Every fashion month, a scad of city guides appear out of nowhere listing all the hip new restaurants you’ve never heard of in every city with a Fashion Week. Which is great news if you’re in town for fun. If you’re there for work, it can be hard to find time for a quick salad or sometimes even a lowly banana. Still, these guides, like the runways themselves, make for good inspiration. And when I started reading (and re-reading) about Korean-inspired bar and restaurant Hero in multiple Paris guides last month, I was intrigued. And hungry.
For being only a year old, the eatery has garnered a lot of attention from local food authority Le Fooding, and has already ventured into pop-ups in Stockholm. Located on the slightly seedy (by Parisian standards) Rue Saint-Denis, and nestled between the historic Marais and young and cool Pigalle, the self-described Korean fried chicken joint may sound like an unlikely success. But a quick peek into the pink-hued menu and dining room makes it easy to see why so many jet-setters love it: it’s the combination of Korean-influenced dishes and drinks with an overall French setting—that famous je ne sais quoi
one hears so much about. Soju
(a hard liquor distilled from rice, grains or potatoes; comparable to vodka), baeksaje
(a rice-based drink fermented with herbs like ginseng) and ginger beer make repeat appearances on the cocktail menu, where they’re mixed with Latin and Southeast Asian accents like almond and hazelnut milk, lime, and coconut.
The bar also serves soju by glass and bottle in the proper Korean style (yes, there are rules for opening, pouring, and drinking), and more importantly, anju, Korean bar snacks. In case you didn’t already know about Korea’s remarkable drinking culture, it’s customary to drink in five stages, so what you drink with dinner is just the first course. It’s believed that the ever-present bar snacks—small plates of nuts, fried delicacies, jeons (pancakes with different types of filling), and fruit—help the body absorb alcohol, and will let you be among the last standing after a night of Korean partying. Hero’s take on anju is so delicious, we won’t argue against it.
And then there’s the chicken, which is worth the plane ticket by itself. It’s twice-fried, bristles with crispiness, and manages still to be unbelievably juicy. Hero offers it “plain,” (although it’s anything but), with garlic, or with spicy sauce. A generous side of K-pop comes blasting over the speakers. If you needed another reason to go to Paris this spring, Hero should be the place that pushes you over the edge.
289 Rue St. Dennis