Photos by Chris Ewing
There are a lot of Ijjis in Reno—four, in fact. And while I had visited a couple of them before, I had yet to set foot inside the local chain’s Ijji Noodle House and Poke Don, which has Japanese ramen, Vietnamese pho and Korean barbecue.
The eatery is popular for its eclectic and authentic Korean menu, which includes bibimbap, Ijji don, short ribs, soups and more. As a newbie to Korean fare—I decided to throw caution to the wind and fully dive into whatever it is Ijji had to offer.
The first thing to note here is that it’s easy to go overboard. The portions are huge, despite reasonable prices, and the average person probably doesn’t need more than one menu item for a meal. Necessity, however, is not what we came for—so overindulge in Korean fare we did.
Most dishes come with an appetizer of miso soup and/or a spring roll. It’s also easy to add fried eggs and upgrade to fried rice with just about anything on the menu.
The Ijji noodles were exactly what I expected Korean food to taste like. Flavorful and greasy in the best way possible, the plate is served up hibachi-style with a towering portion no human should attempt to eat alone—at least in one sitting. Chicken and shrimp are mixed into the mound, as well, for added protein to the carb-heavy fare.
199 Damonte Ranch Pkwy., #8M
Reno, Nev. 89521
Daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Another go-to for the newbie is chicken katsu, an Ijji don plate served with miso soup, house salad and rice. Essentially it is Korean-style fried chicken that tastes best when dipped in any of the provided sauces. Ijji doesn’t skimp on sauce. Upgrade your rice to a more flavorful fried rice for a small fee or add soy sauce to the white rice provided. Again, this plate is really all you need to feel full.
If you want to venture a bit further outside of the box, this Ijji has a reputation for turning out delicious bibimbap, a Korean rice bowl topped with seasonal vegetables, marinated meat of your choice or tofu, and a fried egg. Choose between the Kobe beef bulgogi, tender and cooked to perfection, and the vegetarian option, which swaps the Kobe beef for tofu.
This doesn’t even touch on the ramen, pho, and poke bowls that fill out the rest of the menu, or the many other appetizers that can be used to satisfy the most robust appetites.
It isn’t just the food that draws in crowds. (This place gets busy every day it’s open.) The warm and welcoming atmosphere is another reason to dine at Ijji’s noodle house, where the owner is often whipping up meals and serving customers right alongside his staff. Plus, the next door business, 1, 2, Tea, delivers ordered drinks to your table at Ijji’s if you want to experience both.
If you’re dining in, don’t forget to finish your meal with sake or another traditional Japanese liquor (such as soju or Japanese beer). And if you’d like to pick up your food for home, don’t expect to grab dinner right away—just remember, good things are worth waiting for.
Editor’s Note: Ijji 4, also known as Ijji Korean Bar-B-Que, has an even larger selection of Korean fare on the menu. Check out that location at 10580 N. McCarran Blvd., Suite 102.
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. She graduated from California State University Sacramento with a bachelor’s in English and is pursuing her master’s in Professional Journalism as we speak. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.