Food recipe

How to Make Spicy Rose Tteokbokki: Korean Street Food Recipe

For Valentine’s Day, some expect boxes of chocolates, sips of champagne or huge bouquets of roses. But we’re excited about pink tteokbokki, a Korean street food riff that’s creamier than the original but still incredibly chewy and subtly spicy.

The founders of Tokki—Alex Park, Yohan Park, Patrick Liu, John Kim—are also fans of the dish, enough to include it on the menu at their Los Angeles-based restaurant. Tokki is an expression of the four founders’ Asian-American identity, translated into an eclectic Korean-inspired watering hole. Everything from decor, cutlery and menu has been thoroughly reviewed ahead of their grand opening in October 2021.

“We all had similar experiences growing up in America with this Asian-American dual identity,” Liu says. “It’s a shared experience where you’re not quite Asian but you’re not quite American either.” Liu considers this a strength when it comes to food, drawing inspiration from Chicago’s Chinatown where he grew up, as well as New York’s and Los Angeles’ Koreatowns.

Drinks are equally inventive: there’s a selection of natural wines, sake and soju, and cocktails made from infused spirits with delicate flavors of Korean pear, lychee and pomegranate.

Liu and his partners collaborated with chef Sunny Jang to imagine the menu, drawing inspiration from childhood flavors or dishes experienced during the trip. “It felt like a starter garage where you’re literally in one room and you have both an Excel spreadsheet, a whiteboard, and tons of open tabs of pictures, places, and things,” laughs Liu. From there, the founders and Jang pared down the menu and settled on tapas-style dishes that are shareable, unique, and tasty enough to work in tandem with the drink menu.

The menu is playful and engaging, on the border between gastronomy and drink. “We use traditional Korean cuisine as a base, but with a different twist,” says Liu. This includes kimchi fried rice accented with truffle bulgogi, plain colored toast adorned with smoked trout roe and, of course, the rosé – not just pink – tteokbokki, which includes a hint of wine in the sauce.

“Our Rosé Tteokbokki contains elements of Italian style,” says Liu. “It’s more like a pink sauce than anything, but still a bit spicy.” Rose tteokbokki in Korea is just the sweet and sticky tteokbokki mixed with cream. The version at Tokki is a little more nuanced, with oyster sauce, bacon and even a combination of goat cheese and manchego to tie it all together. It’s thoughtful without being pretentious – at the end of the day, tteokbokki is still street food and a perfect drinking pairing.

“It’s very noticeably Korean, but with added elements to make it a little more complex, a little different,” smiles Liu. “I think we hit goldmine on flavor.”