South Jordan • The Angry Korean started as a food truck serving Korean street tacos around the Salt Lake Valley.
A collaboration of two Korean chefs — Peter Kim, whose resume includes time at David Chang’s Momofuku and Michelin-star Danji; and sushi chef Young-Ho Kang — The Angry Korean has now put down brick and mortar roots in The District.
Today, the chefs have crafted an expanded menu at the restaurant highlighting authentic Korean BBQ with some fusion twists judiciously dished up, too.
With Korean street tacos at the heart of The Angry Korean’s original menu, diners can still bite into flour tortillas filled with grilled tofu ($3.99) sautéed in sweet soy; flavorful garlic/ginger/soy chicken ($3.49) topped with pickled radishes and a garlic chili sauce; beef bulgogi ($4.49) dressed with pickled Korean cucumbers and an avocado cilantro aioli; or spicy pork ($3.99) marinated in a tangy red chili paste — called gochujang — that’s offset by pickled red onions and fresh cilantro.
Have napkins at the ready, because things are about to get saucy as the power-packed flavors mingle and drip down your arm.
Dinner portions come with two tacos plus a side of vegetable mandoo (a fried dumpling), housemade japchae (Korean sweet potato noodles sautéed with vegetables) and Asian slaw with sesame dressing for $12.99 or $13.99.
Guests can get their fill of bibimbap — Korean rice bowls — featuring all of the protein choices available on the tacos in addition to spicy chicken ($14.99), salmon ($15.99) marinated in sweet soy, or an 8-ounce New York strip steak ($15.99).
More interesting combinations can be found in the panko-crusted chicken katsu ($14.99) accented with a silky avocado cilantro aioli or tempura-battered shrimp ($15.99) coated in a sweet and sour sauce.
[Read also: Cupbop brought Korean BBQ to Utah. Now it’s inspired Asian-Mexican fusion food in Vietnam.]
During dinner, each heaping rice bowl is further loaded with japchae, a veggie mandoo and topped with a perfectly fried egg in addition to the rice, protein and salad that’s standard at lunchtime.
With the bulk of The Angry Korean’s menu found in the rice bowl and taco sections, it would be easy to fill up without tasting any of the Korean fusion offerings served in the starters and sandwich areas.
From binge-worthy Korean junkyard fries ($11.99) piled high with steaming beef bulgogi gravy and housemade beer cheese to the Korean po-boy ($14.99) bursting with almost cloyingly sweet shrimp and American cheese, there are plenty of Instagramable items to order here.
Surefire hits can be found in the Korean cheesesteak ($12.99) filled with savory beef bulgogi that adds umami to the Philly-based favorite, plus sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and melted cheese.
On the starter menu, four flavors of Korean spicy fried wings ($11.99 or $13.99), steamed buns and L.A. Kalbi were all finger-licking good — if not for the price. A smallish soft-shell crab steamed bun will set you back $13.99, although the luscious pork belly buns were worth every penny of the $8.99 price tag.
If cost was based on presentation alone, then the L.A. Kalbi (or la galbi) — thin-sliced bone-in short ribs served on a sizzling-hot cast iron skillet — might warrant $18.99. Money is better spent, instead, on the fragrant, fermented kimchi side for $1.99.
The Angry Korean offers interesting liquid refreshments in the form of Boylan craft sodas ($2.89) from the fountain in cool flavors like red birch beer and black cherry. Italian sodas and flavored lemonades ($3.99) can be ordered as well as beer and wine — which is rarely offered when seated.
Servers are attentive yet aloof, if not slightly overwhelmed, running dishes to and from the kitchen. When you visit, be forthright in asking whatever questions you might have about the sauces on the table, drinks or food you’re interested in — particularly if you are unfamiliar with it — as the information is critical to the enjoyment of your meal.
As you wait for your meal to arrive, watch the chefs work their wok magic in the kitchen from the elevated communal tables at the center of the clean and modern restaurant. The 6-foot-long flat top grill is always in action, too.
South Jordan residents are lucky to have such a trendsetting restaurant in their midst as The Angry Korean delivers on both fusion and traditional fronts just across the street from the Megaplex Theatres.
Heather L. King also owns www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches
The Angry Korean • ★★★ (out of ★★★★) South Jordan gained a flavor-packed restaurant when this former food truck opened in The District. Traditional bibimbap (Korean rice bowls) mingle with street tacos and fusion-forward sandwiches and starters, offering savory, soy-based meals to mall and moviegoers.
Food • ★★★
Mood • ★★★
Service • ★★★
Noise • 2 bells
Entrée Price • $$-$$$
Location • 11587 S District Main Drive, South Jordan; 801-307-8300
Hours • Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5-10 p.m.
Online • facebook.com/theangrykorean
Children’s Menu • yes
Liquor • beer and wine
Reservations • yes
Takeout • yes
Wheelchair access • yes
Outdoor dining • no
Onsite parking • The District
Credit cards • all