Bring on Korean Breakfast at JeonJu Bbop near Seattle

JeonJu Bbop pollock soup

Craving noodles, rice bowls, dumplings, and fish soup for an early breakfast? JeonJu Bbop in Lynnwood offers all of this and more, starting at 8 a.m. daily (closed Sundays). This classic mom-and-pop restaurant has a simple one-page menu that’s heavy on the Hangul (even more so with the specials hanging on the walls), but if Pop, who works the dining room, can’t help you with his limited English, he’ll bring Mom out from the kitchen to explain the dishes—and it might not be long before the son, who sometimes can be seen sitting with his school work and a cell phone, helps out as well.

I was tempted to order “Separately Rice and Soup” (even after explanation, I’m still not sure what it is), but after Mom explained that her restaurant is the only place that serves Pollock Soup ($10.99), I had to give it a try. “Don’t be scared of the head,” she admonished upon bringing the steaming bowl to the table. No problem, especially knowing that some of the best meat is in the cheeks if you get in there with your chopsticks. Aside from the head, there’s a good portion of pollock floating in the soup, which is full of wonderful fish flavor boosted by special salt imported from Korea. Similarly, there’s a little Korean pepper that adds an underlying spicy bite to the broth. Other than fish, the soup contains sprouted beans, green onions, daikon radish, and slightly bitter garland chrysanthemum leaves. This is a simple, satisfying soup that’s filling when enjoyed with the rice, a few small bowls of banchan, and the two crocks of kimchi that accompany it.

JeonJu Bbop bibimbap

The restaurant name references Jeonju, the home of bibimbap, so I recommend ordering that as well. To get the crispiest possible rice, upgrade from the lower-priced bibimbap to the Stone Pot Bibimbap ($10.99), which comes with beef, but is also available with squid for the same price. JeonJu Bbop’s version comes with a sunny egg in the center, surrounded by a wide variety of vegetables: cabbage, carrots, spinach, bean sprouts, zucchini, kimchi daikon, purple onion, red bell pepper, and gosari—the bracken fern fiddleheads that I crave for their earthy flavor, which are all too often left out when I order bibimbap locally. The bibimbap comes with a small bowl of soup and a side dish of chile paste that you can use to spice up the rice pot, while on the table there are containers of chile flakes and tiny shrimp fermented with salt if you want to further experiment with flavors.

(Originally published at Serious Eats on March 12.)

Jeonju B' Bop on Urbanspoon

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3 Responses to “Bring on Korean Breakfast at JeonJu Bbop near Seattle”

  1. LC
    March 14, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    Love this gem! But a visit here isn’t complete without ordering the bean sprout soup called goohk bahp. Their dumpling mandoos are tasty too!

  2. Wes Neuenschwander
    March 15, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    I’ll have to check this one out, as exploring the N. Aurora ‘Korea Town” has been my focus for the last year or so. I would question though their claim to be the only Korean restaurant serving “Pollack Soup”. Not sure exactly what Korean dish they’re referring to but several Korean restaurants along N. Aurora serve variations of pollack soup. The hard to find, but worth it, Seoul Yang Pyung (18623 Hwy 99) has easily the most extensive and authentic Korean lineup I’ve found in the North End, may not have the same dish, but does offer several fish soups, including hwangtae bugeo guk (dried pollack soup), only $6.99 on the lunch specials menu. The place also has perhaps the best sundae (blood sausage) in town and their sundae haejang guk (“hangover soup, with blood sausage”) in indeed a brilliant hangover (or winter cold) restorative. The popular spicy shredded beef soup (yuk gae jang) is one of the best versions around and also a lunch special bargain. Opens 8:00 AM,Sat-Sun (10:00 AM other days).

  3. Jay
    March 15, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    More great info, Wes. Thanks! Yes, it was just the owner’s claim, but she also mentioned she uses frozen pollock, so maybe that’s what makes it unique? I’ll have to learn more. And I’ll definitely have to check out Seoul Yang Pyung.

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