There are many Korean barbecue joints on Saipan. And then there’s Chun Ji Korean Restaurant Saipan.
First established in 2004, the restaurant atop Safehouse Bar in the tourist district of Garapan has become sort of a go-to place for Korean barbecue on Saipan and the secret lies on how they grill their meats (or, in this case, how customers grill them since it’s a Korean barbecue restaurant).
“What makes Chun Ji unique from other Korean barbecue restaurants on island is that we only use the highest premium cuts of meat and ingredients and always use charcoal in each individual grill at every table,” said Thomas Kim, whose family owns the restaurant.
And if you think the use of charcoal in their grilled offerings is the only thing that makes Chun Ji special, Kim said their cooks also make mean versions of classic Chinese dishes.
“We also serve authentic Chinese entrees along with Korean food. Our specialty cut of prime rib sets us apart from other restaurants’ cuts of meat,” he said.
Bestsellers at the restaurant are grilled beef ribs and seasoned beef ribs, which are prepared Korean barbecue style. Chun Ji’s sweet and sour dishes that are available in pork, fish, or shrimp and their special sashimi have gotten high marks as well, according to Kim.
As far as its name goes, Kim said Chun Ji is actually a traditional Korean phrase that means “one world,” which pretty much describes the CNMI, with the islands being a melting pot of different nationalities and cultures.
The restaurant known for grilling in charcoal is trying its best to rise from the ashes of the economic crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We closed in March due to the pandemic and reopened with safeguards in July,” said Kim.
And being at the center of the islands’ tourist district, Chun Ji’s main market was understandably tourists. With the visitor arrival industry essentially in hibernation, the business had to pivot toward catering to the local market.
“COVID-19 affected our business in highly reducing customers compared to our average. However, we are still grateful for local patronage and appreciate the love during these hard times,” he said.
As a big thank you, Chun Ji is currently giving 15% off its entire menu to its valued local customers. “It’s our little way of showing appreciation to members of the community. We thank you all for continuously supporting us during these unprecedented times. Our way of giving back is to offer you 15% off on your total bill. We would like to encourage everybody to stay safe and well during these hard times. Thank you to the community for your support,” he said.
Chun Ji also strictly follows guidelines and safeguards instituted by the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. since Day 1 of reopening. “We are strictly abiding by the safeguards set by the COVID-19 Task Force at the restaurant as customers are required to check in with their contact information, have their temperatures taken, and sanitize their hands as soon as entering the premises. The restaurant is also equipped accordingly, with the percentage of seats available for dine-in customers, with safe social distancing between each table. We frequently sanitize the entire restaurant, especially areas with frequent contact. Our staff are also kept up to date and educated with updated guidelines,” said Kim.
Chun Ji Korean Restaurant is located on the second floor of the Safehouse Bar along Palm Street in the tourist district of Garapan. It currently serves only dinner and is open Sunday-Saturday from 5pm to 9pm.
Designated parking space is across the main road on the former poker building next to the QQ Rent-A-Car building. The whole lot can be used for parking, according to Kim.
For reservations, to order in advance, or for more information, call 285-4200, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach them through their Facebook and Instagram pages.