Aptly nicknamed “Korean Town,” Sukhumvit Plaza on Soi 12 is home to a herd of Korean barbecue restaurants. After 10 years in the business, Doorae still remains one of the most popular places—and for good reason. It is an unpretentious three-story spot with bright yellow walls and red booths, but Doorae has a nice buzz: the room is animated with casual conversation, the air filled with the delicious aroma of grilled meat and the walls are covered with autographed photos of local celebrities and stars, as well as a few Korean boy bands who’ve eaten here, star proof of the restaurant’s long-standing reputation. Once you’re seated, the complimentary banchan (small side dishes) are brought to the table. On a recent visit, however, we were disappointed by the middling quality and the tiny portions. While we enjoyed the pungent kimchi, refreshing wakame seaweed and thinly sliced cucumber in sweet vinegar, the pan-fried eggplant was cold and the miniature cockles were beyond lifeless. Fortunately, when it comes to barbecue meat, Doorae is more reliable. The menu offers different cuts of beef and pork destined for the grill. Prices ranging from B350-450 might seem high, but you get what you pay for. The sirloin beef is tender and nicely marbled while the marinated short ribs were juicy and well-seasoned. Besides the beef, the kitchen also whips up a few other traditional favorites like zesty bibimbap (rice with meat, vegetables and egg in a hot stone pot), hearty hae mool pa jeun (seafood pancake with spring onions) and flavorful kimchi ji gae (kimchi soup with tofu and pork). The most impressive thing about Doorae is the service. The always-smiling servers are prompt, well-informed and exceptionally attentive. To Korean-food novices, they explain, give suggestions and demonstrate how things are done. Really, you can just sit back and watch your meat sizzle. The waitresses frequently pop up at your table to help keep an eye on how your meat is cooking, change the grill and refill your banchan and basket of crisp greens before you have to ask. As a result, and despite the small portions, Doorae makes a solid choice if you have a craving for barbecued meat and homestyle Korean fare. Corkage B200.
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