Seoul Hotdog, Berkeley’s first Korean-style hot dog restaurant, opens

Matt Gibson/Staff

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Seoul Hotdog had its grand opening on Hearst Avenue near North Gate on Feb. 18.

The restaurant mirrors a migrating trend for Korean-style corn dogs, which are traditionally called hot dogs in Korea, according to Edward Yoon, Seoul Hotdog CEO. Yoon added that Seoul Hotdog is the first restaurant in Berkeley of its kind and is not part of a chain.

“Korean hot dogs are really corn dogs — in Korea, they call it hot dog, but in America, it’s a corn dog,” Yoon said. “It is very popular, and right now (in) Los Angeles (it) is very trendy, and it’s slowly coming up here towards Northern California and it’s kind of spreading. I think they have some in New York.”

Yoon said his restaurant offers customers an array of condiments and the freedom to choose different combinations of hot dog ingredients inside the batter.

For instance, meat-eating customers can purchase a traditional Seoul Hotdog with a beef hot dog, a mozzarella and sausage hot dog or a cheddar sausage hot dog. Customers who prefer vegetarian options can purchase a mozzarella hot dog, rice cake hot dog, potato hot dog or veggie hot dog.

In addition to its original batter, Seoul Hotdog offers a squid ink batter with cuttlefish ink in the batter.

“We make a different batter, not beer batter,” Yoon said. “It’s flour mixed with rice flour and for us, very natural ingredients — salt, sugar, no additives. But it’s very popular in Korea and I think if you look at YouTube and punch in ‘Korean hot dog,’ you’ll see a lot of mukbang.”

When customers first walk into the restaurant, they might notice two screens playing different videos — one near the entrance that shows mukbangs of Korean-style hot dogs and another to the right that shows Korean pop music videos.

Mukbang translates to “eating room” in Korean, according to Yoon.

Cindy Lei and Michelle Chen, UC Berkeley freshmen, said they hadn’t tried Korean-style hot dogs before coming to Seoul Hotdog. They ordered the squid ink hot dog with mozzarella and the cheddar hot dog.

“Me and my friend Michelle saw it on someone’s Instagram, and Korean hot dogs are really popular, so we really wanted to try it,” Lei said. “The venue was so cute. It was like a little café.”

Yoon said Northside is not as popular with students compared to Southside, but mentioned that he enjoys the quiet and “family-friendly” atmosphere of Northside.

He added that although this is Seoul Hotdog’s first location, he hopes the business will expand to more locations.

“It’s important to have an area where students can come by, relax, enjoy a snack and have an area where they could, in their free time, have fun,” Yoon said.

Olivia Buccieri is the lead business and economy reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @obuccieri_dc‏.