Grace Lee elevates Korean dining experience at Kko Kko
Many people may not know it, but TV news anchor Grace Lee has been in the restaurant business for quite a while now, operating Buta Wagyu and Atelier Vivanda, both in Bonifacio Global City, and Hoolala—recently renamed Kko Kko—in Pasig City. Not surprisingly, she has found success as a restaurateur, more because of her passion to please customers.
Born a Korean but a Filipina at heart, Lee has made a perfect marriage of both cultures through food, including her newest restaurant venture, Kko Kko, which she describes as a “modern Korean concept which specializes in Korean chicken.”
“I wanted to kind of break from the mold of the traditional Korean restaurants here in the Metro. I wanted it to be authentic but also very modern, meaning, the “in” culinary experience in Seoul is something that I want to carry simultaneously here through Kko Kko concept,” she said during the media launch of the new restaurant.
“Largely right now the Korean restaurants in the Philippines are very traditional—the barbecue restaurants that have existed for the longest time or the other chicken restaurants that have very limited choices of really experiencing authentic Korean cuisine. So I kind of try to mix the two together, carry the authentic traditional recipes and items on the menu and at the same time be able to give a modern experience. There’s a lot of exchange of cultures that could happen to food,” she added.
The menu is divided into three categories—Korean Fried Chicken, Korean Street Food and Dosirak (Korean Lunchbox).
Like many other restaurateurs, Lee is very much hands-on in her businesses. She has full control on everything especially the menu so she can apply her own twists for a more sumptuous and palate-satisfying food.
“It gives me more freedom to add the menu I want, I’m more free to tweak the recipe according to how I know Filipinos will enjoy,” she explained.
While operating then Hoolala, Lee realized that to gain more customers, she had to update and further improve the menu and interior design of the restaurant.
“Hoolala was very family-oriented traditional recipe menu restaurant but I realized we have to be more hip to be able to attract a wider range of customers. That’s the reason why I wanted to change the concept, even the interior design. It took me about a year to rebrand and redo the entire thing,” she said.
“Every recipe that comes out on the table I worked on it together with my mom and my staff so I am a hundred percent involved. I am very control freak in that manner, I’m very meticulous and I’m very specific about the things I want when it comes to my food,” she added.
She gave her top must-try picks when visiting her newest restaurant.
“Definitely the Chicken Fondeau, Oh My Garlic, Snow Chicken and Cheese, Dosirak and street food and everything else in the menu of course.”
Kko Kko restaurant is located at the Saphire Bloc, Garnet Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Clarizel Abanilla
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