Char’d, the Third Ward’s first Korean restaurant, opens today in the former Hinterland Gastropub space at 222 E. Erie St.
The owners are Lane Kim and Chonghoon Lee, who also operate Mokban Korean Bistro in Providence, Rhode Island. Both General Manager Hank Kim and Chef Yosub Yoon worked at the East Coast location before moving to Milwaukee to help run the new Third Ward Location.
While the footprint of the space remains largely the same – with its front bar area, open kitchen and side dining room – the mood of the space has been transformed.
Cream city brick walls sport mounted living walls. Modern lighting hangs from the ceiling, and a variety of seating options are available, including four-top tables, larger booths and a central communal table.
Currently, Char’d is using only the front bar and dining room; the former back bar and lounge will be available for private events in the coming weeks.
During lunch service, Char’d functions as more of a cafe, offering coffee, tea, smoothies (priced around $6 each). There's also a full bar, so customers can enjoy brunch style cocktails like a grapefruit bellini, frose and a gochujang bloody mary ($9-10).
There are also salads including the Persimmon with mixed greens, dried persimmon, candied pecans, goat cheese, beets, tomatoes and yuzu yogurt dressing ($9) or the Dumpling featuring greens, fried vegetable dumplings, edamame, seaweed salad, red onions, beets, scallions and a chili soy vinaigrette ($9).
Noodle offerings include cha shu, chicken, seafood or tofu ramen ($13), a perilla pesto bowl with beef bulgogi, garlic, perilla pesto, tomatoes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and Parmesan cheese ($13), and a black bean noodle bowl with diced pork, squid, mussels, cabbage, zucchini, edamame, pickled onions and a sunny-side-up egg ($13). Rice bowls include options like a bulgogi bowl and kimchi pork bowl ($12/13).
There are also hand-held options like bulgogi sliders ($7), bao sliders ($7) and KFC (Korean fried chicken) wings served with sweet spicy garlic sauce ($9).
Dinner service is a more formal affair. Kim says that Char’d takes a modern approach to Korean fare, showcasing "elevated presentations and modern techniques to reinterpret authentic Korean cuisine."
That includes Korean BBQ, with a slight twist. Customers have the choice of mushrooms, red wine marinated pork belly, cumin-curry chicken thighs and pork or beef bulgogi (priced $23-25) or beef short ribs, filet mignon or ribeye ($34-36), which they can cook at the table using sizzling lava stones (rather than over the more traditional charcoal). Each option is accompanied by a variety of dipping sauces and a farmer's basket of fresh leafy greens for fun, diy lettuce wraps.
The menu is also made to accommodate both single entree diners or more communal eating, where a variety of plates are shared among multiple individuals.
There are banchan (Korean sides) like kimchi ($4), daikon ssam ($2), pickles ($3) and steamed rice wrapped in bamboo leaves with chestnuts, dates, lotus root, ginkgo nuts and pine nuts ($6).
Small shareable plates including edamame ($5), cucumber salad ($6), steamed dumplings ($6), scalllion pancakes (with kimchi or seafood, $10) and beef tartare featuring asian pear, egg yolk, caper, pine nuts, onions, chili sauce, whole grain mustard, wasabi cream
Medium plates include Korean gnocchi featuring chewy potato gnocchi, gochujang tomato sauce, mussels, squid, shrimp, scallop, parsley ($15), tofu stew with silken tofu, shrimp, squid, mussels, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, egg yolk ($13) or braised pork belly with spicy bok choy salad, garlic flakes, garlic puree, ssam sauce ($17).
Entrees, made to be shared by two people, include combination platters like ribs and marrow, with beef short ribs, bone marrow, potatoes, pearl onions, pickles, sweet potato puree ($35), spicy braised pork with kimchi, pork shoulder, tofu, pearl onions and scallions ($22) or kimchi paella with black and white rice, kimchi, beef bulgogi, potato crunch, dried seaweed, scallions, sunny-side up egg ($20).
Char’d is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.