Fusion Food You Won’t Find Anywhere ElseColumns Foodie Fare
September 2, 2012
Story By: Christina O Connor | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo
From the moment you walk into Red House in Honolulu on Keeaumoku Street, it’s clear that you are in for something different. From the hip decor to the wall-length screen playing K-pop music videos, Red House certainly has a one-of-a-kind look and feel — a quality that extends to the food itself, too.
With its cuisine, the restaurant seems to transcend any concrete label.
“It’s like a new generation of Korean food — more like a fusion,” owner and chef Justin Chun says. “It’s Korean food, but not in the traditional way … We try to make it different here.” To taste that difference, Pizza Tonkatsu ($14.99) is a good place to start. The dish features a pork cutlet with vegetable toppings — all bathed in gravy — and is served with rice.
“People love the Pizza Tonkatsu,” Chun says. “One thing that they really like is that it’s so big. It is one of our most popular dishes.”
Another popular option is Red House’s selection of Topokki dishes, such as Red House Topokki ($11.99), which has a rice cake with spicy sauce. You also can add cheese, egg, mandoo or Korean sausage for an additional cost. Another tasty dish is Korean Spicy Tofu Jjige ($11.99), which comes with shrimp and a variety of other seafood.
And for a perfect complement to any meal, try starters including Red House Wrap ($9.99), which comes with your choice of bulgogi or chicken, or Fried Rice Cake ($5.99), which is a deep-fried rice cake with Korean sweet chili sauce.
And there is another important thing that customers will notice upon entering the restaurant: The customer service is impeccable. “We serve our customers with extra care,” Chun states.
In accordance with its customer care, customer feedback is crucial to the restaurant’s menu. “Before we put in a new menu item, when people come in to eat, we give them a sample of the dish to try,” Chun says. “We ask them to critique how it tastes, and we get their opinion on how we can change it around if we need to.”
“We make new dishes all the time for people to try,” he adds. These sample periods are never announced, however, so you’ll just have to keep frequenting Red House and hope to get lucky.
“We go on what the customers want, and we always want new ideas from people,” Chun says.
On the Side
Red House in Honolulu is known for its seemingly endless ability to create bold, new menu items. Servers can often be seen roaming the restaurant with trays of their newest creations to give out as samples before they are officially added to the menu. When asked where he gets his ideas, chef and owner Justin Chun simply points to his head and smiles. Apparently the source of the restaurant’s roving menu is Chun’s own ingenuity.
Chun had lived in Korea, Thailand and L.A. before coming to the Islands. In each of these places, he worked in various restaurants, learning how to make different types of food and perfecting his cross-cultural cuisine.
“I am trying to make a fusion of all of these foods, and make something out of the ordinary,” Chun explains. “I try to make food that people might not try anywhere else.”
Right now, Chun is in the process of cooking up something special. It’s still in the works, but he hinted that a Korean-inspired pasta dish may be making an appearance soon.
Red House in Honolulu
835 Keeaumoku St. #I-101B, Honolulu
Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight