8st Kitchen took over the spot on West 8th Street recently vacated by another Korean restaurant, Sanmaroo. They’ve kept the staid gray tones, the wall that looks like a pile of firewood, and the incongruous posters of Radiohead album covers in the back. Sanmaroo was a middling place, just good enough to kill a craving for bi bim bop or pork bulgogi.
8st Kitchen has a menu divided into salads, pancakes, grilled meats, wok-fried dishes, “special” dishes, and noodles and rice. It doesn’t quite make it to middling: Many dishes are cooked carelessly and then squeeze-bottle-squirted with copious amounts of sauce to distract you from the essential fact that the food is not that good. Plus, the banchan–complimentary side dishes–that usually start a Korean meal were conspicuously absent.
The exception was a big bowl of galbi ddok bok ki ($14), shown above. It’s a spicy stew of chewy, cylindrical rice cakes and sliced short rib, with scallions to cut the richness. We kept the bowl around long after we had devoured the stew, so that we could dip under-seasoned food into it.
Dae goo jo rim ($14), or braised cod and daikon with a sweet soy-miso sauce, was overcooked, and the sauce was watery. But look at the squiggles!
Bi bim gook soo ($8), or cold rice noodles with thinly sliced romaine, was tasty enough, but drowning in squiggles of sauce.
Mung bean pancake (nok doo jon, $7) was crisply fried, but under-seasoned, tasting almost miraculously bland for something fried with pork in it.