Executive chef Mike Kwon shows off the whole fried snapper.
Executive chef Mike Kwon shows off the whole fried snapper.

ROK Brings Korean Barbecue Meat Without the Heat

Republic of Korea owner and chef Michael Kwon chose to open his first restaurant in Lauderhil for a pretty good reason. He hoped a cluster of places offering Korean barbecue and Asian-inspired tapas would create a sort of Little Korea in Broward County.

Kwon was born in South Florida to immigrant parents. His father had escaped from North Korea before moving to Seoul, and then halfway across the world to Florida. Kwon attended culinary school at the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale. After graduation, he began cooking in kitchens at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C.; the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne; and Victoria & Albert's in the Grand Floridian Hotel in Disney World. About a year ago, he returned to South Florida, ready to strike out on his own with a Korean barbecue service and small plates the way he likes to eat them: heavy on the meat.

And here they bring an an almost overwhelming amount of meat for just $22 per person. Yet ROK, as its called for short, doesn't offer a traditional Korean barbecue experience, where diners grill their own meat atop a small in-table grill.

"The problem is we would go out to eat, go to the next place, and everybody would know where we [had been]," Kwon says. "We give you the option of having your meal and not smelling like smoke and charcoal afterward."

Read the full review of Republic of Korea.


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