WHO’S IN CHARGE Hae Sook Kim, a slender, elegantly attired woman, is often found overseeing the restaurant she opened with her husband, Richard Kim, this summer in Medford. The new location, located in the former Chung Ki Wa space, is an offshoot of the Sura Korean BBQ she opened in 1997 in Johnston, R.I.; she also owns another restaurant in Providence.
She says she had so many customers driving to Rhode Island from Massachusetts that she decided to open a Sura BBQ in the Boston area that would serve authentic Korean dishes. The name “sura” means a table of food prepared for a king. The Medford restaurant features marinated meats, purple rice, kimchi, and other traditional fare, served in royal portions.
THE LOCALE Municipal governments sometimes move more slowly than local businesses so just ignore the letters that may be still attached to the granite above the door to Sura BBQ Boston; manager Jason Wang said the restaurant is waiting on paperwork for the sign change. Inside, the layout is somewhat similar to that of the previous tenant; don’t be discouraged if it’s crowded (which is often the case) as the place seats up to 120 diners in two rooms. There’s plenty of parking in the area, although Medford’s meter system can try your patience.
ON THE MENU Immediately upon seating, we were given complimentary bowls of kimchi (which can be saved for grilling) and lettuce (which can be saved to wrap the meats) and samples of flavorful bean paste sauce and garlic sauce.
The menu can be a bit tricky for the uninitiated to parse so bear with me here. You can order entrées like Haemul Pa Jeon, traditional Korean pancakes with seafood and scallions ($12), which were thick and satisfying. There are pan-fried dumplings (10 for $10), crispy and tasty (as well as vegetarian), and Sura Hot Plates ($15) with steamed rice and choice of spicy pork, squid, beef, or chicken, either Bulgogi (marinated) or teriyaki.
If you like cold noodles, you can order the Mool Naengmyeon ($12), buckwheat noodles with vegetables and egg in a cold broth, or Bibim Naengmyeon ($13), noodles with vegetables and a spicy finish.
But the star here is the barbecue. You may order “All You Can Eat” — either Option A ($26 per person) or Option B ($29 per person); the latter gives you more choices. They are bountiful, ranging from beef, pork ribs, chicken, squid, octopus, and vegetables. Be aware: the menu warns that you can’t take leftovers home.
Our very helpful and patient waiter suggested that we try the Option A combo for two ($33). This comes with the Korean pancake, dumplings, steamed egg, a choice of either soft tofu stew or bean paste stew, and three items from the barbecue menu. We opted for marinated beef, chicken, and mixed vegetables. There’s also an Option B combo ($40 for two).
OK, got it? Let’s put it this way: Our waiter fired up the small grill at our table and a few minutes later returned with heaping plates of raw meat and chicken and vegetables, a feast for the eyes. Everything was grilled to taste at our table. The steamed egg came in a stone bowl — very light and bland — while the bean paste stew set a campfire in our mouths but with a nice twist. The meats were juicy and well marinated, and the waiter stopped by frequently to ensure everything was cooking properly.
We found ourselves lingering at the table (as did many of the parties around us). No wonder: Eating like a king also means taking your royal time with a meal.
Sura BBQ Boston, 27 Riverside Ave., Medford, 781-391-5606.
Stephanie Schorow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .