Bruce Baek and Jinn S. Kim in Aubergine.
Hashigo Korean Kitchen
Mo Ran Gak
Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong
Krave Asian Fusion
The subject of food is a dominant theme in Julia Cho’s Aubergine (Segerstrom Stage, Oct. 19-Nov. 16, 2020), as a Korean-American chef cooks for his ailing father, a mother prepares her son’s favorite dish to keep him from leaving home, and a man shares a bowl of berries and a young woman falls in love. Experiencing this powerful and beautifully written play might just whet your appetite for delicious Korean cuisine. So, whether you’re craving traditional Korean food, Asian fusion or BBQ, why not grab a pre- or post-show bite at one of Orange County’s many Korean restaurants. Here are a few to try:
Hashigo Korean Kitchen – Costa Mesa
Traditional tofu stews and BBQs are on the menu here, along with creative fusion appetizers such as Kalbi tacos, Bulgogi tacos, wings and the Korean version of a wet burrito. Hashigo offers several vegetarian options, too. Popular dishes include spicy kimchi fried rice, bibimbap (Korean rice dish), curry fries with katsu and cheesy chicken katsu curry. hashigokorean.com
Bonchon – Costa Mesa
Korean restaurant chain Bonchon is world-famous for its mouthwatering Korean fried chicken, along with an extensive selection of Asian-fusion dishes. When ordering the crispy, fried chicken options, diners can select from wings, drumsticks or strips, available in three sizes. Additionally, Bonchon allows indecisive diners to opt for the “half-and-half”—a mix of wings glazed in tangy soy-and-garlic and wings glazed in the slow-burn, hot-pepper alternative. bonchon.com
Mo Ran Gak Restaurant – Garden Grove
Diners should expect a long wait here and parking can be tough, but the amazing food makes any difficulties worth it. The banchan selections (kimchi pancakes, steamed egg, etc.) earn praise, as well as the mulnaengmyeon (cold noodles in beef broth), a la carte beef options and the perfect nokdujeon (savory mung bean pancakes). Also, upon being seated, guests are served complimentary, unlimited beef broth “tea”. morangakrestaurant.com
Hangari Kalgooksu – Garden Grove
Diners here rave about the delicious, huge portions of kalgooksa, a seafood noodle dish with a savory broth of potatoes, veggies, shrimp and clams. The accompanying bori-bap (barley rice) and chonggak kimchi (baby-radish kimchi) are served as complimentary appetizers and make for a truly authentic experience.
Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong – Buena Park
Celebrity wrestler Kang Ho Dong’s Buena Park outpost of the famous Koreatown eatery is a contemporary spot for classic Korean BBQ that offers grill-your-own meats and accompanying sides. Accolades include being ranked as one of the “101 best restaurants” by the late food critic Jonathan Gold. kijung.com
Mr. BBQ – Fullerton
A great place for group celebrations, this upbeat, modern spot features all-you-can-eat (AYCE) Korean BBQ cooked on tabletop grills. The brisket, pork belly, rib eye and filet mignon all earn raves, as well as the banchan selection. The wait here can be long, but the tantalizing, hearty eats are absolutely worth it. ocrestaurantguides.com
Urban Seoul – Irvine
A hidden gem located in the Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center, this sleek spot serves creative Korean-Mexican fusion dishes in a modern dining room with an open kitchen. The menu features an appetizing array of Korean dishes with Mexican and other culinary influences. Diners should try the Urban 3b, their modern twist on the traditional Korean bibimbap.
Krave Asian Fusion – Irvine
Diners indulge in delectable, authentic Asian and Asian-inspired dishes at this restaurant with a relaxed, contemporary vibe. Although Krave’s signature dish is the crunchy, savory Korean-style fried chicken with hand-brushed flavorful sauces, the rest of the menu shouldn’t be overlooked, with its extensive selection of traditional and uniquely modern takes on classic Asian dishes. cravekrave.com
If you’d prefer to cook and eat at home before or after seeing Aubergine, check out these Korean comfort food recipes from Bon Appetit magazine.
Learn more about Aubergine and buy tickets.