Food compensates for shaky service at Seoul House

jgaines@macon.comJanuary 11, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Go to Seoul House for delicious food and nothing else.

If it’s the taste you’re after, Seoul House has that aplenty. But if you’ve got anything else scheduled, or you’re looking for ambience, hit Seoul House another time.

Manor Court is not easily visible from Watson Boulevard in Warner Robins, but the bold Korean lettering on the facade gives away the restaurant’s location between a barbershop and a deli.

Seoul House is clearly a family operation, with the informality and hominess that often brings -- right down to occasional yelling from the kitchen. But the speed of service, or rather lack of it, may make you wish the family was a bit larger.

On an evening visit, my friend and I were warned up front that the jin mandu appetizer alone would take 25 minutes. We weren’t in a hurry, so we went ahead and ordered the half-dozen steamed beef dumplings for $4.99. It was essentially ground hamburger, but it was tasty with its dipping sauce. We could tackle them with forks or chopsticks -- both were provided -- but we had to ask for individual plates.

If you want anything, ask early -- drink refills are hardly to be had, and a single check back during the meal seems standard. On each of our visits, there were only three occupied tables in the restaurant, but plates crawled out of the kitchen one at a time. Points for cooking to order, but not for organization and speed.

Fortunately, Korean cuisine naturally compensates for leisurely service with banchan, small bowls of side dishes: ubiquitous kimchi and several pickled vegetables. We picked through those while waiting on our orders.

The dinner menu includes many traditional Korean dishes, a variety of soups and plenty of seafood; but also generic “Asian” entrees, from fried rice to various curries.

My friend opted for the $7.99 seafood curry, which looked a little unpromising with its shrimp, potatoes, carrots, onions and peas in dull brown sauce. But she pronounced it delicious.

“I feel like it has just the right spice,” she said.

I went for the $8.99 bibimbob, seasoned vegetables, beef and egg on top of rice, served in a stoneware bowl. Topped with a dollop of red pepper paste, it was very tasty, though the rice was scorched into a lump at the bottom.

Altogether it took us two hours to get our meal, finish it and pay. Another customer had to knock on the kitchen door to pay his bill.

We came back to see if lunch service ran any faster. I asked for the beef bulgogi lunch box, but received the non-“lunch box” version: a dollar cheaper at $4.99, but lacking side dishes. Still, my unadorned shredded beef and onions in ginger sauce, next to a pile of white rice, was succulent.

My friend got adventurous and ordered the jam pong, a dinner-size portion of seafood over spicy noodles for $7.99. The soup-like mixture topped with mussels and shrimp was advertised as pretty hot, and it lived up to that description. My friend’s not usually a fan of much spice, but her jam pong was so good that she dug into it despite the heat. Even so, the dinner portion was so large she could only manage to finish about half.

Again, however, we were left to fend for ourselves, particularly when most of the staff strolled outside for a long personal chat. Our meal took 50 minutes, so Seoul House isn’t a good choice for a workday lunch break. But if you don’t mind spending some time, the taste is worth the wait.

Seoul House Korean Restaurant

Adress: 128 Manor Court, Warner Robins

Phone: (478) 923-3179

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 1-8 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sundays

Payment: Cash, credit, debit; no checks

Smoking: No

Alcohol: Yes

Kids Menu: Yes

Noise Level: Low

Health Rating: 97

Price range: $6.99-$15.99

Rating: 2.5 stars

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