Mike Tran is on a roll. The restaurateur and chef behind hot spots such Aka Sushi, Tiger Den, Mein Chinese Restaurant and Night + Market (which is temporarily closed and undergoing a reconceptualization) is opening Ohn Korean Eatery in Chinatown on Wednesday, May 31, and it’s looking to be one of the hottest openings of the year.
Why would we make such a prediction, you ask? Because there’s nothing else like it in town. Well, not right now, anyway. A few years back, there was a place called Soju Bang in the Long Point area that is no more. Dosi, the promising but ill-fated soju bar that opened on Shepherd in 2014, didn’t make it longer than a year. Republic Diner + Sojubang offers an Americanized version of the soju bar in The Heights, but for a Korean soju bar that channels what you would experience on the streets of Seoul, there has been nothing. Until now.
The vibe at Ohn, which Tran designed and built himself, feels sort of clubby and underground, almost like a club scene out of an ’80s movie. Neon signs of all different hues — red, green, yellow, white and blue — adorn the walls.
There are no open spaces. Seating comes in the form of semi-enclosed wooden booths, so that groups can dine and drink in relative privacy. The sound system and acoustics are also fantastic, and even during our preview, when the space was empty, it was easy to imagine how the restaurant would come alive when occupied.
Tran, who has traveled extensively throughout Asia, has a clear vision of what he wanted Ohn to be, and developed the menu, made up primarily of anju, or Korean bar food, himself. A draft version of the menu that we got to see showed a wide range of dishes priced affordably in the $8 to $15 range. At the time of this writing, the menu has not yet been finalized, though Tran has been experimenting quite a lot and putting it out there on his Instagram account, _miketran.
Ever wondered what Korean bar food looks like? Now’s your chance to find out. Tran has shared some of his planned dishes in the photos below for this exclusive sneak peek. There are noodle soups, rice dishes, a smoked brisket plate called "Seoul brisket" served with Korean side dishes, and plates that you can order as stand-alone entrées that could just as easily be shared among friends. If you love Asian comfort food, if you are happiest when your food is bathed in Korean spice, and if you just love to grub in general, this menu is for you. The pics he shared are indeed mouthwatering, so make sure you scroll to the bottom of the page to see them in all their glory.
On a final note, one of the most exciting things about Ohn, apart from the food, will be the drinks. In addition to beer, soju and soju cocktails, Ohn will be one of the only restaurants in town specializing in the popular Korean unfiltered rice wine known as makgeolli, which will be served in traditional Korean brass makgeolli pots. A menu of makgeolli cocktails will be available as well.
Here's a look at some of the food you'll be able to get at Ohn: