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.
The menu at Gui Korean Japanese Bistro & Bar shows off the time-honored culinary traditions of the restaurant's namesake nations. Miso soup, edamame dusted with sea salt, and seafood-topped rice bowls represent the eatery's Japanese roots. The Korean side of the menu tends toward hot and hearty dishes such as the spicy kimchi jji gae, flavored with scallions, pork, and, naturally, a liberal dose of kimchi.
The bistro's modern dining room contrasts sharply with the old-school cooking. Strands of lighted crystal beads dangle from the ceiling, dividing the space's two main seating areas. Track lights and conical pendant lamps cast a soft glow across the simple banquettes and gleaming sushi bar. Outside, stout wooden tables populate the bistro's patio seating area, which rests in the shade of a tall tree.
Most would agree that Dallas is more of a burger capital than Los Angeles. So it took a certain level of audacity for LA natives Ben and John Lee to think they could change the way Texans think about their beloved burgers. That is, however, exactly what they have done with LA Burger. Gathering inspiration from the Korean-Mexican fusions popularized by LA’s food trucks, the brothers stack burgers with Korean cabbage and smother them in teriyaki sauce. Their signature LA burger adds a fried egg and cheese for good measure.
With more than 90 buffet dishes including 30–35 hot entrees and more than 10 varieties of sushi, it’s no surprise that Buffet Palace's Austin location has been voted best buffet 12 times by Austin Chronicle readers. The similarly well-stocked Killeen location looks like a grounded spaceship from the outside, complete with a cylindrical metal cage, a Saturn-style ring, and two alien-like statues.
At each location, a modern 350-seat dining room vaunts sleek countertops and high ceilings as well as a buffet so long visiting Lilliputians regularly land planes on it. Items range from Korean-style salads and Japanese sushi to more than 30 primarily Chinese hot dishes such as sesame chicken and pan-fried dumplings.
In addition to these made-from-scratch items, a chef cooks Asian pancakes and dumplings. Before departure, diners can also stock a plate full of the buffet’s housemade desserts, which include cakes, cookies, and fruit so fresh it often gets smacked by older, wiser side dishes.
Images on the video screen swell right along with the singer as she reaches the chorus of "Livin' on a Prayer," inciting her friends to stand up from the wraparound booth and pump their fists. It's a typical evening at Austin Karaoke, where visitors belt, croon, and warble their favorite songs until 4 a.m. on weeknights and 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Nine karaoke rooms accommodate small parties of up to 8 or large parties of up to 50. Ensconced in these private studios, songsters search the computerized catalog for their standard baroque numbers, grab the microphone, and then pour their souls into a premium sound system.
Open an Asian-American dialogue with the guidance of a wide-ranging menu and the goodwill of taste-bud ambassadors. Start off with an order of spicy Thai Dynamite shrimp served over Asian slaw (S $5.49, L $8.99) or potstickers—dumplings filled with pork, green cabbage, scallions, and ginger and served with a citrus soy dip (S $3.99, L $6.99). Rice dishes and noodle bowls, such as Spicy General Fu and Pad Thai, are priced by main star, with chicken, beef, or tofu for $8.29, shrimp for $9.29, or veggies for $7.29. After selecting a hunger weapon, dive into the eastern seas of flavor with a wok-sizzled order of fried rice, which includes bean sprouts, scallions, carrots, egg, chopped broccoli, and brown sauce, or a spice-tastic Singapore noodle bowl with rice noodles tossed in a spicy yellow curry with carrots, onions, scallions, celery, garlic, and basil. A gluten-free menu and two special seared entrees are also available: seared ahi tuna steak, encrusted in sesame and served over a bed of sautéed spinach ($14.99), and flat- iron steak, marinated in a red-wine soy sauce and served on a bed of red bell peppers, mushrooms, and green and yellow onions ($12.99).