex on North Road, which houses a big Korean supermarket and a generous handful of Korean restaurants. The supermarket has always been our destination for seasoned nori, delicious kimbap, and Korean/Japanese goods. A few months ago, we noticed this new Korean restaurant with a large yellow sign, but we always passed it by (out of respect for the dear departed Thai Son location, maybe).

A couple of months ago, I ran across this first review from Chow Times and another rave review from 604 Foodtography, and I have been curious ever since.

Two weeks ago we went with a couple of friends, Ana and Kay. It's always a little daunting to go to a new place, but thankfully, our friends are Korean and knew what they were doing, so we left everything up to them.

We arrived at around 6pm on a weekday, so there weren’t too many customers yet. The restaurant itself is large and dimly lit, simply decorated, and filled with solid wooden tables and chairs.

Incidentally, our friends had been to the restaurant before and weren't impressed. One of the reasons was the really poor banchan. There was the usual stewed potato, blanched and seasoned sprouts, kimchi, pickled turnips and pickled veggies. The dishes were not too tasty, I'll admit.

We decided to share the combination dinner ($39.99) which came with tofu soup, seafood pancake, and a panfried item. There was a choice of which kind of item we wanted, and we decided on the squid and pork belly.

First arrived the tofu soup. It was pretty good--the broth had a nice spicy saltiness and the tofu was soft and delicate. We all liked this, except for Kay who detected that the tofu might have been slightly off. The rest of us were oblivious to this, however.

The seafood pancake, though quite large, was a big disappointment. The pancake was flat, soggy, and barely cooked in the middle. The taste was very bland, and wasn't even helped by the accompanying sauce.

Next came the main item, which arrived on a burner in a huge rectangular metal pan, which was loaded with cabbage, onion, squid, pork, and spicy chili sauce. The server started frying up the food in front of us, which was really interesting. However, after about a minute of this, she left us to our own devices. We asked our friends about this type of restaurant and they said it was pretty common in Korea, except that it's more of a dish that you have when you're out drinking.

This was good, though none of us loved it. Basically, it's not really a dish that you can screw up. The pork didn't have much taste, and the cabbage included the core. Hmmm. The great thing was there was a lot of food. It really boggles the eye to see this huge amount of food at your table, you know?

We knew there was supposed to be fried rice after we ate most of the stuff, but we had to wait a real long time. This was weird because we were about the only people eating at the restaurant at the time. Anyway, we called them, and the rice was fried in the same metal pan, and it soaked up most of the left over sauce. The rice just tasted okay.

We had another long wait for our bill. At the end of the meal, we all were very full, but none of us had that happy feeling that accompanies a really good meal. But at least the company was good!

Bool Chul Pan Korean Hot Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. i used to eat korean quite food a lot, especially when i used to eat meat. sorry to hear about your experience -- it's really quite too bad that the food didn't coincide with all the rave reviews. cheers for good friends and and good company!

    happy new year to you, calico. thanks for all your wonderful posts!

  2. thanks Katrina! You inspire me always, with your blog. Happy New Year!