korean restaurants

Roosterspin mixing LPs, Korean cuisine in New Brunswick

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 7/31/17

Most Americans with a picky palette would choose to shy away from traditional Korean fare such as kimchi, made with fermented cabbage; bulgogi, which are marinated slices of beef or pork; or even sushi, which features raw fish.

However, what if that kimchi was mixed with cheese in a french fry dipping sauce? Or if that bulgogi was on a burger with a red onion pickle and jalapeno mayo? Would you try sushi if it was filled with buffalo chicken?

This is the inspiration behind Mihae Cho’s Korean eatery Roosterspin, which opened its second location July 12 at 120 Albany St. in New Brunswick following the success of its Westfield location, which opened in 2014.

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Island Spa, Edison’s ‘hidden getaway’

Written for MyCentralJersey.com

EDISON – MyCentralJersey.com entertainment and business columnist Bob Makin does not look like the kind of guy who goes to the spa.

With a burly beard and larger-than-life personality, I was surprised when he raved to me about Island Spa in Edison, a Korean spa that offers six dry saunas, massages, facials, body scrubs, hot tubs, Korean restaurant, juice bar, group sleeping rooms and more.

“I was having a really rough week, so I stopped by Island Spa one day,” said Makin. “I saw this sign there that said something like, ‘Need a vacation? You don’t have to go far,’ and I realized that it’s true — going to Island Spa is like a mini vacation.”

Island Spa’s bright, open, modern and squeaky-clean layout in a 32,000-square-foot building hidden inside an Edison mall and full of relaxed, barefoot Central Jerseyans in Island Spa robes — which make it appear like an island getaway — is no accident.

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Korean barbecue sizzles in Central Jersey

One of my favorite restaurants in Central Jersey is on the corner of a strip mall advertised with only a half-lit sign that says “SUSHI.”

However, on most nights when you walk into Kimchi Hana, a Korean barbecue eatery at 6101 Hadley Road in South Plainfield, the dining area is filled with customers — most of whom are Korean, eating marinated meats cooked over an open char broiler on their tables, accompanied by 10-plus plates of traditional side dishes including kimchi, or fermented and seasoned vegetables.

Over the past few years, Korean barbecue has slowly been making its way down from New York and Bergen County into Central Jersey, where Korean and non-Korean customers have begun clamoring for the tasty and savory meats marinated with soy and teriyaki sauces, including beef short rib, sliced pork loin and beef tongue.