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Originally published Friday, January 1, 2010 at 7:54 AM

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Dining Deals

Head to Palace Korean in Bellevue for lunch deals to savor

Palace Korean offers lots of grills for dinners, but head there for lunch for the real deals. Bowls of spicy soup and short ribs can be had for less than $10.

Seattle Times Eastside reporter

Palace Korean Bar & Grill

Korean

15932 N.E. Eighth St., Bellevue

425-957-3522

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight daily

Etc: All major credit cards accepted, parking lot, no obstacles to access, full bar.

Prices: $ for lunch, $$ for dinner

In my present version of food utopia, dinner every night would combine cool piles of seasoned lettuce with sizzling platters of meat, the crunch of sour kimchi and the slurp of spicy soup. Credit the weather and a new cookbook, but I'm in the grip of a Korean obsession.

I've always adored Korean food but don't have it as much as I'd like; eating out Korean is not the financial equivalent of a bowl of pho.

That's where the Palace Korean Bar & Grill in Bellevue comes in. At the noon hour, diners can feast on a huge bowl of spicy tofu soup, snack on six kinds of banchan, including small plates of cold kimchi, seaweed salad, bean sprouts and mashed potatoes, be treated to a meal-ending ginger-and-cinnamon drink and get out of there for less than $10. On top of that, it's good.

The restaurant near Crossroads mall, with other locations in Tacoma and Federal Way, also has an impressive number of roomy booths with grills for cooking the aforementioned delicious platters of meat. But if you're looking for a comforting bowl of Korean soup post-holiday, there's no better time than noon.

The menu: Palace Korean's menu has a colorful menu with pictures of dinner standards such as beef short ribs for the grill ($18.95), spicy duck ($19.95) and a seafood casserole ($29.95). The lunch menu tends toward hearty, warming soups such as wonton and rice cake ($7.95) and a spicy soup with shredded beef and vegetables ($6.95).

Barbecue fiends also can choose from pork and short ribs for the lunchtime Palace special, which comes in a bento box along with rice, a gyoza, fried fish and coleslaw ($6.95-$7.95).

What to write home about: Green onions, noodles and egg swam in a generous bowl of moderately spicy shredded-beef soup that is bright with kimchi. It's perfect for a cold day. The Palace short-rib special came with a generous number of tender, meaty chunks that were compellingly sweet.

What to skip: It pains me to write this, but the pan-fried scallion green onion and vegetable pancake (yes, that's the real name, $14.95). The pancake comes loaded with squid and some oysters in a sizzling hot pan, and was tasty and crisp, if a bit thick. But the seafood couldn't justify the price tag. The gyoza and fried fish in the short-rib lunch special also were ho-hum and arrived cold.

The setting: The restaurant is rather sleek and quite large, with deep booths that are great for large groups to gather around a grill.

Summing up: Despite the pancake, the meal came out to a reasonable $32 plus tip, with lots of leftovers. And until my obsession subsides, I'll be permanently parked at a booth in the corner.

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or ntsong@seattletimes.com

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