Ever wonder where the Seoul in Gwinnett County comes from? Not the soul that makes you think of fried chicken, sweet tea and moody blues tunes, but the soul that comes from the strong Korean influences that season Gwinnett with a vibrant culinary scene. Gwinnett is lucky to be called home to more than 100,000 first and second-generation Koreans who have brought many aspects of Korean culture right here to Gwinnett. Korean businesses, retail shops, churches, markets and restaurants have popped up, creating a mini-Seoul right here in Georgia.
WHERE DO I START:
The Gwinnett foodie scene is a mini hot pot of home-cooked meals, waiting to be experienced, giving the devourer a glimpse into the comforts and nostalgia of another mama’s home-cookin’. That being said, walking into a foreign restaurant can be intimidating if you don’t know the lingo, customs and traditions, leaving foodies asking themselves, “Where do I start?”
Just as the backyard BBQ is a southern tradition, Gogigui (Korean BBQ) is a traditional Korean meal that has dishes laid out before you in a kaleidoscopic of colors and flavors. Thinly sliced meat is grilled over gas or charcoal grills that are built into the dining table. It’s DIY and totally customizable to make it just the way YOU like. Korean’s also have their own unique way of frying chicken, transforming the crispy skin into a thin, crackly, and almost transparent sweet and spicy crust. Korean BBQ and fried chicken are only two genres in the pot of culinary options available along Pleasant Hill and Buford Hwy corridors. A more adventurous eater may want to plan a visit to a family-style establishment and dine on traditional fare such as an assortment of casseroles, steamed pork belly, kimchi, Samgyetang soup, kimbap, spicy rice cakes and a little soju (Korean vodka) to wash it all down.
Take a Trip to Seoul in a Day:
To really get immersed in the phenomenon of flavors and culture, you could spend a hefty penny to purchase a plane ticket and spend about 15 hours in the air to experience Seoul, Korea. Or you could purchase a $50 ticket and spend 4 hours on the Explore Gwinnett Seoul of the South™ Korean restaurant tour. The Seoul of the South™ Korean restaurant tour takes place at four local restaurants and bakeries from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The tour is led by Sarah Park, who is native to Korea and really loves food, making her the perfect tour guide. She works closely with Explore Gwinnett to bridge the gap between Gwinnett’s hospitality industry and the local Korean community. The Gwinnett trolley will be 출발 (Chulbal = Korean for the word departing) on July 17 and August 7, 2021. Pro tip: come hungry and pace yourself! You may want to gobble down everything offered to you at the first stop, but speaking from experience – you will regret it later.
Tours sell out quickly, and if you miss out, or you just can’t wait, Explore Gwinnett has graciously put together a great tour for you to test out on your own.
Another benefit to the diverse culinary scene is the authentic neighborhood markets filled with the ingredients you can’t find at Publix. Super H Mart or Assi Plaza in Duluth are the premier destinations for fresh, authentic Asian groceries. They carry exotic produce, fresh meat and seafood and even housewares from Asia. And you can sample Asian dishes in the food court then grab supplies to replicate the new recipe at home.
Looking for some Recommendations?
BBQ: 9292 Korean BBQ, Breakers, Honey Pig Atlanta and 678 in Duluth restaurants are all prized for their savory Korean BBQ.
Bakeries: Tree Story, Vincents Bakery and White Windmill have traditional pastries with red bean delicacies.