The Toronto Seoulcialite team is a HUGE fan of HOMEBOY Seoul.
Tuesday April 17th they hosted their 2nd pop-up in Itaewon at Vatos Urban Tacos’ event space in Seoul: Urban Collective. We recently interviewed HOMEBOY Seoul founder Matt Lee in advance of this pop-up. Michael Jun-Hyuk Lee was on hand at the event last week and we’re so excited to tell you all about the experience. Whether the next HOMEBOY Seoul update is pop-up round 3 or a brick and mortar location, we can’t wait to see more from this young, hungry, talented team!
Homeboy Seoul: Pop-Up Round II
Just from looking at their playful title typed out in the red font of a suburban Chinese restaurant, I knew that HOMEBOY Seoul could easily fill a niche for a more sophisticated takeaway option. It would satisfy every need from an early Saturday dinner and a 4 a.m. cab ride from the club; or better yet, a craving for quality pot stickers and noodles on a rainy day. Not only did HOMEBOY blow these expectations out of the metaphorical frying pan (on a warm Tuesday evening, no less), this pop-up also blew the queue of people waiting to guzzle street food-inspired nosh out the door.
Arriving at Vatos Urban Collective for HOMEBOY
I made sure to arrive at 6 PM, before the usual crush of people getting off work. No sooner had I gotten my hands on the menu than a dozen questions popped into my head. Pork or beef? Noodles or noodle soup? Never one to try the same main ingredient more than once in a single sitting, I tried to figure out how to best maximize the array of dishes in the menu. In the end, I went with the Juicy Cayenne Fried Chicken Roujiamo, the Lanzhou Noodle Soup, and the Red Pool Dumplings.
Juicy Cayenne Fried Chicken Roujiamo @ HOMEBOY
The first bite of the Roujiamo burger was a literal jaw-opener. It was shockingly simple, but mouth-wateringly savoury in its combination of two warm Chinese flat bread buns, an impeccably soft fried chicken breast, lemongrass pickle, and the mysterious “green sauce” which was on a whole different level of tangy through its subtle cilantro flavour. The easy construction of the burger also paid homage to the the humble origins of HOMEBOY’s street food arsenal. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of any way to improve this burger, aside from making it bigger. Shake Shack and In-N-Out have some serious competition in the chicken burger department.
Red Pool Dumplings @ HOMEBOY
Next up were the the Red Pool Dumplings, made especially to cull any spice-lover’s hankerings. Just as the name says, red, smokey chili oil and black bean sauce drizzled all over fried pot stickers piled atop glass noodles formed the base of this dish. The noodles practically brimmed with red spicy goodness in their translucence. Even though they were covered in generous helpings of chili oil and seasoning, the dumplings were hot and crispy on the outside, as they gave way to a soft, almost caramelized, brown pork filling on the inside. The thinly sliced and fried lotus root added an extra crunch to this dish. These dumplings, too, didn’t last long. (The table of middle-aged ladies next to me also couldn’t keep their chopsticks away from their dumplings.)
Lanzhou Noodle Soup @ HOMEBOY
I’m in the slightly odd habit of taking soups and broths after finishing a main course, so after two courses I was very much ready for the Lanzhou Noodle Soup, a steaming bowl of Pho-style beef tripe and noodles in beef broth topped with scallions. This hit the spot very well.
Just Desserts: Baby Boy Vanilla Milkshake
To wash it all down, I ordered the house shake “Baby Boy,” a fragrant vanilla milkshake with an adlay twist that gives it a distinctly malty kick. Editor’s note: adlay is a healthy grain with a higher protein and fat content than rice. I went with the non-alcoholic option, but you could have asked that rum be added to the mix for a small fee. The adlay was a very pleasant surprise – I could see this dessert becoming addictive, and quickly, too.
Last Looks @ HOMEBOY Seoul
After three main dishes and the Baby Boy milkshake, I was stuffed! True to their word, HOMEBOY delivered a resoundingly successful interpretation of traditional Asian street food, and left me hoping they might do another pop-up event before opening shop. Considering the gaggle of eager to-be-diners waiting outside the room, I know I’m not the only one craving another round HOMEBOY’s street-inspired cuisine.
Vatos Urban COllective
Lunch 12 PM – 15:30 PM // Dinner 17:30 PM – 1 AM
(Kitchen Last Call @ 12 AM & Bar Last Call at 12:30 AM)
For More Information about HOMEBOY Contact Matt Lee:
Were you at HOMEBOY Seoul’s pop-up on April 17th? Let The Toronto Seoulcialite know by commenting below!