1526 Bethel Road
Open until 9pm
Arirang was first recommended to me by a Hungrywoolf reader (Thank you Molly). It has become my favorite place for Korean food, and I thought that it was still a wonderful secret until G.A. Benton from Columbus Alive wrote his humorous post about it this week.
From the outside you would never guess that this little grocery store has a restaurant in the back. You order at the store’s front counter and then take your ticket to the open kitchen at the back of the store. Find a seat and wait to be signaled to when your food is ready. There is no table service so you go up to the counter and collect it yourself. The menu has recently been updated and is in English and Korean with a clear indication of which dishes are spicy. There are three price brackets ranging from $4.95 up to $8.95.
With its extremely bright fluorescent lighting and slightly sterile feel, Arirang is not somewhere to go for the atmosphere but what it lacks in ambience it makes up for with the food. It is also extremely clean, good value and you can do some shopping while you are there.
Your meal will come with the traditional banchan (a selection of small dishes, including the requisite kimchi.) and there is an urn of complimentary barley tea as well as a water cooler.
My favorite dishes tend to be the spicy ones but there are plenty of options for people who do not like spicy food. Some of the beef soups are very lightly seasoned. The dolsot bibimbap (mixed rice in a stone pot) is also not spicy and comes topped with lots of vegetables, sprouts and kimchi. The egg was fried with a soft yolk rather than the raw egg that is often served. As well as large steaming bowls of soup and noodles there are also stir fried dishes and I really enjoyed the stir fried pork.
The picture at the top of the post is kim-bap, a Korean roll (a vegetarian sushi style roll) and we have enjoyed the crispy pancakes both mung bean and seafood.
The soups are extremely hot in temperature and usually arrive at a rolling boil. If you are really hungry, order a pancake or a roll to eat while you wait, to prevent searing your mouth. Also a good idea not to go right before they close – it’s hard to eat steaming food in a hurry!