Where the Chefs Eat: John Sikhattana, Ji Kang, Junnajet Hurapan

Categories: Chef Chat

korean bbqNam.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
Korean barbecue at Nam Gang, one of Chef John Sikhattana's favorite places to eat.
When we started this Where the Chefs Eat series a few weeks ago, one commenter scoffed at the notion that chefs actually care where they eat in their downtime. While it's true that many chefs choose expedience over gourmet after dark, most of the answers we've gotten have been thoughtful and revealing in terms of the chefs' backgrounds and personal tastes.

This week, we continue our Where the Chefs Eat series with a Thai, Korean and Hawaiian perspective, respectively, with John Sikhattana, Ji Kang and Junnajet Hurapan.

Chef John Sikhattana.jpg
Photo Courtesy of Straits
Chef John Sikhattana of Straits
John Sikhattana
Executive Chef at Straits

Standard go-to: I go to Bon Ga or Nam Gang. I'll get the oyster pancakes -- it's fresh oysters they shuck and grill into the pancake with scallions and serve with sesame soy sauce. What I love about Korean food is all the little side dishes you get. I could just eat that and rice, and I'd be done. I love their brown whole grain rice that they steam inside a clay pot. It looks black, but there's beans and peas cooked into it with the whole grain rice. You'll come out smelling like charcoal and barbecue, but it's so good.

Cheap eats: Aloha Grill on Westheimer. $1.50 Spam misubi! Can't beat that! It's a cheap eat that reminds me of my childhood in Hawaii. The Hawaiian Kalua pork takes me back to my hanabuddah days!

Ji Kang
Chef/Owner of Nabi

Photo by Janie Kang
Chef Ji Kang of Nabi
Standard go-to: Korea House on Longpoint and Gessner. I usually go for the barbecue. It's usually one of those combination things with short ribs, pork belly and marinated rib eye. I also get a couple of stews. They'll have a kimchi stew (kim chi jigae) and a soft tofu stew (soondubu jigae) with pork, beef and seafood. I'll go with a lot of friends about once a month or every other month. Usually it's with eight friends, and we'll get there around 9-10 p.m., order a couple of orders, drink soju and beer and stay until 12 a.m.

Cheap eats: Cheap eats is probably going to be BB's Cafe on Westheimer and Montrose. I usually go there late night. I grew up in Louisiana for five or six years, so I usually get the gumbo, étouffée and oyster po-boy. It's as authentic as you can get in this area.

Beer food: I really like Hay Merchant's food. I go there frequently and get whatever specials they have over there. I usually get the blood sausage. I really like that because it's salty and cheesy, good beer food. I've been really into Bombshell Blonde Ale by Southern Star Brewery.

Chef Jett Hurapanhs.jpg
Photo Courtesy of Blu
Chef Junnajet Hurapan of Blu
Junnajet "Jett" Hurapan
Executive Chef at Blu in Sugar Land

Standard go-to: I would have to say my favorite place to go is Pappadeaux.  Always great seafood and it's easy to get there because there are so many locations. Makes it easy! 

Cheap eats: Pho Saigon Noodle House. I love their style of cooking. It is authentic home cooking, which I love.

Late night: Would you believe, IHOP...it's open after work or late-night, which for me is important! I love the egg and pancake meal. Hits the spot!

If you missed our previous posts, click below to see more of Where the Chefs Eat:

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Location Info

Straits Restaurant

800 W. Sam Houston Parkway N., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bon Ga Korean Restaurant

9861 Long Point Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Nam Gang

1411-A Gessner, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Aloha Grill

11805 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


1517 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Korea House

10078 Long Point Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Music


2248 Texas Drive, Sugar Land, TX

Category: Music

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 Dude, he works in sugar land.  What do you think are the options after work out there? 


Ihop and papadeauxs? Get out of here


Nam Gang's kimchi jaeyook bokum is one of the most satisfying plates of food in Houston.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Glad you're enjoying it as much as I have been! There's plenty more to come. And you're right about Nam Gang and the coals. Gives the meat smokier flavor.  


Thanks Mai! This is really thoughtful and revealing in terms of the chefs' backgrounds and personal tastes. Love Nam Gang....it's one of the few Korean barbecue places that use real charcoal instead of gas in their tabletop cooker.

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