Capitol Hill food+drink | Blue Stone hopes to be part of secret Hill trove of Korean gems

Jeff Kim and Chong Kim, right (Images: CHS)

Jeff Kim and Chong Kim, right (Images: CHS)

Chong Kim is an experienced restaurateur, but even he was unprepared for the crush of business when he opened Blue Stone, a new Korean restaurant on E Olive Way.

“I knew this was a good place, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this busy this fast,” he said. “It’s kind of scary, we have to maintain it.”

Kim previously owned cafes in Magnolia and Redmond before taking over the spot on E Olive Way. He and his wife found themselves in a more stable financial situation, so they opened a Korean restaurant using family recipes since that style of food has always been dear to them.

“We can do what we enjoy and like to eat,” he said.

Blue Stone opened in mid-March, and along with places like Oma Bap and Trove, and neighborhood stalwart Kimchi Bistro, makes for a boomlet of Korean food on the hill.

That little boom might be why Kim is finding his customers unexpectedly knowledgeable about the cuisine. People come in, know what they want and often pronounce it correctly, he says. Beyond that, Kim finds that about 10% of his customers actually speak some Korean.

“I said, ‘Whoa, I’ve got to be careful what I say,’” he said with a laugh. Kim said he’s grown to appreciate not only his customer’s savvy, but also their adventurousness.

10549280_571987802936579_5918031764859159559_o“They are so fantastic. They’re willing to try anything at least once,” Kim said. “It gives me more encouragement to try different things.”

For example, he wasn’t expecting the spicy calamari, which he recommends, to be nearly as popular as it’s become, he now needs to order 10 times what he’d been getting initially.

IMG_6517“We just kept running out. Some people were getting upset,” he said.

Orders have also increased exponentially for his bibimbap, which he called a signature dish. The spinach in that alone, which had been just a small bunch has expanded to two boxes.

He’s also finding that, unlike in some places, when people say they want their food spicy, they mean it here.

“They want that jalapeno dancing in there,” Kim said.

All of the quick successes, for which Kim said he is “utterly grateful” have come with some delays in other plans. For now, Blue Stone serves only soft drinks, but he said he’s working toward wine, beer and sake. He plans to unveil some sushi rolls within the next few weeks, and may gradually expand into other kinds of sushi.

But before that, Kim hopes to find the right people to work in his kitchen. For the record, he said he was already planning to pay above the city’s sometimes controversially high minimum wage. “I was never concerned about the minimum wage,” he said.

Kim expects Blue Stone to hold its official grand opening in May, after finalizing the menu and working with local artists to complete work on the look of the place. Check the restaurant’s Facebook page for details.

Blue Stone is located at 1631 E Olive Way. Hours are Monday to Saturday 11 AM. to 9:30 PM.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes by jseattle

  • IMG_6949 (1)The Specialty Coffee Association’s block party on Melrose last Thursday was packed. A few pictures here — along with the scoop on the coffee roasting industry here on Capitol Hill.
  • Speaking of coffee, now that it has spent millions on their giant Melrose roastery, the company has seen fit to budget an overhaul of the Broadway Starbucks store. Hard to say exactly what it will entail but the shop is the company’s most basic on the Hill considering its fancy E Olive Way, Roy Street, 15th Ave, Pike and Broadway, and Roastery shops. From the look of permits, it probably will just mean an upgrade and clean-up of the somewhat ragged Broadway at Republican location.
  • While we’re digging into permits, good to see paperwork has begun for Bill’s Off Broadway to return to the corner of Harvard and Pine — as planned.
  • Canal Market, the Cone and Steiner-esque play by Volunteer Park Cafe and Chophouse Cafe creator Ericka Burke, opens next month in the Portage Bay neighborhood.
  • Elysian co-founder Dick Cantwell has resigned.
  • Canadian import Meat and Bread is now open:IMG_7106
  • Gokan by Musashi also now open.
  • Momiji has a new sibling in Pioneer Square.
  • Restaurant Marron’s Eric Sakai honored in Food and Wine vote.
  • “If anyone is likely to know what fusion is, Eric Johnson would be the guy…
  • More importantly, where will he be eating?
  • Remedy Teas has (kinda) new owners.
  • More love for the TBD pop-ups at Bar Sue.
  • Forget Chick-fil-A — “5 great Seattle chicken sandwiches…
  • Important:

 

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9 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Blue Stone hopes to be part of secret Hill trove of Korean gems

  1. I just inspected the menu the other day while walking by – from the name I was afraid it was going to be another yogurt place or something. But no, it looks pretty delicious. I’m looking forward to giving it a shot for lunch this week – Olive needs more quick, good food! Here’s hoping a tacqueria or pizza place opens up in the old Money Tree spot..

  2. Glad to see Blue Stone get some publicity! The old Chopsticks was a more or less disposable pan-Asian eatery. I knew Blue Stone would be good when I saw that the old place’s book-like menu was reduced to just a single piece of paper (now it’s a small leaflet). The food is great and the staff is super-friendly. I went by yesterday and the place was busier than it’s ever been. Good work.

  3. Pingback: CHS Year in Review 2015 | Capitol Hill’s food and drink booms again | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle