Lakewood’s newest Korean restaurant is now open. Sa Rit Gol Korean Restaurant takes the place of Gil Mok.
Here’s a first look at the newest addition to Lakewood’s Korean dining district that offers more than a dozen Korean restaurants serving everything from barbecue to soondubu to bibimbap.
Location: Sa Rit Gol operates in the space that formerly held Korean tabletop barbecue restaurant Gil Mok for about a year. Before that, it was O-bok, the oldest Korean barbecue restaurant in Lakewood. Sun Ok Chung operated her Korean barbecue restaurant from 1989 until she sold it and retired in 2016.
Barbecue? While the restaurant is still equipped with the same tabletop gas grills as its predecessors, our server told us the tabletop grills were no longer in use. I’ll keep an eye out to see if they’re pulled out of retirement.
Menu: Soup-centric, two-page menu similar to nearby restaurants such as Ho Soon Yi and Song Song. Soups include multiple versions of the ox bone soup called sulang tang ($10.99 to $13.99), spicy intestine soup with soybean ($12.99), kimchi jigae ($10.99), spicy ramen ($10.99) and soondae guk bap ($9.99). Also listed are grilled meat dishes, including a few styles of bulgogi ($13.99 to $17.99) and spicy pork ($17.99). The menu also lists three versions of Korean hot pot ($31.99 to $35.99).
Terrific banchan: Right after the complimentary roasted tea arrived, four dishes of banchan followed. Banchan are the flavor fuel of Korean cuisine and are meant to be plucked from their small dishes as your meal unfolds. Banchan here included punchy fermented daikon, kimchi that tasted spicier than I usually find on South Tacoma Way, pickled jalapenos and spicy pickled cucumber and other vegetables coated in chile sauce.
Spice is a theme: From the chile condiments to the banchan, spice and flavor are ratcheted up a few levels here.
Bone broth soup: Do not miss the bone broth Korean specialty, sulang tang, which is made with a broth from long-simmered ox bones. The full, beefy-flavored, milk-colored broth tastes mild — until you add the requisite gochujang (fermented soybean chile sauce) or other spicy condiments.
For those who miss sulang tang at now-closed Hanbat, the Lakewood restaurant that once specialized in the soup, Sa Rit Gol is a terrific substitution.
The menu lists multiple sulang tang versions, including one with sliced brisket ($12.99), one with flank ($11.99) and a combination ($13.99). I dunked a spoon into the combo and found slippery rice noodles sunk into the bottom, a raft of chopped scallions on top, and thick slices of flank and brisket in between.
Holy, bibimbap: This could prove my favorite bibimbap presentation on South Tacoma Way. Not just because the hot stone bowl was actually a shallow platter large enough to mix in all the flavors, but because it arrived thermonuclear level hot, which allowed the bed of rice, meat and sauteed vegetables to take on crunchy edges before I twirled in big flavor pops of banchan and then swirled in the restaurant's two house spicy chile sauces.
Mixing up bibimbap is the best part of that dish, but be sure to wait long enough to give the rice a bit to cook. You’ll love those crunchy bites of roasted rice.
Then there were 5: Not to worry, there are still plenty of Korean barbecue restaurants in Lakewood. Along a two-mile stretch of South Tacoma Way, there’s Cham Korean Garden, New Gangnam Korean Barbecue, Palace BBQ, Dae Won Garden and Chung Ki Wa.
Sa Rit Gol Korean Restaurant
Where: 8534 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood; 253-582-6713