When Korean food cart Kim Jong Grillin' was destroyed by a fire in April this year, just hours after
winning the judge's choice award at WW's 2011 Eat Mobile Festival, owner and cook Han Ly Hwang promised it would "rise like a
phoenix from these ashes."
And it looks like it will: Han recently announced that he will be opening a new brick and mortar restaurant called Bhap Sang PDX ("Food Table Portland"), one block from where the Kim Jong Grillin' cart was located at Southeast 49th and Division.
"When the cart burnt down, I'll be
honest, it was fucking heartbreaking. It's been a crazy year for me,"
says Han Ly Hwang. "[A restaurant] was my last destination anyways. I wanted to know about the cart to be able to do brick and mortar. It's a great way to test out your food. A nice, simple, small investment before you jump into something that will bring a lot of debt if it doesn't work."
Han plans to serve the same lunch menu as the cart, in addition to a new dinner menu full of traditional Korean dishes with a twist. Eventually, he wants to add a late night service and "a Korean drinking environment".
The restaurant is currently slated to open late October or early November. Han says they're still building, and he's not taking any chances this time. "My whole kitchen is in a shipping container. I'm not risking any fires or robberies. I can just grab it and go," he says.
"I'm super thankful for having all of these opportunities. All I wanted to do was this. The response from the fans has been overwhelming," says Han. "It feels really good to be loved like that, to know that I'm good at it."