For a city with a relatively small Korean population — the entire state is home to around 20,000 Korean Americans — Portland’s Korean food scene is thriving. H-Mart remains the only centrally located Asian supermarket between Beaverton and Southeast 82nd; the family behind Portland destination Han Oak has opened two new celebrated restaurants within the last three years; and Kim Jong Grillin’s Korean American hot dog was recently memorialized in a New York Times bestseller chronicling hot dog history. A mix of traditional and experimental Korean restaurants and carts across town (and the suburbs) foster a growing landscape of exceptional banchan, bibimbap, and buldak. Using the map below, find DIY Korean barbecue, Korean fried chicken with a K-pop soundtrack, or high-brow takes with seasonal ingredients. For more Korean fried chicken, this map should help.Read More
Portland’s Knockout Korean Restaurants
Where to find barbecue, banchan, bibimbap, and more in Portland and beyond
JCD | Korean Restaurant
JCD, an abbreviated acronym for Jang Choong Dong Wang Jok Bal, provides a clue to the restaurant’s must-order: Jok bal is sliced soy-braised pig’s feet served ssam-style with lettuce wraps. JCD is also one of the few restaurants serving soondae, sausage made from pig’s blood and cellophane noodles, bound with glutinous rice. Here, the springy dark brown slices are served simply as an appetizer and in a spicy stir-fry mixed with vegetables.
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Nak Won is one of the more popular Korean restaurants in Beaverton, possibly thanks to its playful English-friendly menu item names like “Saving Private Canned Goods” a.k.a. military stew a.k.a. budae jjigae, or “Ice Ice Babe,” the summer-only dish of cold buckwheat noodle soup with beef, sliced radish, and cucumber. Silly names aside, the food is serious, especially the many-named stew filled with instant ramen noodles, sliced-up hot dogs, spam batons, bacon, and tofu.
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Always Spring Restaurant
This hidden restaurant overlooking the aisles of G Mart (no, not H Mart) might seem like a well-kept secret, but the weekend wait makes it clear everyone else is already in on it. Blazing hot soups — both in temperature and spice level — are the thing to order, particularly the variations on sundubu-jjigae, a fiery stew in cast-iron cauldrons teeming with soft chunks of tofu.
Kkokki Korean BBQ
Grillers can find the same savory solace at Kkoki Korean BBQ with less of the party atmosphere of K-Town. Nearly all of the spacious wooden booths have tables housing a gas grill, ideal for slabs of galbi. Diners can order standard cuts of meat a la carte or go for the value combo, served with hearty soybean stew, chadol baegi (beef brisket), samgyupsal (pork belly), and individual dipping sauces — red meat goes with the classic garlicky soy-based version and the pork with seasoned sesame oil.
A star in the growing family of restaurants opened by Han Oak duo Peter Cho and Sun Young Park, Toki breathes fresh, moodily-lit life into Tasty n Alder’s former West End space. Menus change often here, but a few items remain on the menu consistently: Standout regular starters include fresh, handmade shrimp dumplings and a brilliant steamed bao burger. During brunch, opt for the egg and bacon breakfast bao, or the hearty Taco Bell homage known as the Brunchwrap Supreme. Beverages include a number of strong cocktail options, as well as mocktails — for example, a black pepper soda comes with a blend of savory and sweet spices, garnished with orange peel.
Bingsu is a fluffy-cloudlike Korean dessert best described as milky shaved ice with sweet toppings, and Pacific Northwestern-chain Snowy Village is bringing it to the masses on North Vancouver with a mix of traditional and contemporary varieties, all stacked impossibly high. Popular picks include taro and black sesame, but the layered blueberry or fruity pebble encrusted options get just as much love. The piping hot, made-to-order taiyaki pastries come in an equally extensive range of flavors, from red bean paste to Nutella to cheesy pesto.
Ko Sisters Seoul Food
The opening of the Cartside pod food cart Ko Sisters was exciting news for those seeking some of South Korea’s famous street foods, like its crispy half-fried-mozzarella-stick, half-corn dogs, or the skewers of glossy gochujang-glazed rice cakes, seaweed rolls, and sausage. For dessert, it’s hard to go wrong with the cinnamon hotteok, chewy sweet pancakes.
K-Pub Grill and Beer Tap Room
Like any proper hub for a buzzy food cart pod like Park the Carts, this Northeast MLK Korean restaurant offers cheap beer, reliable comfort dishes, and ample seating indoor and out for those seeking a substantial, sit-down meal. From the restaurant’s sticky-sweet yangnyum fried chicken to the cheesy buldak, a blazing-spicy chicken dish, K-Pub has become a go-to for Northeast Portlanders craving some of the greatest hits.
