Finding authentic cuisine from another country can be a challenge no matter where you are. Cincinnati luckily has a fair amount of diversity among restaurants, which gets even broader when you expand your scope to include the Greater Cincinnati region. Sometimes though, you just want the best of a certain type of cuisine – and helping you with that is the task we’ve given ourselves. This week’s challenge: Korean.
Finding authentic Korean cuisine can be a lot like trying to find authentic Chinese – often places serve dishes that have been over-sweetened or altered to fit “American tastes.” However, authentic Korean can be found with some research – not only in Downtown but even in the suburbs. Keep reading to find our list of the best authentic (or near-authentic) Korean restaurants in Downtown Cincinnati, south of the river and up in suburbia.
Downtown: Sung Korean Bistro
Sung Korean Bistro
700 Elm St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sung Korean puts a modern spin on the traditional Korean style and cuisine, thus the restaurant’s emphasis on “fusion”. While I can’t say Sung Korean is in my top 3 favorite Korean restaurants overall (see below for those!), it is the best in the Downtown area. The food and service are alright at best, but what makes Sung Korean Bistro unique is its sleek modern style, cleanliness and ambiance. You can find authentic fare like bulgogi, dolsot (stone bowl) bibimbap and soondubu jjigae (although they are a bit on the bland side) here as well as non-Korean items like cocktails (these are actually really good) and sushi. As a whole Sung is a bit pricey for what you get, but it is nearly in the middle of Downtown Cincinnati. Patio seating is also available. There is street parking and affordable lots within walking distance, so parking isn’t much of an issue.
South of the River: Riverside Korean Restaurant
512 Madison Ave.
Covington, KY 41011
For the best Korean food on the other side of the river, our go-to place is Riverside Korean. The food is not 100% authentic, but it’s awful close and it’s the best-tasting Korean near Downtown Cincinnati. The good selection of tasty dishes combined with several banchan (side dishes), and friendly service make them our favorite place near Downtown for Korean. They also offer grill-at-your-table Korean bbq. Unfortunately, none of the Korean places in Greater Cincinnati offer all-you-can-eat grill-at-your-table Korean bbq that I know of. The only other downsides to Riverside are that it’s a little expensive and it’s across the river – but at least it’s not difficult to find. Parking is street-only or there is a garage around the corner.
Near 71: SuRa Korean Cuisine
Sura Korean Cuisine
7876 Mason-Montgomery Rd.
Mason, OH 45040
Hidden inside a small strip mall in Mason is SuRa Korean Cuisine. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) SuRa often gets overlooked due to being next to the enormously popular Sichuan Bistro – thankfully they’re open on Mondays when Sichuan Bistro is closed. Despite being in the suburbs of Greater Cincinnati, SuRa Korean is definitely worth a shot: they offer a huge menu of delicious authentic Korean dishes, a homey atmosphere, traditional-style seating, grill-at-your-table Korean bbq and are excessively accommodating. All this great food and atmosphere come at a price though – it’s all the way in Mason and the food is a touch expensive. I must admit too that I am disappointed that they have been adding Japanese items to their already-huge menu, but I suppose it makes sense considering they get a lot of business from local Japanese companies.
Near 75: Asiana Korean Restaurant
Like SuRa, Asiana is kind of in the middle of nowhere. But, also like SuRa, I think it’s worth the drive to check them out. The name is a bit deceptive, as they serve Korean, Japanese and Chinese food (I guess that’s the “Asiana” part.) It’s very easy to get to, being in a shopping complex right off Cincinnati-Dayton road, but finding their hours is a puzzle we have yet to solve. They seem to be closed Mondays, but their actual hours the rest of the week are not posted anywhere easy to find. If you can actually get into Asiana it’s worth it to try out their great Korean food (don’t worry about the others.) Their prices are about on-par with SuRa and Riverside, and service isn’t quite as good as the other two, but the food is delicious and they offer a handful of traditional Korean dishes the other two don’t.
Which is your favorite?
Admittedly there’s not many places to eat Korean in the area, but there are more than these four – which is your favorite? Share your opinions in the comments below!