LYNNWOOD — The humble corn dog is now trendy — and for that, we can thank Korea.
And Seoul Hotdog in Lynnwood has brought the popular street food to Snohomish County.
It’s the first restaurant of its kind in the county and is not part of a chain. (Although, there is a Seoul Hotdog in Berkeley, California, that opened around the same time.) The owners are Aram “A.J.” Han and Sean Lee. They’re both from Seoul, Korea, hence the restaurant name.
Lynnwood’s Seoul Hotdog is across the street from H Mart, which reminds me of Seattle’s Asian supermarket, Uwajimaya. It’s a great location.
“We wanted to introduce the Korean hot dog to the Seattle area,” Han said. “It’s 100% Korean. We didn’t twist anything to make it Americanized.”
On the menu are eight different dogs. The Seoul hot dog is the original Korean corn dog — a sausage dipped in batter and deep-fried to crispy perfection — for $2.50.
You can also get a mozza hot dog, which is a hot-dog sized mozzarella stick, or a rice cake hot dog, which is made of steamed rice flour. You can get all three dog fillings studded with crinkle french fries. And you can also order half-and-half hot dogs, if you just can’t decide.
My Daily Herald colleague Mark Carlson and I both ordered the Seoul hot dog so we knew what the original Korean hot dog on a stick is like. I also ordered a hot dog covered in potato for $4. Mark also ordered two cheese sticks, one with potato ($5) and one without ($3.50).
“I loved corn dogs when I was a kid, and thought it was weird that grown-ups didn’t seem to like them,” Mark said. “Then I became an adult and discovered why: They’re gross.
“But Seoul Hotdog made me reconsider my opinion about corn dogs. These are not the corn dogs I grew up with in the 1970s.”
Mark and I agree that Korean hot dogs are cool-looking — especially the ones that are studded with french fries — and they’re fun to eat — especially the ones that are filled with stringy mozzarella cheese. Many times I stopped eating to remark “This is so cool!” or “This is so fun!”
When your hot dogs are ready, you get to decide if you’d like them with sugar, just like they’re served in Korea. It may seem odd, but it gives you both sweet and savory in every bite. We took Lee’s recommendation to add a sprinkling of sugar.
Then there are the condiments for your dog. Dip them in sweet chili, honey mustard, yellow mustard and/or ketchup. Or sprinkle on some chili cheese powder. Lee said he likes to dip the mozza dog into the sweet chili sauce.
Korean corn dog restaurants have been popping up like crazy in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York. In January, the Korean franchise Chun Chun opened in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. Lynnwood’s Seoul Hotdog opened on Feb. 21.
“In the last few years it’s gotten more popular in Korea because they came up with the different types of fillings — cheese and rice cake,” Han said. “That gives more options.”
While Han wants to keep her recipe a secret, Chun Chun serves “rice dogs.” I’m guessing Han’s dogs, made from beef, pork and chicken, are also covered in batter made with rice flour rather than corn flour, that when deep-fried in canola oil, have a satisfying crunch. Just like Korean fried chicken, these dogs aren’t greasy.
“We tried 30 different kinds of hot dogs,” Han said. “We did our research.”
Han, 37, of Snohomish, and Lee, 29, of Edmonds, previously owned a popular Korean fried chicken restaurant — also not a South Korean chain. Han didn’t want to name-check the restaurant out of respect to the new owner, but you can probably figure it out.
(If you look closely at the Seoul Hotdog logo, you’ll see the numbers 83 and 90 to signify each of the owners’ birth years.)
Han’s family has operated a fried chicken restaurant in South Korea since 1988, so when she moved to the U.S., she decided to open one of her own. After seven years, Han and Lee sold their fried chicken establishment to try out hot dogs.
“I wanted to bring Korean flavor to America,” Han said. “Hot dogs were Sean’s idea. We did some research that showed it really fit well with what we wanted to do.”
If you go
Seoul Hotdog, 18415 33rd Ave. W., Suite F, Lynnwood is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Call 425-582-0894.