Mark Moon is the proud owner of Seoul BBQ & Sushi, located at 593 Hartford Rd. in New Britain.
“While our zip code is a New Britain one, the location of our restaurant is actually close to WestFarms Mall,” Moon said. “When my parents originally were looking into locations, this one made the most sense. It was central to a busy mall and other stores, restaurants and places that people congregate. It only made sense to have it here.”
Moon said his favorite dishes served are Tofu Kimchi Jaeyuk (kimchi, pork belly, vegetables and seasonings wok-fried, finished with firm tofu), Galbi (marinated short rib), Soon Tofu soup and Gun Mandu, which is his mother’s recipe (a balance between fried ground beef/pork).
“The most popular items at the restaurant are probably between Bulgogi BBQ beef (marinated thinly rib-eye) and our Dolpan Bibimbap (mixed vegetables, rice and meat). Aside from the BBQ items, JJampong, a spicy seafood noodle soup, is also a crowd favorite,” Moon said.
Moon said while the restaurant is still open during the pandemic, the staff and customers are required to wear masks, and there is sanitizer available. He also tries to space out the customers as best he can. The restaurant has also experienced its hardships.
“We are hanging on, and hanging in since March 2020. We were only closed a total of six weeks in 2020 and have been operating ever since,” Moon said. “The pandemic has taken its toll. Labor force is down about 40%. We were forced to make two major decisions: to end Sushi – I have to change my sign – and we now close one day a week, when we did not before. We've been closed almost every Tuesday since October 2021.
“It has been a struggle, physically, mentally, financially. I hope the customers realize that what we do on a consistent basis is not easy, and we really hope they appreciate our efforts. It's been the most challenging two years for me here.”
Moon said if someone is thinking about opening their own business, they should first think about their life, time, normal day-to-day life and their weekends.
“If you are not willing to give up the four things above, do not do it,” Moon said. “It seems like I am saying it in jest, but if you aren't willing to sacrifice those four things then it will be a struggle. I used to push papers as an attorney. Now every day we push Korean food to customers. The restaurant job was/is way harder and challenging than my job as an attorney, 100%. If you aren't willing to sacrifice your life – do not waste your time or money – it will be extremely difficult. Good food only does not make a good restaurant, there is so much more to it.”