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Op-Ed: I Used to Think Gentrification Was a Bad Thing, Then I Tried Korean BBQ Tacos With an IPA

I know Richmond is growing, and is becoming a “hip” place to live. And the city is becoming more expensive as it grows. I moved here from Fairfax a few years ago when I got a job at a startup in the Bottom. Since then, I’ve seen the cost of living in my neighborhood skyrocket. 

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And to be honest, I really did genuinely think that was a bad thing. Affordable neighborhoods becoming gentrified and displacing residents is a serious issue. But then something happened. Something big. 

I tried Korean BBQ tacos paired with a double IPA. And now I’ve seen the light.

Seriously, have you ever tried Korean pork belly ground up with a cornucopia of spices topped with charred kimchi? And then washed it all down with a pint of hoppy goodness? 

Allow me to educate you for a second.

I went to this place in Scott’s Addition, called RVA Seoul, and met the head chef, a white guy named Steve Smith. Damn, does he know what he’s doing in the kitchen! Not only has he worked in dozens of kitchens in the past month, all of which were completely unrelated to South Korean cuisine, but he also says he’s been to South Korea not just once, but twice. And if that’s not a combination for authentic fusion food, then I don’t know what it is.

Plus, they only charge $10 for two tacos–that’s a steal! For just $10, you can pig out on two tacos that are as big as your index finger. That’s a bargain for the entire family, regardless of what or who they displaced to allow this restaurant to open, let me tell you. 

And washing it all down with a tasty double session IPA from a nearby brewery? You’re supporting two local businesses in one at this point. Let me just emphasize this one last time: two tacos and a beer for $20 after tip? I don’t care how much you’re paying in rent now, that’s just good to be true.

You also have to ask yourself: what could have gone in the occupied space instead that would be better than this place? There’s plenty of affordable housing all over the Richmond area. Places like Amelia, Hanover, Hopewell, and Dinwiddie are all nearby and it costs next to nothing to live there. Growing pains in the city mean we all get to enjoy things like Korean BBQ tacos at the affordable price of higher rents, and we should all be okay with all of that. 

Folks, are there problems in the world? Yeah, sure. But gentrification around Richmond shouldn’t be a top priority when it brings us craft beer and restaurants that help introduce us to new foods. Come on, do you want to pay less than $2500 a month for a studio apartment or would you rather have a disc golf course in your neighborhood that sells Bento Boxes and organic wine?

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