Over the years in Raleigh, I’ve watched the Glenwood South area grow and evolve over time. Known more for its bars and drinks rather than food, there has slowly been additions to the restaurant scene in this popular Raleigh neighborhood. The addition of the new Seoul 116 in the old More space is part of that restaurant diversity in the hood and I’m really happy to have it around! Seoul 116 is part of the same restaurant group that includes City Market Sushi and Sushi Lulu so I was excited to see what they had done with this long-standing, often opened location.
If you’ve lived in Raleigh a while, you’ll recognize the new Seoul 116 space as one that used to house the ex-Blue Martini, Vintage Bar and Lounge, Mantra and more (so sad). In some ways it’s a great space for a restaurant and in other ways, a huge challenge. Parking here is a bit better off the main Glenwood strip and Seoul 116 shares a small parking lot with Clouds Brewing. Hop up a half flight of stairs and you’ll be on the long and nicely covered Seoul 116 patio. Inside, the interior hasn’t changed too much from its previous incarnation. The long space is centered around a high-top brick bar with plenty of four-tops lining the space. Up front and in back are two semi-private party rooms. The semi-glossy concrete floor and charcoal-gray ceiling gives off a feel of subdued industrial ambiance. And the metal frame and wood chairs maintain a slightly modern feel to the space!
Over the course of multiple visits, I’ve had the pleasure of dining at the bar and in the main dining room. Seoul 116 has a nice selection of wines, beers, sake-soju and cocktails for your meal. The Soju Capri cocktail is the house cocktail and totally worth ordering. It comes in flavors ranging from lychee, lemon and berry and comes served in a transparent plastic pouch, complete with a glowing LED ball! Like a child’s Capri Sun juice pouch, this Capri cocktail is all about fruit and sweet. If you want something more basic, go for some Korean soju (rice wine) or their fun beer slushie capped with a icy froth!
Moving on to the main menu at Seoul 116, you’ll find a nice assortment of small and large plates in the $7 to $14 range which is wonderfully reasonable. The plates at Seoul 116 are similar to what you might find in Korea today, so it goes beyond your standard Korean bulkogi, galbi and bibimbop. You’ll find more modern dishes like truffle corn and cheese, kim-chi fried rice and more! The plates are organized around meat/seafood, rice/soup and veggies with about 20 to choose from in total.
Some highlights off their small plates menu includes the interesting truffled corn and cheese. Served in a cast iron platter and layered with gooey cheese, this vegetarian dish packs a lot of flavor and texture in one dish. Dip the thin plantain chips in to scoop out the corn and melted cheese, wonderful stuff! Another phenomenal plate on Seoul 116’s menu is the fried purple potato. Yeah, it doesn’t sound like much but slivers of firm potato are coated in a crispy, honey-butter mustard and served with persimmon slices! A sweet and satisfying plate of potato goodness is all I can promise you and the rice cake on the side is a nice touch.
Seoul 116 offers up two kinds of sliders served on sweet brioche buns. Both the spicy pork and bulgogi sliders are fantastic served with scallions and either pickles or jalapeno for a bit of acid. Two of them will make for a light meal but love the tender meat on that sweet roll! A nice spin on a Korean burger.
For the other small plates, I’d recommend the kimchi fried rice which is wonderfully put together and served in a small cast-iron skillet. Lightly fried and spiced, toothsome short-grain rice served with thin-sliced sausage and a fried egg on top. Kimchi can be a bit over-powering (IMO) and they get the flavoring just right here. And love their shrimp pancake which is a small grilled round topped with fried shrimp, crispy potato strips and more. Lightly salted, the crunchy and tender pancake base makes a great foil for all the other goodies on top.
And of course the Korean fried chicken that people always seem to like. Oddly enough, it’s not one of my favorites here at Seoul 116. It’s served with a tangy sauce and some black sesame crumble so it looks beautiful but the skin doesn’t have that crunch I’m expecting with KFC. But I can tell you it’s a beautiful looking dish like all the plates that come out of Seoul 116’s kitchen. They use some really modern and hip ceramic-ware and bowls for their dishes.
Service at Seoul 116 has been very good across all my visits, they are usually well-staffed and attentive. If you haven’t noticed, I really do like what they are trying to do here at Seoul 116. The food here is sophisticated yet playful at really good price points. While most new Triangle restaurants are pushing entrees in the $20+ range, Seoul 116 keeps it really affordable with plates in the $16 and under range allowing you to share, along with mix and matching. And they food here is fantastic along with excellent presentation. So love what you’re doing, Seoul 116! Keep up the great cooking and I’m hoping that you’ll be the restaurant that will make this tough location work out. I for one, will be back soon to try more off your menu…
116 N West Street, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27603