The Best Korean Fusion Dishes In Atlanta guide image


The Best Korean Fusion Dishes In Atlanta

These ribs, corn dogs, and fried green tomatoes are some of the best things popping out of these K-ATL kitchens.

Nowhere in Atlanta is as densely packed as our NYC big cousin, so our Koreatown isn’t an enclave of blocks but rather a segment of Korean-owned retail, groceries, and restaurants that span the Duluth, Suwanee, Doraville, and Johns Creek cities north of Atlanta. As these communities have grown, their influence has spread throughout the greater metro Atlanta, helping to shape the thriving food scene that we know and love today. Now, it’s not unusual to go into any restaurant and see Korean-influenced flavors at play. And most of these dishes are a tasty reflection of the true Southern-Korean American experience in a bite.

photo credit: Mhandy Gerard

Heirloom Market BBQ imageoverride image

Heirloom Market BBQ


2243 Akers Mill Rd SE, Atlanta
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Kalbi Beef Rib

Heirloom’s culinary couple (a former Korean pop star-turned-chef and her Texas and Tennessee-bred chef husband) create some of the most delicious Korean BBQ we’ve had over the years—specifically their kalbi beef masterpiece. Offered as a Saturday special, this mouthwatering smoked beef rib always sells out fast, so call ahead Friday night to place your order. It’s a flawless flavor medley with a 72-hour sweet and savory marinade, layered with a nine-hour smoke process. The tender, fall-off-the bone beef rib can easily feed three, but we’d thoroughly enjoy it (and the banchan sides) solo and save the rest for leftovers. The small, mostly takeout roadside corner store in Cumberland also offers the dish with spicy Korean BBQ sauce, but the kalbi flavors make any sauce unnecessary.

Mr. Cow Classic

The K-Dog is a guilty pleasure of ours. Unlike the traditional American corn dog, the Korean corn dog is a sausage rolled in cheese, dipped in a rice flour batter, rolled in coarse panko, and then lightly coated with sugar after it has been fried—this makes it chewy and crunchy all at once. Mr. Cow’s, in the always busy Cumberland Mall Food Court, is one of our favorite places to grab a K-Dog, especially when we're in the mood for fun toppings like Flaming Cheetos and caramel puff barley. But more often, we're suckers for the traditional—the Mr. Cow Classic with a bit of mustard, ketchup, and ranch.

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Donkatsu & Seafood Pasta Bowl

Located in Gwinnett, Poetree is a cute Korean cafe with post-it notes along one wall where you’ll see a mix of patrons from elders to tattooed, artsy types. Because we’re suckers for tasty Italian and a perfectly fried porkchop, we're in love with their donkatsu dish. As a Korean spin on the Japanese breaded deep fried pork cutlet, this shareable entrée is served with linguini, tossed in a creamy garlic sauce with mussels, head-on shrimp, and clams. It’s good good. Plus, it’s served with banchan, which can be dongchimi kimchi or kkakdugi kimchi. We’re "those people" who add chili flakes to our pasta every time, so ask for the habanero chili powder if you want to spice things up.

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Poor Calvin's



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Fried Green Tomatoes & Korean Beef

Sitting in the bones of an old house near the Civic Center, Poor Calvin's serves one of the most creative Asian fusion menus in the city. We usually sit by the bar to watch the skilled cocktail alchemists whip up herbaceous mixtures before our eyes, but we can only wonder what fun is had behind the scenes when dishes like fried green tomatoes with beef bulgogi arrive at our table. These cornmeal crusted green tomatoes give us the pleasing trifecta of sweet, heat, and cool with chutney, goat cheese, and ghost pepper BBQ toppings. Then, there’s the thin slices of sweet and savory filet mignon. Since it’s definitely a place to impress food people and intimate enough for a date night, it’s always legit busy, so get a reservation.

Fried Chicken

Although a small chicken chain, don’t let franchise hesitancy keep you from their insanely crunchy, well-seasoned fried chicken. You’ve gotta come correct in the South, and this twice-fried Korean technique, which includes rice flour, is like perfection—light and crispy outside and juicy and tender on the inside. Using gochujang as its base, it’s already balanced with spice, but we always get it with the hot honey sauce. We keep Pelicana’s fried chicken on our delivery rotation since it arrives at our doorstep as crunchy as when we eat it in the Atlantic Station restaurant. Once paired with cubed daikon radish and a delicious sweet KFC-esque coleslaw with corn, even your inner food snob that avoids franchises will have to cave on this one.

