Korean restaurant adds diversity to Clark Street

Amanda Gilbert, Reporter

At first glance, restaurant Koco Table  appears to be an Asian-style Starbucks. There are small pastries and beverages available for people to grab on the go. Japanese blossoms line the wall, and K-pop music plays in the background.

The new restaurant at 720 1/2 Clark St. offers Korean comfort food to attract Evanston’s young adult population, shop owner Dong Suh said.  A menu favorite, seafood ramen, was included to appeal specifically to college students, he said.

He added that the store also offers authentic Korean dishes. Suh said one of the main menu items many customers have enjoyed is donkatsu, or deep-fried pork cutlets. The restaurant also offers bibimbap, teriyaki chicken and tenkatsu.

“It’s a fresh Korean restaurant for Evanston to enjoy,” Suh said. “Some of the food here is a little different. We want Americans to try new Korean foods.”

Koco Table replaced J K Sweets, another Korean-style cafe. Despite the thematic similarities between the two stores, Suh said he doesn’t know a lot about the last restaurant that inhabited his space. He said he assumed the store could not stay in business due to the state of the economy, but hoped to give the food service market a shot regardless.

Weinberg sophomore Pooja Avula  said she thought one of the causes for J K Sweets’ lack of business was the plastic food in the window displays.

“It wasn’t appealing,” Avula said. “Plus the store was known for desserts, like ice cream, so I don’t know why they didn’t display that.”

She added that students seemed to be happy with Koco Table because many other new Evanston restaurants tend to stock generic American foods. She said it’s sometimes difficult to find diversity in Evanston because student demand typically sways toward restaurants they are familiar with, primarily national restaurant chains.

“It’s nice to have a unique option with real Korean food,” Avula said.

Koco Table waiter Isaac Lee said he thinks students find the restaurant welcoming and familiar despite the exotic cuisine. He said he enjoys being able to serve younger people and give them the opportunity to try something different.

“It’s fun because I get to interact with more people my age in this restaurant,” he said.