Are you yearning for some Korean soul food?
Then take the family, or go on a date, to Mister Seoul – located at 39-35 Bell Blvd. in Bayside – for a heapin’ helping of their authentic, mouth-watering Korean barbecue.
“We wanted to create a menu that you can actually enjoy its true authenticity, without having to travel all the way to Korea — hence the name, ‘Mister Seoul,’” said owner Chris Kim, who currently lives on Long Island.
“We have a wide variety of dishes, from our barbecue to japchae (glass sweet potato noodles with sauteed vegetables), and tofu stew, to Korean-style pancakes and more. We use high-quality meat and have servers who are truly amazing,” Kim said. “And there’s really no other Korean barbecue spot that can match our ambiance in Queens.”
It’s no wonder why Mister Seoul — which is located in a storefront that was previously an Italian restaurant — made Eater’s hottest new restaurants in Queens list.
While Kim’s sleek, modern-looking restaurant, launched in early December, he said they’re still in the soft opening phase.
“Many customers came to support and show their love and we had a lot of great feedback on our dishes,” Kim said.
Try the meat combo – aptly called “Mister Seoul Large Combo,” consisting of ribeye, boneless fresh short rib, marinated short rib, and bulgogi (marinated thinly sliced beef). Other dishes include their tteokbokki (spicy Korean rice cake).
Customers sit at tables set around grills, where they can roast an array of meats, served up with vegetable and rice sides, as well as alcohol, if desired.
You wouldn’t think that a bagel guy would suddenly go rogue and start thinking Korean barbecue, but that’s exactly what happened when Kim — who used to own Bergen Bagel on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn — decided to take his entrepreneurial skills in a totally different direction with Mister Seoul.
That said, Kim never lost his love of bagels. After selling that bagel business several years ago, he opened another Brooklyn eatery, called The Gourmet Bagel Shoppe.
“I was always in the bagel business, but my passion was always to open a Korean barbecue restaurant, and when the opportunity was there, we went for it,” Kim said.
Kim said his cousins are his partners in the business venture. Korean barbecue holds a special place in their family’s traditions.
“As a Korean family, our outings were always at a Korean barbecue restaurant, and growing up I would be amazed how my mom would marinate the short rib, and how much effort goes into actually making the beef taste good,” Kim recalled with a laugh. “I would spend a lot of time in the kitchen with her, trying to help, but she would tell me I’m always ruining her recipe.”
With Mister Seoul, one could say Kim has proved his beloved mother wrong.
So, what combination of ingredients make for a successful restaurant?
“It’s definitely taste, location, ambiance, great customer service — but most importantly, you need a very good team,” Kim said. “We have servers who are extremely experienced and attentive, a manager and chef, who both total over 40 years of experience.”
Kim compared running a restaurant to playing in a band.
“If the guitarist is off-chord, then it can ruin the vocalist, and everything will be out of sync. Same applies to a restaurant,” Kim said.
When it comes to Mister Seoul, the reviews are in.
“Came in as a party of [six] and ordered a large ‘Mister Seoul’ and large ‘Gangnam Style,’ which was just a little too much for us, but a good combination of beef, pork, chicken. Will definitely come back,” one happy patron wrote in a review.
Another had this to say: “Best Korean BBQ restaurant in the NY/NJ area. Hands down best tasting, best service and best vibe. Go give it a try, you won’t regret it. I made the trip all the way from Northwest NJ to try it.”
Seems like Queens can’t be beaten when it comes to its diversity of global food offerings and great restaurant options.
Mister Seoul offers delivery and takeout, and is open Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight. There is outdoor seating that is covered and heated, and the space can accommodate large parties. Prices for dishes range from $13 to $45 (for prime beef), with premium sets, which consist of four different cuts, priced higher.