has been a dining destination since the Empty Stomach Restaurant Group
opened the Southtown spot in 2014. However, staff and menu changes in recent years led to dining experiences that have been hit-or-miss.
Hot Joy's latest menu, developed by chef John Philpot, delivers several undeniable food hits, including Korean-inspired tacos available for $2 during its weekday happy hour. The restaurant also recently launched a new seasonal cocktail menu
Korean cuisine is filled with complex, salty and funky flavors, but at Hot Joy
, chef Philpot celebrates those flavors with accessible, inspired dishes like kimchi and pork dumplings, kan kan long bone pork chop, and loaded potato Bing – a crisp Korean bread filled with bacon, sour cream and onion miso and cheese.
"Korean cuisine has a lot of fresh and spicy components and a lighter approach to food that make it perfect for the summer," Philpot said.
For diners who are unfamiliar with Korean cuisine, Hot Joy's bulgogi nachos and potato bing are shareable plates for the table. The restaurant also features ssam, or wrap options, like the 48-hour beef short rib galbi, served with wrinkled kimchi, fresh lettuce and rice.
"There's nothing too intimidating, it's just fun and we keep it mild– not too spicy," he added. However, the ssam menu options are served with a variety of spicy, flavorful sauces and housemade Kim chi.
Pastry chef Jessica Philpot's simple dessert menu offers an impressive selection of sweets including a peach almond cake with ginseng ice cream and the standout chocolate gochujang ice cream sandwich, and expertly combines spicy with sweet.
Diners may be excited to see the restaurant successfully return to its inventive, Asian-inspired culinary roots, and it's welcome news for locals looking for affordable and flavorful bites any given night.
Happy hour at Hot Joy runs weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m., and on weekends from noon to 7 p.m.
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