Lee’s korean restaurant in louisville impresses review best steak marinade for grilling

The location of lee’s korean restaurant is a bit obscure. Tucked on the first floor of a nondescript, 10-story office building on bishop lane, one could be forgiven for not being aware of this restaurant.

Despite its somewhat hidden location, lee’s has been serving traditional korean food to louisvillians for decades — a fact I don’t find at all surprising after a recent dinner outing.

After dashing through the rain on a particularly nasty early spring evening, I was pleased to be welcomed by both an amiable host and a warmly lit dining room; the aromas from the kitchen infusing the air didn’t hurt either.

The dining space at lee’s is compact and the decor subtle. The walls are painted a light beige, a darker toned chair rail spans the square room.Traditional korean unframed photos in varying sizes line the walls, boasting various views of south korea’s cities and countryside.


A handful of tables and chairs are set at the entry, adjacent to the host stand, while the majority of the seating is located in a side room, booths covering one wall with a mix of four and six tops filling in the center.

A select few tables at the front have silver rectangle insets at their center, a nod to the restaurant’s history of offering the interactive experience of tabletop korean barbecue. Alas, this practice has been discontinued at lee’s, however, its current menu offers plenty of variety.

Broken into seven sections, lee’s menu is extensive, running from nearly 20 appetizers, including familiar korean favorites like the seafood pancake and kimbap, to a few dozen entrees.Just right requisite, crowd-pleasing dishes, such as the always satisfying bibimbap and bulgogi, are available in various forms, along with lesser known creations like gan-pung-gi ($14), the chicken-based side dish we chose to kick off our dinner on this particular night.

The gan-pung-gi presented us with small rounds of chicken coated in a thick batter, fried until the edges were perhaps a bit too tough, but the center remained tender. The slightly sweet sauce made sure each bite counts. The flavors were round and the sesame seed garnish a welcome touch.

The tofu kimchi starter ($9.50) made for a spicy counterpoint to the chicken. It boasts thin slices of silky yet firm tofu, lightly seared and adorned with a generous helping of vibrant kimchi.Location lee’s the kimchi was punchy in flavor, that oh-so-appealing fermented quality coming through at just the right level.

Less flavorful but not without merit was the vegetable tempura appetizer ($9.50), a small nest of shaved veggies joined by a light and airy, albeit under-seasoned, tempura batter. A quick dip in soy sauce allowed the flavor to fully form.

We transitioned to our main courses with the cold and delightfully saucy bibim naeng-myeon ($13.50), a dish anchored by slender buckwheat noodles bathed in a vibrant red, fiery gravy.

An extra large set of scissors accompanied the noodle bowl and our server recommending they be used to slice the tight ball of noodles into fork-sized bites.Just right

Slices of cucumber added to the icy nature of the dish and the bowl was crowned with half of a hard-boiled egg. It is one of those dishes that keeps one coming back for more.

Less appealing was the ever popular beef bulgogi ($15.50). Advertised as a "sizzling platter," the dish was anything but, the beef missing any sort of char at the edges and on the soft side. The sweet notes of the bulgogi marinade also dominated the overall flavor profile.

The spicy codfish stew — dae-gu maeun-tang ($15.50) — exhibited more balance. The cod was tender as could be and accompanied by shrimp and tofu, all swimming in a crimson-hued broth layered with just the right amount of fish flavor.Location lee’s

For those bibimbap devotees, I highly recommend stepping ever so slightly out of your comfort zone and sampling lee’s hot stone japchae deopbap ($14.50).

The typical bibimbap trappings of rice and veggies set in a screaming hot stone bowl are present in this dish but joined by japchae, translucent sweet potato noodles that contribute additional texture and intrigue. A fried egg and warm sauce drizzle are welcome cherries on top.

Lee’s does justice to the banchan offered along with every meal, small side dishes that are traditional in korean dining. The attention to detail at lee’s is a testament to the restaurant’s impressive tenure and, as we departed into the rainy night, I left with an understanding of why louisvillians have found culinary refuge at lee’s over all these years.Traditional korean