Tucked away in the heart of “Korea-moku” is a little shop taking large strides to win over the hearts and appetites of local people.
Red Stand is a Korean food-stop and dine-in restaurant off of Keeaumoku Street, serving Korean-style hot pots, coffee, musubis and culturally unique desserts.
Owned by Theresa Choi, the eatery dons a comfy atmosphere and an open kitchen, where wafts of sizzling fare drift throughout the small space. Don’t let the size of the establishment fool you, however, as Red Stand’s menu is extensive and detailed to satisfy every and all cravings. Diners experience a combination of traditional and contemporary Korean food at the cafe-like spot, and also can expect new dishes frequently.
Cucumber and Watermelon Naengmyeon ($14.95 each)
A Red Box (prices vary) filled with Spicy Pork and Beef Bulgogi Jumukbap, Beef Bulgogi Samgak Kimbap and Spam Musubis
One item making its debut is Jjajangmyeon Ttekbokki ($18.95 regular, $27.95 large). This meal combines two popular Korean dishes, as savory and sweet black bean sauce and Korean mochi (Ttekbokki) mix for table-top cooking. The ttekbokki float like puffy pillows in a large skillet placed in the middle of the table with cabbage, green onion and carrots. Once bubbly and steamy, Jjangjangmyeon Ttekbokki is ready to share and devour.
Another great feature is the eatery’s take-out options, which include various musubis, rice burgers and Cup Bap selections. Cup Bap Bulgogi ($5.25), for instance, literally includes a cup filled with rice, Korean-style marinated beef, carrots, cabbage and onions. The rice is seasoned with sesame oil, dried seaweed and other secret ingredients. “I don’t want to give customers just regular rice,” Choi says. Other Cup Bap choices include Spicy Pork ($5.25), Spicy Squid ($5.25) and Kimchi & Vegetable ($4.50).
If you’re off to a party, picnic or potluck, Red Stand’s Red Box (prices vary) soon will become a well-recognized sight at social gatherings. The box can be filled with customized musubi pickings. Choose from Spam Musubis ($1.95 each) and Jumukbap, or “K-Musubi” ($2.75 each), which are triangular rice snacks sans nori casings. Instead, a mixture of protein — such as Beef Bulgogi or Spicy Pork — green onion and dried seaweed are mixed with seasoned rice and molded into hand-held perfection. Red Boxes only are available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
On these recent hot days, however, it is difficult to imagine eating hot pot or even having a picnic. Instead, cool down with Red Stand’s Naengmyeon in Watermelon ($14.95) or Cucumber ($14.95). The familiar cold-noodle soup — packed with vinegar flavors and a serving of crushed ice — is a Korean novelty featuring watermelon or cucumber puree in the base. The noodles in the dish are a blend of buckwheat and sweet potato that creates texture and balance. Despite the candy-like pink color, Watermelon Naengmyeon surprisingly is not too sweet, but rather pleasantly frothy and extremely refreshing.
Choi also mentions that “men tend to order the cucumber, and women order the water-melon,” hinting that maybe men are intimidated by the hot-pink vibrancy of the dish.
After nearly three months in business, Red Stand continues to modify its menu and work to increase customer satisfaction. With plans to one day expand to Waikiki and Korea, there is no doubt that the eatery already is leaving its mark on foodies.