I have never been unimpressed by a restaurant opened by Quixotic Projects: Candelaria and Mary Celeste have long been two of my favorite Paris spots, so it’s perhaps surprising that it took me this long to get to Hero, the group’s Korean fusion spot that opened in April 2015.
To be fair, my other half abhors spicy food.
Luckily, my friend Gemma (who runs the fantastic Les Musées de Paris blog) was in town for a visit, and as a fellow Korean food lover, agreed to be my date.
Like in the other Quixotic Projects spots, the cocktails here are on-point. I was tempted by the Minwou Martini, mostly because it had coriander and umami as ingredients, but drinking a whole glass of vodka is never a great idea, at least in Emily-land, so I opted instead for the Whisky Baesuk, with two kinds of whisky, pear, seaweed pepper, and ginger beer. It met all of my cocktail expectations, which is to say that it wasn’t too sweet. (Yep, that’s the entirety of my cocktail expectations.) It was delicious.
Gemma, meanwhile, went for the beautiful Makolada in the background, a sort of Korean spin on a piña colada.
Also in keeping with the Quixotic Projects theme, the menu is made up of small plates to share rather than appetizers and mains. We ordered two banchan – a traditional kimchi (delicious) and a marinated eggplant (even more delicious) – as well as a bun each. This is mine: pork shoulder and samjang. The bread itself was heartier than you’ll see on most buns, which I quite liked, and the sauce was so good I would have bought a bottle of it then and there if it were on sale.
The star here is, of course, the fried chicken: we went for the Hero special, which has both of the house sauces: a spicier sauce with gochu jang pepper and a sweeter garlic sauce. Both were exceptional, and the chicken itself is also fantastic: the boneless pieces are tender and juicy inside and nice and crisp on the outside. The portions are decently sized as well: as valiant an effort as we made, we weren’t able to demolish this pile of chicken.
While the food here is fantastic, the service leaves a bit to be desired. The waitstaff on the night we visited seemed less-than-informed about the menu, and when we asked how many plates we should order (or even just how large different things on the menu were), our waitress looked at us a bit like a deer looking at an oncoming train (name that Weird Al reference).
Also, seating was a bit odd: the tables are close together, as is common in Parisian restaurants, but while we arrived in the completely empty dining room for our 7pm reservation (no 7:30 reservations available), we quickly became table buddies with the next two parties to enter, who were seated right next to us. Halfway through our meal, we were asked to get up and move to a completely different table, which was made even more difficult by the close proximity of our neighbors.
It was an unfortunate experience, but it won’t keep me from coming back: they’d have to do much worse to keep me away from that chicken.
Hero – 289 Rue St Denis, 75002