Editor’s Note: This article was originally published to News Break – follow me there.
Apparently Sa Ri One in Brandon has stopped offering AYCE Korean BBQ and is now charging per pound for meat according to a news tip. Please be advised.
Korean food has been in Tampa for quite some time, but only really became popular around town after the Hallyu korean cultural wave hit (thanks K-Pop and Korean dramas) and more people became interested in trying Korean food locally. Even with this there is still only a modest amount of restaurants compared to neighboring Orlando.
My advice for someone who has never had Korean food before is to start with sweeter dishes like Bulgogi and Galbi and then to work your way towards a more traditional dish like bibimbap which is an egg with assorted veggies and sometimes beef.
Once you’ve been introduced, I recommend trying the soups (don’t order a ton because they are huge) and then more traditional dishes, such as bossam (Korean pork lettuce wraps), budae jjigae (army stew), jajangmyeon (black bean noodles), and you really can’t go wrong with Korean fried chicken. The great thing is that Korean food is really diverse and almost none of these places make things the same so there is plenty to try.
Here is a list of 7 local Korean restaurants in Tampa that you can check out:
One Family Korean Restaurant: This has long been one of my go-to restaurants. There was a karaoke spot upstairs in the past and the downstairs is very quaint with only a few booths. Their menu is a little limited, but I have had solid experiences at One Family for years. It helps to have a Korean community close by and even Korean grocery stores around the corner. They have plenty of specials regularly and this place always makes me think of mom-and-pop with usually just one server on shift. I really miss coming to eat there. 7030 West Hillsborough Avenue, Tampa, FL 33634. (813) 901-0153.
Soul of Korea: As a USF student in this past, Soul of Korea was my go-to when the Korean cravings were hitting me. Located off 50th street just about 10 minutes from USF, Soul of Korea has changed ownership in the past few years but still has delicious eats. The most recent owner was a successful restaurateur in South Korea. I used to come by quite a bit for Korean fried chicken and the dinner for two which has gone up in price a little bit, but comes with a ton of food. I watched the owner make some kimbap one day and was impressed with how thorough the prep work was. 7612 North 56th Street, Tampa, FL 33617. (813) 989-9030.
Sa Ri One Tampa: I have long been a customer of this Korean spot off Cypress in what is quickly being reshaped into Midtown just between West Tampa and WestShore. Sa Ri One has all your Korean food essentials, but I usually just order a bulgogi or galbi dinner. Their soups are great as well. Overall a solid spot. You’ll spend about $15-20 for an entree. They don’t give a ton of banchan (side dishes) with the food, but it’s a good time. 3940 W Cypress St, Tampa, FL 33607. (813) 874-2911.
Sa Ri One Korean BBQ and Sushi: This is a Brandon spinoff concept of a location out on Hillsborough Avenue and
they serve all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ and sushi as well as traditional Korean food. The AYCE is a little too pricey for me, but their Galbi Tang was killer. I want to try more things on the menu, but I simply haven’t made it over often enough to get a full feeling for this spot. This restaurant location has turned hands many times, so hopefully they will succeed here. 1025 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 548-0024.
Sushi Ninja Tampa: Sushi Ninja has two locations, one in Tampa and one in Brandon. Both have plenty of options but I am partial to the Tampa location on Kennedy as I feel the menu is wider and filled with more Korean food options. One of my favorite things on the menu in Tampa is their Korean fried chicken. It’s excellent. Most things are very tasty though and you can find some hard-to-find Korean food here. 3018 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33609. (813) 898-2874.
Chop Chop Shop: This isn’t traditional Korean food at all, but the owner fuses Japanese and Korean cuisine and it really works. Chop Chop Shop opened as a food truck and then eventually made their way into Seminole Heights and has been growing over the years. Their burgers and sandwiches are absolutely delicious and so are the side dishes. I recommend pretty much everything they make. You can’t go wrong here. 4603 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33603. (813) 770-7306.
Gangchu Chicken & Beer: This spot just opened in Seminole Heights from the same owner as Ichicoro Ramen and focuses specifically on Korean Fried Chicken with a number of sauces and methods available. It’s too soon to make a judgement on it just yet, but there is already a ton of buzz for this place suggesting that Korean food is in high-demand in Tampa. 6618 North Nebraska Avenue, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 723-4264.
Photo Credit: Changupn, Bourree, Yuri9092 on Pixabay