By Kevin Collison
Kobi-Q, the new Korean barbecue place that’s risen from the ashes of the former Czar Bar, already has found its place in the hearts–and appetites–of the local Asian community.
“Our Asian clientele is particularly strong here, which surprises me,” said manager Mila Geisler. “I’m also surprised at a lot of people ordering spicy tofu soup and Kimchi stew, both are traditional soups.”
Kobi-Q opened last month at 1531 Grand, and Geisler loves the eclectic stretch of the street. A block away, the new Resurrection Downtown church recently opened while two doors down are a couple of colorful outposts from downtown’s old days, Temptations and the Cigar Bar.
Then there’s the new Messenger coffee shop and The Record Bar across the street, and the Songbird cafe and SOT cocktail bar next door.
“It’s a fun block,” she said. “The Messenger has a big pull, it’s the most gorgeous one I’ve seen.”
The Kobi-Q space has retained many of the fixtures of the former Czar, including its bar. But in a great new touch for the restaurant, the landlord opened a large skylight that had been hidden before.
Throw in video screens playing Korean anime and hip hop and you’ve got what Geisler describes as a casual, but fun vibe.
The food that’s already found an authentic audience with Asian-American clientele includes spicy barbecue pork and rice cakes, Bi Bim Bap bowls, Tonkatsu Fried Cutlet, Japchae Glass Noodles and classic Teriyaki. There’s also a Kobi-Q ribeye steak on the menu.
And for sharing, there’s Shabu-Shabu, a Japanese-style fondue, or the Dragon Pot, a fiery red pepper stew.
Geisler grew up in Lenexa, but has lived in the East Village neighborhood of New York since 2007. She came back to open the restaurant and likes what she sees happening in her old hometown.
“Kansas City has changed a lot,” she said. “I do feel it’s a place I can come back to and stay, especially the way the Crossroads is now.
“The East Village is great and I feel there’s a vibe in the Crossroads similar to parts of New York, gutting old spaces and trying to make the best out of them.”
Kobi-Q is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Hours are Monday through Thursday are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.
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