Kor Dak, a skewer-slinging market favourite, opens street-food eatery in West End

From barbecue to fried chicken, Korean food has long been a popular fixture in Brisbane’s culinary melting pot. Now it seems Korean street-food is about to have a moment. Kor Dak – a cult-favourite market stall specialising in jumbo-sized grilled chicken skewers – has evolved. It has just opened its own bricks-and-mortar eatery in West End, expanding its offering to include all kinds of Korean-style street eats, from tteokbokki and kimbap to Korean-style corn dogs, fish cakes, mandu and more. Take a peek inside …

Mar 01, 2024, updated Mar 01, 2024

When Miae Park and her family opened the doors to Kor Dak’s debut venue in West End, the business wasn’t even a year old (it still isn’t, as of the time of writing). The concept first launched at the Jan Powers Farmers Markets at Brisbane Powerhouse in March 2023, emerging out of left field to become one of the bigger market-born success stories of recent years.

Seeking a change from her 15-year career working in hotels, Miae started Kor Dak on a whim. Spying a lack of Korean street food in the Brisbane market scene, she decided to sell one of her personal favourite items, dakkochi.

In a nutshell, dakkochi are chicken and scallion skewers, carefully grilled before being coated in different kinds of salivation-worthy sauces. After going through 50-kg of chicken during an initial recipe-formulation period, Miae honed in on her own range of jumbo-sized dakkochi – 30-cm-long skewers that came in six kinds of flavours.

In the beginning, it took a moment for market wanderers to come around. “People were like, ‘what the heck is Korean chicken?’,” Miae recalls. “People would ask if we had satay? I’d say no, we’re not Thai. Others were like, is it yakitori? No, we’re not Japanese.” People caught on eventually and soon Kor Dak’s skewers were practically flying off the grill.

Not long after, Miae started getting requests for more Korean specialties. “Once we got regulars, they’d keep asking, ‘do you have tteokbokki? Are you selling Korean corn dog?’,” So, over the next few months, Kor Dak began introducing more street-food favourites to its market menu, including tteokbokki (rice cakes simmered in sauce) and kimchi pancakes, pushing the limits of its stall’s cooking capabilities.

After spying a vacant venue for lease on Facebook, Miae and the Kor Dak team decided to plant roots. That space happened to be the old Pie Town site on Montague Road in West End – a simple and cosy building that came equipped with everything Miae needed to take Kor Dak to the next level. A quick DIY makeover and the space was theirs, with vibrant splashes of red and yellow making the eatery pop, inside and out.

For menu inspiration, Miae looked to the traditional street-food markets of Seoul like Gwangjang Market, where various stallholders each sold a specialty item. The Kor Dak crew now looks to bring that diversity under one roof. “It’s just a street-food market, but it’s in one building,” says Miae of Kor Dak’s bricks-and-mortar home, “I want to make it like Gwangjang in here so people can easily try something different.”

With a fully equipped kitchen at her disposal, Miae has wasted no time expanding Kor Dak’s menu substantially. Naturally, the skewers are still the venue’s top item. There’s six kinds to try, with flavours ranging from sweet soy and mayo, to spicier options like gochujang and fiery buldak. Then it’s on to tteokbokki, with an original spicy option available alongside a creamy carbonara variation.

New menu items include vegetarian-friendly and sweet-soy beef bibimbap, rolls of sushi-like kimbap, Korean-style fried chicken (coated in your choice of sticky sweet chilli or garlic soy sauce) and a cluster of snack-style bites like potato tornados, Korean-style corn dogs, cabbage pancakes, fish-cake sticks and mandu (Korean dumplings). A cold display houses sandwiches, while a hot-food cabinet is stocked with pre-made rice bowls for easy takeaway.

Don’t expect Miae to stop here – ideas for more menu items are already percolating. “I’ve got about another 30 items on my list,” Miae says, hinting that deep-fried mushrooms might be next to debut. “We want to sell Korean traditional drinks as well – something like the Korean iced coffee and then the non-alcoholic Korean rice drinks.”

At a time where Korean television dramas and K-pop are increasing in popularity in Australia and abroad, interest in Korean food is rising in tandem. Miae hopes Kor Dak can help share the magic of Korea’s culinary culture by sprinkling in a sense of fun and joy into its service style, while also looking for ways to support the greater community.

“We want people to try our food and our snacks – it makes us happy,” says Miae. “I’m going to spread that happiness. When people come to the Kor Dak, I want them to feel the love.”

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