Eric Shin is not your typical restaurateur.
But with parents who ran a Korean restaurant in Atlanta in the 1990s, he grew up in the industry, so when he had an idea for a Chipotle-style fast-casual restaurant, it wasn’t that far-fetched.
SeoulSpice opened in 2016 in NoMa, adding a second location in Tenleytown and, last month, a third location in College Park, serving organic Korean streetfare, including a Korean-style sushi burrito, bulgogi and street tacos.
Shin talked with the Hyattsville Wire about the restaurant.
You’re a percussionist. Why did you decide to open a restaurant?
Musicians eat out often and explore culture through food. Over the years, I have become the Korean restaurant tour guide for my friends. This is totally necessary – most Korean restaurants have intimidating and lengthy menus and a staff that barely speak English. Our goal at SeoulSpice is to make Korean food more accessible by delivering authentic Korean flavors with a modern twist.
SeoulSpice sells both a Korrito (Korean burrito) and street tacos. Why has Korean-Mexican fusion been so popular?
Korean and Mexican fusion works well as the flavor profiles are very similar and work well together! You could take anything from SeoulSpice and throw it in a quesadilla and it would taste amazing. Kimchi complements tacos perfectly – a pop of garlic, chili, and ginger!
The housemade cilantro-lime ranch sauce is a throwback to my favorite sauce, which I developed a taste for when I lived in Houston. My grandma does not approve, but man, it is delicious.
In the last couple years, a number of Asian restaurants have opened in College Park. Why do you think that is?
I’d like to think that people are broadening their horizons and tired of the same old Chinese take-out. It’s nice seeing more Korean, Thai, Sichuan, etc. This follows a general demand for more variety across the country.
What was the most surprising thing you’ve learned running a restaurant?
I was shocked to learn how much food we eat is pre-made, frozen, and processed. This is at both sit-down and fast casual restaurants. At SeoulSpice, everything is made and prepped from scratch!
Which item on your menu is your favorite?
The “Klassic” white rice bowl with extra kimchi!