Vancouver, Washington has only one small Korean restaurant, however this changed with the recent opening of a new restaurant serving such cuisine. Little Pine Tree Restaurant just opened in downtown Vancouver, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Today I visited this little eatery, with mixed results.
Nestled amongst hipster condos and apartments around Esther Short Park, Little Pine Tree Restaurant is in one of the growing locations in Vancouver, Washington. The city government has gone to great lengths to revitalzie downtown with good results. Gone (for the most part) is the grungy, bleak and usually empty buildings once commonplace in downtown. Instead, many little shops (clothes to toy stores plus many eateries) are all over downtown. Esther Short Park is the center of this rebirth, with a local (and very popular) Farmer’s Market operating on certain days and the town’s main convention center located next door. Truly, downtown is a great location for this new restaurant.
Upon entering Little Pine Tree Restaurant, I was impressed the overall atmosphere and setting. At first glance, most would assume it to be fairly small restaurant. However, the seating arrangement is set up in an “U” shape, looping around the main kitchen and thus offering plenty of seats. Little Pine Tree Restaurant had a small crowd of many different people when we entered and contiuned to see a good flow of customers as we ate there. Everything is exceptionally neat, clean, and feels very polished, quite impressive for such a new little eatery.
The menu offers a decent selection of fairly traditional Korean favorites (“Galbi, Bulgogi, etc”) along with a few I have never encountered before, and (in a nod to those less adventerous) a few Western cafe items (fish ‘n chips and burgers). I went with the Bulgogi. It came with brown sticky rice and white rice, along with a selection of stir-fried vegetables and the actual beef. Also given to us was complimentary fried vegetables (Temperu, something often found in Japanese eateries). The tempura was excellent but my Bulgogi was only so-so. The rice was superb and so were the veggies, but the beef itself was a little weak. It didn’t taste like the Korean Bulgogi I had eaten many times in Seoul, quite a dissapointment. However, my friend really liked their food. Prices were quite reasonable with most dishes at $7-$8 and the portion sizes were excellent. The service was also very good and polite. Overall, the atmosphere and setting were great, food was decent and the prices were great. I would certainly come back but will probably try something different than beef Bulgogi next time.
Little Pine Tree Restaurant is located at 585 W. Eighth St., Vancouver, WA. Look for the sign next to the “Kazoodles” toy store, on the first floor of the apartment complex next door to Esther Short Park.