Where to Koy, a new Korean-influenced restaurant on the edge of Faneuil Hall.
What for A respite from chains, tourist traps, and bars. When you’ve worked up an appetite dodging jugglers and horn players tootling holiday medleys, it’s nice to have a place to duck into for a bulgogi sandwich and a cocktail.
The scene A pleasantly dark, long and narrow space decorated in grays and purples. Colorful canvases depicting swimming koi and an attitudinal woman in Korean dress hang on the walls. Football is on the flat-screen, and OK Go, Marlena Shaw, and Fun. on the soundtrack. At the host stand, staff members wear festive holiday hats. Ornaments hang in the windows; a horse trots past. At the bar, glasses are filled with marshmallows, clove-studded lemon slices, candied ginger, and other alluring garnishes. A man in a thick plaid wool coat eats bibimbap (above) with a spoon while sipping hot chocolate. Friends meet for beers. Girls wearing flowery perfume embrace. Everyone is dressed in black, the staff in T-shirts, the guests in fleeces. When Haddaway’s “What Is Love” comes on, everyone chimes in with feeling: “Baby don’t hurt me . . . ”
What you’re eating Chef Sebastian Martinez, formerly of Volle Nolle, serves traditional Korean dishes alongside twists: gochujang-glazed chicken wings and carnitas dumplings with queso fresco, kimchi fried rice and barbecue short ribs. Plus there are desserts such as French toast with coffee-boiled peanuts, crisped rice, strawberries, sesame, and chocolate.
Care for a drink? Soju sangria combines the Korean alcohol with lychee liqueur, lemon, prosecco, and aloe. It tastes like Asian soda pop.
Overheard Someone listing every single thing in the world he won’t eat or drink, talk about the vowel sounds of Korean and the immigrant experience, friendly ribbing, gossip about romance and restaurants. “I feel like I’m having a conversation with Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh,” a bartender teases a pessimistic patron. “His professional title is ‘eye candy,’ ” a woman tells her friend. “I will be the best Korean who speaks English and Spanish and Korean simultaneously on this side of the hemisphere,” someone declares. “Big League Chew, now that was the best gum ever,” someone else weighs in, to general agreement. (The pouch! The shreds! The grape flavor!) “It’s taking all my self-control not to eat those marshmallows,” an area office worker says, eyeing the garnishes before her. “It’s your new favorite bar,” a bartender tells her.
16 North St., Boston, 857-991-1483, www.koyboston.com.