Smile Politely

Bring your friends to Good Fella Korean Bistro

My husband and I frequently drive down Neil Street to visit the library, Crossroads Corner Consignment, and Sailfin (we’re proud card-carrying members of their cricket club). He would frequently point out Good Fella Korean Bistro as a potential dinner stop on one of our trips, mostly because he liked the name, and also because he likes trying new things. To commemorate this new-to-us restaurant visit, we invited a few friends who have recently moved to this area to explore the menu.

Good Fella is located in a small strip of retail and health shops, just off of Stanage Avenue. It can be easy to miss at first, because of its corner location, but it has a bright signage and colorful imagery to guide you. The entire shopping area is not very large, so we weren’t sure how big the restaurant would be (and whether it was more fast casual sit-down). When we walked in, we were quickly greeted by staff in a nice-sized seating area. The restauarant is bigger than I was expecting, and the tables are well situated to maximize the space. The decor is simple, but modern, and the tables are set for evening service with white plates and metal utensils, chopsticks, and a spoon.

Waters were brought to our table, and the friendly server asked us if we needed any assistance reviewing the menu or had any questions. This was our friend’s first Korean food experience, and it has been some time for me and my husband. We did have questions (including what could be made vegetarian) and the server was very attentive to our needs; he even wanted to clarify that I was vegetarian and not vegan to make sure he recommended what I needed.

Unfortunately, the vegetarian and vegan selections are limited, but the menu, for omnivores, is vast. (Read our 2017 review of the restaurant here.) My husband was dying to try the fried dumplings ($7.99), so that’s where our party started. They were a combination of pork and veggies with a crisp outside and a savory filling. The group thought it struck a good balance of filling to dough. The highlight of the dish was the bright, earthy green onion mixed into the meat. There wasn’t a single dumpling left by the end of the meal.

During our short wait for our entrees, little bowls of food were brought to our table. A quick google search explained that this is called banchan, which are small side dishes, usually veggie-heavy, meant to be eaten with your meal. The server kindly let me know that everything was vegetarian-friendly. The banchan included a mixed greens salad with a citrusy vinaigrette, several different types of kimchi, seasoned sprouts, soy sauce, and potato salad.

After consulting with our server, I settled on the stir fried glass noodles ($13.99), which he explained is made using potato starch. It’s listed on the appetizer menu, but was a hefty portion size — large enough to qualify as a meal for two, and tasty enough to easily over-eat. The noodles, intertwined with cabbage, carrots, and onions are lightly coated in a rich, garlic-forward sauce. It’s served warm, and the glass noodles were beautiful on the plate.

The rest of the table wanted to try the bibimbap ($12.99). This is an excellent dish for individuals who are trying Korean food for the first time. Everything in the dish comes out seasoned, but you’re invited to add the banchan and gochujang (a spicy chile sauce) on your own, so you can play with flavors for your own personal palate. Each bowl comes with a large portion of white rice. The rice in these dishes was perfect: fluffy, almost creamy, as it mixed in with the sauce and ingredients. The bibimbap included cooked tofu (meat options are available at a slightly higher price), seaweed, carrots, sprouts, green onion, sesame seeds, with a fried egg on top. Break that thing and cut it up to really add to the decadence of the rice dish. It seems almost too basic, but the addition of the banchan and gochujang immediately elevated the dish. All of the ingredients were fresh and well-cooked. The chili sauce did not pack a ton of heat, but did bring that much-needed depth of flavor that keeps bringing your chopsticks back to the bowl.

As we ate, everyone divided up the mixed greens salad which was a sweet and fresh break from the warm, hearty dishes we ordered. We experimented with adding different types of kimchi veggies to our dishes and dipping in the soy sauce; all of these condiments just added a little “oompfh” to our dishes. The potato salad, cold mashed potatoes with carrots mixed in, was an interesting side. Worth trying, but a little too dense to eat more than a bite of.

When we had arrived around 6 p.m., there were only a few other patrons, but as we left, the place was packed with groups of people. Something we all enjoyed about Good Fella was that the entire experience was created to share. We were mixing dishes, literally shifting plates around, and we noticed other tables were as well. It added a layer of fun to this new (to us) style of food.

Good Fella Korean Bistro
905 S Neil St
T – Sat 11 a.m to 9 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Photos by Jordan Goebig

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