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Shilla Korean Cuisine

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Cost
R100
Ambience
Authentic culture
Food
Asian, Korean
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Khanya Mzongwana

Food
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!

Drinks
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.

Service
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.

Ambience
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.

And…
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.

(September 2016)

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Alida Ryder

    Food
    As far as unassuming restaurants go, Shilla Korean Cuisine has to take the cake. With their business-minded, almost office-like décor and setting, you would never expect the food to be as mind-blowing as it is. However, if you are after a traditional Korean experience, this is the one place you have to visit. The menu is varied and offers light meals, rice, noodles and the more traditional Korean Barbecue. The meat dumplings, filled with minced pork, are fragrant and flavourful and perfectly crispy. If you are feeling adventurous, order the seafood pancakes – you won’t be disappointed. Fresh calamari and prawns are fried in a delicate batter and are served, still sizzling, in a cast-iron pan. Dipped into soy sauce, they are simply delicious. For something a bit more substantial, the Yangnyum chicken, covered in a sweet, spicy sauce, is crisp and tender. But if it’s a traditional Korean meal you crave, the Yangnyom Galbi is a treat. Rib-eye beef is barbecued at your table and served with fresh vegetables, Korean sauces and soybean soup. Each table is generously laid with bowls of condiments. Kimchi, spicy daikon, salty glazed peanuts and grilled tofu all serve to complement your meal beautifully.

    Drinks
    The wine list is not worth a glance, but if you want to keep the experience authentic, give the Soju (traditional Korean rice liquor) a try. The owner also mentioned that they are happy for you to bring own wine. Their cinnamon tea, flavoured with black sugar, is absolutely delicious and comes served in beautiful, authentic Korean cups.

    Service
    The staff are friendly and the service is efficient. The owner is very eager to make suggestions and will guide you through your meal with ease.

    Ambience
    It’s almost an awkward space, minimally decorated with Korean tourism posters, but the food is truly the only thing that matters here. The owner’s broken English and enthusiasm for the food will leave you feeling charmed and excited for the meal to come.

    And …
    If you can, grab a table outside under the huge trees and allow your kids to explore the beautiful garden.

  • Alida Ryder

    Food
    As far as unassuming restaurants go, Shilla Korean Cuisine has to take the cake. With their business-minded, almost office-like décor and setting, you would never expect the food to be as mind-blowing as it is. However, if you are after a traditional Korean experience, this is the one place you have to visit. The menu is varied and offers light meals, rice, noodles and the more traditional Korean Barbecue. The meat dumplings, filled with minced pork, are fragrant and flavourful and perfectly crispy. If you are feeling adventurous, order the seafood pancakes – you won’t be disappointed. Fresh calamari and prawns are fried in a delicate batter and are served, still sizzling, in a cast-iron pan. Dipped into soy sauce, they are simply delicious. For something a bit more substantial, the Yangnyum chicken, covered in a sweet, spicy sauce, is crisp and tender. But if it’s a traditional Korean meal you crave, the Yangnyom Galbi is a treat. Rib-eye beef is barbecued at your table and served with fresh vegetables, Korean sauces and soybean soup. Each table is generously laid with bowls of condiments. Kimchi, spicy daikon, salty glazed peanuts and grilled tofu all serve to complement your meal beautifully.

    Drinks
    The wine list is not worth a glance, but if you want to keep the experience authentic, give the Soju (traditional Korean rice liquor) a try. The owner also mentioned that they are happy for you to bring own wine. Their cinnamon tea, flavoured with black sugar, is absolutely delicious and comes served in beautiful, authentic Korean cups.

    Service
    The staff are friendly and the service is efficient. The owner is very eager to make suggestions and will guide you through your meal with ease.

    Ambience
    It’s almost an awkward space, minimally decorated with Korean tourism posters, but the food is truly the only thing that matters here. The owner’s broken English and enthusiasm for the food will leave you feeling charmed and excited for the meal to come.

