Ethnic.City: Cafe Todahmgol

posted on November 10, 2010 at 11:47 am

I forgot how much I loved smoking in restaurants until I visited Cafe Todahmgol (2442 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, 770-813-8202). Going to this tiny Korean strip mall spot feels like you’ve traveled back to that time when you could light up without any nasty, judgmental looks from fellow diners. Remember that? I bet the fact that smoking is allowed will deter most of you. However, the rest will get to see the ironic beauty of Korean culture, which is health-obsessed but also completely unapologetic about its alcohol and nicotine consumption.

Cafe Todahmgol is, in fact, a tavern of sorts, which is why smoking is permitted. People of all ages come here to eat, but mostly drink and shrug off the shackles of the workweek. Most of the restaurant’s seating is in private cubbies where you can lean back without a care and do whatever you wish — be it get blindingly drunk (you won’t be the only one) or eat much more than you should. The ceiling is cluttered with hanging plastic grapevines, ivy, fake flowers and glowing lanterns wrapped in natural rope. Wallpaper filled with Korean characters covers most of the space. It’s all very rustic, yet the bouncing Korean pop music brings everything up to date.

A gaggle of women servers in a range of ages buzzes around the restaurant while simultaneously tending to your table, shouting a chorus of affirmations every time someone presses the service button at their table (best invention ever), and loudly greeting every patron. There is no English menu and few of the waitresses speak English fluently. Therefore, ordering anything you can’t point to (check the walls) is practically impossible. There is, however, the option of all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue, an increasingly popular trend, which is both easy to order and super cheap at $16.99.

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Cafe Todahmgol on Urbanspoon

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