Let’s go back in time before Sunday brunch was the thing to do after a Saturday night bender. A time when Sunday began with a growling, demanding stomach and mimosas and egg benedicts weren’t the most immediate option. A time when the best thing we could possibly do to fix our self-imposed conundrum was a heap of Chinese food on the cheap: egg fried rice, General Tso’s with some broccoli, Kung Pao chicken (you know, the one with peanuts), cheesy fried wontons, and brothy soup. This time was maybe university or it was simply the time spent in an American hometown living the life of a townie in need of copious and delicious semi-foreign cuisine. Are you sad now because such delights don’t exist in Korea? Well, don’t panic! The time between that style of Chinese food reaching your mouth has grown increasingly shorter due to the new American-Chinese Bistro, Hours, located in Haebangchon (HBC).
Hours is serving the closest to what this writer thinks is the best authentic American-style Chinese food in Seoul and what best represents what Americans miss about Chinese back home. Hours’ menu consists of crab rangoons (cheesy wontons), General Tso’s chicken, Kung Pao chicken, orange chicken, beef with broccoli, mongolian beef, pepper steak, sweet and sour pork, walnut shrimp in mayo sauce, and Hours is adding more to the menu.
The food at Hours is the creation of Hwajung Son, who also goes by Chloe. She fell in love with American Chinese food as a student and then resident in Madison, Wisconsin, and her chef, Woojin Choi, lived and honed his American Chinese cooking skills on the streets of New York. The first dish the writer had at Hours was the crab rangoons which are basically cheesy fried wontons so good that this reviewer would go back weekly just for them. The next dish was walnut shrimp with mayo sauce, the shrimp were battered and fried and then smothered in shrimp sauce and topped with candied walnuts. Next came the beef and broccoli in a hoisin-inspired gravy that screamed authentic American Chinese. And you can’t forget the heavy hitter, General Tso’s chicken, the portion was large enough for two, and the chicken’s batter’s crispness was in tact even with the spicy red Hunan-inspired sauce covering it. Finally, there was shrimp lo mein, rice, and crab meat soup as accompaniments. With a spread this varied, those longing for American Chinese should be able to satisfy most of their unfulfilled desires.
Hours is open for business six days a week and being located in Itaewon, an easy oasis for many to visit. The food is pitch perfect if you’re in the market for American-style Chinese. The main dishes are between KRW 15,000-20,000 and are easily shared between two people. There is inside and outside seating, and the interior of the restaurant has a modern New York vibe. So go satisfy your General Tso’s chicken and fried rice cravings at Hours because they’re serving some of the best American Chinese food in Seoul.
Address: 41 Sinheung-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 12-3, 5-midnight