Restaurant Spotlight: Kimchi Red

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Unique Korean dishes and the nation’s No. 1 fried chicken can be found right here in Suwanee at Kimchi Red Korean Gourmet Kitchen, a standout establishment that caters to all cultures and works to foster a community through faith and delicious food.

Story and Photos by Tim O’Brien

If you’re a fan of fried chicken you’re in luck, because according to Yelp, the nation’s No. 1 fried chicken can be found right here in Suwanee. The title belongs to Kimchi Red, a Korean restaurant specializing in unique dishes from the mind of its owners, Alice and Joey Lee.

As an original concept rooted in Korean cuisine, Kimchi Red is a standout establishment that caters to all cultures and works to foster a community through faith and delicious food.

While the Lees may claim that this road to success has been a lifelong journey, they earned the No. 1 spot after being open less than two years at their original location in Alpharetta. This spring, they opened their second location in Suwanee. Kimchi Red is their latest venture in a long list of retail businesses — and their most successful. So, what made this time different? What made this the gold standard of fried chicken?

Alice’s answer is simple: “It was God-given.” “It’s not written on our Instagram page or anything, but we want to honor and glorify God in everything we do with excellence,” Alice says, “so we cook as if we’re cooking for our family.”

Even with Chef Joey W. Lee’s tireless commitment to crafting quality dishes and Alice’s dedication to unmatched customer service, they refuse to take much of the credit. Alice attributes it all to their faith, perhaps not-so-coincidentally where their story began.

“For many years we’ve tried to be faithful servants, serving people whenever the opportunity arose, ” Alice says. “I think our journey led us where we are now.”

Kimchi Red, a name that Lee trademarked almost 20 years ago, was never meant to be the name for a restaurant. Their initial plan was to go into manufacturing for a retail food product under the Kimchi Red brand name.

“We came up with Kimchi because we wanted people to immediately identify the name with Korean food,” Alice says. “Kimchi is Korean, but Red was just a sort of a play on words where people would think, ‘adjective before noun’ or Red Kimchi. But to be a little bit different, we switched it to ‘Kimchi Red.’ It had a better ring to it, so we trademarked it.”

A Dream Opportunity

The Lees, who came to Georgia for shoe manufacturing, thought opening a restaurant was only a dream. “When we first moved to Georgia, the Alpharetta location just sort of fell in our lap,” Alice says. “We started off with two items, our House Beef and our Barbecue Jeyuk Plate, and then the menu grew from there.”

Today, that menu is winning awards often attributed to classic Southern eateries. When one thinks of the best chicken in the Southeast — let alone the nation — they may think of places like Hattie B’s or homegrown barbecue joints, but Kimchi Red has shifted the conversation and drawn quite the crowd to its doors.

“We want to cater to different cultures and all nationalities,” Alice says. “That’s our main goal and we’re so thankful that we do get to cater to the Muslim community, the Asian community, the American community, you know, just all cultures in general.”

A Passion for Food

“It’s always been Joey’s passion not just to cook, but to cook for people,” Alice says. “He loves feeding people. It could be 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning and if his friends came over he would just cook up whatever.”

It’s no wonder fans have flocked to the reviews with positive impressions. If the taste alone wasn’t enough, the menu is full of generous servings of some of Korea’s finest flavors, all of which have their own Kimchi Red touch.

“I usually give him ideas and then he executes the ideas,” Alice says. “Butter Fly is one of my favorites.” The Butter Fly is a whole chicken marinated a minimum of 48 hours, retaining the flavor with a juicy, tender, and crispy finish. Because of the prep time involved, Butter Fly Chicken must be pre-ordered beforehand. Other crowd favorites include the Spicy Jeon Ju, made as mild or as spicy as customers like it, the Red Buldak, which Alice dubs a “TikTok special,” and the Mega Fries, fully loaded French fries with a Korean twist.

“Everything we do is with excellence,” Alice says. Upon a trip to Kimchi Red, nothing would tell you differently. It is clear from top to bottom that the Lees are dedicated not only to their craft, but to be servants of God as well. “I think it’s seen and felt through our daily life in how we treat people and how we conduct our business with integrity, excellence, honesty, and faith.”

Kimchi Red is located at 3651-D Johns Creek Pkwy. in Suwanee. For more information, visit KimchiRedUSA.com.

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