More Than a Korean Restaurant
When you go to J’s Kitchen, don’t be misled by the food apps and websites that categorise this charming, family-run restaurant as purely Korean. Located in the heart of Vinohrady, there is far more on offer here than just traditional Korean cuisine.
As a matter of fact, J’s Kitchen does not exist to be a restaurant in its traditional sense, but more as a place where people come to meet, chat with one another, and share a moment of life.
To understand the origins of J’s kitchen, we have to travel back almost three decades to when the owners, Jinah and Jongsil, moved to Prague. Jongsil pursued his PhD in the Czech capital, researching the relations between the Czechoslovakian Socialist government and the Church after the Second World War. The situation in the country at that time was quite unique for Korean theologists.
He later became a coordinator at the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, and served as a liaison with his home church in Korea, facilitating research and cultural exchanges – a passion his son Hyunwoo has inherited. In fact, Hyunwoo currently facilitates exchange between the Czech Republic and Korea in the field of gastronomy.
Nowadays, when Jongsil is not helping Jinah at J’s kitchen, he is involved in the writing and translating of Czech historical books to Korean.
From the day the family arrived in Prague, Jinah was very concerned with her family’s integration into Czech society. The first hurdle they needed to overcome was to learn the language, but cultural integration was important to her too. The Prague restaurant and coffee scene of the 90s was not as developed as it is today, and with personal finances being limited at the time, she regularly invited new acquaintances and friends over for meals during weekends.
Not only was this an excellent opportunity for the family to practice their new language skills and build relationships with locals, but it also allowed Jinah to share her passion for cooking. She often recorded which dishes she had cooked for each person and made careful notes on different recipes provided to her in order to always surprise guests with new dishes. Eventually, the recipes that were shared with her became part of the family’s daily home cooking – often with a few of Jinah’s twists. Many of the notes and recipes still exist today and form the base of the dishes you can order at J’s Kitchen.
This restaurant is the result of 26 years of evolution and apprenticeship. Hyunwoo says that each dish comprises a combination of traditional Czech and Korean home cooking, which is very well adapted to the local palate. According to Hyunwoo and the family, the key to their success is fresh, quality ingredients combined with honest cooking from the heart.