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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

놀이터 (Nolita)

A Korean salisbury restaurant with a delightful country home decor and a simple, non-english menu. Come for the Salisbury steak, stay for the Salisbury steak.

TO GET THERE:

Going south out of the Benchwarmers’ alley, turn left and walk just a block or two.  It’s on your right.  Or consult the helpful map on this page.

I heard at Bench that there’s a place that makes handmade hamburgers in Shinae. So after meeting some friends nearby, we set out to try their stuff. I was hoping for a thick, juicy grilled hamburger with a crispy bun and all the fixings. What I got was unexpected, but altogether welcome.

A full wall mural in black and white depicting a typical Korean street scene covers the left wall, and the plaid print plastic tablecloths complete the pseudo country home decor.  They’ve got some little rag dolls on shelves and a stuffed toy bird in a plastic birdcage near the door, too, but I didn’t care about that.

The service was quick, and the waitress spoke functional English key phrases (“the wait for your order will be several minutes”, “would you like anything to drink”, and so on.) You can’t rush a good hamburger, and they certainly were.  As they cooked, the smell of frying patties filled the restaurant from the open kitchen in back.  Portion sizes were reasonable for the price, and for 10,000, two of the three options would make a good choice for lunch, dinner, or anytime during their open hours, 12-10pm.

So what’s on the plate?  Like I said, there’s no English menu.  But I can help you with that.  All the items have konglish words, and if you point and grunt, you’ll get one of their three options.  Note, these are really a choice of what sauce you want.

The meat itself, in any case, is hand-formed and pan-seared. A thick, juicy salisbury steak, peppered and spiced. Crisply seared on the outside, well-done, juicy and dripping inside. All the sets come with a genuine American-style dinner roll, a sesame-dressing salad, rice with a fried egg, and a simple miso soup, most of which are standard fare and not the reason I was there in any case.

My friend demanded that I extol the virtues of the humble dinner roll: a foreign delicacy not usually seen in Korea. The rolls with the set were flaky, warm, and buttery. Assuredly not cream-filled, sweet, made of sweet potato, or anything else you might expect to see here.

As I paid and left, I noticed something that might bring me back again: a loyalty card program. If you buy ten plates, you get the eleventh for free.

1. “Original” [오리지널…] A hit. Well-done, juicy and delicious. Covered in a perfect amount of the original sauce. The “Original” sauce tastes like a tomatoey, tangy salisbury sauce. Worth the money.

2. “Barbeque” [바베큐…] A miss. I can only assume the hamburger was as well-cooked as the first. It was hard to tell on account of how spicy this one is. It tastes like a freight train. Be warned, even if you like spicy food, the heat completely overpowers whatever other flavour the sauce might have had. It hurts to eat, and would leave anyone grabbing for the water.

3. “Cream” [마늘 크림…] An absolute hit. You’ll probably want this one. Just like the others, this had a delightfully crispy crust and a very juicy interior. The cream sauce tastes a lot like a peppery cream of mushroom soup. Poll results suggest that 3/3 of us thought this item was superior to the others.

Overall:

Service 8.5

Decor 8

Speed 7

Price $$ (10,000 won/set, drinks extra)

No dessert available.

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