Seoul Food

Lunch in Laurelhurst doesn't have to be boring.

LET'S BE CLEAR ABOUT one thing: Sunrice is in a strip mall. Indeed, a Laurelhurst strip mall. But despite its bourgeois digs, this lunchtime-only takeout joint specializes in good, fast Korean food. While Sunrice's take on Korean fare is more suited to the tastes of a second generation Korean Seattleite, it still offers plenty to make Grandma feel like she's back in Seoul. The Pacific Northwest influence is especially noticeable in the meats (free-range) and fish (wild-caught) the proprietor, Unju Kim, chooses to use. There are two specials, changed daily. Here's where Korean food for second-genners comes most to the fore. There's a salmon special ($7.25) every day but Friday, from completely untraditional lemon and dill to slightly traditional miso-carrot sauce. The other daily special is also Pacific Northwest- inspired.Tuesday, for instance, offers a coconut curry chicken with potatoes ($5.95), a loose interpretation of a modern Korean dish and a very hearty lunch. A few traditional dishes are offered daily such as pibimpap ($5.25), a medley of vegetables with chicken, beef, or tofu and a very Korean red pepper paste; and chapchaebap ($5.25), noodles with vegetables and meat or tofu. The bulgoki ($5), grilled beef, chicken, or tofu, includes a drink and is the best deal in the house. Be warned: the beef bulgoki, while tasty, is more chewy than it should be. You're much better off with the chicken or tofu in Sunrice's tangy, sweet sauce. Made in-house, it's reminiscent of Korean barbeque. It's available in a convenient take-home bottle, so you, too, can practice Kim's Pacific Northwest-style Korean cuisine. Everything, daily special or otherwise, is served with chapchae, traditional Korean noodles made from sweet potatoes; a green salad or steamed soybeans; and, very blue-collar Korean brown rice. The short on cash can still get a delicious and filling lunch at Sunrice: Just order a bowl of miso soup ($1.50)"The Japanese stole it from us," my companion told meand a side of fresh and crunchy kimchi ($1) for the perfect light lunch.

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