Nolbu Mini Gastropub

nolbu4633 Convoy St., yelp reviews

Nolbu is a mid-sized Korean pub with a number of eye-catching cocktails and good food.  The interior decor is weird – there’s some kind of camouflage strung with bottle tops across the ceiling, like a wino’s Christmas decorations.  The server who waited on us may have been the nicest, most helpful service industry professional I’ve encountered in recent memory. Not that I mind my food with a touch of sass, even a hint of disdain, but how she managed to take our order with a straight smiling face when none of us ordered booze is beyond me.  Luckily, there was more to the place than drinks.

Korean pancakes – “jeon”, wikipedia tells me – are a staple of most of the Korean places we go, and my affection for them continues to grow.  Some kind of moist potato/egg flour is often fried up with scallions or mixed seafood; at Nolbu, we tried the vegetable pancake which, in my opinion, took the, uh, cake for best jeon we’ve encountered so far.  Crispy on the outside, mushy on the inside, full of squash and sprouts, sprinkled with strips of salty seaweed, yum.

We also tried the bibimbap – lightly burnt rice with egg, beef bits, and greens – which came on a hot plate rather than in the usual stone pot.  It was blander than most (and, can you believe it?, I had to hunt through the restaurant for some sriracha), but it came with a fair helping of steamed veggies – cabbage, zucchini, carrots – which were better prepared than most with a subtle, healthy flavor.

I would have liked to try the Galbi ribs – my personal favorite of the center-plate proteins available at your friendly neighborhood Korean BBQ joint – to find out if Nolbu is truly at the top of the list.  After all, if you’re in the mood, you can get soju here served in an open watermelon or a hollowed pineapple – talk about a party-starter!  But unfortunately there was a single glaring omission from Nolbu’s menu which pretty much disqualifies it from the Convoy Hall of Fame: no banchan.  The myriad little dishes of cold veggies which usually accompany a Korean meal and make it so festive were nowhere in evidence.  Frown-y face.

Still, seems like a great place for an after-work drink and a vegetable jeon.

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