Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >
Jul 14, 2014 01:51 PM

New Korean restaurant opening in Newtown...KO

For any Bucks County foodies, there's a new Korean restaurant opening in Newtown, PA, KO. I can vouch for these guys, as they do a good job at their original Japanese/Korean joint, Oishii, but I could tell the Korean dishes are their true calling (unsurprisingly, since their parents are from Korea!).

Anyway, the menu looks great for the 'burbs, and even has some potentially foodie-worthy items such as grilled baby squid.

I'm slated to go this week, so will pass along some thoughts.

Oh yes, and four beers on tap, such as Asahi and Sapporo, one craft Japanese, and one mystery other. Good sake selection, although I'm not a hardcore sakephile. ;)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've been waiting for KO to open since they moved Oishi to its new location. We're going this Friday to check it out.

    Potential highlights include the Korean Fried Chicken, KO tacos, bao buns, and grilled meats.

    3 Replies
      1. re: dndicicco

        Yeah, totally slipped my mind that I had commented here.

        My wife and I went with my aunt and uncle, who have been regulars at Oishi for years.

        The menu is pretty extensive, compared to other Korean restaurants I'm familiar with. Some dishes are pretty traditional and some are in the Asian fusion category. Everything was really tasty, though maybe not exactly what I was expecting, as I frequent a lot of traditional Korean places in Philly.

        Our party tried the Korean fried chicken in 3 flavors. It was really good, but I prefer Cafe Soho for this. The spicy sauced wings were the best, followed by yuzu-salt-and-pepper. The honey-sesame wings were good, but my least favorite.
        We also had the spicy pork belly bao buns, which were excellent. We rounded out the apps with wok-fried Brussels sprouts, which were crispy and very good, plus a kimchi sampler that included Napa cabbage, daikon radish and cucumbers. The kimchi might be house-made and tasted crisp and fresh.
        For entrees, we had 2 of the gopdol bi bim bap dishes and 2 kbbq platters. Entrees were good, but I found the apps snd small plates better.

        Service was a little uneven, but that is to be expected with opening week, I think.

        1. re: carnicero

          Excellent review, very helpful. I'm really ignorant of Korean cuisine but notice it's a growing trend in the States. I don't eat meat, but saw that the miso black cod, baby squid, and tofu dishes on the grilled portion of the menu. Definitely want to try the kimchi sampler. Can't go wrong with Brussels Sprouts, although I'm feeling that obsession is a little more 2012-2013. :)

    1. We finally made it to KO this weekend. I'd been looking forward to trying KO since Oishi announced their intention to open a Korean restaurant. Bottom line: it met expectations based on past experiences at Oishi, but was not nearly as good as I had hoped it could be.

      Korean fried chicken with spicy sauce: not bad, but the spicy sauce should've been more accurately described as a sweet sauce as that was the predominant flavor, with no detectable heat whatsoever.

      Soft beancurd stew with beef: also not bad, but the broth didn't have the complexity of flavor usually found in soondubu. I keep hoping to find soondubu as good as the ones I've had in LA, but perhaps that's a lost cause.

      KO tacos with Korean beef: these were actually very good if you just thought of them as beef tacos--we didn't detect anything particularly Korean (or Asian, for that matter) in the flavor.

      KO ramen with beef broth and pork belly: the day we went, they only had miso or beef broth and not the pork (tonkotsu) broth, which was very disappointing. Having said that, it was tasty enough that we'll be back to try it with the pork broth.

      Gopdol bibimbap with spicy pork: Enjoyable and definitely on par with the one at Oishi. KO offers a few more options than Oishi in terms of the ingredients you can have in your bibimbap, but honestly, once you mix in all the gochujang, that's pretty much all you'll taste anyway!

      So KO certainly follows Oishi's footsteps in terms of serving Asian cuisine that has been somewhat tweaked for an American suburban palate. Oishi has always been consistent and dependable in quality, and I'd expect KO to be the same. Given that there are no other restaurants in the vicinity filling this particular niche, KO will likely take up residence in our regular rotation of dining options when we can't drive to Philly.

      But I have to say I had hoped that, in opening a second restaurant, the owners would've taken the opportunity to create a bolder and more authentic Korean menu, leaving the Americanized Asian fusion theme to Oishi. As it is, KO is essentially a replica of Oishi, just with the sushi stripped from its menu and a few more Korean dishes added. And that is a genuine disappointment and, IMHO, an opportunity missed.

      10 Replies
      1. re: msiangal

        Interesting point. I suppose their real differentiator is having a liquor license. I don't get a good vibe from KO so far, and I think people love the BYOB aspect of Oishi.

