Dish of the Week: Seoul Food D.C.’s rainbow soba bowl

Media Credit: Clara Duhon | Staff Photographer

Seoul Food DC's rainbow soba features assorted colorful ingredients like orange and purple sweet potato saengchae, fresh spinach and red radish.

Updated: July 19, 2021 at 8:57 a.m.

Escape the tourist-filled city this summer and head just north of the Maryland border to Seoul Food D.C. to taste refreshing plant-based Korean and Asian fusion dishes.

Located at 7302 Carroll Ave. in Takoma Park, Md. Seoul Food D.C. is about a 30-minute drive from campus and roughly a 15-minute walk from the Takoma Metro station on the Red Line. Seoul Food D.C. customers can choose to sit at a table inside or outside on the street’s sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

Diners are greeted by a small, blue-painted brick storefront and a hot pink front door when they approach the restaurant. The door is sandwiched between two large windows lined with shelves holding potted house plants and succulents as lively decorations.

The restaurant has minimal seating, so if you’re looking to enjoy your meal with a group of friends, takeout is the way to go.

Seoul Food D.C.’s menu features mainly vegan and vegetarian dishes, like its cajun fried “chicken” sandwich ($16) and janchi bento box ($18), composed of sweet potato glass noodles, a variety of vegetables and a side of dumplings and kimchi.

If a plant-based meal isn’t for you, meat-eaters have plenty of options to choose from, like bibimbap ($14-16) a Korean rice bowl with fresh spinach, shredded carrots, daikon and red radish topped with an over-easy egg, which customers can order with bulgogi marinated chicken for their protein option.

The restaurant also offers grocery items for purchase, like its rainbow saengchae, a crunchy salad of sweet potatoes and apples drizzled in sesame oil and sesame seeds, and its garlicky chive and onion kimchi ($9-13).

As an avid fan of noodles, I ordered the rainbow soba ($18), a buckwheat noodle bowl topped with lines of orange and purple sweet potato saengchae, pickled golden beet, scallions, fresh spinach, red radish and sesame seeds, making the dish look like a rainbow of ingredients. For my protein option, I chose the vegan croquettes, which are fried patties made of black and cannellini beans, peppers, garlic, oats, onion and spices.

The buckwheat noodles were slightly salty and coated with a light, oil-based sweet and sour sauce. The warm croquettes also soaked up some of the tangy sauce and made for a fresh, harmonic bite when combined with the rest of the vegetables in the bowl.

Customers can choose either a mild, medium or spicy bowl, and I opted for the mild option. While most of the bowl wasn’t too hot, the saengchae, a spicy Korean salad typically made from uncooked vegetables, gave the dish the perfect kick of spice.

The pickled golden beet added a slightly vinegary and acidic crunch to the bowl without overpowering any of the other flavors. The raw spinach and scallions gave the bowl a pop of green and added to the freshness of the dish.

The thinly chopped radishes added a bright purple color to the dish and added just the right level of saltiness. Since the noodles and vegetables were served cold, the vegan croquettes added a warm, fried element to the dish.

If you’re in the mood for something sweet after your dish, Seoul Food D.C. offers a dessert menu with sweets like their matcha lemon curd cupcake ($6), made from organic Japanese matcha, almond and oat flours and lemon curd buttercream, and Korean sweet buns ($12 for 2) with toasted cashew, cinnamon, brown sugar and agave.

To wash down your meal you can choose from both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages like Maine Root Ginger-Lemongrass Lemonade ($4) and cyser ($4), a mead and cider hybrid with notes of honey and crispy apples. I ordered a blood-orange-flavored ginger ale ($3.5) to start off, which was bubbly and sweet with a hint of a natural, tangy orange flavor.

Seoul Food is a must visit this summer if you’re in search of satisfying and refreshing plant-based dishes.

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