From food truck start-up to festival favourite to bricks-and-mortar operation, things are only going one way for Jae Kim’s Texas business Chi’Lantro BBQ, and that way is up. The Korean-born, California-educated entrepreneur has just opened his second restaurant on Burnet Road in Austin (the first is on the city’s South Lamar Boulevard), and it continues to build on the business’s remarkable success which first gathered momentum due to the popularity of Chi’Lantro’s signature kimchi fries — an invention created almost by accident during a slow night.
The Chi’Lantro trucks hooked Austin’s white-collar tech company workers with a re-invention of Korean and Mexican barbecue food traditions — the name is a fusion of Korean favourite kimchi and the Mexican staple cilantro (coriander leaves) — and the restaurants continue to develop along those lines. The interiors also take their cue from the menu, with the bright orange associated with many kimchi varieties playing a prominent role in the colour scheme alongside the herby green of cilantro and a vibrant ocean blue. The Burnet Road outlet builds on design themes founded at the first premises, with a diagonal geometric motif repeating through a wooden framework around the counter area and metal frames used in chairs, tables and display units.