    And …
    If you can, grab a table outside under the huge trees and allow your kids to explore the beautiful garden.

    October 2015

  • Alida Ryder

    Food
    This unassuming spot is an absolute gem in the Pretoria food scene, as it is probably the only authentic Korean restaurant in town. The food is outstanding, with generous portions and rich flavour combinations. The pork donghwas (crisp pork schnitzel strips) delivers serious crunch and is served with a zesty, fresh cabbage slaw, sticky rice and a tangy tomato chutney. If you’re looking for something more authentically Asian, the noodles are fantastic, with the ojinguh guksu (rice noodles with calamari and red pepper paste) being a firm favourite. The table has a generous assortment of condiments – from kimchi and spicy daikon to salty, glazed peanuts and grilled tofu – before your main meal is served. If you’d like to share a meal, the shabu shabu is a fantastic option: as it consists of a large hot pot with various vegetables, seafood, beef and udon noodles. They also serve Korean barbecue with rib-eye beef, fresh vegetables, Korean sauces, soybean soup and the most delicious fried pork dumplings I’ve tasted in Pretoria.

    Drinks
    The wine list is almost non-existent, with uninspiring options. The owner does, however, make it clear that BYO is welcomed. For our part the wine was not missed, as the meal was served with the most incredible sujeonggwa, a strong tea made from cinnamon, ginger and black sugar. Enoy it piping hot in winter, or iced as a refreshing beverage during the summer months.

    Service
    The owner himself takes all the orders and he’s very eager to make suggestions. His broken English is endearing and charming and he tries his very best to make your meal a memorable one. The food is explained well and the service in general is friendly and attentive.

    Ambience
    It’s a very unassuming restaurant with minimal décor. The ambience is relaxed, and it’s quite clear that the focus is solely on the food.

    And…
    It’s interesting to see that majority of the diners were Koreans themselves, which speaks volumes for the authenticity of this small neighbourhood gem.

    (July 2014)

  • Food
    There aren’t too many Korean restaurants around, so it’s great to find a good one. Shilla has proved its weight in gold. The menu is smart and extensive, with accompanying pictures and explanations to guide your choices. Kimchi, a fermented relish as much part of Koreans’ diet as pap is to South Africans, has been toned down and dressed sweetly to tickle local taste buds; it accompanies all their dishes. From deep-fried seaweed rolls to a seafood udon (thick noodle) served in a stone pot, there’s much to discover and savour.

    Wine
    It’s better to take your own or check their selection before you go.

    Service
    The owner guides your choices and his wife is the chef.

    Ambience
    It’s small, if a little hidden away, but well worth seeking out. You won’t easily find a better example and introduction to the country’s cuisine.

    And...
    This is perhaps the least familiar of the Asian cuisines and a good example of what their palate is all about. (DdeB, October 2012)
  • Here it’s all about the food and discovering a cuisine that will expand your horizons in many different ways. With a husband and wife team, this spot offers quality food – even the local Korean nationals give it the thumbs-up. They’re happy to explain their cuisine and to help you make a choice. Visit for lunch or dinner with kids. With everything from kimchi and deep-fried seaweed rolls to seafood odon and plenty of beef, the menu is waiting for the adventurous to come explore. ­(Diane de Beer for EO mag 2014)

User reviews

  • We have been living up the road from Shilla for years and I cannot believe we never tried it. Last night was exceptional. The private dining room. The service. The food was out of this world. We will definitely be back and recommend Shilla to anyone looking for a taste exploration.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • Wonderful if you are looking for authentic Korean food. This is a family business so they quality of the food is always great. Please finish of your meal with some cinnamom tea - served hot or iced, a must have for cinnamom lovers.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • We ate at the restaurant last night. A family member used to live in Korea, so this was a trip down memory lane for her.

    The food was spectacular and the owner's personal service was awesome.

    • Ambience
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    • Food

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Dinner
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Smoking
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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