An Authentic Taste of Korean Fare
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For a taste of Korea, and I’m talking about true, authentic flavors, you’ll want to stop in at Seoul Jung in Waikiki Resort Hotel.
“We think of ourselves as an educator to not just people in Hawaii and tourists, but to the world, on what real Korean foods are,” says Dante Ku, food and beverage operations assistant. “We try to keep it the Korean way. We import ingredients within the range that we can, such as the pepper powders and other seasonings, and we cook it the Korean way, although it takes more time and effort.
“People believe they’ve had Korean food but it’s actually not the food that (they would eat) if they are in Korea, so I wanted to introduce to the world that this is the food you might get in Korea. Also, for the Korean people here, I believe many of them may have the same thought, that they are missing their food that they used to have there, so I want to give them back their memories.”
Executive chef Dong Hun Kim, who is from Korea and has more than 30 years of experience in the kitchen, including on the cooking team for former Korean president Noh Mu-Hyun, transferred to Seoul Jung about two years ago from the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles. Seoul Jung, Waikiki Resort Hotel as well as Wilshire Grand Hotel are all owned by Korean Air.
“Our owners want us to represent Korean food and Korea,” adds Kim. “‘Jung’ means place, so the meaning of ‘Seoul Jung’ is that people can feel at home away from home.”
One of the most popular items on the menu is Sundubu Jjigae Set ($11.95 lunch, $15.75 dinner), a traditional Korean dish prepared with soft tofu and clams, along with seasonal vegetables simmered in a delicious broth and served with barbecue chicken and green salad. The dish is on the spicy side, but Kim notes that it can be ordered to be not spicy, and also as a vegetarian dish.
For appetizers, try HaeMul Pa-Jeon ($17.95), which is a Korean seafood pancake with shrimp and squid slices, and green onions cooked in a light egg batter. (Look for a coupon in Dining Out on page 32 for a free HaeMul PaJeon with a minimum purchase of two a la carte items or one combo item).
And while the restaurant prides itself on authenticity, chef Kim also enjoys creating new dishes and has added some to the menu, such as Ge Sal Mal Yi ($14.25) made with crab meat wrapped in silky crepes.
The restaurant also offers yakiniku with meat that is special ordered and cut on-site.
“Chef believes that the thickness of the meat determines the taste of the meat,” says Kim. “So, he set up the cutting machine here to cut some thinner and some thicker. And I recommend for those who enjoy Beef Tongue to visit us. I like Beef Tongue and I think we have the best Beef Tongue in the world.”
The eatery also serves Korean beers Bass and Hite, as well as the popular Korean rice wine known as Makgeolli.
There also are two banquet rooms (one for up to 50 people and the other for up to 200 people, both can be combined) available in Waikiki Resort Hotel offering a Korean buffet. Free validated parking also is available in the hotel’s basement parking lot.
Waikiki Resort Hotel
2460 Koa Ave., Honolulu
Open daily, Lunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Dinner: 5-10 p.m. (Last orders taken half hour before closing)