The latest restaurant from Han Oak duo Peter Cho and Sun Young Park is a dip towards finer dining, offering a prix fixe menu centered around live-fired, whole animal ssam in a warm, sleek space under a canopy of hanging lanterns. Meals begin with banchan and inventive starters, things like dry-aged kanpachi with yuja chojang, or beef and pork mandu in a black vinegar-bolstered bone broth. The full ssam service changes frequently, based on what’s dry-aging, curing, and in season.
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The crunchy, snow cheese-dusted wings coming out of this buzzy member of the Lil’ America cart pod on Southeast Stark are rapidly approaching icon status. Korean American, Texan-raised chef Sunny Hatch pulls from both facets of his heritage at this fried chicken cart, both in the double-fried chicken wings dredged in a blend of rice, potato, and tapioca flour and Southern-influenced sides like the kimchi mac and cheese and mashed potatoes with curry gravy. Opt for wings over drumsticks for maximum surface area and thus optimal amounts of the gochujang, soy garlic glaze, or salty crumbles of snow cheese.
Han Oak Restaurant
Chef and owner Peter Cho’s semi-hidden Korean restaurant has gone through several different iterations in its time open, but now, the restaurant shifts between various seasonal prix fixe menus. In the cooler months, that might mean a bubbling tableside pot of broth with cuts of meat and vegetables to simmer, followed by house-made dumplings and noodles; in the hotter months, maybe it’s a gimbap party, with fillings like gochujang and sesame-glazed albacore or bulgogi. The constant: An array of tasty house banchan to start, including Cho’s mother’s kimchi.
In a tiny stall within the Zipper food hall, Sari specializes in ramyun, a Korean style of ramen often packing some serious heat. The restaurant offers a number of ramyun options, bulgogi variants, and rice bowls, but the move here is to order the restaurant’s Korean fried chicken with gochujang glaze. Eat it out on the shared patio, or take it home on a Friday night.
This fast-casual restaurant in the Hollywood District is now the home of Du Kuh Bee’s renowned hand-pulled noodles, so visitors might catch the master plying his dough-transforming craft on a table set up right next to the register. Beyond spicy noodles, the menu is short and sweet, with wings, dark and rich with gochujang, or novelties like fries topped with kimchi and bacon.
Kim Jong Grillin
One of Portland’s most outstanding food carts (and Instagram personalities), Han Ly Hwang’s Korean spot on Division is best known for its flavor-packed bibim boxes of garlicky galbi ribs or sweet bulgogi beef, not to mention Korean riffs on American classics like the KJG hot dog with kimchi mayo and pickled mango. If it’s on the menu, don’t miss his take on a Taco Bell munch wrap.
Toji Korean Grill House
This is not the flashiest KBBQ option in the city, nor does it have the biggest menu of add-ons and made-to-order dishes. But the centrally located Toji is everything it needs to be: a grill on every table, a better exhaust system than most, and a satisfying spread of banchan and dipping sauces for every bite of fresh-fired meat. Toji’s entry-level all-you-can-eat deal comes with six choices of meat, but those who want galbi and skirt steak will need to upgrade to the next level.
Chungdam Korean Fusion
Despite the name, this strip mall restaurant is fusion-free. It also features a solid roster of Korean hot pots and stews, plus cheesy buldak, a spicy chicken dish smothered in melted cheese. Chungdam is no longer a late-night hang, but the special menu remains (including the silkworm pupae and sea snail salad).
Cameo Cafe East
This longstanding cafe-meets-diner near the airport may look like it only serves pancakes and monte cristos, but Korean dishes hide throughout the menu, from beef kimchi stew and “soldier soup” (better known as budae jjigae) to mungbean pancakes under the traditional flapjacks. Breakfast is where things get wild: Sue Gee’s fusion pancake is loaded with rice and vegetables, topped with cheese; specials like kimchi hash and kimchi omelets stuffed with bulgogi, crab, or shrimp, almost always please.
K-Town Korean BBQ Restaurant
K-Town is the place for groups to Korean barbecue on the east side (and in Vancouver, and Beaverton). There’s a longer wait on the weekends — no reservations — but once you’re seated, you’re in for a good and long, all-you-can-eat time (no taking home leftovers, either). The booths are roomy, and high ceilings provide ample ventilation for grills brimming with pork belly, marinated bulgogi, and thinly sliced brisket. K-pop music videos play on large screens throughout, and the neon-lit soju fridge offers a clubby vibe on any weeknight.