Koy’s Opening Spells the End for Volle Nolle

Chef Sebastian Martinez shifting his focus to Korean fusion.


In October, chef Sebastian Martinez of Volle Nolle began posting some tempting photos via his Instagram account: grilled merguez sausage, whole fried snapper, flap steak tartare with dried shrimp, blistered shishito peppers, and pork belly buns with a molasses glaze.

It turns out, his gallery of sumptuous food porn is related to something far beyond his ambitious small-plate program at Volle Nolle. Martinez admits that he’s been slowly leaking out the Korean fusion dishes that will be at the heart of his newest concept, Koy, near Faneuil Hall. Opening on December 1, in the former Uburger space at 16 North Street, Koy will feature traditional Korean ingredients utilized in a number of unique and contemporary ways. Think carnitas dumplings, pork belly bunuelo, Korean hot chicken, a bulgogi cheesesteak, and kimchee fried rice.

“The food at Koy will be my style of cooking, just stronger because of all the Korean ingredients that are in play,” Martinez says. “I’m hesitant to call the food ‘fusion’ because that word has such negative connotations at this point. But that’s what it really is. It’s not traditional Korean dishes. That’s not what I was going for at all. I wanted to take Korean ingredients like bulgogi and gochujang and use them in other ways.”

As of two months ago, Martinez was actually set to move out of Boston, but was presented with the offer to head up Koy by new restaurant group, Korean Fusion Inc. Given the opportunity to be a part of Faneuil Hall’s culinary revitalization, particularly with the upcoming Boston Public Market, Martinez opted to stay and help transform the area’s string of bleak sports bars and tourist spots.

“We’re trying to get away from Fanieul Hall’s “Throw-up Row” reputation,” Martinez says. “It will be tough because we have to cater to the PhD level food nerds as well as the people who just want to grab a couple Bud Lights before a Bruins game. We can’t be making cocktails where we’re spanking basil and shit. But we still want to give people world class food and we want people to have a great meal.”

Unfortunately, Martinez concedes that Koy’s December opening will also coincide with Volle Nolle’s closing. Martinez says he doesn’t know what will become of the North End space, but owner Torri Crowell is definitely moving on.

“I don’t know what her [Crowell] next step is, even though she really is the best at what she does,” Martinez says. “She’s truly hospitable.”

Crowell was unavailable for comment. Stay tuned for more news on what will become of the Volle Nolle space and further details about Koy.

16 North St., Boston; 857-991-1483 or koyboston.com