Five Great Korean Restaurants In Olympia and Lacey
Korean food can be described as a cuisine of extremes. Here's our guide to experiencing amazing Korean food here in Thurston County.
Hello, visitor, it’s Heidi here, Experience Olympia & Beyond’s Content and Brand Manager, and current resident restaurant nerd. Food can be subjective – what I adore you may not quite care for, and you have every right to feel that way. These are just my thoughts about the food I’ve enjoyed in our region lately. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.
For me, Korean food can be described as a cuisine of extremes. The seafood is freshly caught and often still moving, soup is served scalding hot and still bubbling in cauldrons, cold food is served in bowls of ice, it’s really red, it’s really spicy, it’s super flavorful, and there is no shortage of garlic.
I suppose its extremeness is why out of all the restaurants serving Asian cuisine right now, I’m seeking out Korean food the most. It can be like a hardcore, yet loving, face-punch of flavor, and while I consider myself a highly-sensitive introvert, I also conversely crave “more feelings”. Kind of how I often feel lonely but hate being around a bunch of people. (Sorry, people, I just do.)
If you’re also a lover of Korean cuisine and have found your way to us from the north, perhaps you know that Tacoma (specifically the neighborhood of Lakewood) has the best K-Town outside of L.A. From the mid ‘60s to the early ‘70s, immigration restrictions on Asian countries eased and tens of thousands of Koreans flooded into the country, leaving behind a war-torn country and joining friends and family in L.A. before expanding to the PNW. The Koreatown that sprang up in Tacoma area has, luckily for us, spread its influence south into Lacey and Olympia, and it’s these five restaurants I’m featuring in this restaurant crawl.
Hotstone Authentic Korean Cuisine
I hadn't lived in Olympia long before I began frequenting this downtown Olympia favorite. I even introduced the rest of the Experience Olympia Team to their spicy delights when I got to pick a group lunch spot on my first day at work.
Hotstone Authentic Korean Cuisine restaurant serves up exactly that - authentic Korean dishes including Bi Bim Bap, a variety of soft tofu and traditional soups, grilled meats, and Bubble Tea. Dine with other Oly locals, or take your food to go, you won't be disappointed.
K-Town Rice Bowl & Korean Fusion Deli
Yep, K-Town has traditional Korean dishes focusing on grilled meats and bibimbap, but for me, the highlight here is the emphasis on street food. My favorites: the deep fried japchae (stir-fried glass noodles) rolls, the K-Town fries (cheddar cheese, honey mayo, yum yum sauce) and the deep fried rice cakes and sausage skewers (so dduck so dduck).
You'll also find other Asian cuisines (and even a cheesesteak Philly would be proud of) fusing with Korean ingredients. Be sure to check out their Bento boxes, katsu, teriyaki, udon, and Korean-influenced banh mis.
DON'T MISS: Their extensive bubble tea selection.
Korean ingredients meets Chipotle-style ordering - get your Bulgogi, Korean Fried Chicken, or Sweet Potato noodles as a bowl, a salad, or a burrito. This fast-service spot has seemingly endless options as well as a stellar list of apps and side dishes like Korean mandoo dumplings, kimchi, Korean curry, and a wide variety of sauces.
New Gangnam Korean BBQ
If you're looking for a traditional Korean BBQ experience where marinated meat and fresh vegetables are grilled at your table, look no further. New Gangnam offers an "all-you-can-eat" experience so plan ahead and bring a lot of friends and family - just remember you've got to eat everything you order (no take-home options available for the all-you-can-eat bbq) so order judiciously and be respectful. Also at this location you'll also an impressive offering of soups (an integral part to any Korean meal), and an extremely reasonable lunch menu.
Not gonna lie, this is one of my favorite "hidden gems" in Lacey, and it's not just because it's right down the street from my apartment. The banchan is always spot on (you can pretty much make a meal out of the banchan), their pajeon (Korean pancakes) are massive, and yes, they also serve grilled meats and bibimbap, but what I go there for are their soups and stews. Bubbling caldrons of steaming spicy beef soup, braised seafood stew, and spicy tofu soup (I like mine with spam) can't get to my table fast enough. This spot is tiny, and assuming, but a gold mine of Korean cuisine treasures await.
Korean Restaurant Crawl Map
Hotstone Authentic Korean Cuisine
119 5th Ave SW Olympia, Washington 98501 (360) 596-9332
K‑Town Rice Bowl & Korean Fusion Deli
3959 Martin Way E G, Olympia, Washington 98506 (360) 455-3328
K-Town Rice Bowl & Korean Fusion Deli3959 Martin Way E G,
Olympia, Washington 98506
5718 Pacific Ave SE #D Lacey, Washington 98503 (360) 742-3386
New Gangnam Korean BBQ
7131 Martin Way SE Olympia, Washington 98516 (360) 455-9292
7515 Martin Way E Olympia, Washington 98516 (360) 459-3364
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