It’s been five years since Koi Fusion owner Bo Kwon (one of PoMo’s 50 Most Influential Portlanders) launched his social media-driven Korean taco empire with a series of viral tweets. Now with a small fleet (8 roving trucks, 4 stationary kiosks) and a cult following, Kwon is realizing his dream to open a fully-fledged brick and mortar inside the D-Street Building on Southeast Division and 30th Avenue.
The Division location brings new Korean-American fusions, like kimchi cheese steak and a Korean-style Reuben (click the slideshow above for the mouthwatering details), and will act as a staging area for visiting chefs and food truck upstarts.
Inside the 1,300-square-foot space, the vibe is space-aged psychedelic—courtesy of prolific local artist Gage Hamilton—with thumping techno playing overhead. Koi Division is counter-service only with 40 seats (plus a sidewalk and outdoor patio where Kwon hopes to expand in the coming weeks).
Kwon says he already has plans to host collaborative dinners with national food celebrities, including fellow Asian-American culinary superstars Eddie Huang and Roy Choi as well as play host to his food cart contemporaries. “These are the people I’ve grown with,” says Kwon, “people I was in the food cart trenches with: Gonzo, Big-Ass Sandwiches, Whiffies. Now I’m giving back.” Events and chef pop-ups will be announced via spontaneous social media (Twitter handle: @KOifusionpdx), as is customary for the tech-savvy brand.
Kwon’s next move? A still-unconfirmed kiosk at the Portland Airport. “People give me shit for selling out, but I’m not,” he says. “Whether you have 100 locations or one—as long as you keep that integrity, that same energy—it’s just growth.”
Koi Fusion at D-Street
3040 SE Division St.