Red House Honolulu: A place to get your Korean fusion food and K-pop
My sister recently introduced me to a new joint in town on Keeaumoku Street, where I can get a little Korean food and K-pop!
Red House Honolulu is a small Korean-fusion restaurant with a stylish, trendy and a taste for projecting K-pop videos on the wall while you eat.
When you walk through the doors, you’ll meet a wall of browsing material– magazines, set to the style of Teen Beat and Seventeen, informing you the latest flavors and gossip of K-pop stars and hip K-culture. The restaurant’s cool walls of brick and concrete are off-set brilliantly with the shock of red vinyl seats and white tables and chairs. The servers there are young and cute enough to have jumped out of the videos projected on the walls. Its look is all vaguely reminiscent of a cool Korean café set in Seoul (examples here).
What’s on the menu at Red House Honolulu:
The menu sports a range of Korean-inspired food mixed with a western hipster’s sensibility. Don’t be thrown if you don’t recognize the traditional names of food. “Topokki” and “Bob” dishes are deokbokki (rice cake or mochi dishes) and bap (rice dishes). The Korean language and its pronunciation is translated differently in the western language. Some consonants double for the same sound/letter (i.e. cities in Korea– Busan/Pusan, Daegu/Taegu… both spellings are commonly used for these cities and the first consonants are close in pronunciation and actually spoken as one… if that makes sense.)
Meat lovers will be happy to see their favorite Korean drama dish listed– there’s a Samgyupsal version grilled in a red wine chili sauce. For vegetarians, you can hit the cold and spicy noodles, meatless topokki dishes, kimchi jun, BibimBob (aka bibimbap) and namul salad. Although it’s still best to ask if there’s any meat in these dishes. From Korea’s own western fusion palette, Red House offers Bulgogi Pizza and it’s probably only a matter of time before more Korean pizza dishes make its way here. But there are other oddities you’ll not commonly find such as Japchae on Garlic Bread.
Okay, this is where I separate myself from an event blogger than a food blogger.
I’m not a foodie. Half the time, I don’t think I even like food although I’ve had memorable moments when my mouth was shocked into speechlessness. Korean food in Korea is one of those memorable places.
Otherwise, I appreciate ambience more than I do food, but the ‘chic’ prices set my intentions and stomach back a little. It’s a little more pricy than your average K-pop teen fan can afford and a splurge even for working local folks, who want to try some chic fusion food. The menu ranges from $6 for appetizers and $9-$24 for entree plates. This was a bit of a disappointment for me, because while the atmosphere is fresh and styled, the fusion food and slightly higher than moderate prices, didn’t offer me a convincing approach.
I ordered the popcorn shrimp ($6) and kimchi jun ($6) for lunch takeout. The popcorn shrimp was ono with a light crispy batter (although popcorn shrimp is hardly something you can mess up on). The jun was okay and I appreciated that it wasn’t oily, but it didn’t quite transport me back to Korea where I’ve experienced it in Korean public school lunches and nearly every festival.
I was tempted to try the toppbokki, but after buying a bowl of it for $1.50 every day after school in Korea, $12-20 felt a little steep. Also, I’ve tried a few versions of doekbokki in Hawaii to know, there’s a magic in the flavor of Korea, …which sometimes stays in Korea. I was too chicken to gamble. Then, I was floored to find my favorite kimbap restaurant food, the soft spicy tofu soup ( aka soon dubu jigae) was $12! While Red House Honolulu is a cute K-pop cafe, my pocket probably won’t want to splurge on my tastebuds’ test drive.
Sorry honey, times are rough.
Still, this cafe seems like the perfect place for a young crowd, looking for a new hangout to try for a night out on the town.
Other reviews of Red House Honolulu:
Red House Honolulu
35 Keeaumoku St., 748-9343
In the plaza with Super Market (large Korean grocery store)