After moving to America at 3 months old, Steve Shin didn’t have much time to learn the culinary traditions of his native South Korea. But when he returned for a year in 2001, he witnessed the cuisine's slimming properties firsthand. Though he consumed lots of food, his waistline shrank, most likely due to the minimal grease and fat content in South Korean cuisine. Inspired by his journey, he tried to eat a more healthy diet when he returned to the U.S, but after several rounds of salads and sandwiches, fast food lured him back to his old habits. Frustrated, he started brainstorming ways to build healthy and balanced meals, which led to b.b.bop. At his Asian-fusion restaurant, the menu is centered on wholesome bowls of rice, veggies, and protein, steering customers away from heavy, fatty meals, such as a giant butter sculpture.
To whip up b.b.bop's signature entree, cooks line bowls with a rice of the customer's choice, from a jasmine-scented Thai type to a nutty, fiber-filled brown variety. Next, the customer selects a lean, flame-grilled protein from options including pulled pork, chicken breast, or marinated tofu. Veggies such as bell peppers and bean sprouts add color and crunch to the dish, and sauce—the finishing touch—comes in more than a half-dozen flavors, from spicy red pepper to sweet teriyaki.
Sushi Cafe owner Dae Woo calls upon nearly two decades of restaurant experience in Asia to cultivate a chopstick-friendly menu bursting with sushi rolls, tempura delicacies, and traditional Japanese dinner entrees. Artful arrangements of sushi decorate the restaurant’s bar, and steamy bowls of miso and udon soups obscure the view across booths nestled between wooden screens. Chopsticks clash over thick cuts of sashimi that await the winners on soft beds of rice, and thin slices of beef doused in korean sweet sauce represent the Asian mainland. As if to show off their culinary prowess, the expert sushi chefs dare diners to customize their own rolls and fearlessly dive headfirst into deep fryers to retrieve tempura vegetables.