Chingu, a new Westport spot from the team behind Sura eats, will combine Korean street food and soju brewed and distilled for the house.
Chef and co-owner Keeyoung Kim says that for the Sura Eats team, which operates a popular stall at the Parlor food hall in the Crossroads, the full-service Chingu has “been our vision from the get-go.”
“As soon as people enter we want them to be transported to a place,” he says. “We want our guests to feel like friends who have been invited to our home. We know some of the flavors will be unfamiliar. After we’ve built trust, we can start exploring more crazy menu items that are near and dear to our hearts.”
Chingu’s concept is “anju,” with literally translates to “food with drink” and involves a lively atmosphere that will fit in well in Westport, where it’s taking over the former Wingman Kitchen at 4117 Pennsylvania Avenue. Kim is aiming for a July opening and will use K-pop and Korean artwork to set the scene. Kim expects to keep the kitchen open until 11 pm on weekends with last call for drinks coming two hours later.
The name ‘Chingu’ means friend in Korean, and the restaurant aims to feel like “you’re hanging out at night and having a bunch of drinks.”
The dishes will channel “pojangmacha,” which are street stalls that traditionally serve one dish, plus Korean BBQ and Korean home cooking.
Among the dishes to look for: Golbaengi Muchim (buckwheat noodles, veggies, and moon snails mixed in a gochujang-pear vinaigrette), Korean fried chicken in a gluten-free batter and Dolsot Bibimbap (mixed rice bowl served sizzling in a traditional Korean clay pot).
“Our menu is designed with some of our versions of favorite dishes so it’s very specific and deeply personal to us,” says Kim, noting that he’s making some dishes the way he grew up eating them in his mom’s kitchen.
The restaurant will also work with a distillery to make soju to its specifications, though the final agreement is still being hammered out and they’re still fine-tuning the recipe while in the fourth batch of tasting. There will be other spirits, as well as makgeoli (rice wine).
Chingu looks a lot like the restaurant Kim wanted to open immediately after moving to KC from Washington, D.C. six years ago but says things “all worked out how they were supposed to.”
“With Sura Eats we’ve been very intentional and we have built up trust in the Kansas City food community,” he says. “Now we’re ready to have fun and make the foods we really really want to do. At the end of the day, we want people to feel like friends who walked into my living room, and we want people to see an aspect of Korean culture they may not have seen.”