For nearly a year, Hae-Paul's was "that restaurant"-the eatery we frequently strolled by saying, "We need to eat there." But inevitably it would slip our minds until the next day, when we'd again make promises of tomorrow.

For nearly a year, Hae-Paul's was "that restaurant"-the eatery we frequently strolled by saying, "We need to eat there." But inevitably it would slip our minds until the next day, when we'd again make promises of tomorrow.

There are no twists in the plot of this anecdote, so we are sure you can guess where it's leading. We're sorry we waited so long to grab a bite at this modest Downtown spot that has the stark, randomly assembled vibe that makes hole-in-the-wall eateries endearing. It's not the kind of place you go for the setting. But if you're hungry for comforting American-Korean fare-a reflection of chefs and owners Paul Yow (former leader of the Barcelona kitchen) and South Korea-born Hae Ran (she crafted desserts at Barcelona)-at bargain prices and leisurely service, this is your spot.

Case in point: the savory $5.25 Vegetable Mung Bean Cake starter that could easily pass as a light lunch. The pleasantly spongey cake (reminiscent of a round omelet) is made with mashed yellow mung beans and a colorful confetti of fresh vegetables. It hit on every note-savory cake, bright and crunchy veggies like shaved carrots and a punchy, spicy-sweet pepper sauce.

In Hae-Paul's version of Jap Chae ($8.75), vegetables like colorful bell peppers, carrots, spinach, onions and mushrooms are stir-fried and tossed with semi-transparent noodles made with sweet potato starch, and a barely-there sauce that has a bit of sneaking heat. We opted to add herb-roasted tofu (chicken and bulgogi are the other options) and were glad we did-the flavorful tofu added some protein heft to the otherwise light dish.

The American influence is obvious in the good-anytime Natalie's Late Night Bulgogi Sandwich ($10.35). Slices of traditional Korean barbecue-juicy marinated beef sirloin-get burger-like treatment with onion, melted Swiss, avocado and romaine. (The mashup goes the other way, too, in another burger served with kimchee and ginger sauce.) It's served on a buttery brioche bun that's smartly toasted to give the sandwich some crunch. hae-pauls.com