WEST VALLEY CITY — I was glad to have a friend who spoke Korean when I visited Myung Ga, an excellent Korean restaurant tucked into a row of Korean businesses in West Valley.

My friend Cindy relayed my questions to our server and got detailed answers to help me order. She took care of asking for drinks and additional napkins, tasks that were done promptly and efficiently.

But those of us not conversant in Korean can still get our point across at Myung Ga, thanks to a numbered menu with English descriptions and experienced staff who are anxious to give every customer a good experience.

We visited Myung Ga for a weekday lunch, and I noticed that most of our fellow diners were Korean. This is always a positive sign: Chinese customers at a Chinese restaurant, for example, or Brazilians at a churrascarria.

This good omen began to bear fruit when our server carried out the banchan, small bowls of side dishes that accompany many Korean meals. Banchan are one of my favorite parts of eating Korean, and these didn't disappoint: kimchi with lots of sour bite, marinated cucumbers with just a little sweetness, bright green steamed broccoli, blanched bean sprouts with sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds, cool savory diced potatoes.

There was no letdown when our meals arrived. Cindy and I had different versions of Myung Ga's soft tofu soup, a stew-like dish with a sour-savory, beautifully seasoned orange broth and generous chunks of silken tofu.

My soup also had loads of earthy white mushrooms and delicate, long-stemmed enoki mushrooms. Cindy showed me how to crack an egg into the very hot soup and wait for it to cook, which added heft and richness to the meal.

We also shared a mixed seafood pancake, which reminded my kids of pizza with its eat-with-your-hands wedges and bell peppers on top. But it really was more like a fresh omelet, just a little eggy and filled with crab, peppers and chunks of green onion.

The kids made their choices from Myung Ga's lunch selections, and I was glad they had to eat from the regular menu, forcing them to choose authentic Korean food rather than chicken nuggets — all the more so, because they liked their meals.

One had chicken-covered rice, a layered dish of rice, then an egg fried with onions, then lean chunks of brown-seared chicken on top. Another had the lean, chewy and savory barbecue beef with soft tofu over rice.

And my youngest had the noodle soup, not a bit like the American version, with long, firm, handmade noodles cut into various widths in a rich, cloudy, thickened broth. Luckily, it came in a huge bowl more than big enough for her to share a few spoonfuls around the table.

Lunch specials $6.99-$7.99, combinations $13.95-$15.99, entrees and other dishes $6.25-$14.99.

Rating: ***

Where: 1839 W. 3500 South, West Valley

Hours: daily, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (closed the first and third Sundays of each month)

Payment: major credit cards accepted

Phone: 908-0124

Wheelchair access: easy

Freelance writer Stacey Kratz reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com