Pajukol Korean Restaurant has been one of the longest running businesses on Saipan. Serving traditional Korean dishes with authentic flavor for more than 20 years now, owner Kuen Lee said they owe the restaurant’s success and longevity to the patronage of the local community.
“Even if business is slow because of the COVID-19 pandemic, local people are still coming in to taste the food we serve and this makes me happy… Our first location was in San Antonio and after 23 years, we decided to move to Garapan in October last year because many locals love to go to Garapan to eat,” she said.
“Our business is always expanding because of the local patronage and I am happy to be in the restaurant business on Saipan. We do not depend a lot on tourists because majority of our customers are locals who have become friends and we treat each other like family,” she added.
Pajukol is a district in Seoul, South Korea where Lee was born and raised. “Saipan is my home now and we named the restaurant Pajukol to remind me of my hometown. This way, it feels like I brought my first home to my new home, Saipan,” she said.
“Pajukol’s specialties include fresh sashimi and traditional Korean food. I make my own spices and flavor added to the dish like the Korean traditional way and we also get imported ingredients from Korea,” she added.
Pajukol Korean Restaurant has over 20 Korean dishes that customers can enjoy. Popular dishes include Korean beef bulgogi made of quality strips of beef and marinated in a special sauce that aims to wake up the taste buds. You can eat it with rice or with lettuce wraps. For something hearty and nourishing, galbitang Korean beef short ribs delivers with full flavor and soothing clear soup. Spicy squid is also a popular dish order where customers get that sweet and tangy flavor with freshly boiled squid and paired with vegetables.
“In terms of safety, we follow guidelines such as taking temperature of all customers, asking them to write their names and phone numbers, our floors have markings, and we follow social distancing with the arrangement of our tables and chairs,” Lee said.
“I tell our customers to ‘ganghaedi ja!’ which means ‘be strong’ especially at this time of the pandemic. I want customers to feel nourished after eating at Pajukol and saying be strong is an encouragement that goes a long way,” Lee said.
Pajukol Korean Restaurant is located along Asusena Avenue in Garapan. They are open from Monday to Sunday 11am to 9pm. For more information, call (670) 235-0200.