Monday, September 5, 2016

Uptown barbequing the Korean way

Phyllis Louise Harris
September 2016

The Uptown neighborhood in Minneapolis has changed considerably since my childhood. Gone is Calhoun Grade School, the Rainbow CafĂ©, Port Arthur Chinese restaurant, Abdullah’s ice cream parlor and Morris and Christie’s grocery and meat market Today’s collection of shops and restaurants serves an ever growing diversified audience that has kept this area of the city in constant motion.

Newest among the offerings is Hoban Korean Barbecue, an offshoot of the Hoban Korean restaurant opened in 1993 in suburban Eagan by Young Tae Lim and his wife Eun Jin Lim. This version is quite different from the original providing an opportunity for Uptown diners to experience Asia’s centuries old barbequing.

Dating back to the Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan in the 12th century, barbecuing was a necessity for his hoard of troops who rode on horseback through Asia and Europe conquering countries as they moved. Eating on the run necessitated finding game along the way and grilling it over campfires on their metal shields. It must have worked well since they created the largest land empire in world history.

At Hoban the fires are gas flames heating shiny metal grills on tabletops with exhaust vents overhead to whisk the smoke out of the building. Most civilized! In true Korean fashion the items to be barbequed are served with a variety of pickled vegetables and sauces plus slivers of raw garlic along with lettuce leaves to create wraps. There are also a few other dishes on the menu that do not require cooking but where’s the fun?

A word of caution. The raw meat and chicken is served on a platter with tongs to put it on the grill but the same tongs are used to take the cooked meat off the grill. Request a separate set of tongs so you are not combining raw meat with cooked meat and don’t return the cooked meat to the original platter – cuts down on the possibility of contamination. A variety of grill ingredients is offered including pork marinated in a barbeque sauce with a real kick. Wrap your grilled choices in a lettuce leaf with some kimchee and a choice of sauces to savor a traditional Korean treat.

Start with the “potstickers” even though they really aren’t. They are offered fried or steamed and are actually dumplings that are either deep fried or steamed. Deep-frying adds a crisp texture to the dumpling wrapper and makes for a tasty snack while cooking the barbeque. Bulgogi with vermicelli is beef in a sweet broth with a smattering of noodles but is a change from the grilled meats. There are also a variety of rice dishes. 

The restaurant is all bright and shiny with TV screens and bouncing music for those who like noisy distractions. It is an experience to be sure. Open 4 – 10 pm Tuesday through Saturday and 11 am – 9 pm Sunday, Hoban Korean Barbecue is closed on Mondays. They accept reservations for six or more. Call 612-354-7518. Or just drop in at 2939 Hennepin Avenue South, across from the Uptown Theater.



Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, in bookstores and on

Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt 

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