After months of fending off anxious queries from eaters hungry for bibimbap, Kenny Tyler is finally on the cusp of opening Sunae’s, a fast-service hibachi and Korean grill. If the planning department approves it, the John’s Island restaurant will start serving on Wednesday.
“All I hear is ‘when are you going to open?’,” says Tyler. “At the new Bi-Lo, even at the Publix on Savannah Highway, everywhere I go, it’s ‘When are you going to open? What’s the holdup?’”
Tyler says it took three months to convert the 1766 Main St. storefront which previously housed Billy Dee’s Premium Chicken; the fried chicken shack closed in 2011. After “DHEC came in and tore it up,” Tyler had to update the space to comply with current building codes.
“That wasn’t no picnic,” he says.
Sunae’s is named for Tyler’s wife, a longtime Mama Kim’s chef who will run the kitchen. In addition to bibimbap, the restaurant will offer bulgogi, chapchae (glass noodles), spicy squid stir-fry and jajangmyeon, a deviation from the Mama Kim’s menu.
Jajangmyeon, a popular comfort food bathed in black bean sauce, is the Korean interpretation of Chinese noodle cookery: While the rudimentary dish hasn’t won many stateside fans, it’s a beloved childhood dish in Korea. The spicy seafood stew, jjamppong — another staple of Chinese-Korean take-out menus – will also be available.
The Japanese portion of the menu includes grilled shrimp, beef and chicken with rice; miso soup and a green salad with ginger dressing. Like Mama Kim’s, Sunae’s sells white sauce by the pint and quart. The full menu’s here.
According to Tyler, Sunae’s is the first John’s Island restaurant with a partially Korean menu.
“Peking Garden tries to do it, but it’s just not the same,” Tyler says.
For more information, call 559-8051.