For true foodies, no visit to Bergen would be complete without experiencing KOGI. Since opening its doors in 2020, Norway’s first Korean BBQ restaurant has quickly become a huge hit and, thanks to its immense popularity, a second location is slated to open this spring.

KOGI opened its doors in July 2020 as the only Korean BBQ restaurant in Norway. Located in the colourful city of Bergen, this modern eatery is in Nygårdsgaten, just a 15-minute walk from central sights such as Fisketorget and the historic Bryggen.

KOGI: an authentic taste of Korea in Bergen

Kanjang, fried chicken with homemade soy sauce.

The restaurant’s story began when Miae Hwang, owner and head chef at KOGI, opened a food truck serving Korean fried chicken at Fisketorget, the historic fish market in the centre of Bergen, in December 2019. Having moved to Norway in 2009, Miae had struggled to find good Korean cuisine and missed the delicious food from home.

“I noticed that a lot of people were interested in Korean food and culture, so I thought it was the right time to start a food truck,” Miae says. She was blown away by the response, and the food truck quickly became a popular fixture at the market. “I noticed that more and more people were asking for specific Korean dishes like kimchi, bibimbap and tteokbokki,” she says. “I could see that there was a growing demand for authentic Korean food, so we decided to expand our business with a restaurant.”

KOGI: an authentic taste of Korea in Bergen

Wagyu with ssamjang.

From Korea with love

Miae trained as a chef in South Korea, where she learned to prepare traditional Korean fried chicken from her mother, who ran a restaurant. Miae’s mother shared her recipes with her daughter, who spent a long time perfecting them and learning a variety of cooking techniques that elevated her food to the highest standard.

Miae is passionate about serving real, authentic Korean food made with the best of ingredients, and is excited to introduce others to Korean food culture and traditions. “The food is the most important thing for me,” Miae says. “I use only my own authentic recipes passed down from my mother. If it’s not real Korean food, I don’t want to serve it to customers.”

KOGI: an authentic taste of Korea in Bergen

Dakkang jung, chicken with homemade chili sauce.

Miae’s dream was to start a restaurant where guests can experience Korean culture and hospitality and, with KOGIs opening in 2020, that dream became a reality. Locals in Bergen, as well as the city’s many visitors, welcomed the exciting new addition to the culinary scene with open arms. “I believe we are the only restaurant in Norway serving this type of food,” says co-owner Leif Anthonsen. “We were lucky to receive a very warm reception after opening our doors.”

Authentic Korean fare made with high-quality ingredients

KOGI offers a varied Korean BBQ and K-fried chicken menu, according to Miae’s own authentic recipes, as well as traditional dishes and trendy street food. Alongside the popular Korean BBQ, the bestseller on their menu is dakkangjeong – deep-fried chicken glazed with sticky-sweet and spicy sauce, served with cabbage salad and garlic dressing.

KOGI’s delicious, warming hotpots are also sought-after, as well as their dolsot bibimpap – rice topped with bulgogi (marinated meat), vegetables, fried egg and sauce, served the traditional way; sizzling hot in a stone bowl. The restaurant also offers authentic tteokbokki, which has long been one of Koreas most popular street-food dishes. This comforting dish, consisting of Korean rice cakes, fish cakes and vegetables served with a chili sauce, has become a huge food trend internationally over the last few years, due in part to the Korean pop culture explosion online.

However, the real star of the show is the Korean BBQ. ‘Kogi’ means ‘meat’, so it’s no surprise that the meat offerings are extra-special at this restaurant. For guests keen to sample the in-demand Korean BBQ, there are several options for meats to grill at the table. “It’s important to us to serve high-quality meat,” says Miae. “We use Wagyu Japanese and Black Angus beef imported from the USA and Australia, as well as free-range Iberico pork from Spain, and we find that Norwegian svineribbe (pork belly) has a great taste.” But vegetarians and vegans are also well-looked-after at KOGI, with a vegan bulgogi option offered for non-meat eaters who want to try Korean BBQ.

‘Gogi-gui’ is the Korean BBQ method in which different types of marinated meat are prepared using small grills that are built into the table. Guests decide what type of meat they want to grill, and receive a range of banchans – side dishes such as kimchi and rice, salad wraps and sauces – to accompany the meat. Korean-style BBQ is a fun and unique way to experience food. “It’s a very social way of eating, and we find that a lot of people really enjoy it,” says Miae. “I think part of the success of the restaurant is that the food tastes just like it does in Korea.”

KOGI: an authentic taste of Korea in Bergen

Dolsot bibimbab with meat or avocado (vegetarian) served in a sizzling hot stone bowl.

Exciting times ahead

The KOGI team are in the middle of a busy and exciting period as they prepare to open their second location, just a stone’s throw from the picturesque Fisketorget in central Bergen. They have plans to open the new restaurant in time for Norway’s national day on 17 May. “We’ve been keeping quite busy,” Miae says with a laugh.

The new restaurant will be located in Kong Oscars Gate 29, and is more than double the size of KOGI’s first location, with a spacious area for private parties. But the ambitious team likely won’t stop there. In fact, Miae dreams of expanding with a franchise of restaurants serving authentic Korean fried chicken and BBQ to other cities in Norway. Foodies, watch this space!

KOGI: an authentic taste of Korea in Bergen

Grilled wagyu with lettuce wrapping.

Instagram: @kogi_norge
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