Seoulspice Brings Korean Bowls and ‘Kurritos’ to Rosslyn
It's the sixth D.C.-area location for Eric Shin's winning comfort-food concept.
Eric Shin wasn’t fully content being the principal percussionist for the National Symphony Orchestra, a position he landed in 2012. So he looked for a side hustle.
“Once I made it professionally, I thought, Is there anything else I want to do? Wherever I lived, I was always the tour guide for Korean restaurants, so I thought to do a fast-casual place for Korean food to show my culture,” says Shin, 41. “There were many types of fast-casual places, but not Korean.”
He had some experience. In Atlanta, where he was born and raised, his parents had owned a Korean restaurant called Garam in the early 1990s.
Shin put together a business plan and began experimenting with recipes, testing them out at dinner parties he hosted with his wife, Malorie Blake Shin (she’s a violinist for the NSO).
In 2016, he opened the first Seoulspice in D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood. In February he opened his sixth eatery—the first in Virginia—at 1735 N. Lynn St. in Rosslyn.
“Virginia has always been our most requested location, ever since we opened in NoMa,” Shin says. “Rosslyn is perfectly situated…so close to Georgetown. There is a great mix of businesses and a lot of residential around there, so it seemed like the natural place.”
The 985-square-foot storefront is small, so there is no on-site dining, although Shin says he may add a nook with four or five seats. D.C.-based DesignCase outfitted the interior with bold colors and neon signs—a nod to Seoul street life.
The DIY menu, which is completely gluten-free, follows a familiar formula: Choose a base (rice, greens or sweet-potato noodles); a protein (beef bulgogi; soy-garlic chicken; spicy pork; or caramelized tofu); veggies (such as corn, kimchi, Korean radish, carrots); sauces (Korean hot sauce; creamy sriracha; ginger-carrot; cilantro-lime ranch); and various toppings and extras, such as scallions, avocado, soft-boiled egg and crispy garlic.
Alternately, you can go with a “kurrito”—a Korean burrito (nori replaces the tortilla) stuffed with rice and the fillings of your choosing. A bowl or kurrito with a protein and extras costs about $14.
Shin has no plans to switch to a commissary kitchen, despite the expansion. He likes that food is made on the premises from scratch, and he is a stickler for consistency, quality and good service.
“In Korea, you always use two hands to hand something to someone. It’s a sign of respect in our culture,” he says. “We train our employees to do that.”