Monday, August 9, 2010

Advent of the Korean shoebox eatery™

I've never been to Western Massachusetts, but the NYT's description of this restaurant caught my attention:
The Pioneer Valley, home to a whole mess of Western Massachusetts’s finest higher-education operations, is not a bad place to eat per se. But I know from friends who live or have lived there that the options can feel limited. So I was stoked, when passing through last week, to be taken to a restaurant that I hadn’t heard of and actually liked: Gohyang Korean Restaurant, a shoebox of a place on Route 9. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t be a good Korean restaurant there, but I was quietly thrilled about it.

Gohyang is probably best known as “that Korean place in Hadley,” because the English-language signs one can read from the road identify it as “Korean Restaurant” and it is in Hadley, Mass. It’s housed in a smallish, bluish building with three doors: one for Gohyang’s Singing Rooms, a karaoke parlor; one for the restaurant; and one for Kim’s Oriental Mart, a place piled high with Korean kitchen supplies.
The last two Korean places I ate at in Orange County were a small but very tastefully decorated former Italian restaurant turned Korean and the Kogi Taco Truck, while the Korean places I frequent most in Honolulu are a shop at the end of an isolated strip mall near Ala Moana Center and a makeshift add-on in the Manoa Valley, so I'm liking the "shoebox eatery" description.

Not only is it a cool name, I think it's a cool concept. It doesn't take a lot of space to create a Korean restaurant, as any denizen of any Korean city will tell you. Of course, that doesn't mean you should skimp on the decor: If you hope to expand outside an AA clientele (and I don't mean AlAnon), you will need to make it look as if the place passes code with ease.

And that's another thing: Try to put a name in English on the outside (preferably an accessible name, but that's another post for another time) other than a descriptive signboard. It's going to be a bit troublesome when Korean-speaking locals are referring to "Kohyang" (the name in Korean), while non-Coreaphones are referring to it as "Korean Restaurant."

And maybe offer a ch'obo beginner's menu (à la Pho Hoa when they first came to Korea).

There. I've done my part for round 2 of the Korean Wave.

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2 comments:

  1. You want to hear middle of no where? There is a Korean bbq and sushi restaurant in Silverwood, CA. Silverwood is on the way to Las Vegas and pretty much in the middle of a desert. There isn't anything around for miles.

    They do serve wild boar raised in their own ranch so they have a niche.

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  2. Not a bad review, but the main problem with it is that the author thinks that jjajangmyeon and jampong are authentic "Korean hits."

    Buhahaha!

    It wouldn't bother me as much if he didn't present himself as a sort of expert on Korean food.

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