Going to the game? Get some gochujang!

Hot dogs, peanuts, burgers and beer – for some, no game would be complete without them.  If you are heading to Safeco or the Clink, there is another, more international option to be had before you head into the stadium.

Through a happy accident, I discovered Girin Steakhouse and Ssam Bar, a new take on classical Korean cuisine in the Stadium area.  The plan was to meet friends at a well known spot in Pioneer Square.  Getting there early, I looked over the menu and figured one of our party would leave very hungry, what with her loathing of seafood and mushrooms, both of which were in just about every menu item.  We needed a new plan.  Having passed Girin on my way to the original destination, I  grabbed our other friend and headed back from whence I came.  Thankfully, our seafood-hater hadn’t found parking yet (no surprise in Pioneer Square) so the change of venue wasn’t a problem.  I’m so glad we made the switch!

Located on the street level of The Wave apartment building, adjacent to the north parking area of Century Link field, Girin is a beautifully realized restaurant and bar with a modern Asian vibe and amazing food and drink.  Don’t let the front doors get the better of you – they look like large slabs of wood, without obvious hinge or handle.  Run your hand across the middle of the door and you’ll catch an edge that, with a strong tug, admits you to a stone-fountain and plant filled courtyard.  Head left to the bar or right, into the restaurant.

We went to the bar, as our intent was Happy Hour – and in the bar that runs from 4 to 7! (4-6 in the restaurant).  The HH menu is like a greatest hits from the restaurant menu but around half the price.  The staff was really helpful in deciphering the unfamiliar dishes and putting together a good selection of flavors and textures.

Despite the tongue twisting names, plates came out looking like Korean versions of familiar friends.  Love a really rare steak?  Try the yukhwe – super thin, rosy petals of raw beef, scattered with pine nuts and micro greens, topped with a quail egg.  The combination of cool, creamy beef and rich egg yolk made the dish so delicious, we placed a second order.  Like tacos?  Try the ssam – chose your protein and then wrap it in a lettuce leaf with a dab of rice and a smear of spicy condiments.  Are hot wings your thing?  The gochujang wings are crispy, juicy, spicy, sticky and addictive.

Girin prides itself on sourcing the best local meats and produce.  They craft their own condiments, kimchi and are even house fermenting traditional beverages.

I love it when fate steps in and pushes you in a new direction – Girin wasn’t where we thought we were going but, once there, it was the best place to be.  And now you can go there too, on purpose.  Details at http://www.girinseattle.com .

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