Houston’s Chinatown Gets a New All-You-Can Eat Korean Barbecue Restaurant With Serious Cocktail Power — Hongdae 33 Creates Sizzle (Papercity)

August 29, 2023

Grace and Leo Xia — the husband and wife pair who brought Houston the popular Chinese restaurant Duck N’ Bao (with locations on Memorial Drive and in Cypress) and built a cult following for their Chinese soup dumplings and crisp-skinned Peking Duck — have a new all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant called Hongdae 33 in Chinatown.

The 3,000-square-foot restaurant, which seats 80, was designed by the same Beijing-based designer responsible for Duck N Bao’s splashy interiors. At Hongdae 33, the designer utilizes the principles of Hanok, the traditional Korean style of constructing an abode. Custom design elements include kiwa roof tiles to create a faux clay roof perched over the bar, Chang-teul-style window frames and Dae-Deul-Bo wooden crossbeams poised overhead.

Hongdae 33 is named for Seoul’s nightlife district combined with the number 33. (This is a number the Chinese consider lucky and it also happens to be Hongdae 33 owner Leo Xia’s age too.) Keeping with the traditional Korean barbecue format the couple was first introduced to in Las Vegas, Hongdae 33 offers all-you-can-eat pricing ($33 per person).

Galbi Pork Belly and Spicy Gangnam Chicken is cooked on the grill at the new Korean BBQ restaurant called Hongdae 33. (Photo by Jenn Duncan)

Here’s the blueprint: diners select their choice of beef, pork, and seafood and proceed to cook it themselves over tabletop gas grills. For grilling, the restaurant has sourced exclusively USDA Prime meats, including galbi (grilled ribs), brisket, beef and pork bulgogi (thin, marinated slices meat), garlic and miso marinated flat iron steak, pork belly, pork jowl and chicken with a choice of soy, garlic, or spicy marinades. Seafood options include items like garlic-butter shrimp, spicy baby octopus and spicy ika squid. Or elect to upgrade your meat selections to American Wagyu beef culled from Texas’s own R-C Ranch with short rib, New York strip and ribeye cuts.

“To Koreans, barbecue is not just grilling meat,” Grace Xia says. “It is part of the culture. It’s gathering and making memories while cooking at the table and enjoying a meal with your date, family, friends, or co-workers. Barbecuing together is a great way to relax and have fun.

“We hope to create that special experience at Hongdae 33.”

The all-you-can-eat menu comes complete with sides (also known as banchan) like house-prepared Korean kimchi, marinated bean sprouts, japchae, scallion and seafood pancakes, spicy rice cake skewers, a corn-and-mozzarella mixture, as well as the expected steamed rice. Marinades and dipping sauces are crafted with house recipes developed by the owners.

Care for a cocktail? While Duck N Bao introduced Houstonians to baijiu, the Chinese spirit distilled from sorghum, Hongdae 33’s drink menu trains its eye on South Korean spirits, including different styles and flavors of soju and Korean rice wines (makgeolli). Hongdae uses these traditional pours in various combinations along with beer to create Korean-style bomb shots, which are wildly popular in South Korea.

Signature soju cocktails include the Asian C-Cup (made with grapefruit soju, sweet vermouth, lemon, frothy egg white and tonic), and the K-Shawty (with strawberry soju and puree, Yakult, lemon juice and Milkis, a creamy Korean soda). Classic cocktails, including lychee, lemon drop and cucumber-lime martinis are also available along with Asian and domestic beers.

Hongdae 33 is open daily for all-you-can-eat barbecue, Sundays through Thursdays from 11:30 am to 12 midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 am to 2 am. The all-you-can-eat menu is $33 per person (with a 90 minute time limit).

Original Article: https://www.papercitymag.com/restaurants/hongdae-33-houston-restaurant-korean-barbecue-grace-leo-xia/

Phone: (346) 980 8105
Opening Hours:
Sun-Thur: 11:30AM-12:00AM
Fri-Sat: 11:30AM-2:00AM
9889 Bellaire Blvd #D-229,
Houston, TX 77036
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