Federal Way has so much amazing Korean food that since my colleague, Daniel Kim, moved to Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood from Sacramento a few months ago, he’s made the drive nearly 10 times.
It’s where he takes friends and dates, and it’s where he took his family when they visited him recently. He says being from Korea, they’re picky about Korean food but were wowed by what Federal Way had to offer.
It’s impossible to include all these fantastic options in one article. But another colleague, Jackie Varriano, wrote about two restaurants with fantastic cold spicy noodles, giant steamed buns and rich beef soup in 2020. And on a recent Friday evening in Federal Way, Daniel and I ate at two more spots worth adding to your list.
11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Monday; 33310 Pacific Highway S., Suite 408, Federal Way; 253-838-1180
Myungin Dumplings is a chain based in Los Angeles’ Koreatown that’s probably most famous for appearing on a 2013 episode of the late Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.” The Federal Way location opened in August, the first outside of California, according to Eater.
The small restaurant is tucked in a strip mall with a few other Korean restaurants. The menu, beyond nearly a dozen types of dumplings, includes Korean fried chicken, fried rice and some soups.
In the “Parts Unknown” episode in which Bourdain visited Myungin Dumplings in LA, artist David Choe tells Bourdain he’s shocked there’s never anybody in the Koreatown restaurant because “they’re the best dumplings I’ve ever had.” The location’s popularity skyrocketed after the episode, but it appears that people have not gotten the news about the Federal Way location yet. When we went at around 7 p.m. on a recent Friday, most of the tables were empty — which is surprising because, like Choe, I thought the dumplings were amazing.
My favorite was the “Korean style steamed dumpling with pork & veg,” ($11.99), a ball of ground pork, crunchy cabbage and slippery vermicelli noodles wrapped in a super-thin, silky dumpling skin. The flavors of the dumpling were restrained, and the crunch of the cabbage and the softness of the dumpling skin contrasted beautifully.
Daniel raved about the “spicy shrimp roll dumpling with pork & shrimp” ($14.99), another textural masterpiece with bouncy shrimp (not paste, like in many other dumplings) wrapped in a chili-oil-soaked dumpling wrap. Dip the oblong delights in the provided chili paste for more heat and tanginess to brighten the flavors.
If you love the dumplings but can’t find the time to drive to Federal Way whenever you crave them, consider buying bags of Myungin Dumplings’ frozen dumplings to steam at home.
Shin Sung Restaurant
11-a.m.-10 p.m. daily; 1805 S. 316th St., #106, Federal Way; 253-839-9292
Shin Sung is Daniel’s favorite spot in Federal Way, and he’s not the only one. The Korean barbecue joint was packed with friends and families snacking on banchan with chopsticks and grilling meat with tongs at around 8 p.m. on a recent Friday, with around a 45-minute wait for a grill.
You can order à la carte meat and seafood at Shin Sung, but the smart move is the all-you-can-eat option (two person minimum). Good barbecuing shouldn’t be hindered by worries about cost. It should just be you, the grill and all the meat your heart desires.
There are a couple of options for all-you-can-eat. The more you pay, the more types of meat and seafood you get. We got the second-most expensive option: (A) — priced at $32.99, with brisket, pork belly, beef short rib, piles of marinated beef and pork, baby octopus and whole shrimp.
After trying everything, I wanted to keep ordering the same few items over and over. The crimson pieces of short rib, punctuated with a strip of white fat next to the bones, turned buttery after a few minutes on the grill. The shaved brisket was just as good — I ate pile after pile over a bowl of white rice. And the pork belly, best grilled until crispy, was fantastic with ssamjang (a sweet, salty, spicy sauce made with fermented soybean paste).
The other meats and seafood weren’t anything special. For $23.99 (option C), you can get unlimited brisket and pork belly — two of the best items. And you’ll still get all the same great banchan (the kimchi was especially good). So I might sacrifice the short rib to save $9 next time.
One worthwhile addition to the all-you-can-eat meal is the “egg soup,” the fluffy steamed egg dish gyeran-jjim that’s wonderfully savory and soothing and only costs $3.99.