Korean food is a relative rarity in Milwaukee. In fact Seoul, on North Prospect Avenue, stood alone for years as the only restaurant dedicated to the cuisine. For those who are unfamiliar, Stone Bowl Grill offers up a friendly entree to Korean food, along with comfort food dishes for those who love the cuisine.
Along with a number of stews and noodle bowls, dishes include options like Korean barbeque (grilled at the table or provided in individual portions), bibimbop and shabu shabu (beef with accompaniments that you cook yourself at the table, also called hot pot). If you’re craving a warming bowl of something flavorful, often spicy, and sometimes surprising, Stone Bowl is one place in town that will satisfy.
Type of food: Korean
Prices: Entrees $9.95-29.95
Vegetarian friendly? Though the menu is meat-heavy, there are quite a few dishes available in a vegetarian version.
Hours: Monday from 4 to 10 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Parking: Both metered and free street parking available.
Vibe/dress: Casual and laid back. Both booth and table seating is available; decor combines classy Korean-inspired decor with kitschy posters and rice paper lighting to invoke a cozy vibe.
Hits: In the appetizer realm, the pah-jeon ($12.95), a delicately flavored seafood and scallion pancake is worth a try; it’s tender and flavorful and highly shareable, as it comes sliced for serving. On this trip, we opted for the wang mandoo (steamed vegetable buns, $5.95 for 3) which were tender and chewy, as they ought to be, and filled with delicately seasoned vegetables and rice noodles alongside a traditional sweetened soy and rice vinegar sauce.
As you order your meal, the server will bring banchan, small side dishes which can be eaten alone or with rice. Ours included cucumber kimchi, seaweed salad and a vegetable salad which consisted of a scoop of slightly sweetened. If you empty a bowl, ask the server and he or she will gladly provide a refill.
As entrees go, don’t overlook the restaurant’s Bibimbop, which comes in options like beef, tofu, squid and kimchee cheese. The squid is a worthy option I’ve tried in the past. But, on this trip, we tried the beef version ($12.95) which features a sizzling bowl filled with rice, beef, carrots, corn, kimchi, marinated mushrooms and a fried egg. A traditional chile sauce is served alongside, meant for seasoning the dish to your liking. The dish is sweet, spicy and filling all at once, with the added bonus of deliciously caramelized rice at the bottom of the bowl.
Bubbling hot kimchi chigae ($10.95), is a stew redolent with flavor and brimming with fermented cabbage, tofu and pork belly. The broth is thick, rich and slightly sour from the kimchi with an almost buttery consistency.
Of course, you could opt for the spicy ramen with a choice of beef, pork, seafood or green tea. It’s certainly not a traditional Korean dish (nor is it traditional to pick your protein); but the popular Japanese soup is showing up on menus everywhere these days. Stone Bowl’s version (we opted for pork) is spicy enough to warrant notice, but not so much that a slightly timid palate will be overwhelmed. Order it with an egg on top if you’d like a bit of extra richness.
Misses: Service was friendly and attentive; but there were a couple of minor blips. For instance, our dumplings weren’t delivered with the traditional dipping sauce. When we asked if they were supposed to include it, our server didn’t know. Fortunately, she happily checked with the kitchen and brought
Insider tip: Watch for daily appetizer, entree and drink specials, which change monthly.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.