First off, let me start this with saying, never ever go to Seoul. The owner is a complete jerk and the food is not worth the price.
How exciting. As of a few minutes ago, I can say that I have had the worst restaurant experience EVER. Here in the little town of Little Rock, Arkansas! Jeremy and I decided to go to Seoul, for the second time. Seoul is a Korean restaurant found at 5923 Kavanaugh Boulevard. The first time I had a similar awful food experience, however I just sucked it up and attempted to choke down the food I was served. But let’s not talk about that, lets talk about our most recent visit!
In the beginning, our visit to Seoul was pleasant. The atmosphere of the restaurant is pleasant and our waitress was very nice. I ordered a black tea and water, Jeremy got a diet coke (because that is all he drinks). For teabag tea, my hot black tea was actually really good. Jeremy said his diet coke was “average”.
Then we ordered! Jeremy got a beef bulgogi and I got a tofu bibimbap, egg rolls, avocado roll, asparagus roll and a house salad (we split much of this). (Jeremy: I went to the bathroom, because that’s what I do. It was a single-serve bathroom, but for some reason had two chairs next to the inconvenient toilet paper roll. I guess that was an invitation to use the chairs instead of the toilet, but unfortunately I was only in there to wash my hands. Speaking of which, there was NO HOT WATER in the bathroom, a major restaurant pet peeve of mine.)
First out was the salad, which was okay. The greens themselves were amazing looking, but the dressing is that kind of ginger dressing that I hate so much. You know, the kind that just seems like it is ginger pulp? I much prefer the ginger dressing found at Igibon, but I won’t hold that against Seoul. (Jeremy: creamy dressing FTW, of course)
Then, came the egg rolls! The egg rolls were amazing (I think, Jeremy had to add soy to his). The dipping sauce was spicy, acidic and had a really nice bite to it, these are all things I love. The egg rolls were satisfyingly crunchy and the insides were tasty and for me, very tasty. I ended up drinking some of the sauce and it was. so. good. Good job Seoul!
Then, our sushi came! The sushi was beautiful and overall very good. The avocado roll didn’t have crunchy avocado, which sometimes happens and it makes me want to vomit. This avocado was deliciously ripe and their was just enough cucumber to help make it not too mushy feeling in your mouth. The asparagus roll had a delicious crunchy outside, but the inside was just a little too mushy for me. It wasn’t bad, necessarily, but I did think it could have used about a minute less cooking time. Overall, great though!
But then… it all went terribly downhill. Our main dishes came out and instantly I could tell that I was about to experience the same mushy, bland, awful bibimbap that I had had last time. Please, please be wrong I said to myself. Please, maybe a swarm of bugs will fly over the food, die instantly and fall into the bowl, this giving SOME SORT OF TASTE to the entire trainwreck of a bowl of food.
But, that didn’t happen.
Let me explain to you what you are looking at. On the bottom, you have a layer of plain white rice. To the side, you have plain lettuce. You also have cooked, mushy plain zucchini, some sort of very, very lightly sauced noodles and then possibly sprouts as well. On top of all of this, is plain silken tofu. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN. ON THE TOP OF ALL OF THIS MUSHY, BLAND DEAD PUPPY OF A DISASTER MESS, IS UNSEASONED, UNCOOKED SILKEN TOFU. WHAT. WHAT WHAT WHAT!
But yes, I did try it. I tried exactly one bite of tofu and wanted to die, Jeremy had a similar experience. I verified that the zucchini and rice were also unseasoned and flavorless. We also tried the side of sauce that came with this disaster, it was gritty and tasted like it was just chili powder mixed together with water to make a paste. Actually, Jeremy pointed out it tasted just like the red pepper powder you use to make kimchi. Maybe it was? It also came with a side of kimchi, which I did not eat due to the fish paste used to make it. (Jeremy: we actually had to press the waitress for this information. She assured us it was just cabbage. “No fish?” “No fish.” “No dried shrimp?” “No dried shrimp.” “No fish sauce?” “Oh, well yes it’s made with fish sauce.”)
(Jeremy: Mine was actually fine, but not amazing. On this plate is the salad, which was the same as Penelope’s; kimchi that wasn’t terribly spicy or tart; beef that was very tender, probably the best thing on the plate; two different fried meat-filled doughs that seemed dry but edible; edamame that were very crunchy but also tasty; and some nondescript fried rice, which had some sesame seeds on top that were a nice touch.)
So this time, I was not going to let them trick me into buying this disaster of a meal. I took 2 bites and stopped eating until the waitress came back. I told her I was not happy with this and it was too bland. She told me I should put the sauce on it. No, I will not do that. A) the sauce was AWFUL, B) you really think it is okay to serve flavorless food and make the customer flavor it themselves? What exactly is the chef doing then? Cooking rice, chopping up lettuce and opening a pack of tofu?
She recommended the beef bibimbap and I let her know I don’t do meat. She understood and took the dish away. I finished my salad (which I was sad I had to do) and Jeremy finished his beef bulgogi and I told him I was pretty sure my bibimbap would be on my ticket and it would be awkward.
Well, it was on my ticket. I put my card in with the ticket and Jeremy paid with cash. When the waitress came and took my card, I told her that she made a mistake and my bibimpap got put on my ticket. At this point my card was still with my ticket, because I thought she would fix it. But no, she told me the owner said that I needed to pay for it. When she said that, I was certain to take back my card before she could run it and let her know I wanted to talk to the manager or owner.
The owner came to our table and wanted to know what was wrong. I told him that the food was bland and I was not happy with it, so I sent it back. I told him I did not expect to pay for it. He said that I ordered it, so I had to pay. He also explained to me that I just needed to put the sauce on it. WHAT IS UP WITH THESE PEOPLE AND THIS FUCKING SAUCE?! IT WASN’T A SAUCE MADE OUT OF ANGEL TEARS, IT COULD FIX NOTHING. We went back and forth a bit and eventually he made it very clear he would not take the bibimbap off my ticket. I let him know that if this was the case, I would never come back and I would tell my friends to never come back, either. He assured me that he didn’t want me back, or any of my friends.
I put a 5$ on the table, let him know that was for the tip and I would not be paying. Jeremy and I walked out the door.
We got to our car and it turns out the owner had followed us to the car. He stood behind the car and said “So you are not going to pay?”, I told him I would pay for everything except for the bibimbap, which was awful. We went back and forth for a bit more and eventually he said he would take it off my ticket. I walked with him back to the store (the whole way, him telling me how much he never wanted me to come back and hopes none of my friends do, either). I ended up paying for everything but the bibimbap, which is EXACTLY what should have happened from the very beginning.
I ask you, my dear reader. What would you expect? If you didn’t eat your food because it was disgusting, could you imagine ANY situation where it would be okay for the owner to insist you to pay for it? I can’t picture a single situation where that would be okay.
So there you have it. Never, ever go to Seoul. Unless it is to tell the owner that you are my friend and you know that you are not wanted there.