The Best New Korean in Hong Kong
Kimchi tacos, bulgogi pizzas and soju cocktails: What's not to love?
Why it's worth it: Gearing up for its launch on Dec 7 at LKF’s California Tower is the first outpost of London’s Jinjuu, which serves up modern Korean from celeb chef Judy Joo. The street-style dishes, designed to be eaten while boozing at the same time (aka the whole idea of anju, the Korean eating and drinking MO), include the likes of carnitas fries, Korean tacos, sliders, mandoo dumplings and of course tongdak—Korean fried chicken. For those more serious about the eating portion of the experience, there are also larger mains to share such as lettuce meat wraps and bibimbap rice bowls.
Why it's worth it: Jang definitely gets points for the cool factor, boasting a sleek, contemporary design with modern fare to match. Free of tabletop grills, Jang trades the smoky, boisterous ambience of typical Korean barbecue joints for a sophisticated setting, with Japanese-style tableware and fresh seasonal ingredients. The menu steers away from the traditional in jazzed-up offerings such as a K-style tartare with sweet soy sauce and pear, and a beef carpaccio heaped with red onion and cucumber. But don’t worry—you’ll still get the benefits of family-style Korean dining out, including complimentary plates of banchan to nibble on.
Why it's worth it: Sitting on the prime intersection between Wellington Street and Lyndhurst Terrace, fusion burrito joint TaKorea is frequented by office workers at lunch and does the job well and pretty cheaply, though you’ll have to tiptoe down a disconcertingly eerie flight of stairs to get there. Starting at $75, you can choose between a rice bowl, burrito or three tacos, along with your choice of protein—“K-pop” chicken, spicy pork, galbi beef or eggplant. It all comes with ample fresh greens and TaKorea’s own gochujang-based sauce. $80 for three tacos? Not too bad for Central.
Why it's worth it: If there’s one thing Koreans do better than grilled marinated meats, it’s rowdy drinking games. Get the best of both at K-Pocha, a watering hole in LKF outfitted with neon lights and an edgy industrial vibe. Become a pro at popular drinking games such as “007 Bang” and “Titanic” while loading up on Korean street snacks, including a seafood ddeokbokki with fresh shrimp, octopus and mussels smothered in a layer of melted cheese. Slightly spicy and unapologetically heavy on the waistline, this dish is a hearty stomach-liner between shots of soju or cups of K-Pocha’s signature house-brewed makgeolli rice wine.
Why it's worth it: One of the newest kids to the block, Korean fast food Seoul Bros is perched on top of perhaps Hollywood Road’s most iconic corner, above French resto Le Grand Bouffe—coincidentally, co-owned by the same guys—and overlooking the rickety hillside dai pai dong Leaf Dessert. For comforting eats with unfussy surrounds, Seoul Bros’ dishes are the best blend of unassuming Korean ingredients (equating to lots of spice and cheese). Think cheesy kimchi fries, mixed rice bowls with scrambled eggs, melty Korean quesadillas and more. Finish it off with a banana soft ice cream for dessert—doubtless a hit with die-hard followers of the Binggrae banana-flavored milk craze of ‘14. And no, we didn’t just make that up.
Why it's worth it: Operating as an unpretentious, semi-alfresco bar in Lan Kwai Fong, Hanjan is an excellent place to line your stomach before getting lacquered up on soju cocktails and hitting the town. This gastropub serves up comfort food such as nachos topped with kimchi and bulgogi, Korean fried chicken and the “Fist of Fury”—pork knuckle with 11 kinds of medicinal herbs. The fusion influences extend well into the drinks menu; don’t miss the Kimchi Fizz (kimchi-infused vodka with egg white and tabasco) and the Kanj (ginseng-infused gin, Angostura bitters and chicken soup).
This article appeared in the November 20, 2015 issue of HK Magazine as K-Town, Funk You Up.