In business since 1971, the popular Korean restaurant with an eye-catching minimalist orange-tinged decor and broad selection of the country's most popular dishes currently operates 340 outlets in South Korea. The New York region's first outlet opened up in Flushing about eight months ago, said Shinpo's manager, Won Jung "Jacob" Lee.Lee said the company picked Flushing for its American debut because of the area's large and vibrant Asian population. About 60 percent of the store's clientele is Korean, another 30 percent is Chinese and the rest is made up of more adventurous Anglo Americans, Lee said.A lot of people, Lee said, recognize the restaurant as a comfortable reminder of home. "Everybody knows it," Lee said. "Korean people see the same logo and the same store and the same restaurant." But the wide range of Korean- and Japanese-style food - from "nakji chulpan dop bap" (rice, octopus and assorted vegetables) to "kimchi u-don" (noodles with kimchi) - has proven appealing to even the uninitiated."American people, Indians, they like it," Lee said. "Everybody seems to like the interior design."The interior boasts clean lines and glass partitions between tables lend the dining room an expansive yet surprisingly intimate feel.And it's not fast food: It's more like quick cuisine complete with the dumplings, kimchi and pork dishes that are mainstays of the Korean diet. There's no alcohol on the menu yet, but Lee said a permit is pending.Lee said the franchise may soon look to open a restaurant on 32nd Street in Manhattan, the heart of Little Korea. From there, they may soon look at Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, he said.The franchise also is preparing to unveil some high-tech food-preparation devices. Right now, chefs make all the dumplings by hand. But within the next couple of months, Shinpo will start using a start-of-the-art dumpling maker capable of turning out 2,000 perfectly half-moon morsels every hour. Lee said the restaurant may soon invest in a noodle-making machine as well.In the meantime, the restaurant on Northern Boulevard is doing a brisk business. Shinpo is swamped from noon to 3 p.m. - when the menu boasts a $5.95 lunch special guaranteed to leave even the biggest eaters full - and all day during the weekend, said Lee, a Queens resident who started working at the restaurant when it opened. "Saturday and Sunday kill me," said Lee, who works a six-day week. "Just six days," he said jokingly. "I'm not a robot."Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2005 Community News Group
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