By Kate Parham Kordsmeier
For those of you following allowing on my Instagram adventures, you likely saw that I recently took a tour of Duluth’s Korean eateries. I have to say, the city wasn’t kidding when they called Duluth the Seoul of the South—the sheer number of Korean restaurants in town is enough to warrant the nickname, but when you consider the authenticity of the cuisine, it’s even more deserving. To wit, here are five restaurants serving up some of Korea’s most iconic dishes:
Yangnyeom (Fried Chicken) at Suwanee Chicken & Pizza: Southern Americans aren’t the only ones with a penchant for fried chicken—in Korea, lightly battered (read: less greasy) and extra crispy wings are eaten frequently, often after work, and washed down with beer. Head to this fast-casual spot for an ultra-crunchy version—I recommend getting the sweet garlic sauce on the side, as it tends to weigh down the skin—served alongside pickled radish.
Jeon (Pancakes) at Jang su Jang: When locals are craving homestyle cooking like their grandmother’s, they head to Jang su Jang for bona fide bites, like tofu soup, steamed pork, marinated beef, cold noodles and jeon (a savory, pan-fried fritter often filled with kimchi or seafood and dipped into a soy-vinegar sauce). Go for the mung bean jeon paired with roasted barley tea. Simply push the call button on your table when you’re ready to order—speed is paramount here.
Red Bean Bbang (bread) at Tree Story Bakery & Café: Few bakeries make the majority of their products from scratch multiple times a day, but at this hip café, fresh is the name of the game—a bite of their bbang (egg bread) bursting with housemade cream and red bean paste filling (a common Korean ingredient) proves as much. The dozens of baked goods found here, from cakes and cookies to mochi, manju and sugar balls, are best washed down with a sweet potato latte or Misugaru (a healthy grain tea that’s the equivalent of our breakfast smoothies).
Kimbab at Yummy Place: After school, children in Korea often head to cafés and food carts for snacks like donkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet with BBQ sauce), ddukpokgi (rice cakes in spicy sauce), kkochi o-deng (fish cake soup) and kimbab, a roll resembling Japanese sushi that employs steamed white rice seasoned with sesame oil and wrapped in dried seaweed sheets. Fillings range from tuna salad, crab stick and eggs to veggies like cucumbers, carrots and radish, all of which can be found at this street food specialty shop, Yummy Place.
Korean Barbecue at Breakers Korean Bar-B-Q: Korean barbecue is nothing if not communal—not only do you share food with your tablemates, but you even cook the food yourself, on an open grill in the center of your table. This Duluth newcomer (which has plans for nine other locations throughout the state this year) is upping the BBQ ante by serving top-tier meats (think 20-day dry-aged short rib and pork belly from a Minnesota farm akin to Korea’s legendary Jeju Black Pig) in a swanky, upscale setting where the table grills use down-draft vent technology, eliminating smoke and lingering smells.
All photos courtesy of Kate Parham Kordsmeier. Follow her culinary adventures on Instagram.