Vladivostok has a wide range of Korean restaurants. However, local fans of Korean food cannot agree on which one is the best. We decided to show you two opposites: the authentic North Korean restaurant “Pyongyang”, and the trendy but no less authentic restaurant “Shilla”.
Once inside “Pyongyang”, you will find yourself in a makeshift jungle: vines from artificial flowers and toy monkeys hang from the ceiling. Proud but beautiful and friendly peahen-waitresses, wearing colorful national costumes, float between tables. All waitresses are actual North Korean ladies from North Korea.
A stern man in a black suit with a badge on his lapel supervises them. The restaurant visit would feel like a total adventure if you imagine that this man is from the North Korean special services.
Koreans love to dine in private groups away from snooping eyes, so every Korean restaurant, in addition to the main dining hall, features dining rooms for 6 or more people. These small dining rooms subtly resemble a train’s compartment — cramped, stuffy, but hip and friendly. By the way, “Pyongyang” is the only place in Vladivostok where North and South Koreans can actually be in the same place at the same time. (Both governments ban their citizens from visiting each other or even exchanging letters, phone calls and emails.)
The menu selection has a very promising array of choices, all of which are tasty and low in calories and deserve recognition. By the way, Korean cuisine is generally considered one of the healthiest in the world.
For drinks we would recommend trying the rice brew “Makgeolli.” The “official” menus of many Korean restaurants don’t carry “soju”, which is a rice vodka, but all you have to do is ask your waitress for it and she will serve it to you.
After soju shots, an evening song performed by the Korean waitresses sounds much better to visitors, regardless of nationality.
Verkhneportovaya Str., 68В, phone: +7 (423) 273-92-01, open: 12:00AM–12:00PM
“Shilla”, on the other hand, is a high-end, fine dining establishment. This place will open your eyes to what a well-rounded Korean restaurant looks and tastes like. A dinner with a meat entrée usually costs about 2,000–2,500 rubles, but the experience is very satisfying and worth the sacrifice.
The restaurant boasts having staff from the South Korean Consulate, and Mr. Consul himself is a regular. Most of the ingredients are shipped directly from South Korea.
The interior design is very minimalistic. Visitors get a Korean vibe only from the big tables suited for six guests, the exhaust fans hanging down from the ceiling above the table grills, and the carved wooden shutters in the windows. The stark decor amplifies the high-end status of the establishment, however it does not mean that you can’t relax and have a good time here (remember to ask for Soju! See above).
At the end of the meal visitors are served fruit or digestif. Shilla’s version of digestif is a spicy drink with ginseng, cinnamon, and pine nuts. Desserts are usually not on the menu, but if a guest so wishes, he will be given a scoop of ice cream for the road.
Partizanskiy prospekt, 12А, phone: +7 (423) 242-22-20, open: 12:00AM–12:00PM
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Rule number one — reserve a table in advance!