K-Fire Korean BBQ, the first restaurant from friends Ben Kim and Eddie Hwang, is gearing up to serve fast-casual Korean BBQ in the Megamall complex. Credit: Provided

LOGAN SQUARE — K-Fire Korean BBQ, a fast-casual Korean barbecue spot, is opening in the massive Megamall complex next week.

It comes after Big Wig Tacos & Burritos opened in the complex last month.

K-Fire, the first restaurant from friends Ben Kim and Eddie Hwang, opens July 31 at 2528 N. Milwaukee Ave. for limited dine-in service, takeout and delivery.

At K-Fire, patrons can expect Korean barbecue in a fast-casual format. All of the food on the menu is authentic Korean barbecue, but some dishes are more traditional than others, said Kim, who is Korean.

K-Fire’s spicy chicken dish, for example, is chicken tossed in fiery red pepper barbecue sauce served with kimchi and seasoned cucumber, all elements of a traditional Korean barbecue meal.

But K-Fire also serves more modern appetizers, like kimchi rice balls stuffed with spam and cheese and served with a tonkatsu mayo sauce, and Bokki “fries,” crispy rice cakes tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce and topped with caramelized onions, beef and cheese, a play on Korean tteokbokki.

The food will be grilled-to-order, meaning it’ll take Hwang, the chef, about five minutes to prepare orders after they’re placed.

“When you go to traditional [Korean barbecue] paces, it can be kinda intimidating. The menu can be complex,” Kim said. “We wanted to make it much more friendly and inviting for people who aren’t familiar with Korean barbecue.”

The mushroom barbecue plate at K-Fire Korean BBQ. [Provided]

Hwang, a chef and the former owner of Ch’ava Cafe in Uptown, is manning the kitchen, while Kim, whose background is in finance, is handling the business side of things.

The two met through a mutual friend some years ago and their families have remained close. They both have two children and live in suburban Glenview.

“I got really familiar with Eddie’s cooking and it was delicious,” Kim said. “I have always been a fan of Korean barbecue and the way he made it — it was awesome.”

K-Fire is two years in the making. Kim said the duo spent more than a year looking for the right location before finding the Megamall spot.

“There [were] many things about Logan Square that attracted us. It seemed like it was an up-and-coming neighborhood. There’s this vibrance to it,” Kim said.

Kim said they were excited to be across the street from popular bars and had even created a takeout window for bar-goers. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into that plan, but luckily for the K-Fire duo the takeout window is even more relevant now as some continue to favor takeout over dine-in service.

“There’s obviously not much nightlife going on, but we’re planning on using the takeout window for customers who don’t feel comfortable coming into the space,” Kim said.

Opening a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic hasn’t been easy. It’s been hard adjusting to meet the city’s rules, and the meat shortage has driven up prices, Kim said.

But Kim said they’re thrilled to share their love of Korean barbecue with Logan Square. On opening day, the first 500 customers will get a free appetizer, or “BiTE,” with a purchase of either a barbecue plate or a salad.

“Making food for people in Korea is a sign of affection and love. Now we have an opportunity to share [our food] with the Logan Square neighborhood and the people of Chicago. It’s exciting we’re at that point,” Kim said.

Another Megamall tenant, Big Wig Tacos & Burritos, opened June 12 at 2490 N. Milwaukee Ave. The fast-casual Mexican food joint serves tacos, nachos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas and bowls, as well as sides like guacamole and chips.

The Logan Square location, open for delivery and carryout, is the restaurant’s second location. The first is in River North.

The Megamall complex, called Logan Apartments, has 220 apartments, 62,000 square feet of retail space and an adjacent 44-spot parking lot for shoppers. The seven-story development is split into two buildings connected by a skybridge and anchored by a clock tower. Tenants have access to an outdoor pool, bocce ball court and a fitness club, among other luxury amenities.

The apartments, a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom units, are outfitted with a number of “luxury” finishes, such as gourmet kitchens, in-unit laundry and walk-in closets. Studios start at $1,895 a month and two-bedrooms start at $3,495 a month.

In addition to K-Fire Korean BBQ and Big Wig Tacos & Burritios, Verizon, Jersey Mike’s Subs and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream were all slated to move into the complex as of early 2020. A small-format Target, the anchor tenant, was set to opened in April but its opening has been delayed.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the MegaMall Target was open. The store has not opened as of July 24.

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Logan Square, Humboldt Park & Avondale reporterrnrnmina@blockclubchi.orgnnLogan Square, Humboldt Park & Avondale reporterrnrnmina@blockclubchi.org Twitter @mina_bloom_

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