Portland’s king of Korean bibimbap — the potent hangover cure featuring Korean barbecue, noodles, kimchi, a sous-vide egg, and more — Han Ly Hwang tells Eater he’s opening a new food truck with a focus on Korean ssam: lettuce wraps with your choice of meat or plant-based filling topped with a range of condiments. Hwang owns the breakout Kim Jong Grillin’ food truck and opened two Kim Jong Smokehouse locations in the past year with this season’s Top Chef contestant B.J. Smith (Smokehouse Tavern). If all goes to plan, Kim Jong Grillin’ Ssam will fire up the smokers this month in the SE Hawthorne and 12th food cart pod.
Speaking with Eater, Hwang says the menu will include some of Kim Jong Grillin’s greatest hits, like those bibimbap boxes, but focus on around five ssam options. “You choose a meat or vegetable filling, like with our bibimbap,” he says, “and we’ll serve them to you wrapped up in gold foil.”
The bo ssam, for instance, features smoked pork belly with scallion salad and house-made ssamjang, a complex, thick and spicy paste that usually includes garlic, gochujang, sesame oil, and many other ingredients. Some ssam options are vegan, and the only gluten the restaurant uses is soy sauce. Hwang says new meat fillings like that pork belly will also be available in bibimbap form.
And the late-night special? Starting at 10 p.m., Kim Jong Grillin’ Ssam will only serve one plate: a “dirty” kimchi fried rice, with a sous-vide egg.
Hwang isn’t ready to announce an opening date, but when the cart launches, it should operate daily, from noon to around 1 a.m. This will be Hwang’s third food truck, in addition to two Kim Jong Smokehouse locations.