You could say Han Ly Hwang fights fire with fire. In 2011, his Korean BBQ cart Kim Jong Grillin’ went up in flames a matter of hours after it won the Judges Award at the Eat Mobile festival. Hwang disappeared for a while, but eventually regrouped, refreshed his skills by battling fellow chefs on the Food Network’s Chopped, and relit the grills at a cart on SE Division last summer. Portlanders rejoiced since even in this city full of cleverly named carts and perfectly charred meat, Kim Jong Grillin’ is a standout.
As of June 19, his second cart in Northeast Portland started serving up the flame-kissed bulgogi and cult-fave, sweet-tart-spicy KJG dog. This is the first of six carts that will eventually call the 42nd Avenue Food Carts pod home. And while for now the menu is the same as on Division Street, the new location boasts a few upgrades like covered picnic tables, a patio and — if permits are granted — beer from Pollo Norte next door. Meanwhile, Hwang is also planning to add a covered patio and seating at the SE location. He says they may be able to offer table-top open flame dishes as a result; and a liquor license is in the works there as well.
If two locations isn’t enough, you can also look for Kim Jong Grillin’ in Waterfront Park August 16th-17th for MusicFest NW. Hwang says they've signed a year lease at the new NE location, but he hopes to be there forever. Hours are Monday to Saturday from noon to 8 pm and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
—E. Brownfield and Jonathan Hall