From David Chang’s Ssam Bar Burritos to his Nike collab, Korean food has become the newest food trend we can’t get enough of. Although there are variations in vibe and experience, there is an undeniable rise of Korean restaurants aspiring to offer their guests elements of a traditional, family-style cuisine.
In order to provide the full Korean barbecue experience, chefs will grill the meat table-side or allow the patrons to barbecue it themselves. Restaurants such as Chosun Galbee in Los Angeles and Trove in Seattle pride themselves not just on their delicious food, but on the quality of the experience as well. And at Parachute in Chicago, your attitude is considered part of the experience: “If you are grumpy, pouty, crabby or just plain mean, this may not be the place for you. We look forward to serving you with all of our hearts and a smile.” It’s all about sharing a quality meal in a quality atmosphere.
In addition to grilling together, diners are encouraged to eat family style, sharing multiple dishes with each other—the way many Korean chefs grew up. Simon Kim, co-owner of recently opened Cote in New York, said in an interview with Eater that his true inspiration comes not from the chefs around him, but from his grandparents. Kim along with many other Korean chefs are fulfilling their dreams by opening restaurants in which they showcase their interpretations of Korean cuisine. Among them is the married couple, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirichi, who started Relay Restaurant Group in Seattle. Their four Korean inspired restaurants Joule, Trove, Revel, and Revelry, each differ in vibe and menu, so you can get whatever Korean cuisine experience you are looking for!
Many of these Korean restaurants continue to expand their horizons by offering places for guests and chefs to have unique experiences. Relay Restaurant Group’s Revelry preserves the basics of their other restaurant, Revel—characterized by comfort food and a happy atmosphere—yet, with a more extensive cocktail menu, longer hours, and late night snacks. Similarly, Cote in New York is opening a secondary space below the restaurant, called Undercote, which will have fun lights, music, and drinks. In an interview with Eater, Kim describes it as their “playground” that will offer “Korean street food on steroids,” an attractive option for patrons looking for a fun atmosphere to enjoy exciting food and drink.
Each chef may have a different history, yet they all share the common aspiration to offer great hospitality and an authentic, genuine experience. The great food is just a bonus! Korean cuisine has been around forever, yet it’s exciting to see it reinvented and become increasingly popular in the states. So, what’s next for Korean cuisine? Only time will tell, but make sure to check out Hanjan and Jungsik as well.