Yi, who currently serves as sous chef at Lazy Betty, grew up in Orlando and learned how to cook in his family’s restaurant, Korean Kitchen. Since moving to Atlanta in 2015, Yi worked his way up to chef de cuisine at Taiyo Ramen. He started TKO (short for “the Korean One”) last spring and describes his fare as “familiar yet foreign and foreign yet familiar.”
TKO’s menu will include many favorites from the pop-up, including Korean corn dogs, kimchi fried rice, and the volcano shrimp dog with krab salad and eel sauce. The 400-square-foot counter service space will offer daily lunch and dinner as well as late-night fare on weekends.
“Much like my own upbringing, I’m forming a bridge between Korean and American cultures and traditions,” says Lino. “There is an amalgamation of new and retro called Newtro in Korean culture. It’s modernized retro, which is something I also want to represent in my food. I want to show respect for the rich history of both Korean and American food, but I want to modernize them with new techniques and ingredients.”
“We landed at Southern Feed Store through the owner, Rafa, of Buteco in Grant Park,” Lino adds. “We did a few TKO pop-ups at Buteco, and he would order food to take home to his family. One day, he came by and said how much he liked my food and pitched me on the idea of opening at Southern Feed Store (he’s part owner, and it’s home to Buteco’s second location). We looked at several locations before deciding, but ultimately agreed that EAV made the most sense with my style of food and the vibe and aesthetic we’re going for. I also really enjoy hanging out in EAV – it’s got a punk rock vibe.”