It was a long time coming, but Goki Goki Korean BBQ & Specialty Meat Market finally opened its doors in June of this year. Located off North LeRoy Street in Fenton, the 6,500-square-foot building was completely renovated inside and out, according to Joe Kim, who co-owns the restaurant with his brother, John. Their sister, Jenna Pak-Kim, is vice president and helps keep things running smoothly. “We put three and a half years of our blood, sweat and tears into this place,” Joe shares.
The restaurant’s decor was carefully crafted. “My brother and I designed the interior,” says Joe. “We were very hands-on in the project. The wood in the building was handcrafted and custom made.” Everything, from the lighting and artwork to the stemware and spoons, was chosen by Joe and imported from Korea to give the restaurant an authentic ambiance. State-of-the-art infrared grills were installed in all of the gleaming, granite tables. “Our guests cook their own Korean BBQ specialty-cut meat for the authentic, traditional Korean BBQ experience,” Jenna states.
What is most delightful about Goki Goki is the food, which Jenna describes as authentic, all-natural, Korean soul food. “It feeds your tummy and fills your soul,” Jenna shares, adding that soul should be spelled “Seoul” (capital of South Korea). The food the Kims serve is what they grew up eating, cooked by their mother, Mama Kim. “It’s her pride and joy in every single bite,” Jenna adds. And Mama Kim is at the restaurant every day to make sure the food meets her standards, inspecting every dish before it is served to hungry guests. “She’ll come out of the kitchen and make the rounds, and even cooks at the tables with guests,” Jenna says, with a smile.
A team of professional chefs meticulously prepares the delicious meals, including a five-star head chef from New York, a sous chef and a sushi chef who creates what Jenna describes as “beautiful pieces of art, exclaiming, “the sushi is almost too beautiful to eat!” In all, there are 35 employees at Goki Goki of which 95 percent are local Fenton people. “They all love the friendly atmosphere and environment,” Jenna shares. “We love the Fenton community. They have been so welcoming.”
“We put three and a half years of our blood,
sweat and tears into this place.”
The menu at Goki Goki (Korean for “meat”) is extensive. According to Joe, the top sellers are the meat combo platters and sushi. The combos are made with premium, organic meats. “Each piece is hand chosen,” Jenna reports, adding that the vegetables come from their own organic garden behind the restaurant and from local farms. The beef combo includes rib eye steak, beef rib, beef brisket, and marinated galbi (Korean for “rib”) with assorted veggies. The combos are served with rice, onion salad, a choice of soup or salad, and bonchon – a variety of sauces and condiments that includes kimchee and marinated vegetables.
Also on the menu is a variety of soups, stews, and entrées such as Fried Seafood Udon Noodles (shrimp, calamari, mussels and oysters served with a special house sauce over thick noodles), and Goki Goki Dolsot, a dish made of rice cooked in a stone bowl (dolsot), topped with meat, vegetables and egg. The bottom of the bowl is coated with sesame oil, which cooks the layer of rice to a crisp, golden brown. The Korean BBQ dishes include a variety of meats: rib eye steak, beef rib steak, beef brisket, marinated beef ribs, Korean style ribs, pork belly and pork jowls, to name a few.
Soju, a Korean rice liquor, is very popular, served from the bar fully stocked with wine, beer, spirits, cocktails and sake. You will also find a variety of tantalizing salads and desserts on the menu. The delicious, fresh ginger and orange salad dressing is a customer favorite. “The recipe is a family secret,” Jenna shares.
Goki Goki isn’t just a restaurant, it’s also a specialty meat market and much more. As you walk in, the first thing you will see is a cooler filled with a variety of dry-aged meat, something you can’t find in this region. “We also sell one-of-a-kind wines you can’t find anywhere else,” says Joe. “We carry red and white wines from all around the world, even organic and sulfite-free wines and local Michigan wines.” The market also features products, sauces and spices that are hard to find. “We encourage you to cook with them in your own kitchen,” says Jenna. The meat coolers hold a large variety of fresh, natural meat and seafood.
Joe has traveled the world and believes Goki Goki offers some of the best Korean BBQ you will ever taste. From his travels, he took the best of everything and brought it to his restaurant. “The highest quality and flavor,” he says. “This is simply the best Korean food you will find.”
Photography by Jennifer Hodney