When general manager Catarina Chang came up with the name for new restaurant Koy, she had the word “coy” in mind. And while the dimly lit setting, with large pieces of art positioned on dark purple walls, may help set that subtly flirtatious mood, the mingling will truly matter in the kitchen. Chef Sebastian Martinez (Volle Nolle) is ready to mix different styles and flavors at the Korean fusion spot, expected to open this month near Faneuil Hall.
“The amount of Korean or fusion is different for each dish,” Martinez says. “It might be 90 percent Korean with a little touch of this or that at the end. Or it might be 20 percent Korean, with a French or Spanish influence on the rest of the dish.”
One constant will be strong Korean flavors from ingredients such as ginger, garlic, scallion and gochujang. Sweetness, salt and spice will meet in dishes such as the crab udon, featuring noodles, corn, crab and butter in fish broth. The menu will be broken down into small, medium and large shareable plates, with prices primarily in the teens. Dessert lovers can look forward to items like French toast with peanuts boiled in coffee, sesame seeds and chocolate. But beyond the flavors, it’s also Korean technique that intrigues Martinez.
“Fermentation is a big thing right now. There’s a lot of debate on if kimchee is just cabbage. The way I look at it, you can kimchee anything. It’s a process more than anything,” he says. “So, it’ll be kind of cool to mess around with more local ingredients. For example, making kimchee out of stuff that grows in New England.”
The Korean influence will carry over to the cocktails, with soju (a Korean rice liquor) the star of the bar program. Bar manager Lily Pereira plans to offer soju by the bottle (375 ml), use it in the sangria and infuse it with different flavors. A broader range of cocktails, beer and mostly Californian wines will round out the drink list, lending some mainstream appeal for the crowd that might be milling around Faneuil Hall.
“We’re trying to make everyone happy with fusion,” Martinez says. “We’ll have a little something for everyone.”
For Chang, that theme of fusion extends to mixing business with family. Her brother Daniel (a RISD grad) painted a glass mural next to the bar and will serve as a manager, while her father, Danny, is the owner. Even Martinez was brought on through a familial connection.
“My brother’s neighbor’s younger sister’s best friend is Catarina,” he says. “I guess the word is serendipity.”
Koy Boston 16 North St., Boston. koyboston.com