Linda Kissam
Long Beach Chef Recipes Examiner 

Urban Seoul Restaurant in Irvine, CA

From the outside, the restaurant Urban Seoul could be just about any place in the American strip mall world. However, step inside, eat the food, meet the owner and chef and begin your decent into edgy yum.

Urban Seoul is the creation of the well-known OC Restaurateur Bronnie Lee and his youngish chef, Kacy Jun. They've created a fusion restaurant combining Korean and Mexican flavors and foods in the best of ways. It's a restaurant that daily showcases its creative team's passion and respect for local food and culture. The style is what is becoming known as "culinary melting pot."

The menu seamlessly entwines the best of Southern California spicy style favorites and traditional Korean Bibimbap. Bronnie Lee and Chef Kacy describe Urban Seoul as a borderless kitchenTM which draws its inspiration from the cultures and communities it serves. I describe is as pure yum with a spicy kick or ...edgy yum.

Bronnie Lee

Bronnie has a special kind of energy that engaged me at the first hello. I've met a lot of successful people. Most have this special "something" that sets them apart from their peer group. Trust me, it was present and accounted for. He's a man with a distinct vision and a plan. He likes to show his customers what he can do. He enjoys giving his staff the training and support they need to make something beautiful in the galley.

From the open kitchen concept, to the nouveau cuisine, to the hand-picked and nurtured staff, he knows how to create and share success. He demands his dishes be freshly made with care and attention to detail. "It's becoming a lost art in the restaurant business, but not here. We can produce a creative menu without sacrificing anything." He is absolutely committed to producing a unique gastronomic experience. When you leave his restaurant, he wants to see a smile on your face because you've just had your eyes and palate opened up to a "new style of eating." I think he's done that and more.

Kacy Jun
Executive Chef

Chef Kacy Jun knew early on he wanted to work for Bronnie Lee. He told me when he applied for a job, "Bronnie wasn't sure it was a good match, but I have a true passion for food and I REALLY wanted to develop that passion working for Bronnie." So what does a guy do to get his dream job? He offers to work for a week without pay. A kind of try and buy concept. It worked and the rest is history and pure good taste.

Kacy's love for quality ingredients, attention to fine detail, willingness to listen and produce earned him a direct path from line cook to executive chef. His reputation for innovative thinking along with his schooling and advanced palate has earned him a prestigious place in the culinary community. Once you've tasted Kacy's original recipes coming out of the restaurant's borderless kitchen, there will be no doubt in your mind that he is the right guy for the job.

The Food

There are about 20 items on the menu. Lunch and dinner are available now, with a limited breakfast menu coming soon. All sauces are made from scratch. The freshest ingredients are standard. Quality is the name of the game. No corners are cut. This is melting pot cuisine at its best. Expect a slight wait to be seated, because yup, it's THAT good.

Be sure to try the VERY popular Spicy Pork Belly Tacos, Elote (AKA street corn), Urban 3B Bibimbap and the Stir Fry Udon. Chase it all down with an ice cold beer or the refreshing nonalcoholic drink of the day made with fresh fruit in season.

Until you can make it to this special place, here's a recipe that will rock your world. Just sayin'...

Pozole Soup with Udon

Urban Seoul Restaurant


3/4 cup of favorite salsa

4 or 5 roasted poblano chiles

1 ½ pounds chicken thighs (about 6 pieces) bone-in, trimmed of skin and fat

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Kosher salt

Black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

8 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth (canned or homemade)

1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably


1 bay leaf

3 15-ounce cans white hominy, drained and rinsed

2 package Udon noodles (in refrigerated section of Asian market)

Cilantro for garnish


Purée salsa with roasted poblanos then combine with chicken stock in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt, pepper and cumin to taste.

Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil on medium heat in large Dutch oven or stockpot, then sauté onions for 5 minutes, add garlic and sauté another 2 minutes, add oregano. Turn up heat to medium high. Push onion mixture to one side and add remaining 1 tbsp oil to other side of pot. Sear chicken in remaining oil, 2 minutes on each side. Move chicken to a plate.

Add half the hominy, puree mixture and bay leaf to pot. Reduce heat to low, cover partially and simmer for an hour or so. Add chicken and cook until meat starts to fall off bone.

Remove chicken, discard skin and bones. Shred meat and return to pot along with remaining hominy and simmer another 10 minutes.

Prepare Udon according to package then divide into 4 bowls. Ladle soup and chicken on top of noodles, garnish with cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 hearty servings (with plenty of broth).

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Urban Seoul has two locations in Irvine: Diamond Jamboree Center and the Irvine Spectrum. I visited the Diamond Jamboree Center located at 2750 Alton Parkway, Ste 131 Irvine, CA. I can't wait to visit the Irvine Spectrum location. I am told then menu varies a bit, but the quality holds true. . Open seven days a week: 11:30 am - 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm. Times can vary on the weekends, so check out the Website before heading out.