St. Paul >Food & Dining > Sole Cafe
684 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN | Directions 5510444.961720 -93.166868
Sun-Thur 11a-9p (Wed-Closed) Fri & Sat 11am-1am
Neighborhoods: Hamline - Midway
The Best Korean Restaurant - 5 Stars – I am ½ Korean and often crave some good ole traditional Korean cooking, like mom used to make. When I have the need for a home cooked meal I go to Sole Café. I found this little gem by accident in the City Pages, noted as the Best Korean restaurant of the year. I was surprised to find the food served at Sole Café to be as authentic as meals made by my Korean born Mother. I have visited many other St. Paul Korean Restaurants and found the food to be a dumbed version of Korean cuisine. I will continue to frequent Sole Café every time I long for a home cooked traditional Korean meal.
Great spicy Korean food – We visited Sole Cafe on a Sat. evening at 6 and we were the only customers which allowed the owner lady to shower us with her full attention. According to the owner she has only been open for 5 months and you can tell from her demeanor that she is very proud of her cooking.
My husband & I both love spicy food so I ordered the beef stew and my husband ordered pork bulgogi. Both dishes were delicious and had their own unique flavors. The beef in the stew came with bone and tendon so I picked it up with my fingers, but then you would do that with Baffalo wings. She proudly makes everything herself and the kimchi was the best I have ever had. We love the little side dishes for their each individual flavors and she brought more out if we wanted more. It was like back at Mom's kitchen.
The decor is warm & cozy with lots of wood which lends a Korean country cottage feel.
The entree prices range from $9 - $13. I don't know what kind of beer they serve since it wasn't listed on the menu, however, there is a bar.
I can't wait to go back & try the other menu items.
The Best Korean Food in St. Paul, Maybe the Midwest! – Reopened as a restaurant from a karaoke bar a few months ago, this is the best Korean food I've had in Minnesota or San Francisco, on par with the best I had in Hawaii. This place blew me away! I never ate here before because of this Citysearch's bad reviews, but I wanted Korean food on a Tues, when Mirror of Korea is closed. I asked the cashier at Kim's Oriental Market where a good place was to go and she pointed across the street to Sole Cafe. My husband and I were skeptical but we gave it a shot. Oh my god, I'm so glad we did! The best Korean food I had since Sorabol in Honolulu.
The food --- I knew it was going to be awesome as soon as we received our little dishes of kimchi and panchan (cold vegetable dishes). They served kong namool (lightly marinated soy bean sprouts), which I only ever see at the better restaurants. All the vegetables were crunchy and fresh, which is always a crapshoot at other restaurants. The kimchi too was freshly made and delicious, according to my husband (I don't eat kimchi). I was told that the owner makes the namool fresh everyday and the kimchi every few days. The spinach for the sigeumchi namool was picked up at a farmer's market. The kalbi is thick meaty tender and rich. The pork bulgogi is so tender and spicy. The sauces for each were so flavorful. The grilled mackeral was crispy salty oily delicious. The food was such a huge surprise.
I've been there many times since and it has been excellent consistently. I've taken my brother and referred all my friends to this place, I've sent customers of mine to this place. I really don't want this place to fail because it is a gem in the the Midwest, no joke. They have amazing chigae (spicy stew), ojingae bokum (spicy squid), chap chae (clear noodle stir fry). They have an amazing lunch special from 11am to 2:30pm, $8 for many different dishes.
As with many home grown immigrant run places, the service is a little different than what you get at an "American" restaurant. The owner is very friendly and chatty (which I like) and does all the cooking 6 days a week (they're closed on Wed). The waitress is sweet and a little bit flighty. There might be a little miscommunication or forgetfulness, but they correct everything quickly so give them a chance. Please tip them as well as if you'd tip a fancy place, they deserve it.
If you love Korean food, you must eat here.
Korean Food for Tourists / Americans – This was about your average Americanized Korean food. Not bad, but not good either. Prices were OK, but the service was a little slow and communicating was difficult.
Korean Food – When I went to Sole, it had a different taste from Shilla the other Korean restuarant that I eat at. I didn't really like the taste of their little dishes that they brought out. I'm not Korean, though many Koreans like Sole because it taste more like it in Korea. So if you want a natural taste of Korea, go here.
Yuck – Horrible service! Food was the worst and I am very into Korean food. The staff are so very rude and amazingly unhelpful. Don't bother driving to suburban hell to find this dead little cafe.
give it a try – An insider tip: Korean speakers will fare well here; bring one along. (Pick me!) :) This little place, and I do mean little, is different from the other Korean restaurants, with both pros and cons. Pros: The food is closer to "real" Korean than you'll find at Shilla or Hoban, and maybe Mirror of Korean too. Cons: Seating is limited, and although I've never seen this place full, go elsewhere if you have a large group. There is usually only one server and you'll need to be patient if your party is larger than 3-4 people. If you're looking for kalbi (grilled short ribs), try another place. Sole only has kalbi ch'im, which is not the same.
Reborn! – Sole Cafe used to be open only in the evenings, but it was recently changed and now serves lunch and dinner. On my most recent visit, a new server was just starting so the service was on the slow side. This place adds some nice variety to my usual rotation of Korean restaurants. Sole offers some Korean dishes the other places don't, and in many ways is more authentic. If you don't mind the endless loops of karaoke pop playing in the background on the speakers, try this place.
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