Posted on February 26, 2014
The restaurant opened up on Jan. 20 as an extension of 27-year-old Brian’s popular Angeleno food truck, The Bun Truck, which hit the streets running three years ago. Steven, 30, is an investor in his brother’s restaurant, and their other partner is Brian’s childhood buddy and former New York Morimoto chef, James Seok.
“Perks are delicious free food,” Steven tells LAist. “For me, how I saw it was that my brother and I are really tight and I really wanted to invest in his entrepreneurship.”
Although Brian, who was once an accountant at Price Waterhouse Coopers, hates the term “Asian-fusion” because he thinks it’s “played out,” essentially serves that fare at his restaurant. However, since the three of them are all Korean-American and from Detroit, MI (which has a strong Mediterranean cuisine influence), that combination comes into play in their food. Inspired by the Asian buns that became all the rage in New York from the likes of Momofuku, Brian wanted to bring it out to L.A.
Their menu is creative and whimsical. The Beefy bun comes with Korean-marinated beef, accompanied with a tempura fried onion and aioli. They have a dish called Ba’corn cheese (exactly what you’d imagine—bacon plus corn plus cheese equals awesomeness) and Dorisak (Korean kimchi fried rice). What also stands out is the Spicy Pig, which takes Korean spicy pork and dares to pair it with Greek tzatziki sauce, Sriracha, cucumber and scallions; it’s a Korean gryo of sorts.
Steven describes The Bun Shop as having a “homey vibe.” “It’s all from our upbringing,” he says. “We’re from Metro Detroit area so there’s this feeling of blue collar, simple, clean meals with a little zest of edginess that Detroit brings. It’s a very Detroit, Michigan mentality. Being Korean, all of us are Korean, there’s a soul to that that we definitely tap into.”
The space indeed adds these different regions into its design. The Bun Shop was aesthetically designed by fellow Michigander James Denton, who formerly worked at an architecture firm in Detroit. “We wanted to pay homage to Detroit as well as pay homage and respect to L.A.,” Denton says.
The wood tones and dim lighting in The Bun Shop are reminiscent to Korean brew houses, he says. However, Denton incorporated the industrial aspect of Detroit with the 1920s-style light fixtures and artwork on the walls. As for the L.A. heritage? The wood panels on the walls are reclaimed wood from the old Santa Monica Pier.
The team, however, didn’t want to lose the vibe from The Bun Truck. Close up photos of the electrical panels and fire extinguisher hanging on the truck adorn the walls of The Bun Shop. The kitchen is openly visible to the customers so they can get see the chefs cook just like they would at a food truck.
While Steven has said a few of his The Walking Dead co-stars have come out to support his restaurant, he’s not making a big deal out of it until all the pieces are in place for The Bun Shop—namely, getting the beer and wine license to go through. Once that happens in a few months, he plans on throwing a grand opening event.
But it doesn’t look like this is the last venture for the brothers. Brian says he and Steven are planning on opening a Jimmy John’s subway sandwich franchise that’s popular in the Midwest out in Cerritos in six months.
We’re happy with that, as long as the Yeun brothers keep bringing delicious food to our town. Oh, and don’t forget to get dessert at The Bun Shop. There are deep-fried Oreos topped with green tea ice cream and a custard bun on a bed of popcorn and salted caramel we see in your futur