Newcomer Seoulmates opens this week as a Korean and LA-inspired street food restaurant in Beverly Grove. The fast-casual spot resides less than two blocks away from longstanding West Third bar El Carmen; if unsure of where to find it, there’s a giant billboard directly across from the restaurant on the north side of the street.
Seoulmates showcases tacos that range from galbi to jackfruit gochujang birria tacos, bowls, Korean wings, carnivorous or vegan bibimbap bowls, along with loaded fries with bulgogi, grilled onions, peppers, onions, pickled fresno peppers, and queso. Then there’s the bulghoagie, a sandwich developed by owner Christina Hong, which sold at her pop-up during the early days of the pandemic. Hong recruited consulting chef Dustin Jang — former sous chef at Nyesha Arrington’s shuttered Native — to finesse the Seoulmates menu. If this menu rings familiar for Los Angeles, Hong cites chef Roy Choi as an inspiration.
Hong cut her hospitality teeth as a bartender and at her family’s Chicago-area outlets of Charley’s Philly Steaks. Her plans to open Seoulmates were delayed by the pandemic, so she shifted into pop-up mode for two years. Her pop-up specialty bulghoagie is on now a fixture on the Seoulmates menu, with marinated ribeye, melted provolone, grilled onions, pickled cucumber, wonton crisps, slaw, and kimchi remoulade between a hero roll. Before securing the location on West Third, the pop-up made regular appearances at Verdugo Bar in Glassell Park and West Hollywood’s Naughty Pig.
If dining in, Seoulmates has minimal indoor and outdoor seating. The space went through ample turnover over the last five years, with Hummus Republic and Subito’s preceding the short-lived Pink Grey. Though Hong is opening Seoulmates this Thursday, July 14, they’re serving for business as of today. Hours run 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.