Despite my almost sexual fetish for most things Asian, my only contact with Korean food has so far been visual: basically watching Korean actors eat in the many excellent Korean movies I've seen over the years. Shamefully, I have never cooked Korean myself, nor have I actually been to a Korean restaurant. So of all cities, why choose Riga, the city that does its very best to kill my passion for Asian food, as the place to finally rectify my neglect? Blessed, moronic persistence.
Soraksans is, to my knowledge, the only Korean restaurant in Riga, and you will find it in the very outskirts of Old Town. But stay awake – don't blink or you'll miss it. Located in a very unassuming building, and completely lacking a sign, there is just no way of telling that there is a Korean restaurant here. That is, unless you're eagle-eyed enough to spot the A4 papers taped to the restaurant's window with its name on*... There's a warning signal if I ever saw one.
”they haven't gone the extra mile to create atmosphere. they haven't even gone the extra meter”
Luckily, the restaurant looks better on the inside. It's nothing special, but at least it has proper furniture and a handful of Asian decorations to help create some kind of vibe. But still, I'd say that it's the same with Soraksans as with, say, 90 % of the other restaurants in Riga – they haven't gone the extra mile to create atmosphere. They haven't even gone the extra meter. Everything is the bare minimum. After all, Riga is supposed to be ”the pearl of the Baltics”. Judging by the appearance of its food scene, you would never tell.
However, you don't go to restaurants to lick the decor (right?), you go there to be pampered and to eat better food than you are able or willing to cook at home. At Soraksans, there is a strong likelihood that you will leave disappointed. Certain dishes are okay, such as the ramjon soup with chicken, which has a really rich broth. Another one is the jono mucim or salmon salad, which is a colorful taste explosion that took even me by surprise. But Soraksans constantly shoot themselves in the foot by countering their good dishes with others that have virtually no taste. Examples of these are the vegetarian dumplings and the seafood ”pancake”, which is basically a completely tasteless omelet. The only thing saving these dishes are the dip sauces, but this is nothing but cutting corners in the kitchen. The sopulgogi is another disappointment, since it doesn't start tasting anything until you've finished your meal and reached the tiny amount of sauce which has trickled down to the hot iron plate on which the dish is served.
”soraksans is a restaurant you can easily skip”
Serving these disappointing dishes are quite friendly staff who speak good English. I'm wondering about their hearing, though, since I have on several occasions agreed with them on small adjustments to the food I'm ordering, only to find out that my requests have been completely ignored when the food reaches the table.
All in all, Soraksans is a restaurant you can easily skip. Eating out shouldn't be a gamble, and you don't want to pay good money for bland food. And too many dishes have been bland at Soraksans for me to give it my recommendation.
*it could be that this is only temporary, because on the embarrassing video Soraksans have on their website, you can actually see a proper sign