As part of my ongoing efforts to try restaurants on J. Gold’s list of 101 restaurants, I had lunch at Soban, a Korean restaurant on Olympic in K-Town. I thought it was great, though it has inspired the wrath of quite a few Yelpers for some reason.
The dish they are most famous for is a whole raw blue crab in a soy sauce sauce. This dish has the peculiar name “ganjang-gejang.” I thought it was fabulously good. The raw blue crab was creamy, sweet, and delicious. It was big and had lots of oozing meat to suck from the claws. The soy sauce sauce was delicious too. It was slightly sweet and tasted umami-ish, like mirin. There were also wilted green onions and roasted garlic. Great dish!
I also had the broiled atka mackerel (first time I’ve heard of this fish). It was simple but good. Crispy skin. Rich, brown, flaky meat.
The mackerel came with a soybean paste stew. I don’t have any love for Korean stews, and this one didn’t win my affection. It looked like a good effort, but I’m not sure what the goal is or why they eat this stuff. (Secret: I don’t think kimchi is that great either.)
The restaurant several 12 (twelve) complementary panchan dishes. I loved these overall. It’s the best panchan spread I’ve ever had.
I really enjoyed this restaurant and look forward to returning.
We were there in June (?). They were out of the crab when we went but we still enjoyed two types of broiled mackeral offered that night. Never had atka before - while my wife and I liked it, our kids really enjoyed it because it wasn’t fishy to them as they had expected.
Soban is expensive, but probably the best restaurant in K town. When I want to go all out, a friend and I will usually get 1 crab, 1 galbi jim (the best one in town), and 1 spicy cod. That meal for two is in the 120 range, but is way too much food. If you got the crab and the cod, you’re probably looking at 60 + tax and tip.
This was my first time at Soban and my first time eating this crab, so I don’t purport to have any special knowledge. The crab is easy to eat once you realize that you’re supposed to pick up the claws, which are chopped so the meat is exposed, and suck out the meat (after dipping it in sauce). And for the innards you use a spoon.
I didn’t call in advance. I just went there and ordered it, and so did the lady next to me.
A similar raw blue crab dish is offered by Ruen Pair and other Thai places. I have discovered I love raw blue crab.