Portland has a new spot for Korean staples, beef noodle soup, and fried snacks. Hak, the new Korean restaurant on NE Broadway, opened June 6 with hard-to-find Korean beverages and bites.
Hak is named for its co-owner and chef, Hak Chae, who has spent his career building restaurants in Brooklyn and along the West Coast. Chae decided he wanted to open a restaurant in Portland two years ago, persuading co-owner Joe Shim to leave his American restaurant in Seoul and open a restaurant in Portland.
Now, the two offer an assortment of Korean dishes, ranging from classics like bibimbap and bo ssam to pan-fried morsels called jeon. The restaurant opened with a wider selection of jeon — including pollack and oyster mushroom — but Shim says the two are pushing other things first to “introduce people to our food.” Down the line, the restaurant wants to reintroduce the longer list for the classic combo of jeon and makgeolli, an effervescent, fermented grain alcohol; currently, jeon like fried stuffed peppers and seafood scallion pancakes appear on the restaurant’s appetizer menu. Beyond the jeon, Hak makes brisket noodle soups using 10-hour beef bone stocks, using the bone broth as the foundation of kimchi stews, as well. Kimchi also appears in the restaurant’s braised pork belly, tofu and sauteed kimchi, which arrives with a three-to-five-hour-braised pork belly.
The space is polished but no-frills, with garage doors that open onto a set of outdoor picnic tables and a sparsely decorated dining room. At the bar, Hak serves its makgeolli alongside other things like draft beer and soju. Jeon devotees should keep an eye out — once winter comes, Hak may become the place for makgeolli and mushroom jeon.