Opening Saturday: K-ROK brings Korean BBQ and Karaoke to Grand Rapids

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A year-long mission to bring Korean barbecue and karaoke to downtown Grand Rapids will be completed starting Saturday.

K-ROK Korean Barbecue & Karaoke opens at 4:00 p.m. for restaurant guests. This is the moment that owner Rob Yoon has been waiting for almost three years, and it comes days after his outage, watching his business bustle with friends, family, community members and new employees. .

“I just couldn’t believe we were finally here. You know the last couple of years have been really, really ups and downs and a lot of stress, a lot of weird stuff. (But) God is good, man.

Yoon was prepare to open K-ROK when the COVID-19 pandemic reached western Michigan. He held a job fair exactly a week before Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered the first round of closures and restrictions.

Over the month, the challenges kept cropping up.

“COVID, staff, shipping is crazy. I can’t get anything in here in time. I’m still waiting for a few things, ”Yoon said on Wednesday. “There are all kinds of little things that add up that you think aren’t a big thing, but they’re right, they’re huge, and especially in the restaurant business or hospitality industry.”

Yoon says K-ROK is still understaffed, “but I’m still going to roll with what we have.”

INSIDE THE K-ROK

(An image from October 27, 2021 shows a dining area inside the K-ROK Korean Barbecue & Karaoke in Grand Rapids.)

Located across from Rosa Parks Circle at 169 Louis Campau Promenade NW, K-ROK was previously a hotel storage space until Yoon took over in December 2018.

“They were waiting for the right place to come in here. Amway has given us the opportunity to bring some Korean culture and karaoke here so more nightlife they need in this area, ”said Yoon.

K-ROK has two dining rooms and three private karaoke rooms. Small touches inside each space pay homage to South Korea, photos of K-pop stars, Korean beer flyers, and wall art in the vivid mural restaurant of the popular Myeongdong Market of Seoul inside each karaoke room. Touches of red, black, and white follow visitors throughout K-ROK, representing the colors of South Korea’s flag.

(An image from October 27, 2021 shows a mural in a hallway inside K-ROK Korean barbecue and karaoke in Grand Rapids.)

ON THE MENU: “KOREAN SOUL FOOD”

But the cornerstone of K-ROK is its “Korean soul food,” as Yoon calls it.

“These are all the recipes of mom and grandmother back home. They learned to cook and they show it to me, ”he said.

The menu includes beef and pork bulgogi, traditional Korean soups, dolsat bibimbap, kalbi, which are beef ribs marinated in a sweet garlic soy sauce, and boneless unmarinated ribs called kalbi sal. “that melt in your mouth,” Yoon said.

(From left to right, K-ROK’s ban chan, samgyeopsal and beef belly as shown in a photo provided by Sin Chun.)

K-ROK will also be offering its own version of samgyeopsal, using thin cuts of beef brisket, “and that’s amazing,” Yoon added.

Each meal is typically between $ 25 and $ 29 and is presented to guests for cooking on the smokeless grill encrusted at their table. Each table also comes with a container of cooking utensils.

“Koreans like to cut their meat into small pieces while it’s on the grill, hold it with the tongs, cut it,” Yoon explained.

(A photo provided by Sin Chun shows bulgogi during the smooth opening of K-ROK.)

He says the staff will always be nearby to guide customers through the dining experience. Each grill table is also equipped with a “call” button to quickly call a server.

“It’s a Korean thing. They have them in a lot of Korean barbecues, so I wanted to bring this character here, ”Yoon added.

(An image from October 27, 2021 shows a table with a grill embedded inside the barbecue and K-ROK Korean karaoke in Grand Rapids.)

Once staff and business increase, K-ROK plans to expand their lunch hours and menu to roll out the cupbop.

“It’s like rice bowls, but it’s spicy pork, bulgogi, sweet potato noodles and you have four different sauces you can put in there, mix them up.” It’s like a bowl of cooked Korean poke, ”Yoon explained.

K-ROK plans to keep its drink menu authentic with a Seoul mule, soju, and soju cocktails. Yoon says that once shipping issues caused by the pandemic are resolved, Heit will also be available. But for now, Stella Artois and Kirin will be running K-ROK taps.

KARAOKE AT K-ROK

K-ROK plans to start accepting reservations for its three karaoke rooms next week.

“There is nothing like us here. (We have) private rooms, you can have fun singing and drinking with your family, ”Yoon said.

Colorful lights dance on the walls of the bedrooms, each lined with a mix of red and black furniture. The two smaller karaoke rooms can accommodate around 8-10 people; the largest can hold up to a dozen guests.

(An image from October 27, 2021 shows a private karaoke room inside K-ROK Korean Barbecue & Karaoke in Grand Rapids.)

Although no soup or barbecue is allowed in the karaoke rooms, visitors can still enjoy drinks and fried foods or Korean appetizers listed on a special menu.

K-ROK’s karaoke system will feature a range of music, from Vietnamese, Chinese and Filipino songs to nationally renowned artists like Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra, Frank Ocean, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Although rates vary by day and time, each room will be available for around $ 50 an hour and must be booked for at least two hours at a time, according to Yoon. All reservations must be made online. The mandatory deposit will go towards the final invoice.

“It’s a fun experience. This is the purpose of what we are doing here. We bring you experiences and memories that you have never had before, ”said Yoon.

AND AFTER

K-ROK’s opening hours will be Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The karaoke rooms will be available by reservation online only from Thursday to Saturday and on request on Wednesday. Tables will be on the waiting list only through the K-ROK website.

Yoon plans to expand K-ROK’s hours of operation to six days once it becomes more staffed.

While Yoon is grateful for the community’s patience as he worked to open K-ROK, he says credit for the new restaurant should go to his mother.

(An image from October 27, 2021 shows K-ROK Korean Barbecue & Karaoke in Grand Rapids.)

“Everything here is due to her faith in God and her faith in hard work and her love to serve people and make them smile,” he said. “I just walked in and tried to make it a bit bigger so that she could get what she deserves.”

Yoon says that while the focus is now on K-ROK, his family’s other restaurant, Emonae Korean BBQ, will continue to operate in Cascade Township. He plans to renovate this restaurant afterwards.

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