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What We Know About the Han Oak Team’s Highly Anticipated Korean Barbecue Restaurant

Peter Cho and Sun Young Park will open their third restaurant this week, with house-made sausages and dry-aged meats

Peter Cho slurps noodles from a bowl, chopsticks pointing at his mouth. He’s wearing an apron, and steam fogs up his glasses.
Peter Cho of Han Oak and Jeju.
Dina Avila / Eater Portland
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Han Oak owners Peter Cho and Sun Young Park don’t like making a big production out of a restaurant opening. They’re not interested in “first looks” and flashy events, or social media accounts teasing every dish. They approach openings the same way they approach their work in general: relaxed, allowing cool, fun, or even silly ideas to emerge organically. That was true of their restaurant Toki, which opened in the pandemic with little notice other than an Instagram post by Gary the Foodie. And as they prepare to open their Korean barbecue restaurant later this week, they’re not doing big menu reveals or Instagram countdowns. The couple didn’t announce the restaurant’s name until 10 days before its first service, via a Portland Monthly story. They’re quietly throwing a dinner, and then posting a few reservations online.

But Portland can’t help it: When news breaks that Cho and Park are opening a restaurant, people get excited. People want to know the details. So, although the team is heavy on the caveats — the menus and offerings may change dramatically, and many things are still being ironed out — here’s what we know about the Han Oak team’s third restaurant, opening later this week:

The name: Jeju

Where it is: 626 SE Main Street

When it opens: Sunday, June 25, with an event featuring Cho Wines and Top Chef winner Mei Lin. Because the team is still waiting on a few final details, the restaurant will offer limited reservations over the next few weeks.

What it is: The latest restaurant from the Han Oak team, Jeju will take over the space once home to Italian restaurant Renata, serving a variety of meats smoked and grilled using wood-fire and charcoal. The restaurant will also house the Han Oak team’s larger whole-animal butchery program and commissary, which will support its sibling restaurants Han Oak and Toki.

Who’s behind it: Chef Cho and life/business partner Park opened their Korean restaurant, Han Oak, in 2016, a hidden gem behind a seafoam green door with a courtyard and a small apartment the couple lived in. The restaurant has gone through a number of different eras, offering dumplings and noodles, ssam, killer fried chicken, and other dishes before eventually transitioning into a set-menu restaurant model. The concept changes seasonally — hot pot during cold months, gimbap or grilled meats in the summer — but many of Han Oak’s popular a la carte items moved to a sibling restaurant across the river, Toki. Toki developed its own identity, with a menu of cool breakfast sandwiches and a separate dinner menu at night. Jeju will be the couple’s third restaurant.

What it’ll serve: Tasting menu Korean barbecue, using house cuts. The restaurant will dry age, lightly smoke, marinate, and char meats using a wood-fired oven. Meals will likely involve banchan, ssam, and noodles — somewhat similar in format to the former tasting menus at pre-pandemic Han Oak — heavily featuring meats from small-scale ranchers. Because the menu will use whole animals, many of the organ meats and less-desirable cuts will be transformed into sausages; for example, the chef says he’s been working on a rendition of soondae, a Korean blood sausage. Other ground meats will go into dumplings for all three restaurants, made at Jeju, which is a program he hopes to expand. He’s also particularly excited about the chef’s counter, which will involve more small-scale bites in what Portland Monthly’s Karen Brooks is calling “Korean BBQ omakase.” However, Cho is very hesitant to categorize the restaurant too rigidly. “I just don’t want to be defined,” he says. “I would never in my career be like, ‘Yeah, this is going to be this one thing.’”

The latest updates: The bar will offer “little-known Korean liqueurs and spirits,” in the words of Brooks, which Cho and Park are currently trying to source. “It’s hard, the green bottle stuff has such a hold on the market,” Cho says. “We’re still working on it though, working with a few importers.” The Portland Monthly story also references potential late-night karaoke, a common feature of Han Oak staff parties and former Feast parties. Stay tuned for more updates.


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