Try to find Korean fried chicken and ramen in the Pottstown area.
That was a source of frustration to David Backhus, who owns Morgantown Coffee House in Elverson. “There’s a void of culture and good food around," he said.
One night over dinner with friends, the topic came up. “We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to open a ramen shop?’”
Then Backhus attended an event where chef Michael Falcone, whose Funky Lil Kitchen put Pottstown on the culinary map for nearly a decade, was cooking out of his Heart food truck. Backhus ordered a couscous sandwich, and then another.
Backhus asked Falcone if he’d help him open that restaurant. Backhus found a former pizzeria on Pottstown Pike near Route 23 in South Coventry and set about making it a fresh-looking, 40-seat BYOB with hanging and track lighting and wooden boxes for some seating.
It’s called Oori — pronounced “Oodi,” which means “us.”
In the early going, it’s been packed. There was a 90-minute wait over its first weekend.
The menu, which nods to Backhus’ Korean heritage, is built around ramen ($13-$15) and Korean fried chicken served both dry (with three different spice combos) and wet (with five sauces) at $8 for a half-dozen and $15 a dozen.
Bring beer. There’s plenty of spice going on. There’s a spicy cucumber salad ($8) with jicama, Thai basil, and scallion, and a cabbage salad ($8) with peanuts, jalapeno, and mango topped with rice wine vinaigrette, as well as dandan noodles ($18), whose spicy ground pork is mellowed and enriched by black tahini.
The chicken curry ramen ($15) gets additional depth through pickled pineapple. The vegetarian ramen ($14) — one of a few vegan dishes — has a broth of kombu and shiitake, with pickled shiitakes. Bulgogi lettuce wraps ($12) is a starter, as is a trio of kimchi.
Dinner brings a few additions, such as steamed Arctic char ($19) over a short-grain rice cake, and braised grass-fed beef ($18) over bone marrow congee with bok choy and red pepper puree.
It’s open daily for lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and dinner (5 to 9 p.m.). Use 2228 Pottstown Pike, Pottstown, in your GPS.