Konan Pi is running on fumes—smoky, delicious Korean barbecue fumes. They’ve been around a month since Pi opened HōM, his third installment of the Korean comfort food kitchen (also located in Redwood City and San Jose) on Pacific Avenue.
Not to be confused with Brad Briske’s Soquel restaurant, HōM and High Tide Poke Shop share the former Hoffman’s building space. Pi says between all of the commuting to and from his other restaurants, working 16-hour days everyday and getting ready for the soft opening, he’s had to really hit the ground running. While they have settled in, and their inexpensive, build-your-own Korean bowl fills a gap in the Santa Cruz dining scene, Pi wants people to know that it’s still very much a work in progress.
Why Korean cooking?
KONAN PI: I would cook Korean food for my friends at home, that’s why it’s called HōM. I want people to feel like they are coming into my house and having a fresh cooked meal with no artificial ingredients or preservatives, just a nice wholesome fresh meal. We have gluten-free, vegan options because when people come into my home I don’t want anyone to be excluded. I think also Korean cuisine is underappreciated, and for a lot of Korean restaurants the menu is hard to navigate, you have to have a Korean with you to show you how to order. So I wanted a more approachable concept, where they could see the process and see everything getting cooked.
What’s the deal with the split restaurant? Do you own the poke place, too?
Yes, we own it too. A lot of customers have asked us if we offer fish or seafood, so I thought it would be a nice compliment to have poke. How we came to this space is actually interesting. A customer always said that we should move to Santa Cruz, and I would say ‘OK, find me a space.’ Sure enough, he did, and long story short, it was a really large space, but I didn’t want to turn it down because I really wanted to be out here. So we incorporated the kitchen as our main central kitchen for the other locations and added the poke to be a compliment to the grilled meats.
Why Santa Cruz?
A lot of people already go to our San Jose location and would say “please come to Santa Cruz.” It would happen a lot—it was bizarre! I’ve always loved coming to Santa Cruz and actually eating at Hoffman’s. I remember eating here once and thinking “I’d really love to be on this strip.”
HōM/High Tide Poke Shop. 1102 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. homkoreankitchen.com. 217-1133.