It’s certainly not an ideal time to launch a new restaurant concept, as the pandemic has put even established businesses on edge about their future. But SeoulSpice, the Chipotle-like fast-casual restaurant popular for the Korrito, a Korean-style burrito, has grand plans for 2021. Owned by National Symphony Orchestra principal percussionist Eric Shin, the restaurant is planning to double in number with three new outlets next year.
To help it get there, the company has launched a pop-up offshoot at two of its three existing locations. “The Korean BBQ Experience will be essential for SeoulSpice to survive the winter,” reads a flyer instructing guests on how to operate the portable grill at their table.
As long as you’re not opposed to cooking your own meat, the pop-up is a great deal, an all-you-can-eat spread of prime, dry-aged beef plus banchan sides of pickled cabbage, pickled radishes, marinated corn, and julienned carrots, rice, and four dipping sauces, ranging from Cilantro-Lime Ranch to Gochujang-fueled Korean Hot Sauce. And all for less than $20 a person.
There is a catch: It’s only available for those willing and able to dine in person at either the original location in NoMa or the one in Tenleytown. For everyone else, both locations — as well as the third one in College Park — continue to offer the full, non-BBQ SeoulSpice menu to enjoy as delivery or to-go. While those partaking in the BBQ experience can further supplement their meal with already grilled bulgogi beef, marinated chicken, and thinly sliced spicy pork, not to mention add-ons of braised tofu, sweet potato noodles, and purple rice, they’ll have to try the Seoul Train or Kimchi Krunch or any other Seoul Spice signature another time.
The restaurant is to be commended for the measures it has enacted helping put anxious diners at ease. For starters, they’ve cleared the entire dining area, leaving just four tables and chairs spread out more than 10 feet apart, and then only seating two tables per hour for socially distanced parties of no more than five people each. They’ve even gone so far as to install HEPA filtration systems at each table in addition to thoroughly cleaning everything in between seatings. Ultimately, it’s that level of commitment that will keep guests coming back long after the pandemic ends.
The Korean BBQ Experience is available for reservations between 5 and 9 p.m. daily at Seoul Spice locations in NOMA (145 N St. NW) and Tenleytown (4600 Wisconsin Ave. NW). Cost is $17.50 per person, not including beverages, tax, and gratuity, throughout December, or $20 apiece starting Jan. 1. Visit www.seoulspice.com.
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