Krave Philly Steak Bulgogi

Located off Collier Road between a coin laundry and a Chinese restaurant, this fast-casual, counter-service Korean restaurant has a few tables on the inside and the outside. Nothing fancy but cutely decorated, priced right, and tasty. Although Krave has a mostly traditional Korean menu, the kitchen team nails this fusion with what seems like a half-pound of sweet and savory bulgogi topped with buttery provolone. They cook it on the flat top just like a philly with peppers and onions. Grab a few napkins since the hoagie roll barely contains its messiness.

Cheese Dog

Live music on weekends and an outdoor patio make the Southern Feed Store food hall one of EAV’s most popular hangouts. Just ignore those crowds, and locate the red, white, and blue lanterns and the can’t-miss, colorful mural leading up to TKO. If you can’t tell by now, we like a good Korean corn dog, and the team over at TKO makes theirs with Nathan’s all beef hot dogs. Compared to most places selling these panko-covered craveable snacks, these dogs have a thinner layer of the rice batter that we love. They’re never the perfect shape, so you can tell they’re homemade. It’s the ideal appetizer that won't fill you up too much to enjoy some of their traditional Korean dishes.

Glass Noodle

Gaja is EAV’s industrial yet warm restaurant that only the cool kids know how to get to. When you eventually find the entrance on the back side of a mini market building, take your seat in one of the booths along the wall or at the long bar that stretches through the restaurant. Their Glass Noodle dish, japchae, is the show stopper here. You'll get the dish's customary peppers and shitake mushrooms, however, they replace the bulgogi with a beef bone marrow that tastes like it’s been marinated in Korean BBQ sauce and given a hearty char. These gluten-free sweet potato glass noodles are also finished in that fatty marrow instead of the usual sesame oil. Drool, squeal,  whatever—just make sure you scrape the marrow into the noodles and mix thoroughly to get its full impact.

Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich

Char’s bar straddles the indoors and outdoor patio, which overlooks a busy intersection of Inman Park. The walls are covered in murals, including the Char 10 commandments, which create a vibey space for friend nights, dates, and even solo bar dining. Everything from this Korean menu comes out incredibly fast, so you can be grilling aged ribeye on your tabletop in no time. But the standout is the boneless, twice-fried chicken thigh sandwich. It’s tossed in a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce, topped with a kimchi slaw, quick kimchi pickles, and a tasty mayo-based sauce. They char both sides of the bun, which isn’t usually our thing but it’s excellent and necessary for this messy chicken sandwich. And the accompanying waffle fries are the best we’ve had in a minute.

Spicy Duk-Gochi

Fair prices, free parking, and a fun atmosphere (large outdoor patio, cornhole, dart boards, etc.) explain why this casual eatery near Tech’s campus is always flooded with students. It’s not unusual to see their long picnic-like tables filled with groups. Although Pijui is known for their ramen and other pan-Asian dishes, their Spicy Duk-Gochi is easily the most exciting. Texturally it’s perfect—a smoky applewood bacon wraps around a chewy Korean rice cake (which is similar to mochi) covered in a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce. If you haven’t had spicy Korean food before, this may be the exact introduction you need since the heat is balanced with sweet and salt.

Korean Slaw

Thanksgiving dinner is as much about the sides as it is the turkey, and the banchan are just as vital to a Korean meal as the mains. So yes, clearly Mukja is known for its fried chicken (it’s in the name), but what are those sides talkin’ about? The fast-casual midtown joint has a variety of excellent Korean-American side dishes, and the best of all of them is the coleslaw (which we bet is often overlooked). Traditional red and green cabbage are sliced mandolin-thin. Instead of a vinegar or mayonnaise base, you get a side scoop of this chunky, scallion- and garlic-filled gochujang sauce to mix in to your desired spice level. Get the tasty canned lychee beer, which pairs perfectly with the chicken and slaw.

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