Hero serves Korean fried chicken amid a heady swirl of projections and hip-hop.
Perched on the breezy corner of Rue Saint-Denis and Rue d’Aboukir, the second-story dining room is warm and nest-like, with bar tables and alcove seating. If you’re unable to secure a table (reservations are strongly recommended), it’s still worth stopping in at the downstairs bar to sample the menu of luscious Korean-fusion cocktails. We tested ‘Thug Life’ (a decadent slushy made with Soju rice liquor, mezcal, apple brandy, gin and more) and ‘Bubble Trouble’ (a creamy blend of absinthe, ginseng-infused rice liquor, Orgeat, almond milk and Korean boba).
For dinner, we started with kimchi, spicy pickled cabbage at €3 – somewhat against our better judgment as this staple is complimentary in most Korean restaurants in Paris. It was decent, but the snack sampler was more stimulating: a scoop of whipped potato salad with the consistency of ice cream, caramelised sweet potato and a gluey cluster of candied peanuts. The jellyfish and green apple salad was most original, slightly tart with a crisp, snappy texture. For stouter appetites, the pork belly bun is a nice option. But trust us, you’ll want to save yourself for the fried chicken (€12-€14), which is truly excellent: sweet and crunchy, glazed with tangy garlic sauce or the spicier gochujang, a chilli-based Korean condiment. Portions are generous and those planning on multiple courses may want to consider sharing. The two desserts offered are light and airy, balancing the chicken beautifully: roasted sweet potato in a meringue maple-infused sauce and Rice Krispies treats in a Yakult mousse.
Designers Jeanette Darlot and Safari Sundays strike a similar balance between dainty flourishes – tiny plants, polaroids and diaphanous twine lanterns, accented with clothespins and Korean clippings – and ‘meatier’ elements: cinder blocks, pink marble counters and a deep trough sink. With graphics projected onto a metallic gold panel and the gentle murmur of American hip-hop, Hero is a lovely place to wait. Good thing too, as our one complaint is that the service is deathly slow.
289 rue Saint-Denis
|Opening hours:||Tues-Sat 12noon-2.30pm and 7pm-11pm; Sunday 7pm-11pm; Closed Monday|
|Transport:||Metro: Strasbourg-Saint Denis|