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Hong Kong Hallyu

China-based Dong Dae Mun restaurant takes its design cues from Korean Wave culture



Mong Kok, Hong Kong’s most trend-setting district, is revered as a hipster hangout of shops and clubs that include an explosion of curbside food stands and international restaurants.

The locale has also become a center of hallyu, the popular flow of South Korean culture throughout Asia and around the world. So it’s not surprising that one of the district’s most exciting new restaurants, Dong Dae Mun, is serving up Korean-style barbecue in a vibrant setting where community and culture are a big focus.

Even the restaurant’s name is a nod to Dongdaemun Market – Seoul, South Korea’s enormous street market district that's become a must-see tourist destination. Appealing to its millennial, social media-savvy patrons, the restaurant's environment is upbeat and engaging.

“I had to make it energetic and create a vibe for the younger crowds,” says Raymond Ng, designer and director, RN Design Studio (Hong Kong). “Our target audience is … 18 to 25, so you don’t want to create a fine-dining, quiet place for them to eat – it would be awkward.”

Korean barbecue’s family-style approach is a clear fit for its gregarious clientele. The cooking and serving method consists of thinly sliced beef, pork, chicken or other meats, cooked over a communal gas or charcoal grill in the center of diners’ tables, with an assortment of oils and seasonings as well as various small sides to fine-tune the cuisine according to taste.

Designing the restaurant around the grills created a unique set of challenges. To provide an exhaust for the stoves and keep customers clean, air ducts are hidden beneath the tables and bench seating. The restaurant’s layout was dictated by the routing of its duct placement, fixing the table and seating arrangement in place once the tubing was installed.


“[It’s] a key point in designing for a Korean barbecue restaurant because you don’t want [customers] to feel greasy and oily after a meal,” Ng explains. The tables were specially designed for the restaurant and custom-fit with the gas grills. A plastic laminate table-top material was selected for easy, post-grub cleanup.

Throughout the dining room, guests are treated to a visual feast of tones and textures: Colorful mesh walls partition the space, providing a sense of openness; neon-lit accents emulate Dongdaemun and Mong Kok’s urban street signage; and the restaurant’s corporate colors (blue and yellow) are visible in the wall and ceiling treatments. Natural-toned flooring and furniture were elected to balance the atmosphere, while the “invisible” painted-black ceiling conceals its low height.

Celebrating the fusion of Asian cultures, a graffiti-covered brick focal wall acts as the design’s objective: A side-by-side depiction of bustling Mong Kok and Dongdaemun avenues, painted by one of the district’s street artists, visually transports restaurant-goers to the meccas of hallyu.

Dong Dae Mun, Hong Kong

RN Design Studio, Hong Kong

Soul Collection, Hong Kong


General Contractor, Ceilings, Fixtures and Furniture, Signage/Graphics
Champion Decorations Ltd., Hong Kong

Simple Tiles, Hong Kong

Photography: Jason Hung, Hong Kong



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