Shilla's unassuming surrounds make the food so much more unexpectedly impressive. Portions are generous and so are the traditional condiment offerings, which include blanched salted peanuts, silken tofu and kimchi. Their light meals are delicious and satisfying, more specifically the warm kimchi-stuffed pancakes – the kimchi is delicious, spicy, pleasantly garlicky and the veggies are crisp and fresh. The seafood pancakes are a great choice with plenty of calamari, shrimp and crunchy, fresh spring onion. There's a good selection of sushi available, too.
The pork dumplings are a good size and are best served deep fried to a perfectly golden brown. For noodle lovers, there's a fantastic variety of delicious noodle dishes, a favourite being their meat-free japchae – sweet potato noodles with stir-fried fresh vegetables. In the way of mains, the jeyuk dosirak, a more traditional Korean dish, is a sumptuous preparation of tender sliced and stir-fried pork belly served with a fiery sauce and condiments. The seasoned sweet potato noodles make another appearance in the beautiful bosotbulgogi joengol with thinly sliced and marinated strips of beef and mushrooms in a piping hot broth, made to be shared between two to three people.
Also a must-try is Korea's answer to beef tartare: yukhe. This is slivers of raw beef marinated with a bit of garlic and soy sauce, topped with an egg yolk and served with freshly cut pear. It's a simple dish with mind-blowing flavour and texture. There's a small selection of desserts to try – the most popular is certainly the chapssalddok: sweet, sticky rice cakes served with red bean paste. Delicious!
There is not much on offer in the way of alcoholic beverages, however, you're more than welcome to bring your own wine to enjoy with your meal at no extra cost. There are the standard soft drinks and hot beverages on offer with a few traditional teas and suzunggwa, a fragrant cinnamon punch served with dried persimmon. The green tea is a refreshing end to a great meal served in traditional clay tea pots and cups.
The owner greets each customer warmly at the entrance and you'll be promptly seated and served by one of Shilla's friendly waiters. Service is highly organised and the chefs take pride in the way they present the food.
There's not a lot going on where decor and ambience are concerned, but that's certainly not what Shilla cares to be well known for. It is a minimalist space that's functional.
An authentic must-try dish is the yangnyeom galbi. This traditional Korean offering is elaborately served in a dish, which allows for the steak to be prepared at your table with a deeply flavoursome soy bean soup and fresh vegetables as accompaniments.
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