When Jessica Hong tells people that she’s opening a Korean barbecue restaurant in North Charleston, about half of them know exactly what she means. The other half is unfamiliar with the concept of DIY tabletop grilling.
“I first show them a picture,” Hong says. “I Google it, maybe show them some videos. And when they see it, their reactions are very positive. They say ‘I’d love to bring my friends.’”
Interested diners can start loading up their cars next month, when 843 Korean BBQ & Sushi House is scheduled to open in the Rivers Avenue building previously occupied by Wong’s Asian Bistro (it’s still better known as the old Carey Hilliard’s.) Hong and her husband, who currently run beauty supply and shoe stores, gutted half of the restaurant to make room for 10 grill tables.
“It is a very big investment,” Hong says.
In addition to a menu of vegetables, seafood and meats for grilling, 843 will serve traditional soups, dumplings and noodle dishes.
“Because we’re Korean, we’d like to see more Korean food in Charleston,” Hong says. “It’s everywhere else. Charleston is just kind of behind.”
Other than Mama Kim’s, which dishes out bulgogi bowls to College of Charleston students, the only Korean restaurants in the greater Charleston area are Ko Cha in West Ashley and Koshi in Summerville.
Hong predicts Korean food will eventually gain more of a foothold here, although she has no plans to Americanize her native cuisine in order to speed its local acceptance. “I can’t adjust according to everybody’s different taste,” she says. “We would want people that are wanting to try it. People who are not interested in trying new things are not going to try it.”
843 is located at 6601 Rivers Ave. For more information, visit facebook.com/KoreanBBQandSUSHI.