Kwang Uh and Mina Park filled nearly 200 half-pint containers with their luxurious banchan for opening weekend. By Sunday evening, only one remained.
The husband-and-wife team heralded for their genre-bending Korean restaurant, Baroo—and then its 2019 reprise, Baroo Canteen—soft-opened their long-awaited food stall within Grand Central Market last weekend and, unsurprisingly, the new homestyle products and packaged goods flew off the shelves of Shiku.
Starting this weekend, expect even more to try.
Shiku launched with an array of banchan, each one a labor-intensive side dish bursting with ingredients like sesame, house-made gochujang and perilla seed, as well a line of Baroo-branded soy sauces, chili pastes and fermented-plum jams. Starting on Friday, which marks the food stall’s grand opening, Uh and Park will unveil a menu of doshirak—or Korean packed meals—that each include Korean steamed rice, three banchan and one main dish. You might find galbi, as well as pork belly marinated in a thick ssamjang, with doshirak priced between $11 and $15 per box.
Eventually there will be family-style meals, as well as a value doshirak planned at a priced below $10 that sports house-made spam. While Baroo, which might return again one day, buried its ratatouille-inspired “Jangtatouille” under artful tangles of mustard leaves and a sprinkling of parilla powder, Shiku will showcase comforting, more straightforward classics just when we all need a little comfort the most.
“I feel like, for us, in the middle of the pandemic, the kind of comfort food that we were creating was the food that reminds us of home,” says Park. “There are a lot of Korean-Americans and Koreans who feel the same, and we get the sense—now that we’ve opened—that we’ve hit that chord, which is really great.”
And while Shiku aims to provide that taste of home, offering products imported from Korea to supplement the food stall’s own pantry line, it’s also meant to help introduce unfamiliar palates to smaller-batch and thoughtful Korean cooking beyond packaged, Americanized products like mass-market marinades and chili pastes.
“We want the flavors to be very recognizably Korean,” Park shares, “and really be a way for people to be more familiar with real Korean flavors."
A glass window at the corner of the stall offers a peek into techniques of those flavors at Shiku, where you might catch Uh presiding over a batch of Korean fried chicken or the team preparing one-off specials such as soy-marinated raw crab.
But Shiku doesn’t just mean flavor; it also means family. The three pigs that light up the stall’s neon sign signify Park, Uh and their newborn son, but the term itself has broader connotation: not just biological family, but the family you choose. Grand Central Market’s new addition wants to build family and community by giving back, which is why on opening day the restaurant will donate half its gross sales to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, with more fundraisers to come.
“[It’s] family, and also people you share food with: Not just the family you’re born into, but the family you create for yourself, so that’s your community,” Park says. “We really want Shiku to contribute to the community in a positive way, so in our opening we hope we can raise some funds and continue to fundraise and really try to have it live up to its name.”
Shiku is now open within Grand Central Market, located at 317 S Broadway in DTLA, and is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm. Order ahead here, or place an order on-site.