Among pun possibilities for restaurant names, Seoul could be on par with phở, capable of turning a name into something meaningful or more tongue-in-cheek. A new Korean fast-casual restaurant in Long Beach, Seoulmate, falls somewhere in between.
Opened by former New Yorker Jason Kang, Seoulmate sits near the intersection of one of the busier streets in a picturesque residential neighborhood, steps from a high school and extensive recreational park. Even at 2 p.m. on a recent visit, there's no shortage of traffic. The location is a perfect match, probably for both its owner and the customers who live nearby.
Seoulmate has been taking orders for its spicy pork burritos and bulgogi platters since Nov. 19. It's fittingly Southern Californian in setup. There's one seating area and a few iron patio tables, just off to the side of what must have at one time been the front yard of a house. That it's largely outdoors would only be an issue for those of us not used to the few weeks of the year when it rains or gets below 60 degrees.
The menu, tacked to one side of the house-turned-restaurant, is written in hot pink marker, complete with explanatory photos. There are about eight options right now, mostly meat and none without rice. It's a small collection of Korean-style meals, traditional and new, that we've grown more than familiar with in Los Angeles. There's kimchi pork stew, bibimbap, three platter choices in barbecue and three burritos — the latter trio bearing the imprint of the post-Kogi L.A. food scene.
An order like grilled kalbi is served with rice, salad and the requisite kimchi. For dessert, there are chocolate chip cookies and ice cream cookie sandwiches. Customers who order an entree will receive a complimentary cookie in a baggie tagged with a verse thoughtfully acknowledging the potential problems of finding parking in the area.
Seoulmate is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; closed on Sunday and Monday.
See also: 9 Best Burritos in Los Angeles
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