Suck on our salty meatballs, A.A. Gill.

Cincinnati Bites
Blue Ash Chili Gravy Cheese Fries

Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The wait had been interminable. But when it finally happened, a new chapter of my life had opened before me, unveiling a step closer to manhood.

You never forget your first time.

I remember the woman only vaguely. She was older than I, both seasoned and professional. When she sensed my awkward nervousness, she proceeded to take charge, first directing me to remove my shoes, then leading me to one of the four plush pillows on the floor. With her gentle encouragement, I managed to shake off my hesitation and sat down, cross-legged. The remaining three members of our party soon followed suit.

There we sat, staring across from one another at a squat, "bapsang" table that stood no higher than three feet.

Our first Korean meal was about to begin.

The event transpired nearly two decades ago at Riverside Korean in Covington, Kentucky. It opened our eyes to a new experience and made us feel both privileged and worldly as we enjoyed a great meal in a seemingly exotic setting.

The Korean restaurant scene in Cincinnati has evolved quite a bit over the ensuing years. Dishes like bibimbap and beef bulgogi can no longer be regarded as rare curiosities. Many competitors have since challenged Riverside's long-standing reign as the area's premier Korean restaurant, particularly Sung Korean Bistro, the downtown restaurant owned by chef Sung Jun Oh.

Sung's newest addition, Dolsot Bistro, opened late this summer in the Blue Ash area on Pfeiffer Rd, claiming the space Brown Dog Cafe had vacated after they moved further down the street.

Dolsot Bistro chiefly focuses on the sizzling hot stone bowl dishes for which it's named, with nine distinct dolsot dishes highlighting a menu that also features several grilled and sauteed meat entrees (including bulgogi), soups, stews, noodles and a litany of compelling appetizers.

mandu Mandu (vegetable dumplings)

My girlfriend and I sat down in a standard booth this time, our shoes intact on our feet. The restaurant was dimly lit and intimate. While our eyes initially gravitated toward especially curious fusion appetizers like the bulgogi burrito ($9), we ultimately opted for a more traditional mandu ($6), steamed vegetable dumplings filled with tofu, scallions, onion and cabbage and served with a soy-based dipping sauce.

The dumplings arrived artfully arranged on a plate in a flower-like configuration: doughy white petals of dumpling sporting an orange, shredded carrot pistil, highlighted by small tan dots of a thickly reduced, semi-sweet sauce. The hearty dumplings fooled me into believing I was eating a meat filling, a deep savoriness capped off by bright, herby notes. I could have eaten a dozen more.

banchan Banchan (Korean side dishes)

Our dinner entrees included a traditional beef "bibimbab" (their spelling for bibimbap), with steamed rice, spinach, beef, bean sprouts, carrots, zucchini and radish topped with a sunny side up egg and mixed with a spicy gochujang sauce ($15), as well as a dolsot noodle bowl with thick, wheat udon noodles, mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, carrot and toasted seaweed, topped with another sunny side up egg ($16).

Served just before the arrival of our entrees were the six traditional "banchan" side dishes: snackings of kimchi, shiitake mushrooms, pickled cucumbers, seaweed, potatoes and pickled radish. These are always a fun sampling of tasty options to be enjoyed before, during and after main courses.

Dolsot Noodle Dolsot Noodle
Dolsot Bibimbab Dolsot Bibimpap

Our waitress was quick to mix our bowls tableside, allowing most of the rice at the bottom to continue to caramelize so that it can be lovingly scraped up later. Sung Korean Bistro easily offers one of the better bibimbaps (-babs) in town, and the Dolsot Bistro incarnation is just as appealing. The bowls were ample and satisfying, with a freshness that left us feeling healthy and guiltless for having emptied them.

Dolsot Bistro may not have been the first, but it hearkened back to our past while making us appreciate the here and now. Was it good for you? Yes, yes it was.

Dolsot Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dolsot Bistro

Price: Expensive ($17 - $30 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.5 out of 43.5 stars

Other Recent Reviews

  1. A Very 90s Lunch: Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop
    -posted Sunday, November 19, 2017
  2. No-Nonsense Italian: The Spinning Fork
    -posted Monday, October 16, 2017
  3. A Mediocre Lunch at Firehouse Grill
    -posted Sunday, October 8, 2017
  4. Southern Indian Impressions: Udupi Cafe
    -posted Saturday, September 23, 2017
  5. New Downtown Korean Restaurant: Haru
    -posted Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thanks for writing, Heather. I definitely like their other restaurants. Lalo's pazole and fish taco are better than Mazunte's, I think. But I agree they are definitely hit-or-miss. I'm still rooting for them, though. There's talent there. :)

    posted: Mon., Nov 20th, 2017 @ 1:30 PM
  • From Heather JOhnson about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    I tried Huit & Lalo and they were both expensive and so mixed - one thing great - another thing barely mediocre. More of the same it sounds like - hits and misses for a really expensive lunch. Nope on Dope.
    posted: Sun., Nov 19th, 2017 @ 12:41 PM
  • From TJ Jackson about Udupi Cafe:
    I do not know if it is truly a match for the product you remember, but Frostop Root Beer is sold at Jungle Jims and is a personal favorite of mine.
    posted: Fri., Sep 29th, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
  • From Jones about Haru Korean Restaurant:
    As a long time reader, I found this review to be one of your loveliest and most enthusiastically vivid. I can't wait to try this place!
    posted: Tue., Aug 29th, 2017 @ 9:48 AM
  • From Jordan about Grand Central Delicatessen:
    posted: Sat., Jun 3rd, 2017 @ 12:16 PM
  • From Tabitha about Tickle Pickle:
    Haha, love your comment: " If you were deemed "different" in high school, dressed "weird" or regularly got beat up only to go on to have a decidedly higher net worth and confidence level than the rest of your abusive, judgmental peers, Northside is your home away from home." I know I saw a Groupon for Tickle Pickle recently - might have to check if that's still available!
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:33 PM
  • From Tabitha about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    This is definitely going on the list. Thanks for posting. Do they also have margaritas?
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:23 PM
  • From holly may about Urban Grill on Main:
    This is Israeli couscous, the super tiny stuff is Moroccan. I personally prefer the Israeli (also known as "pearl".)
    posted: Fri., Mar 24th, 2017 @ 4:28 AM
  • From Sommer about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    We really love having Chilango so close to us in the Kings area!!! We have gone a few times and you are right - the Chicken Tinga is the best chicken taco you can get in Cincinnati!!! Thanks for reviewing this little neighborhood gem!
    posted: Tue., Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:12 AM
  • From Tabitha about Lalo: they have margaritas?
    posted: Thu., Jan 12th, 2017 @ 12:32 PM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design