Chesterfield's Got Seoul

KoBa offers a Korean idyll in the heart of west county.

With the exception of miso soup, banchan are served cold, a majority of them fermented, pickled or dressed with a vinegar-based sauce. Of these, kimchee is the most well known — even those with little or no knowledge of Korean cuisine probably know of this essential preparation of fermented cabbage, if only by reputation. It does have a strong smell (though not quite as sulfurous as I had been led to believe), but the flavor is wonderfully complex, with the heat of chile peppers and a teasing tartness.

Other banchan include a much milder form of kimchee made with sliced cucumber, glass noodles lightly dressed with a tart, lemony vinegar and bean sprouts tossed in sesame oil. There was spinach in spicy gochujang or a similar hot sauce and seaweed sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. I enjoyed nearly all the different banchan, with two exceptions. The miso was unremarkable on my first visit and much too salty when I tried it again. A cold "potato salad" — in appearance and texture like a scoop of whipped potatoes — wasn't bad, but it did present me with a psychological block: I just couldn't get my mind around cold mashed potatoes.

Still, even the potatoes and the miso were a delight in the sense that I hadn't asked for or expected them. I think part of the reason I was so happy every time I left KoBa was that my meals there hadn't felt like negotiated contracts, with exactly that much food for exactly this much money. Instead, the banchan were like small gifts, their arrival at the table like the passing of dishes during a holiday feast with friends and family.

Sizzlin': After one visit to KoBa, you might want to make Korean barbecue a tradition.
Sarah Cross
Sizzlin': After one visit to KoBa, you might want to make Korean barbecue a tradition.

Location Info


KoBa Korean Barbeque

138 Chesterfield Towne Center
Chesterfield, MO 63005-1230

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Chesterfield


138-140 Chesterfield Towne Centre, Chesterfield; 636-536-5227. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Sun.

Dolsot bibambap $10.95
Pan-broiled squid $14.95
Sam gyup sal $16.95
Kalbi $19.95

It's a wonderful change of pace from ordinary restaurant practice, and KoBa is a terrific introduction to a cuisine that is both appealingly familiar — meat sizzling on a grill, after all, is an integral part of most cuisines — and compellingly different. It is a bit of hike, if you don't live in the Chesterfield area, but it's a lot closer than Seoul.

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