        1. re: dndicicco

          There are definitely dishes one can get at KO that aren't available at Oishi, so I think KO will attract those who like Oishi but are looking for a bit of menu variation. Whether that's enough of a draw to sustain it, I don't know. That said, I do hope KO succeeds, if for nothing else than to encourage future Asian restaurants around here to push the boundaries a bit.

          1. re: msiangal

            I hope it succeeds, too, as I'm in Newtown and bemoan the dearth of dining options.

            I'm attracted to new menu items. I laugh to myself about Oishi, since I've been a patron of their for about 10 years or whenever it opened pre-even ridiculous hibachi phase, and they still haven't changed one item on the menu. 10 years!

            1. re: dndicicco

              Well, we're in Yardley, so we feel your pain re: the dearth of dining options!

              1. re: msiangal

                I like MiRim for my Korean fix... this place sounds watered down to me.

                1. re: sadiefox

                  This place *is* watered down, but so is MiRim, in my opinion. I'm no expert on Korean food, but I've been to MiRim 2 or 3 times and it just didn't come close to what I've had in LA or NYC (perhaps too high a bar, I'll concede). I guess I'm generally more forgiving of places that are openly and blatantly Americanized fusion than of places where I have expectations of authenticity. Sort of in the same way that someone singing the right note slightly off-key can be more irritating than someone singing the wrong note altogether.

                  As an aside, I actually find the "food court" at Hmart to be pretty decent, given that it's prepared food from a grocery store.

                  1. re: msiangal

                    Really? I'm certainly no expert on Korean cuisine and have never had it in NYC or LA. I love the HMart food court, but I find MiRim to be better. I love (at MiRim) the Hwe Dup Bap (raw fish over veggies and white rice), their soups and hot pots, and all the little yummy dishes they put out with your meal.

                    1. re: sadiefox

                      Perhaps we've just been ordering completely different things at the 2 places...or we just have different taste buds! :-) I haven't had the Hwe Dup Bap or hot pots at MiRim--perhaps I'll go back and give those a try.

        2. re: msiangal

          Thanks for the review. I keep pining for one great, perfect bowl of soondubu in these parts...why is it so impossible to find? (Without having to at least head to Koreatown in NYC...)

          1. re: sockii

            I think I saw a recommendation on this board for Jong Ka Jib in Philly for soondubu, but haven't made it over there yet. Have you been?

        3. On a related note, has anyone had any of their grilled items? I'm curious about the portion sizes, since I can't tell if things such as the miso black cod are izakaya type style or a meal in of itself.

          1. Hello, My name is Daniel Schwartz and I am the Front of House Manager at KO Modern Korean Cuisine Restaurant in Newtown, Pa. I would like to welcome everyone here to our restaurant. We have added new menu items to each category and are set to open the bar this weekend. We will be featuring Asian Inspired Cocktails, 6 Draft Beers including "Lagunitas IPA, Chimay, DogFish IPA, Sam Adams Seasonal, Sapporo, Allagash White". We will also have bottled beer selections as well as an assortment of Sake/Whiskey/Vodka/Wine Selections. We will still allow customers to bring their own beverage under a cork fee. Our menu is a modern take on many popular Korean foods. We spent many months developing our extensive menu and are very proud of what we accomplished. If you are looking for something different to try or are looking to make plans with your date or friends then make your reservation with us! We have a fun atmosphere with delicious food and drinks~! Please contact us at 215-860-5515

            2817 SOUTH EAGLE ROAD
            NEWTOWN, PA 18940

            1. I went yesterday and had a good experience. The layout is very modern in a pleasing fashion, and they even mix it up a bit with avant-garde bookshelves housing some Korean art and seasonal pieces.

              The bar area is neat and sporting some sakes. I don't drink much alcohol, so didn't bother inquiring if it were open yet.

              Anyway, onto the menu. This is basically a Korean version of Oishii. Even the menu books take the same format and some of the items are the same. The organic spring mix salad was weak, in that some of the lettuce was wilted and the avocado had some brown spots! I was very worried at this point.

              That said, it picked up from there. The baby squid (actually, squid) with spicy sauce was good. I have a soft spot for squid, and it was cooked correctly, served on skewers, etc. I'm not sure the hot sauce was any different than regular old sirachi, however, haha!

              The miso black cod was the highlight. I was worried about this dish, but they cooked it perfectly in the miso dressing. It was flakey, buttery, and had that delicious meatiness to it. I thought the portion was very large, maybe 5 - 6 ounces, which is surprising. It wasn't served with the traditional ginger or lettuce wrap, but rather a random piece of lettuce.

              I think this place could be great, but they need to up the attention to detail and ante in some ways. Trendy sushi will succeed almost no matter what in a suburban environment, trendy Korean is riskier even with a liquor license. I would recommend more explanation and attention to the sauces, so that the diner gets a sense of what makes each dish special, and probably more of a push to the hot pots and other items, which will appeal to the masses.