Atmosphere: More carryout than dining room; no frills.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Price range: $2.10 to $6.70. Practically everything is $3 to $5.
Credit cards: None. Cash only.
Special facilities: Street parking only; accessible to wheelchairs, but dining area is small and crowded; no booster seats or highchairs.
Egg Roll House, essentially a carryout with a tiny dining room in a King Street storefront, will soothe your sensibilities, not with egg rolls but with good home-cooked Korean fare at very low prices--if you can tolerate a rough-and-ready operation.
This family-run restaurant offers all the goodness and all the inefficiencies of a homey kitchen. The 25-seat dining room, decorated with rose-printed wallpaper and gold-lined mirror tiles, is uncomfortable when crowded; the service, though well-meaning, is unprofessional.
Because the kitchen seems best able to handle orders one at a time, you might not get your soup until dinner has been delivered to the table that ordered ahead of you. In short, if the kids are fidgety or fretful, carry out dinner instead. Call ahead, since preparation takes about half an hour.
We had not anticipated such a small place. The night we visited, Egg Roll House's few tables were crowded with couples waiting for carryout orders, which issued slowly from the kitchen. We had plenty of time to peruse the menu, which offers both Korean and Chinese dishes. The Chinese choices sounded mundane: chow mein, fried rice and egg roll combination plates, and standard offerings like sweet and sour pork.
We ordered won-ton soup (75 cents), hot and sour soup (89 cents) and egg rolls (70 cents each) to sample the Chinese fare and moved on to what we thought would be a better bet in a Korean-owned restaurant--a full page of Korean selections including hearty soups, soft noodles served with various sauces, and the Korean dishes we like best: marinated and barbecued meats.
The won-ton and hot and sour soups were average; the egg rolls, although apparently freshly prepared, were too heavily filled with vegetables, and rather flavorless. A combination dish of oriental vegetables, shrimp, pork and vermicelli ($4) had something for everybody. The serving was hearty, the ingredients gently cooked and well-seasoned.
Soft noodle with dark pork sauce ($3.20 for a big bowl), would please the spaghetti lovers in any clan. The soy-based pork sauce was delicious but overthickened. Not so the simple-sounding pork with rice ($3.80). This dish--paper-thin slices of meat deftly seasoned with ginger, soy sauce, and the subtle bite of a little chili oil--is not to be passed up.
But we liked best the Egg Roll House's version of traditional Korean bulgogi ($3.95), a large serving of finely sliced and deliciously barbecued beef served with a heaping mound of rice.
Service was poorly paced but well-intentioned. After we had waited and waited for our soup, we suddenly were overwhelmed. When the soup finally showed up, so did the egg rolls, and our entrees arrived soon after.
Although Korean food is not served family-style, entrees at Egg Roll House are served in family-sized portions, and our waitress kindly gave us extra plates so we could share our four entrees among five of us. Even so, we found we had over-ordered.
Fortune and almond cookies are the only sweets offered at Egg Roll House, but we couldn't manage even those. Soup, egg rolls, and four main dishes had proved too much food for five of us and we carried leftovers home for the low price of $25.18, plus tip.