ours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday. Prices: A carry-out dinner Chinese style, sharing dishes, costs $5 to $7 per person including tax. Cards: Cash only.
If you blink as you drive up King Street, you might miss this shy little Korean-Chinese restaurant and carry-out. But once you stop for dinner, you'll probably want to keep the telephone number and address close at hand for those nights when you can't stand the thought of cooking but can't stand the thought of going out either, and just want to curl up, cozy, at home.
Egg Roll House is a pleasant place to get a decent carry-out meal, cheap. And we mean incredibly cheap: a meal for eight recently cost us $49.52.
Egg Roll is perched right on a corner, but the family members who run it seem almost embarrassed to announce themselves, as if that might be immodest. So at night the sign is dimly lit and the windows are cloaked in curtains, as if no one's home.
But inside, you're likely to find the tiny place filled (10 people is a crowd). You can eat at the carry-out if you want, but most of the customers at the four tables are waiting for their carry-out orders, packed into white styrofoam trays, neatly tucked into cutoff cardboard beer cases. More people might stay if the Egg Roll House ever gets a beer and wine license, but the owners don't seem interested.
For such a tiny kitchen, the restaurant offers an extensive menu, gargantuan, really -- more than 20 Korean dishes and about 100, yes 100, Chinese dishes. Now, understand, this is not exceptional cooking by any means. In fact, some of the food is close to mediocre. But many of the dishes are quite good.
Think of it this way: If you buy a used VW beetle with some weathered charm, do you expect it to perform like a car three times the price?
There doesn't seem to be a way to predict consistently which dishes are best -- except that pork dishes tend to be better than chicken, and simple dishes with only a few main ingredients usually are better than grandiose combinations -- so here's a scorecard, dish by dish.
Best dishes: From the Korean menu, order noodles with pork sauce, gan ja jang, tender bites of meat tossed with slivered cucumbers and onions and noodles in a dark, seductive sauce; bi bim bab, sort of Korea's version of salad nicoise, a refreshing mixture of tender sliced beef, cold cooked spinach and bean sprouts, all topped with a perfect fried egg and dabs of hot paste; jab chae bab, a wonderful medley of shredded zucchini and carrots and onions and noodles and pork and shrimp, slightly ginger-spicy.
The bul go ki, sliced marinated beef, is unusually good at the Egg Roll House considering the low price. And be sure to get kimchi ji gai, sliced pork and furls of hot, fermented cabbage -- perhaps Egg Roll House's simplest and best dish. Best on the Chinese menu: butterfly shrimp, covered with slabs of Canadian-style bacon and shredded lettuce in an eggy, faintly peanutty sauce; beef lo mein, with plenty of noodles that have a soothing, roasty flavor.
Pretty good: The egg rolls -- actually, they are quite nice, packed with vegetables and not at all greasy -- and Korean-style fried wontons, which resemble fried Chinese dumplings.
Not so good: Any of the dishes with squid, which tend to be chewy, like tire strips. We haven't been impressed with any of the more expensive Chinese "specialties" either, which tend to combine lots of different (often overcooked) meats in heavy pasty sauces.
The owners, who are extraordinarily friendly, appreciate it if you can place your order an hour or so before you pick it up, if it's a big order.
And it should be: clear the table or your floor, make plenty of room for Chinese cartons, break out a six-pack of your best beer. Eating this way with Egg Roll House could become a habit.