A neutral color palette was a wise choice by color-engineer-turned-restaurant-owner InHwan Oh. Bold hues would only compete with the savory pops of color delivered by each dish at SuRa, a traditional Korean oasis that’s been flying well beneath our radar since 2010. Hidden no more, this quiet spot caters to bold palates while encouraging newbies, one bite at a time. Be bold and go for the house specials: A frittata-latke lovechild, seafood paejon, fuses bits of squid, vegetables, and egg atop a thin rice pancake; mandu—fried dumplings filled with pork or vegetables—offers a more approachable start to the meal. Don’t let the pepper count on the menu deter you. Each entrée arrives with purple rice and assorted small bites aimed at cutting the heat—steamed broccoli, pickled radishes, soy-sauce-marinated tofu, pan-fried fish cake, and housemade kimchi. Korean barbecue staple osam bulgogi—one of only two items meriting a three pepper rating—swiftly clears sinuses with a flavorful duo of pork belly and squid lashed with Korean red pepper paste and served on a sizzling skillet. The two-pepper kimchi jjigae stew marries fermented Korean cabbage with hunks of tofu and shards of pork in a bubbling tomato-based broth. Make sure to order a bowl of the bone noodle soup for the table—a comforting combination of thick noodles and bits of flank steak floating in a umami-rich marrow broth that magically soothes the burn.
7876 Mason-Montgomery Rd., Mason, (513) 204-3456, surakorean.com. Lunch and dinner Mon–Sat.