“They actually keep up with modern times,” said Hung Nguyen, 26, a venture capitalist who was eating on a recent evening at Take31, where the menu features many of the latest food trends from Korea, like dalgona, a honeycomb-esque candy, and mala seasoning. “When ‘Parasite’ came out, they introduced jjapaguri.”
Those innovations aren’t to everyone’s taste.
“I get the feeling that if I brought my Korean elders here, they would be like, ‘What have they done to the food?’” said Wook Bae, 31, a legal aide who was having dinner at Seoul Salon. The restaurant is Hand’s high-end version of a sool jib, or drinking establishment, with dishes like spicy octopus risotto and rose tteokbokki, cheese-topped rice cakes in a creamy, gochujang-spiked sauce.
By prioritizing a young clientele, Hand may also be alienating its older staffers and diners, who were frequenting Koreatown long before BTS became a household name. At Cho Dang Gol, a server in her 50s who started before Hand bought the restaurant in 2016, said that some dishes had been sweetened to appeal to young diners, and that she feared for her job.