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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Korean, Japanese
Casual restaurant

Daily 11:30am–11:00pm

Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Southeast Portland
7901 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland, OR
(503) 771-5842
Come for some of the better Korean food outside the Beave, but skip the so-so sushi

Sorabol isn’t your typical pan-Asian restaurant. It’s considered predominantly Korean with a few Japanese conceits, like udon and sushi.

Although Sorabol is many things, it is first and foremost as a spot for Korean barbecue. The whole layout of the restaurant hints at this fact, with grills and smoke hoods on several tables. The lighting is warm, the colors are dark reds and blacks, and when it’s got a lively crowd (which can happen even at 10pm on a weeknight), this can be a very fun place, with a bar-like feeling. A large television plays Korean pop videos and commercials. All that’s missing is a karaoke machine with hilarious “Engrish” translations of Steely Dan songs.

As is the case at many Korean restaurants, prices are ridiculously low, and most everything comes with banchan. Pajeon and other pancakes are wonderful. This seafood version comes brimming with fat scallop pieces, expertly cooked squid, and shrimp. Shabu shabu is fine, but the best cooking-at-the-table experience to be had is in the grill: bulgogi, spicy pork, and mackerel, as wonderfully oily and umami-rich as food can get. And it’s the healthiest fish, don’t you know?

As for the Japanese conceits, they’re good too, but they’re not near the caliber of what you can get at their all-Japanese colleagues. In other words: do you really want to order sushi from a place that sort of tacks it on as a money-making afterthought? But for Korean experiences, Sorabol serves up one of the best in Portland proper. Even if it’s not quite up to the Beaverton standard.

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