While it might sound curious to the uninitiated, the best-selling menu item at Yummy’s Korean BBQ in West Valley City, is the corn dog.
Owner Sun Woo Choi says that the shop sells 300 dogs a day.
But let’s be frank — eaters don’t come to this drive-thru restaurant looking for the usual sausage-on-a-stick. The Korean corn dogs served here are a twist on the all-American classic that are crispier, sweeter, cheesier and perfectly suited for social media.
They also are part of the growing excitement eaters in Utah — and across the country — have with Korean food of all kinds.
What is a Korean corn dog?
The biggest difference between a traditional corn dog and the Korean version is the coating. Instead of the usual cornmeal, the batter is made with rice flour, Choi said. It creates a crust that is “very crunchy on the outside but has a chewy inside.”
Korean corn dogs are typically made with a jumbo, all-beef weiners. But many are filled with blocks of mozzarella — and should be called cheese dogs instead.
Most restaurants — including Yummy’s — also sell a version that is half sausage, half cheese.
Whatever the filling, it is threaded on a long skewer or chopstick, dipped in the rice batter and rolled in panko crumbs before being plunged into a deep fryer. (There’s also a popular variation that rolls the dog in panko and diced potatoes before cooking.)
Once the crispy, golden log is pulled from the hot oil, it is sprinkled with white granulated sugar and topped with a zigzag of ketchup and mustard, said Choi, creating an interesting sweet-savory taste.
Hint: if you’re eating the cheese version, this is the point where take a big bite and create that long, Instagramable cheese pull that tends to go viral.
That’s one of the reasons this coated red-hot has become the darling of the internet food world. Over the past year, the hashtag — #KoreanCornDog — has appeared hundreds of thousands of times on various social media platforms.
Nado — a well-known host of Korean mukbang (live-stream eating videos) — leads the web. Her crunchy commentary on the Korean corn dog has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube.
Where can I get at Korean corn dog?
In Salt Lake County, Yummy’s Korean BBQ Drive-thru located, 2946 W. 4700 South, is the closest place. The regular and cheese dogs are $4, while the half and half is $4.50. It’s open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
A Korean corn dog also has been added to Yummy’s sit-down restaurant in Orem, Yummy’s Korean BBQ and Sushi, 300 S. State, in the Midtown 360 building. Customers can order the corn dog to go, or enjoy it while cooking meats and vegetables on the state-of-the-art grills built directly into the tables.
Casey and Rachel Choi, Sun’s parents, own and operate the Utah County location. They have been in the restaurant business for nearly a decade, make everything from the kimchi and dumplings to the Hawaiian macaroni salad in house.
On the food truck front, Dippys Corn Dogs, based in Provo, also has Korean-style corn dogs on the menu. Options include regular sausage, mozzarella cheese and a sausage, cheese and potato combination. Prices range from $4 to $6.50.
Who created the Korean corn dog?
While it’s likely been around for decades, the Myungrang Hogdog company is often given credit for taking the nostalgic state fair favorite and giving it a 21st century update. The Korean corn dog was sold at its store in Pusan in 2016 and quickly gained popularity among college students at the nearby university.
The owners soon expanded across Korea and then into other part of Asia and Australia. The first location in the U.S. opened in Georgia, in 2018.
But it was the store that opened in Los Angeles, in 2019, that garnered the most attention in America. According to news reports, the customer lines were so long, orders were capped at five hot dogs per person.
Since then, other Korean corn dog businesses have jumped on the bandwagon, selling their own take on the street food. Chung Chun Rice Dogs, for example, makes a yeasted dough for its corn dogs.
No word if either of those chains will make their way to Utah anytime soon.
It’s not surprise that Korean corn dogs have become popular. The country’s bold, spicy flavors and ingredients have been popping up in recipes, on restaurant menus and food trucks for several years, thanks to a growing interest in Korean music, television and pop culture.
It’s the phenomenon that helped launch the ramen revolution and the Korean barbecue explosion. It also launched kimchi as a condiment for everything from hamburgers and tacos to pasta and eggs.
Now the K-pop culture has done it again — taking the wurst and making it better.