Edit ModuleShow Tags

Discovering Korean Restaurant Sole Café


When my husband asks me what I want for supper, the following usually comes to mind in any particular order: Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Korean. I prefer to patronize restaurants that are committed to sustainable practices, freshness, good service, and big-time flavor, which is why dishes like the Phở soup at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro and the Som Tum papaya salad at Sen Yai Sen Lek are always contenders.

Finding a Korean restaurant with a similar commitment to fresh, local foods has been more of a challenge for me, so when I read that the folks at Sole Café cook naturally and shop at local farmers’ markets for their produce, I was hopeful. And had to try it out.

Shortly after arriving and ordering your meal at Sole Café, five small plates of seasoned vegetables (namul) are placed at your table, including a nutty bean sprout salad with sesame oil (kongnamul), crunchy shredded potatoes (gamja bokkeum, I think), spicy pickled cucumbers (oi-sobagi), sweet, sour, and slightly chewy lotus root (yeon-gn), and spicy fermented napa cabbage (kimchi). As your entrees arrive, you can mix and match flavors using the namul plates.

As for entrees, their kimchi jjigae is good—a hot and steamy bowl of stew made with their house-made kimchi, tender onions, and meat or tofu. The thin, tangy, spicy, red pepper broth is balanced by a side of white rice which helps cool and recalibrate your palette after every three bites or so.

Their bibimbap (not to be confused with dolsot bibimbap, which is served in a hot stone pot) is a bowl full of sautéed and seasoned vegetables (namul), sliced meat or tofu, and a nicely fried egg—plus rice on the side. Bibimbap literally means “mixed meal,” so while it looks better with all the components separated, it tastes best when mixed all together with the accompanying sweet pepper sauce.

Sole Café is surrounded by a few other Korean restaurants in the Midway neighborhood of St Paul. Street parking is easy, and reservations aren’t necessary. Sole Café could use a pick-me-up in the ambiance department (the television is obtrusive), but I focused on my food and my husband’s conversation, and the atmosphere was less distracting. The service is friendly and humorous. On our recent visit, my husband commented on our server, “She’s kind of like the Korean mother I never had.”

Sole Café
Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.

684 Snelling Ave. N.
Saint Paul, MN 55104

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Quick Tostadas Recipe

Easy and adaptable to different tastes, tostadas make a warming meal—not to mention a great pairing for Margaritas

VOTE: Girl Scouts Team Up with Hi-Lo Diner

Girl Scout cookie pies, donuts, and shakes—and you choose the local troop to get the sale

Pepito’s to Become El Burrito Minneapolis

The Pepito’s/Parkway Theater combo is sold to local entrepreneurs who have a restaurant tenant and theater remodeling plans.

James Beard Semifinalists Are Cheaper by the Dozen

Ten chefs and two restaurants were named to the 2018 James Beard Award semifinalist list

Banana Pudding Pie Recipe

Make some new sweet memories with a retro dessert

Bonterra Vineyards and the Future of Organic Farming

Learn how Bonterra Organic Vineyards set the standard for organic winemaking, then sample Bonterra at this year's Food & Wine Experience March 3-4, 2018

10 Best Friday Fish Fries for Lent

Christian or not, get your fried fish here around the Twin Cities

3 Things to Eat This Week: Valentine's Edition

If you forgot to make reservations for Valentine's Day week, you're not too late—these, ahem, romantic spots will still have you

Kimchi and Gruyère Pizza Recipe

Step up your pizza game with outside-the-box homemade pie
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags