After launching their immensely popular modern Chinese restaurant, Duck N Bao, which has grown to two locations in Memorial and Cypress, Houston restaurateurs Grace and Leo Xia have shifted gears, opening a new all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant within Dun Huang Plaza at 9889 Bellaire Blvd. Hongdae 33 is named after one of Seoul’s buzzy nightlife districts known for its clubs, urban arts scene, and indie music culture. With its lengthy all-day hours, open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., the restaurant is likely to live up to its moniker.
Following the traditional Korean barbecue format, Hongdae 33 allows guests to partake in all they can eat for $33 per guest, with a 90-minute window to dine. Various meats, including USDA prime meats like brisket, miso-marinated flat iron steak, and pork jowl, and seafood like spicy baby octopus and garlic-butter shrimp, are available to cook over the tabletop’s gas grill. For those looking to splurge, prime selections like New York strip, ribeye, and American wagyu beef from R-C Ranch are options too.
To complement the grilled specialties, guests are treated to banchan, a large selection of house-prepared Korean sides like kimchi, scallion and seafood pancakes, spicy rice cake skewers, kimchi and soybean stews, marinated bean sprouts, among others. And, to round out the feast, a selection of marinades and dipping sauces, made from Leo’s own recipes, are added to the spread.
“To Koreans, barbecue is not just grilling meat,” says Grace. “It is part of the culture. It’s gathering and making memories while cooking at the table and enjoying a meal with your date, family, friends or co-workers. Barbecuing together is a great way to relax and have fun. We hope to create that special experience at Hongdae 33.”
Hongdae 33’s robust beverage program gives visitors reason to lounge around well after dinner. Classic cocktails like lychee martinis and Asian and domestic beers are offered, but South Korean spirits like soju and makgeolli (Korean rice wines) are the main focus here. Signature soju cocktails include the K-Shawty, which combines strawberry soju and puree with Yakult, lemon juice and Milkis, a creamy Korean soda; and the Anger Issues, which packs a punch with soju, sour mix, jalapeño, fresh mint, grenadine, and soda.
Grace and Leo deferred to the same Beijing designer who worked on Duck N Bao for the newly-built 3,000-square-foot restaurant. Located on the upper level of Dun Huang Plaza, Hongdae 33 combines traditional architectural details with neon lighting and teal and orange accents. Booths fitted with built-in grills make up the interior, and a faux clay roof hangs over the full-service bar, which has a window to accommodate walk-up guests.
“Our goal is to modernize the Korean barbecue cuisine and experience, which included collaborating with our designer to translate and share our vision with the neighborhood,” says Grace. “It’s hard to find a place in the area that’s open after 10 p.m., so we’ll accommodate later crowds, including late-night workers.”
Go forth and fill up on grilled meats to your heart’s content. Hongdae 33’s all-you-can-eat service is available daily.